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The Ring of Kerry in Ireland

The Ring of Kerry is a route around Ireland’s MacGillycuddy reeks, its finest mountain range, and brings you through 10,000 years of dramatic history in the Kerry region. The landscape varies from tranquil beaches to Killarney National Park, the remains of stone castles, and to the grand views over the mountains at Moll’s Gap. This 200 km long route will show you the hospitality, nature, and history of Ireland all in one road trip!

Route info

  • Route name: The Ring of Kerry in Ireland
  • Distance: 178 KM
  • Best time to go: spring, summer, and autumn
  • Suggested duration: 2 - 5 days
  • Start and end point: Killarney
  • Best by: car or bus
  • Highlights: Killarney National Park, Sneem, Moll’s Gap, and the Ballycarbery Castle.

  • For more information about the west coast of Ireland, download the travel guide The West Coast of Ireland: Culture & Heritage, written by Irish writer Marteen Lane. The travel guide comes with interactive maps, GPS location, photos, local insights, and extensive day routes.

    The Ring of Kerry in Ireland


    The colorful city of Killarney is the start of your tour and a cozy beginning to prepare yourself for the breathtaking views you’re about to see on this route. The authentic look of the city makes you feel as if you are walking through the original 19th century Irish village. Walk into one of their excellent pubs, restaurants, or shops, and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

    Continue your route towards the ‘goat’ village Kollorglin, where you can have lunch at one of their local pubs. Make sure to order the local specialty beer called the Crafty Divils King Puck (not if you’re the driver of course).

    After a warming lunch, drive further to your next destination: Glenbeigh. The picturesque seaside town is perfect for an afternoon hike along the beach, with a stunning backdrop of the mountains and green hills on one side and the cliffs of Dingle on the other side.

    Glenbeigh views

    Cliff views - Photo by: Rebecca Safier


    Glenbeigh is also called the Jewel in the Ring of Kerry, and you’ll immediately understand once you see its natural surroundings: the hills, mountains, rivers, beaches, and the wild Atlantic Ocean – it’s stunning! The area offers many possibilities for hikers, runners, and horseback riders to explore the surroundings. Explore the Curra Mountain or descend into Horseshoe Valley to finish your tour along the popular Rossbeigh Beach.

    After your morning hike, it’s time to head towards the old stone castle Ballycarbery Castle. The remains of the 15th century castle on top of the hill is now deserted, and is now covered in a beautiful green blanket of moss. The castle is located in an area known as ‘over the water’ by the locals of Cahirciveen and was home to the McCarthy Clan. If you’re interested in seeing more castles like this one, it’s also worth visiting the stone forts of Leacanabualie and Cahegral in the area.

    Ballycarbery Castle - Photo by: Cord Cardinal

    Typical Kerry view


    From the castle you can make your way along the coast towards Balinskelligs. If you have some extra time on your hands, it’s worth visiting some more places on the Skellig islands such as Skellig Michael and Little Skellig, and Valentia Island. The islands, just off the coast Portmagee, are known for their natural beauty and are listed as protected bird sanctuaries.

    It’s worth exploring this region a little more before staying the night at the next destination- Balinskelligs. The coastal village is one of the few places in Ireland where Irish is widely spoken! The small town is a proud host of several pubs, cafes, accommodations, and restaurants. Visit the surrounding highlights such as Balinskelligs Beach, also known as Ladies Beach, and the ruins of McCarthy Mór Castle nearby.

    The most beautiful highlight of the region is the lack of light pollution at night. Make sure to take a ‘dark sky tour’ when you’re there because you’ll get to see millions of stars dotted across the sky.

    Valentia Island

    Starry Sky in Balinskelligs - Photo by: Rebecca Safier


    It’s time to make your way the towards Sneem, on the southeast part of this route before ending the day in Kenmare. On your way, make a stop at Derrynane Beach. The stunning and long stretched beach is located in Derrynane Bay, close to Derrynane House. Follow the directions from the house, and you’ll find access to the beach.

    The village Sneem is one of the most beautiful villages on the Ring of Kerry, with houses in different colors and maintaining their authentic features. The small and old fisherman’s village is home to artists and craftsmen, making Sneem a good place to stop for gallery shopping and lunch. Riney’s Bar is a traditional Irish pub, so try out some local cuisine, with plenty of hearty pub food and good ol’ Irish atmosphere.

    Make your way towards Kenmare, along the meandering road from Sneem to the beautiful green forests. Kenmare is an active town on the Ring of Kerry, with dozens of restaurants and accommodations to choose from.

    If you’re making your trip in October, make sure not to miss the Needlepoint Lace festival. Two other important historical sights not to miss are the Old Kenmare Cemetery (which is from the 7th century) and the Kenmare Stone Circle, dating back to 2200 – 500 BC, both are used for ceremonial purposes.

    Derrynane Beach


    Time for the final day of the Ring of Kerry and start your trek back to Killarney. It will be a long day of driving with plenty to explore, so make sure to leave early in the morning - to avoid most of the tour coaches.

    The first stop on your way to Killarney is the beautiful road of Moll’s Gap. It has a stunning view over the impeccable mountain pass. The panoramic view of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range has infinite rivers, lakes, and curving roads that are quintessential to Ireland’s landscape. Moll’s Gap is named after Moll Kissane, who set up a ‘síbín,’ a.k.a. an illicit bar here. Although it is a popular stop for many tourists nowadays, it still is a breathtaking view over the range.

    From Moll’s Gap it’s yet another stunning curvy drive to the 25,000-acre Killarney National Park. Inside Ireland’s first National Park, there are plenty to discover such as the Victorian style Muckross House, the Ladies View point with a view over three beautiful lakes, the Gap of Dunloe, the Torc Waterfall, and the fully intact Ross Castle. As all these places can easily be reached from Killarney, another option would be to settle back in town before embarking on these highlights.

    Muckross House

    Ladies View

    Moll's Gap - Photo by: Tom Fahy

    Killarney National Park

    Ross Castle

    Ross Castle

    Killarney town

    For more information about the west coast of Ireland, download the travel guide The West Coast of Ireland: Culture & Heritage, written by Irish writer Marteen Lane. The travel guide comes with interactive maps, GPS location, photos, local insights, and extensive day routes.

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