Begin in bustling Killarney
Head to Killarney National Park for picturesque lakes, mountains and woodland that stretches across an astounding 10,000 acres. Explore the park’s abundant wildlife by foot, jaunting car or bike, and take a tour of Muckross House, a late 19th century mansion.
Stroll through its landscaped gardens, have a picnic and visit Muckross Traditional Farms for an insight into what life was like way back when.
Take a break at Torc Waterfall
After Killarney National Park, make time for a break at Torc Waterfall, 7km from the town centre. The nearby car park can be busy during the day so the earlier you head here, the better. Take the short stroll from the car park to the waterfall and bask in the sounds of nature tumbling from the falls. Explore the epic Lakes of Killarney on the Muckross Lake Loop for a fantastic adventure in the great outdoors.
Enjoy outstanding scenery at Ladies View
Drive out from Killarney on the N70 and on your way, stop at Ladies View for unbeatable scenery. The view is so called as it was greatly admired by Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting when they visited Kerry in the 1800s. Park the car and relax over a panoramic picnic with views of the Killarney Valley.
Take a tour in lovely Kenmare
Make your way to beautiful Kenmare where the colourful buildings and upbeat locals are full of character. The most rewarding way to experience this town is to book a place on a Kenmare Foodie Tour where you get a delightful insight into Kerry’s talented food producers.
You won’t leave this tour on an empty stomach as local woman Karen Coakley brings you to the best foodie spots in town. Taste artisan treats, locally roasted coffee and homemade ice-cream.
Keep driving south west to Sneem
Visit the lovely village of Sneem, sometimes overlooked in favour of other towns but it’s worth stopping here to enjoy its local charm.
Discover the Kerry Geopark in this pretty Irish village and learn about Ireland’s unique geology and ancient culture. Visit the sensory garden, take a stroll down the riverside wildlife trail, or check out the local farmer’s market.
Plan your visit around the Sneem Summer Festival, where you’ll experience live music, sheep dog trials and even crab fishing.
Discover Irish history at Derrynane House
Continue to travel south west to the village of Caherdaniel and head along the coast until you reach Derrynane House. This is the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, one of Ireland’s most famous historical figures.
Tour the house and visit the rooms that are laid out as if they were still in 19th century Ireland and learn about ‘The Liberator’s’ life as a lawyer and politician.
Prefer to stay outdoors? Amble through the 120 hectares of this scenic area and discover one of the highlights of the permanent collection, a unique chariot presented to Daniel O’Connell, by the citizens of Dublin back in 1844.
Take a quick spin to Derrynane Beach
Drive or walk from Derrynane House to Derrynane Beach, one of the best beaches in the country. It’s sandy and perfect for a splash in the ocean or a spot of windsurfing.
The Blue Flag Beach is lifeguarded during bathing season with further information on the notice board there. History buffs can visit the 6th century ruin of Derrynane Abbey on the appropriately named, ‘Abbey Island’, you’ll spot it from the beach.
See why Charlie Chaplin came to Waterville
The seaside village of Waterville is renowned for playing host to one of the most famous entertainers of all time, the iconic Charlie Chaplin. You’ll find a bronze statue of Charlie, who visited the town in 1959 and returned to holiday every year for over ten years.
Book into the Butler Arms Hotel for a relaxing overnight stay. Over the years, famous celebrities have stayed here including Charlie, Mark Hamill, Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas and Walt Disney.
Visit the Waterville Heritage Gallery at Waterville Craft Market for a look into the many heritage sites across the Ring of Kerry. From stone forts and geology to the flora, fauna, and local folklore, the Gallery guides visitors through life on the Skellig Coast.
Spend time by the sea at Ballinskelligs
Travelling further west along the coast, discover Ballinskelligs, a village in the Gaeltacht of Uíbh Ráthach (Iveragh). This is one of the predominantly Irish speaking areas of Ireland. Head to Bá na Scealg (Ballinskelligs Beach) and breathe in fresh sea air on this fine stretch of sand.
To the right of the entrance is the ancient McCarthy Tower known locally as Ballinskelligs Castle, easily accessible at low tide. It was built in the early 16th century by the McCarthys, the Chieftains in Cork and Kerry. Folklore suggests that the tower served to protect the Irish coast from pirates.
Warm up after a walk on the beach with a cup of hot chocolate at Skelligs Chocolate Company, a ten minute drive from Ballinskelligs. Watch the fascinating process of chocolate making at this family run business and learn all about what makes great treats. This is a must for chocolate fans.
Experience delightful Portmagee
If you have time, we recommend you take a detour and pre-book a boat trip out to the UNESCO World Heritage site Sceilg Mhichíl (Skellig Michael) off the coast of County Kerry. Although the island is closed for now due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can still see the unique craggy outpost in all its wonder. Schedule your journey around summertime when migrating puffins visit the island.
Visit Valentia Island
Accessible by bridge or by ferry, on Valentia Island to the south, explore the Bray Head Loop Walk, a spectacular coastal trail. On a clear day, you’ll see out to the Skellig Islands and Dingle Peninsula.
From there, head north-east to Valentia Island Lighthouse at Cromwell Point and take a tour of this intriguing place. A beacon of hope to guide incoming vessels, the lighthouse led many boats through the entrance of Valentia Harbour.
To head onwards to Cahersiveen, take the ferry from Knightstown on Valentia Island and cross over the water to the mainland. Or you can head back to Portmagee and take the R565 onto the N70. The ferry runs from Easter to early October.
Take a tour of Cahersiveen
Arriving in Cahersiveen, look up at the outstanding views of Bentee Mountain and Valentia Harbour. Relax by the marina or book in with Cahersiveen Walking Tours and travel back in time as an expert guide shares the history of the town.
Hear about Monsignor Hugh O’ Flaherty, known as ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican', poet and playwright Sigerson Clifford, politician Daniel O’Connell and many more local tales. Tours are available from May to September.
Detour to Kells Bay House and Gardens
About halfway between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen is the fishing village of Kells, and we recommend you make time for the enchanting Kells Bay House and Gardens. This family-friendly attraction has one of the finest collection of plants in Europe, as well as cool carved dinosaurs that keep the kids occupied as you stroll through 17 hectares of woodland.
Relax with a well-deserved break in the on-site café or restaurant and afterwards, take a quick spin to the sea at Kells Bay.
Make your way to gorgeous Glenbeigh
Community spirit is strong in Glenbeigh as you’ll see at their annual festival, a fun mix of sports, live music, entertainment and culture.
Plan your visit around the Glenbeigh Festival and Races which takes place during the summer on Rossbeigh Beach and after, meet the welcoming locals in a lively traditional pub. Stay overnight at the Towers Hotel, where the beach is within walking distance.
Wine and dine at Jack’s Coastguard
Continue along the N70 but don’t miss out on Jack’s Coastguard Restaurant, one of Kerry’s top seafood experiences. Five minutes off the main Ring of Kerry route, this restaurant overlooks the majestic waves of the Atlantic with stunning coastal and mountain views. The restaurant is so called after the former coastguard station that was built there in 1866.
Enjoy delicious dishes made with local ingredients…don’t miss out on the tasty Cromane Mussels.
Enjoy music and festivities in Killorglin
Riverside town Killorglin is synonymous with Puck Fair, one of Ireland's oldest festivals held in August. Stay the night at the renowned Bianconi Inn and plan your trip around this vibrant festival in the riverside town. Enjoy the uplifting carnival atmosphere with parades, Irish storytelling, and plenty of traditional music.
Go on a hike through the Gap of Dunloe
For years, the Gap of Dunloe has mesmerised visitors with its unmatched scenery. Drive through the valley or if you have time, experience the 11km route on foot.
Start your journey at this 15th century castle and take the boat trip through Lake Leane all the way to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. When back on dry land, you can hike all the way through the magnificent Gap of Dunloe taking in the towering mountains, wildlife, lakes and the ‘Wishing Bridge’.
The looped route ends at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, where you can kick back for a rest with hearty pub grub and great hospitality. When you’re ready, drive back to Ross Castle to collect the other car.
If you don’t have two cars, simply hike the Gap of Dunloe starting from Kate Kearney’s Cottage. You can also bike or take a horse-drawn trap through ‘The Gap’, as it’s locally known.
There’s also a Killarney shuttle bus service that makes two trips to The Gap and to Ross Castle.
Your journey comes to an end in Killarney town. Treat yourself to a meal in Muckross Park Hotel and tell the friendly locals all about your epic Ring of Kerry road trip.
Make your trip a memorable one and discover the magic of the Kingdom. Check out our Kerry destination page for more brilliant things to do in this unforgettable county.