Ring of Kerry: Hidden Gems & Perfect Route

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The iconic Ring of Kerry route follows winding roads past charming villages, pristine lakes, rugged coastline, and mountain vistas in southwestern Ireland. This guide lists the best stops to make along this route for the perfect Ring of Kerry itinerary.

Ring of Kerry Cliffs Ireland

Arguably the most popular scenic drive in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry route circles the Iveragh Peninsula in southwest County Kerry.

Totaling 111 miles (179 kilometers), this loop brings you on narrow roads that hug seaside cliffs, through colorful towns, and past patchwork fields of grazing sheep.

This route traditionally starts and ends in the town of Killarney, and includes a handful of iconic stops along the way. 

But what if you could add some hidden gems off the well-trodden tourist path without straying too far from the route?

That’s exactly what we asked ourselves, and after a fair bit of research and some happy surprises we stumbled upon, we think we’ve come up with the very best itinerary for Ireland’s iconic Ring of Kerry.

This guide shares the best Ring of Kerry route, covering all the stops you won’t want to miss.

Guide to the Ring of Kerry 

Want to save time and energy on planning?

In 2023, we spent 2 weeks traveling around Ireland and living in a campervan. We were lucky enough to explore a lot of what this country has to offer!

We took our 2-week travels and are in the process of creating the perfect Ireland road trip itineraryWe’ll send you our complete 2-week itinerary, filled with tips and advice, once it’s finalized! Just click below to get on the waitlist for our 2-week Ireland road trip itinerary!

Overview of the Ring of Kerry

Kerry Cliffs Ireland
  • Starting point: Killarney
  • Ending point: Killarney*
  • Total distance: 111 miles (179 kilometers)
  • Timing: 1-3 days
  • Location: Iveragh Peninsula in southwest County Kerry, Ireland

*While the traditional loop starts and ends in Killarney, you can alter it if you’d like. For example, if you’d rather continue onto the Dingle Peninsula after you’ve seen most of the loop, you certainly don’t have to return to Killarney.

Ring of Kerry map

Ring of Kerry Map

Click on the map above for a closer look at our perfect Ring of Kerry route.

Is the Ring of Kerry worth it?

Ring of Kerry Ireland

Google the best things to do in Ireland and driving the Ring of Kerry will no doubt appear on every list. With all popular tourist attractions, I always wonder if it will, in fact, be worth it. So I get it if you’re reading this and wondering whether this loop is worth adding to your Ireland itinerary.

Asking whether it’s worth it is a rather subjective question, but I’ll do my best to give you the info you need to make your own decision. 

In short, yes, I think the Ring of Kerry is worth it. We had a great time and got off the typical route quite a bit (which I’d recommend).

However, if you only have time for one scenic drive and are debating the Ring of Kerry OR the Dingle Peninsula, I’d personally choose Dingle.

Read about our personal experience on the Ring of Kerry so you know why we loved it and how we laid out our time. I don’t know if I would have had such a great experience had we just stuck with the “typical stops” or timed things differently.  

Best time to drive the Ring of Kerry

Portmagee Ireland

While you can tackle this scenic drive throughout the entire year, late spring through early fall (May – October) is the best time of year for this route.

During the winter months, some of the seasonally-open places shut down business, and there are certain activities that you cannot do at this time (like taking a boat to Skellig Michael). 

Also, daylight hours during winter are limited, meaning you’ll have less time to explore while the sun is up. One perk is you won’t encounter the same crowds as during peak tourist season.

Still planning your trip? We have a guide to choosing the best time of year to visit Ireland.

Best time of day 

No matter what time of year you’re traveling (but especially in the summer months), get as early of a start as possible for this driving route. This will help you avoid the tour bus crowds.

Plus, there are lots of stops to squeeze in, and plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path if you have the time. 

Best stops on the Ring of Kerry route

Sneem Seaweed Baths Ireland

Below, we’re sharing the very best stops along the Ring of Kerry. But before you dive in, there are a few things you should know:

  1. You won’t be able to do them all. (Unless you give yourself several days for this route.) Read through the descriptions of each so you know which spots are musts for you, and which you’d be okay skipping.
  2. Pay attention to the type of attraction. This list includes the top sights (aka the most famous and busy stops on this route). It also includes some hidden gems and unique tours you won’t find in any other Ring of Kerry guides. We’ve labeled each as “top attraction” or “hidden gem”. Our advice is to choose a few of each to include on your own route.
  3. These stops are (more or less) listed in order if you were to start in Killarney and drive the Ring of Kerry clockwise. The exception to this is the Gap of Dunloe, which is first on this list because we’d recommend doing this first thing in the morning.
  4. If you’d like our suggested itinerary, jump here to see which places we’d recommend as well as the order in which to visit them.

1. Walk to the Wishing Bridge at the Gap of Dunloe

Top attraction 

Gap of Dunloe Ireland

The Gap of Dunloe is a U-shaped valley situated between two mountain ranges with glacial lakes and seriously stunning views.

This is one of the most popular stops on the Ring of Kerry, and rightly so – it is drop dead gorgeous and absolutely worth putting on your route.

It can get crowded throughout the day, so we strongly recommend making this your very first stop. Early birds will be rewarded by having this tranquil place mostly to yourself.

Hungry? Grab scones (some of the best we had in Ireland!) at The Coffee Pot Cafe, which is at the parking lot and opens at 9:30 a.m. You can get a heartier meal at Kate Kearney’s Cottage, however, they don’t open until 10:30 a.m., which is later than we’d recommend leaving this area if you plan to explore the Ring of Kerry on the same day.

How to visit the Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe Ireland

If you plan to combine a visit with the rest of the Ring of Kerry, you will only have time to hike to the Wishing Bridge (a small portion of the entire Gap of Dunloe). Read more about what to expect on this walk.

If you have more time to work with, you can hike the entire Gap of Dunloe (which will take the better portion of a day).

Want to know more? We have an entire guide packed with everything you need to know about how to visit the Gap of Dunloe.

Black Lake Killarney National Park Ireland

How to Visit The Gap of Dunloe + Tips to Avoid Crowds

The Gap of Dunloe is one of the top destinations in Ireland for good reason, but its popularity can make visiting tricky. This guide will explain exactly how to visit the Gap of Dunloe so you can have the best experience.

2. Torc Waterfall

Top attraction

Torc Waterfall Killarney National Park Ireland

Located just 4 miles from Killarney (7 km), Torc Waterfall is one of the first stops along the Ring of Kerry.

At just 66 feet tall (20 meters), Torc Waterfall is not particularly large or impressive in stature. But surrounded by lush forests and mossy rocks, this cascading falls is stunning. 

Fun fact: Torc means “wild boar” in Irish.

Being that it is an easy, 5-minute walk from the parking lot, this is a great stop for travelers of all fitness levels. If you want a bit more exercise, you can extend your hike by following a number of different trails, like this loop trail (that brings you to and from the Muckross House).

If you’re a photographer, don’t forget your tripod to get a classic open-shutter shot. There’s not a ton of viewing space, so be respectful about where you set up.

Our advice: Since tour buses stop here and the parking lot isn’t all that big, aim to make this one of your first stops of the day, otherwise it can sometimes be difficult to find parking.

Want to see a less busy waterfall? Jump here!

3. Ladies’ View

Top attraction

Ladies' View Ring of Kerry Ireland

This famous viewpoint offers a panoramic vista of Killarney’s lakes and mountains

You will see parking spaces lining the road, and that’s pretty much all it is. Park your car, take in the view, and voila – a stunning viewpoint that you don’t have to work for!

There is a gift shop and a cafe beside the parking spots. If you need a pick-me-up you can enjoy coffee and cake with quite the view. Just be warned that there are many stops along the Ring of Kerry, so be mindful of the time.

Google Maps location

4. Drive Moll’s Gap

Top attraction

Ring of Kerry Ireland campervan

Moll’s Gap is a narrow but well-marked mountain pass on N71, just past Ladies View.

This scenic stretch of road offers views of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains, but be sure to keep your eyes on the road, as it can get tight with oncoming traffic. 

5. Pancakes at the Strawberry Field

Hidden gem

Just a 5-minute drive from Moll’s Gap, this quirky pancake restaurant is off the typical tourist path, quite literally – due to limited parking, they don’t take tour buses.

The restaurant is housed in a colorful 200-year-old cottage, along with a shop selling locally-made crafts and artisanal goods. They offer sweet and savory Dutch-style pancakes that are made to order with toppings both classic and eclectic.

They’re only open on weekends and were unfortunately closed when we were there. But if it works out with your itinerary, this hidden gem is totally worth a stop. Do me a favor and order the goat cheese, mixed chopped nuts, pineapple, thyme, and honey pancake!

Do it yourself:

  • Cost: pancakes range from €4.75 – €10.50
  • Hours: Saturdays & Sundays 10 a.m. – 5:15 p.m.
  • Reservation: None
  • Google Maps location

6. Kenmare Town

Hidden gem

Located at the narrow head of Kenmare Bay, this quaint little town could make a great lunch stop if the Strawberry Field is closed.

The picturesque Main Street is lined with colorful shops, restaurants, and cafes set against a backdrop of rolling green hills. Choose a patio with views of Kenmare Bay, or grab something to-go and find a scenic lookoff for a picnic.

More things to do in Kenmare if you have time:

7. Alpaca Trekking Through A Magical Forest

Hidden gem

Alpaca Forest Trekking Ring of Kerry Ireland (Airbnb)
Image source: Airbnb

Okay, so this isn’t exactly on the Ring of Kerry. It would be a detour, but from what reviewers say, a very worthwhile detour indeed.

How far off the Ring of Kerry are we talking? At just 20 minutes away from Kenmare (a town along the Ring), the total detour driving time would be around 40 minutes.

With 630+ 5-star reviews, this is no doubt one of the best things to do in Ireland and definitely on our bucket list for our next trip! 

Gather on this alpaca farm and meet your own buddy for the walk. Feed them and get to know their personality and unique quirks before ascending into a lush forest. 

This is a leisurely 1.5 hour walk through a magical piece of Ireland’s wilderness. End the tour with a demonstration of how the wool is spun into thread.

  • Duration: Trek lasts 1.5 hours, tour is 2 hours
  • Tour times: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Price: $62 per person
  • Restrictions: Minimum age is 12 (sadly, this is why we couldn’t go, otherwise we definitely would have put this on our itinerary!)
  • Google Maps location
  • Tour information & booking

Here’s what guests are saying:

“This was probably the best thing we did in Ireland. I’ve done alpaca things before but the setting here was special… and Mia and Emma were amazing … they were so good with the animals….. and the forest setting was 💯.” -Sergio, July 2023

Want to stay nearby?

In addition to leading tours, these hosts also have two guest accommodations so you can experience a farmstay on your trip to Ireland.

8. Sneem Seaweed Baths

Hidden gem

Sneem Seaweed Baths Ireland

If you like unique, off-the-beaten path experiences, this hidden gem is absolutely worth a spot on your itinerary! 

As we were driving around the Ring of Kerry, I spotted a sign for seaweed baths. Intrigued, I contacted them to see if, by chance, they could squeeze us in that afternoon. Turns out there was one slot available for us, so we turned our motorhome right around!

Located on the grounds of the Sneem Hotel, these barrel baths are nestled along the water with mountains peeking up in the distance. The setting of these seaweed baths is truly magical.

Hang out in your own personal barrel filled with warm water and, you guessed it, seaweed! Seaweed is known to have healing properties, and is a really fun and unique experience. 

The owner (and his sweet dog) chatted with us for a bit and gave us some great tips for our trip (some of which you’ll find in this info-packed article!). 

It was one of our highlights on our Ring of Kerry road trip, and we’d highly recommend adding it to your route, as you’ll definitely remember this experience more than the typical tourist stops.

Sneem Seaweed Baths Ireland

Do it yourself:

  • Cost: €48 per person
  • Times: 3 sessions daily at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 5 p.m. (they try to be flexible with timing when possible)
  • How long: 1 hour
  • Reservation: Make a reservation by emailing the owner, Brendon, at sneemseaweedbaths@gmail.com. He is super friendly and tries his best to accommodate guests.
  • Google Maps Location

9. Staigue Stone Fort

Hidden gem

One of the largest and best-preserved ring forts in Ireland, this historic monument makes for a quick but interesting stop.

Staigue Stone Fort measures 27.4 meters (90 feet) in diameter, with walls 4 meters (13 feet) thick and built entirely without the use of mortar.

For €1 you can enter what remains of the fort and see the zig-zagging staircases that lead to the top of the walls, which rise up to 5.5 meters (18 feet) high.

The grounds of Staigue Fort also offer breathtaking views of the valley, mountains, and Kenmare Bay.

Google Maps location

10. Brackaharagh Beach

Top attraction

Castlecove Beach Ireland

If it’s a nice day, this beach makes a fun stop. The water is so clear and almost tropical-looking. 

If you’re hungry, stop by O’Carroll’s Cove for food and drinks. Reservations are recommended if you want to be seated, otherwise there’s a limited menu of takeaway food and drinks.

Google Maps location

11. Caherdaniel

Hidden gem

Caherdaniel Ireland

This tiny village on the Ring of Kerry is surrounded by some of the most stunning landscapes on the Iveragh Peninsula. Verdant hills and farmlands roll down from Caherdaniel to turquoise waters fringed with sandy beaches on Derrynane Bay.

You’ll drive right through Caherdaniel on your Ring of Kerry route, but if you want to make a small detour here are some of the top sights nearby:

  • Derrynane House: former home of an important Irish historical figure, Daniel O’Connell, which now houses a museum about his life as well as a cafe and gardens
  • Derrynane Beach: sheltered white-sand beach, perfect for swimming
  • Derrynane Abbey: beautiful ruins of a 6th-century church and a functioning cemetery on an island that can only be reached at low-tide

12. See a sheep herding demonstration 

Hidden gem

Sheep herding demonstration Ireland

There are several farms around Ireland that have sheepdog demonstrations, making it a fun activity to add to your route wherever it fits.

While individual tours may vary, here’s an idea of what you can expect:

  • Watch a sheepdog herd sheep into a corral (a really fascinating experience).
  • Watch a farmer shear a sheep – on some tours, you may even get to try it yourself.
  • Hold and bottle feed baby sheep.

Fun fact: Ever wonder why the sheep you see have colored paint on their backs? This is to indicate which farmer they belong to. Most sheep in Ireland are allowed to roam freely, and the color and shape of the paint is unique to each farmer.

Here are the two farms in the area we’d suggest looking at:

  • Hidden Hills: Situated on the Ring of Kerry, just outside the town of Waterville, this is a top-rated tour and makes a good midway stop along your drive if the tour times work out.
  • Kissane Sheep Farm: Located just before Molls Gap, this farm isn’t far from Killarney. The tour hours are a bit sporadic, but if it works with your route, it makes a great stop at the beginning or end of your loop.

Tight on time but want to see a sheepdog demo? There are several options all around the country. If it doesn’t work with your Ring of Kerry timing, you could skip it and do it elsewhere when you have a little more wiggle room in your itinerary. For example, we went to Killary Sheep Farm in Connemara National Park, during a day trip from Galway.

13. Ballinskelligs Castle

Hidden gem

Ballinskelligs Castle Ireland (TheRingofKerry.com)
Image source: TheRingofKerry.com

This 16th-century Tower House was one of many built by the McCarthy Mór family along the coasts of counties Kerry and Cork.

Once a 2-acre property, centuries of crashing waves have eroded the grounds. The castle ruins now perch on a small piece of land jutting out into the sea in one of the few remaining Irish-speaking areas in County Kerry.

Fun Fact: “Baile” is the Irish word for “town”. In Irish, “Ballinskelligs” is Baile na Sceilge, meaning “town of the Skelligs”.

Google Maps location

14. Bolus Barracks Loop Walk

Hidden gem

Bolus Barracks Loop Walk (AllTrails)
Image by Chris Cavies via AllTrails

This coastal route boasts jaw-dropping vistas of the Atlantic Ocean, Ballinskelligs Bay, St. Finan’s Bay, and the famous Skellig Islands.

Insider Tip: For the best views, turn left at the fork and follow the loop clockwise.

There’s history to be enjoyed on the trail as well, as it passes the ruins of an old lookout post and military barracks.

Although it’s rated as moderate, most people consider it a fairly easy trail to squeeze into your Ring of Kerry itinerary.

Do it yourself:

  • Distance: 4.7 miles / 7.6 km loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,033 ft / 315 m
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • How long: 2 hours 26 minutes (estimate)
  • View the trail notes

15. Skellig Islands

Top attraction

Skellig Michael Ireland (Unsplash)
Image by Michael via Unsplash

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of two small, rocky islands located about 12 km (8 miles) off the coast of the Iveragh Peninsula.

Surrounded by the crashing Atlantic and accessible only by boat, the jagged rocks of Skellig Michael are inhospitable and forbidding. Yet, in the 5th or 6th century, a group of monks decided to make their home here.

The otherworldly ruins of the ancient monastic site were famously featured in Star Wars as the setting of the Jedi Temple. Today, Skellig Michael is a top tourist attraction with boat tours running in the summer months

The smaller of the two islands, Little Skellig, is not open to the public. Instead, it’s become a conservation site for the world’s second-largest colony of Northern Gannets. The waters surrounding the islands are also teeming with wildlife, such as seals, sharks, whales, and dolphins.

Boats to Skellig Michael 

There are a handful of operators that run boat tours to the Skellig Islands. Some land on Skellig Michael and give you time to climb the 618 dizzying steps to the abandoned monastic site. Others offer a chance to view the islands and spot marine wildlife from the comfort of your tour boat.

This website provides a good roundup of some of the tours available, as well as a ton of info on the Skellig Islands.

16. Skelligs Chocolate & Cafe

Top attraction

Pop in and grab some treats to share with the folks back home (if you can resist temptation for the rest of your trip, that is). 

Choose from chocolate bars, clusters, shards, and truffles. Stick to the classics or try some unique flavors, like the Achill Island Seaweed Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Bar or the Dark Chocolate Skelligs Six18 Gin Truffle.

They also have a cafe onsite if you need a pick-me-up.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Google Maps location

17. Kerry Cliffs

Top attraction

Kerry Cliffs Ireland

These are definitely a highlight of this road trip and the lighting is perfect in the early evening hours. It costs €5 per person and closes at 7:30 p.m., so plan to arrive at least by 6:30 p.m. to have enough time to explore.

Google Maps location 

18. The Fisherman’s Bar in Portmagee

Top attraction

Seafood platter Fisherman's Bar Portmagee Ireland

Snag a table at this popular spot for dinner. If you’re a fan of seafood, you can’t skip the seafood sharing platter. Perfection!

Google Maps location

19. The Skellig Experience Centre 

Top attraction

Stop here if you’re interested in learning more about the Skellig Islands. The visitor’s center is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily from April to September, with more limited hours in March, October, and November (closed December to February).

Entry fee: €6

Google Maps location

20. Valentia Island Lighthouse

Top attraction

Valentia Island Lighthouse Ireland (Unsplash)
Image by Daniel Zbroja via Unsplash

One of the Great Lighthouses of Ireland, the 15-meter (49-foot) lighthouse on Valentia Island offers breathtaking coastal views.

A few other attractions can also be found on the grounds: the mysterious Glanleam Standing Stone, a 17th-century military fort, and the former living quarters of lighthouse keepers and their families. The latter now houses a museum and tearoom.

Entry fee: €7.50

Hours: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily

Google Maps location

21. Cahergal Stone Fort & Leacanabuaile Ring Fort

Hidden gem

These two neighboring historical landmarks are free to visit and interesting to see. Located in an area known by locals as “over the water”, their hilltop position offers breathtaking views of the estuaries to the south.

You can also spot Ballycarberry Castle nearby, but you’ll need to admire it from a distance as the grounds are closed to the public.

Cahergal Stone Fort location

Leacanabuaile Ring Fort location

22. Glenbeigh Fairy Forest

Hidden gem

If you’re traveling with children, this quirky spot could be a fun addition to your itinerary.

The magical 3 km forest walk is dotted with fairy doors, tiny houses, whimsical signs, and colorful painted rocks and toadstools waiting to be discovered.

23. Horseback riding on Rossbeigh Beach

Hidden gem

Rossbeigh Beach Ireland (Unsplash)
Image by Mark Lawson via Unsplash

A dreamy horseback ride on the beach will make you feel like a character in a fantasy novel. Rossbeigh Beach Horse Riding Centre offers 1-hour and 2-hour tours, during which you’ll ride from their farm through patchwork fields and grassy dunes out onto the sandy peninsula.

Tour information:

24. Kerry Bog Village Museum

Top attraction 

If you’re into history, this museum shows depictions of what life was like in Ireland during the 19th century

Walk through traditional thatched roof houses that are set up as they might look in centuries past, complete with antique furnishings, figurines, and sound effects. You can also see the resident Kerry bog ponies and Irish wolfhounds up close!

We chose to skip this spot as it’s a popular stop with tour buses, and we were actively trying to avoid the crowds. Also, I can’t speak personally about this particular place, but sometimes I feel the museums with figuring sets to be a bit… corny. Maybe it’s just me?

If this intrigues you, by all means pay it a visit (and grab the Irish coffee visitors rave about!). It is one of the top attractions in Kerry, after all, and is a good place to explore the rural history and heritage of this part of Ireland.

Insider Tip: The adjoining Red Fox Inn is known for their excellent Irish coffees.

Kerry Bog Village Info:

25. Killarney town

Top attraction

Killarney Ireland

The traditional Ring of Kerry loop starts and ends in Killarney, one of the reasons this town is among the top places to visit in Ireland.

Since you’ll want to beat the tour buses to popular sights like the Gap of Dunloe first thing in the morning, we’d recommend exploring the town of Killarney at the end of the day, after you’ve completed the loop.

Wander the colorful streets and pop in anywhere that strikes your fancy, whether it’s to grab a bite at one of Killarney’s top-notch restaurants, take a coffee to-go for your stroll, or find unique treasures in one of the shops.

As evening falls, the town’s vibrant music scene comes alive with Irish trad tunes. Pick a pub, grab a pint, and toe-tap the night away.

John M. Reidy

Scones at John M Reidy's Killarney Ireland

No matter what time of day you happen to be in Killarney, stop by John M. Reidy!

The building itself is very cool, with a maze-like quality to it. And the atmosphere at night is the best in town, so if you’re looking for a taste of local nightlife, this is the place to start your evening! Cozy up in a booth with grub and a boozy but delicious Calypso Coffee.

If you’re staying overnight in Killarney, it’s worth coming back to John M. Reidy again in the morning for excellent coffee and the largest variety of scone flavors we personally saw in Ireland.

Killarney Brewing Co.

Killarney Brewing & Distilling Ireland

If you’re a craft beer lover like we are, then Killarney Brewing will likely be on your list.

In our admittedly snobby opinion (we’re really into craft beer!), the beer is average. While it’s not the best beer we’ve ever had, it is always a fun experience to check out the local brewery on your travels. Plus, their two venues are very cool.

Personal recommendation: Our favorite Killarney Brewing beer we tried was their stout.

There are two locations to choose from in Killarney:

  1. Taproom close to city center

Serving crispy woodfired pizza, this casual spot makes a great place for dinner and a beer in the town of Killarney.

  1. Brewery & distillery outside the city

Located a bit outside of the city center, this huge venue is stunning and offers panoramic views of mountainous countryside in the not-so-far distance.

In addition to beer, they also have an onsite distillery and serve cocktails as well as an eclectic menu of American-style comfort foods.

26. Killarney National Park

Top attraction

Black Lake Killarney National Park Ireland

Ireland boasts 6 national parks, which is quite a lot for such a small country.

Ireland’s first national park to be established (in 1932) is none other than Killarney National Park, which also sees the most visitors. And it is popular for a reason.

With more than 25,000 acres of lakes and mountains, there are plenty of viewpoints and hikes around the park. 

If you want to see the best of them all, join this guided hike with a local hiking enthusiast that earns rave reviews from guests!

Muckross House & Abbey

Top attraction

Muckross House Co Kerry Ireland
Image by Todd Carter via Unsplash

Just a 9-minute drive south of town in Killarney National Park lies Muckross House, a 19th-century historical estate (think Downton Abbey) surrounded by beautiful gardens.

The meticulously manicured Muckross Gardens surrounding the house are free to explore, as are the nearby ruins of Muckross Abbey, an old Irish monastery. For a fee, you can wander elegant rooms furnished in the period style and tour the traditional farms.

The estate also includes a buffet-style restaurant and a craft shop.

Do it yourself:

  • Cost: €12 per person for the house and farm; free for the gardens
  • Hours: Check the hours here as they are different for the house, gardens, and farm, as well as for different months and days of the week.
  • How long: Guided tours of the house and farm take about 2.5 hours, which would make this a pretty big chunk of your day. We personally recommend exploring on your own so you can spend as much or as little time as you want.
  • Reservation: Not required
  • Google Maps Location

O’Sullivan’s Cascade

Hidden gem

O’Sullivan’s Cascade Ireland
Image by Gita Skrule via AllTrails

On the opposite shore of Lough Leane from Killarney lies the Tomies Wood, home to O’Sullivan’s Cascade.

This tranquil waterfall is a hidden gem surrounded by lush vegetation in an enchanting forest setting.

You can reach O’Sullivan’s Cascade via the Tomies Wood Trail. If you enjoy hiking, we recommend doing the full loop for breathtaking views of the forest, lake, and Tomies Mountains. You’ll need to take a side trail at the sign for O’Sullivan’s Cascade and descend some steps to get down to the falls, but it’s worth the detour.

Do it yourself:

  • Distance: 4.5 miles / 7.2 km loop
  • Elevation Gain: 879 ft / 268 m
  • Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • How long: 2 hours 12 minutes (estimate)
  • View the trail notes

Ross Castle

Top attraction

Ross Castle Killarney Ireland

Perched on an inlet of Lough Leane, Ross Castle is thought to have been built in the 15th century.

It is one of the most popular landmarks in Killarney and can be enjoyed from the outside (for free) or by touring the interior. 

Those who choose to tour Ross Castle can get an idea of what it looked like in its peak and learn about the legends that surround this citadel.

We arrived after closing hours, so we enjoyed Ross Castle from the outside. 

  • Cost: €5 per person
  • Hours: (during peak season) 9:30 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. (last admission at 5 p.m.)
  • How long: The guided tour takes about 45 minutes
  • Google Maps location

Perfect Ring of Kerry Itinerary

Sneem Seaweed Baths Ireland

We’re sharing what we think is the perfect route for the Ring of Kerry. This includes some of the popular spots as well as some hidden gems.

You’ll find an option for doing the Ring in 1 day as well as how we’d split it over 2 days. 

Ring of Kerry in 2 days

If you have time, we recommend spending 2 days along this route so you can really enjoy the area and see some hidden gems.

Day 1

  • Gap of Dunloe
  • Torc Waterfall
  • Ladies View
  • Moll’s Gap
  • Pancakes at The Strawberry Field
  • Sneem Seaweed Baths (make a reservation)
  • Staigue Stone Fort (if you have time)
  • Brackaharagh Beach (if it’s a nice day)
  • Ballinskelligs Castle & Abbey (if you have time)
  • Skelligs Chocolate
  • Kerry Cliffs
  • Fisherman’s Bar
  • Stay in or near Portmagee
    • we camped at the Kerry Cliffs in our rental campervan and it was the perfect base (if you’re camping)

Day 2

  • Skellig Islands boat trip (book in advance)
  • Valentia Island & Lighthouse
  • Cahergal Stone Fort & Leacanabuaile Ring Fort

Now, make a choice:

  1. return to Killarney to complete the loop
    • Visit Ross Castle and/or Muckross House & Abbey
    • celebrate completing the Ring of Kerry with a beer from Killarney Brewing or a Calypso Coffee at John M. Reidy
  2. instead, continue onto the Dingle Peninsula 

Ring of Kerry in 1 day

If you only have one day to see the Ring of Kerry (starting and ending in Killarney), this is the route we suggest following:

  • Torc Waterfall 
  • Ladies View
  • Moll’s Gap
  • Brackaharagh Beach (if it’s a nice day)
  • Lunch at O’Carroll’s Cove (lunch option #1, more options later on)
  • Ballinskelligs Castle & Abbey (if you have time)
  • Skelligs Chocolate
  • Driftwood Surf Cafe (lunch option #2)
  • Kerry Cliffs
  • Fisherman’s Bar (lunch option #3)
  • Valentia Island & Lighthouse
  • Cahergal Stone Fort & Leacanabuaile Ring Fort
  • Loop back to Killarney

Note: If you follow this route, we highly recommend you see the Gap of Dunloe on a different day, as it is very worthwhile.

Ring of Kerry tours

This is a very popular tour bus route, so if you don’t feel comfortable driving in Ireland, you can certainly join a guided tour.

This tour is one of the most highly-rated day trips from Killarney. If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, this small group tour is run by a very reputable company and includes the Ring of Kerry as part of a 5-day trip through the southwest of Ireland.

Ring of Kerry FAQs

Ring of Kerry Ireland

Still have questions? We’ve got answers!

How long does the Ring of Kerry take?

Without stopping at all, Google Maps estimates it should take about 3 hours to drive the Ring of Kerry. But that comes with a big, fat asterisk because it will definitely, without a doubt, for sure take longer than that.

To figure out how much time you should dedicate to the Ring of Kerry, start with a base of 3 hours. Choose the stops you definitely don’t want to miss and add up how much time you think you’ll spend at those stops. Now add an extra 2-3 hours for traffic and unscheduled stops.

Can I drive the Ring of Kerry in one day?

Kerry Cliffs Ireland

Yes, you absolutely can drive the Ring of Kerry in 1 day. In fact, this is what most visitors do.

If you have the time, however, we’d recommend giving yourself a bit more time. We think 1.5 days or even 2 full days would be perfect because you can get off the beaten path and not feel rushed. 

However, we understand this may not be possible depending on how many days you have in Ireland. 

In short: if you only have one day, that’s just fine!

Should I drive clockwise or counterclockwise?

Larger vehicles, such as trailers and tour buses, must drive the Ring of Kerry in a counter-clockwise direction. We strongly recommend driving clockwise to avoid getting stuck behind the bigger vehicles.

How difficult is it to drive the Ring of Kerry?

Driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland

If you’re worried about driving the Ring of Kerry, then we have some good news for you: it’s easier than you’re probably thinking!

That said, you’ll still need to take it slow and use caution. The roads can get very narrow (and twisty-turny), so watch for oncoming traffic and be prepared to pull over if necessary.

We have a whole guide to driving in Ireland, but here are a couple important tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your eyes on the road. I’m sure that seems obvious, but this area is so jaw-droppingly gorgeous that you’ll be tempted to check out the view at every turn. Instead, stop at designated viewpoints and pull-outs.
  • Watch out for sheep. This is one area in Ireland where we saw lots of livestock, so be on the lookout for jaywalking animals!

Which is better: Self-driving or taking a tour?

Driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland

This is a subjective question and the answer will vary depending on your comfort level with driving as well as your travel style.

Personally, we prefer driving ourselves so we can go at our own pace. 

We always aim to avoid the crowds of the tour buses instead of being part of that crowd. We found this loop to be relatively easy and straightforward to drive on our own. The stops we loved the most were ones that are not on the bus tour routes, so I’m not sure we would have had such a good experience had we gone on a tour.

All that said, a tour can be a good way to see the top sights without having to worry about logistics or driving in a new country.

Here are 2 guided tours we’d recommend:

  • This tour is one of the most highly-rated day trips from Killarney. 
  • If you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, this small group tour is run by a very reputable company and includes the Ring of Kerry as part of a 5-day trip through the southwest of Ireland.

Is the Ring of Kerry crowded?

Fisherman's Bar Portmagee Ireland

The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular routes in Ireland (and for good reason!), so you will definitely encounter other tourists. 

The stops we’ve listed as top attractions, such as the Gap of Dunloe, Brackaharagh Beach, or the Kerry Cliffs, can get particularly crowded. But with some of the hidden gems, like Sneem Seaweed Baths, we were the only people there during our visit.

Which is better: the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula?

Ring of Kerry Ireland
Ring of Kerry
Dingle Peninsula Ireland
Dingle Peninsula

This is very subjective, however, if we had to choose between the two, the Dingle Peninsula would be our pick.

The views are arguably more epic and it is less crowded overall.

If you have time, I’d highly recommend doing both scenic drives as they each have something different to offer. We truly had a fantastic time on each. 

But if you only have time for one, go with the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula.

Tips for driving the Ring of Kerry

Driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland
  1. Decide which stops you’ll skip
  2. Drive clockwise
  3. Start early
  4. Come with a plan
  5. Make it a point to get off the beaten track
  6. Give yourself more than one day (if possible)

Our personal experience on the Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry beach Ireland

I was nervous that the Ring of Kerry would be super crowded and overhyped. To make matters worse, we found out a week before our trip that we would be in the area over a holiday weekend. *insert facepalm here*

Psst! To avoid mistakes like this and others, check out our guide with everything you need to start planning your Ireland trip (lots of mistakes & tips!).

After doing (lots of!) research, we determined that the Gap of Dunloe would be our first stop of the day. We were driving a motorhome, and were concerned there wouldn’t be enough parking, so we agreed we’d better get there early!

Plus, we wanted to get a head start on the tour buses so we weren’t following them at every stop of the day.

Usually, we like to take our time a bit in the mornings with a mug of coffee to start the day. But on this day, we threw on clothes and drove straight from our campground to the Gap of Dunloe before even brushing our teeth. Our plan was to get ready once we had secured a spot.

We arrived at the parking lot prepared for the worst, but to our surprise, we were some of the first people there at just after 7 a.m.* 

*We were there in early June and have heard that it gets busier throughout the summer months, so don’t use our experience as an excuse to get there late.

We finally brushed our teeth, wiped the sleep out of our eyes, and made ourselves presentable for the day before starting the hike. We crossed paths with only a couple of other people (one of whom we learned later is the local cafe owner and does this walk each morning before the crowds arrive). 

When we arrived at the viewpoint at the lake, we had it entirely to ourselves. It was utter magic, and definitely wouldn’t have been so perfect had we arrived later.

Best places to eat along the Ring of Kerry

Seafood platter Fisherman's Bar Portmagee Ireland

If you love food as much as we do, you’re likely wondering where to get grub along this route.

First of all, we’d recommend packing some snacks because although there are some excellent cafes and restaurants along the way, there are long stretches where your options will be slim.

Having some snacks on hand will keep the hanger at bay so you can enjoy the stops and make it to your meal destinations without strangling your travel companion. If you know, you know.

Here are some of our favorite places to eat along the Ring of Kerry. If you’re wondering where to eat in Killarney, we have recommendations for that, too!

O’Carrolls Cove

This beachfront property has gorgeous views. Reservations are recommended if you want to be seated and can only be made by phone. Otherwise, there’s a limited menu of takeaway food and drinks.

Google Maps location

Driftwood Surf Cafe

This modern yet cozy restaurant on the Skellig Ring has both indoor and outdoor seating with stunning ocean views. With a location like this, you know the seafood is gonna be top-notch; we recommend the scallops, fish and chips, and seafood chowder!

Google Maps location

Fisherman’s Bar

Snag a table on the patio at this popular spot in Portmagee for dinner. If you’re a fan of seafood, you can’t skip the seafood sharing platter. Perfection!

Google Maps location

Where to stay along the Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry Ireland campervan

You can either choose to base yourself in Killarney or to stay in the countryside along the Ring of Kerry.

Want to stay in Killarney? This can be a convenient choice, as you can do the Ring of Kerry as one (long!) day trip. Check out this round-up of our top picks for the best places to stay in Killarney (there are lots of great options.

Want to stay in the countryside? If you’d prefer to stay along the Ring of Kerry, we’ve selected some great options for you. Be sure you know where the exact location is along the route, as this will impact how you spend your time, and may even dictate which direction you drive the loop. 

The Cottage at Lakefield

Cottage at Lakefield Ring of Kerry Ireland (Airbnb)
Image source: Airbnb

Location: Killorglin

This cozy cottage with a wood-burning fireplace, a private sauna, and a fire pit with stunning lake views makes an excellent choice (especially for a family). This highly-rated Airbnb is located on a Dark Sky Reserve, so on a clear night, the stars are spectacular. 

Coach House at Glashnacree House & Gardens 

Coach House at Glashnacree House & Gardens Ring of Kerry Ireland (Airbnb)
Image source: Airbnb

Location: Sneem

With a heated pool, fire pit, and grill, this Airbnb boasts some seriously good amenities. Plus, this property consistently earns 5-star ratings, which says a lot about the space and the host.

Foighne B&B 

Foighne B&B Ring of Kerry Ireland (Airbnb)
Image source: Airbnb

Location: Castlecove

This Bed & Breakfast is run by a Canadian couple whose hospitality earns them top reviews. The property is clean and comfortable and offers unobstructed ocean views. Reviewers also rave about the pancakes served at breakfast!

Ring of Kerry Glamping Pod

Ring of Kerry Glamping Pod Ireland (Airbnb)
Image source: Airbnb

Location: Cahersiveen

This comfortable and cozy glamping pod is in a perfect location for splitting the Ring of Kerry up over 2 days. This property is reasonably-priced, making this a great pick for budget travelers or those in search of a unique stay.

Read our full list of the best Airbnbs in Ireland.

Camping on the Ring of Kerry 

Ring of Kerry Ireland campervan
Kerry Cliffs campground

We’d highly recommend staying at the Kerry Cliffs campground. Pay for your spot during your visit so you can get back in after they close. There are minimal facilities, but it is not crowded and the location is perfect. Plus, you have access to the cliffs in the morning before it’s open to the public!

Alternative: Goosey Island Motorhome Park, located in Sneem, is a good choice too.

Read our full list of the best campgrounds in Ireland.

What to pack for your Ring of Kerry road trip

Ring of Kerry Ireland campervan

We have a whole checklist of things to pack for your trip to Ireland, but here are some general items you don’t want to forget on your road trip:

  • Driver’s license
  • Dashboard mount: Safety first! You’re not allowed to use your phone while driving in many places (plus, it’s just unsafe!), so attach your Google Maps to your dash.
  • Sunglasses: Umm, yeah, this is a must. No explanation needed.
  • Travel Lumbar Pillow: If you have a bad back (like Ben!), this would be clutch! He had some back issues during our trip, and was wishing we had packed his lumbar pillow. It’s way too bulky to fly with though, so I found this pillow for next time!
  • Water bottle: Must have on a road trip. Our favorite is Hydro Flasks because they keep your water so cold!
  • Travel Mug: Bring your own coffee cup into cafes and save on waste (and sometimes a few cents!)
  • Car Outlet Inverter: While you’re driving, charge your larger devices like laptops and cameras with a portable inverter that plugs into your car. 
  • Portable jumper cables: This tiny little device has a power pack that effectively jumps your vehicle (without another car). 
  • Travel insurance: We NEVER travel without it, but especially for a road trip, it’s a good thing to plan for. 

Don’t forget to scoop up your free Ireland packing list PDF download! We’ve provided packing checklists for everything from clothing and toiletries (for both women and men!) to electronics and extra gear you may consider packing if you plan to do some campervan travels.

Plus, we’re sharing tons of packing hacks and tips for traveling in Ireland that you won’t find anywhere else!

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Are you planning a trip to Ireland?

We have lots of resources for travel in Ireland and destinations throughout the country. Check out our Ireland Travel Homepage for everything you need to know, or read some of our favorite articles below.

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We want to hear from you!

Do you have more questions about the Ring of Kerry that we didn’t cover in this article? Any recommendations for hidden gems we might have missed? Leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

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