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Ring of Kerry: Your Ultimate Guide

Considering a Ring of Kerry tour? Step onboard! We know this popular route inside out.

What is the Ring of Kerry?

The Ring of Kerry is a touring route around the Iveragh peninsula in southwestern Ireland. See jaw-dropping natural scenery and plenty of historic attractions along 180km (112 miles) of Ireland’s most popular and famed scenic tourist regions.

Map showing the main towns and features of the Ring of Kerry in the southwestern corner of Ireland

Ring of Kerry map

Things to do on the Ring of Kerry

Take a horse drawn jaunting car around Killarney National Park. See this magnificent parkland in style! Explore elegant Muckross House and Gardens, medieval Muckross Abbey, and multi-tiered Torc Waterfall. Meet the local herd of native red deer.

Jaunting around the Killarney National Park in Kerry

Jaunting around Kerry’s Killarney National Park in a horse drawn carriage

Gaze down over the idyllic lakes of Killarney from Ladies View. This viewpoint was made famous by a 19th century visit from Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting.

Drop into Kenmare – a visit to this lively little town is a perfect opportunity to catch authentic traditional Irish music performances and handmade local crafts.

The Ring of Kerry’s hidden gems

Cahergal Ringfort – Ireland is dotted with ancient stone ringforts. But you won’t find many as well preserved as that near Cahirsiveen on the northern stretch of the Ring of Kerry. Imagine yourself an early medieval warrior as you walk into the circular stone walls of this impressive structure.

Derrynane beach and the Atlantic Ocean in the sunshine

Derrynane beach and the Atlantic Ocean in the sunshine

Derrynane House – this was the historic home to one of Ireland’s greatest figures, Daniel O’Connell. Explore the grounds and learn the story of ‘The Liberator’. A ramble over nearby dunes reveals the golden sands of Derrynane beach.

Best food and drink on the Ring of Kerry

The Moorings – Portmagee is a quaint little village where you’ll embark for the Skellig islands or cross the bridge to Valentia. Before or after, make sure to tuck into some fresh seafood and a creamy pint of Guinness at The Moorings. Watch out for the Star Wars paraphernalia behind the bar – this is where Mark Hamill and friends stayed while filming.

Crab salad from Avoca

Avoca Moll’s Gap – Undoubtedly the most spectacularly-sited outlet of this Irish café-cum-lifestyle chain; enjoy your cappuccino with a stunning view of the mountains. Take your choice from delicious baked goods, fresh soups, snacks, salads and full hot lunches.

Don’t miss these side trips from the Ring of Kerry

The magical Skellig Islands – these islands have it all. They’re a former Star Wars film set, an ancient monastic site, as well as one of only three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Ireland.

Your options are: land and explore the 1400 year old monastery site on Skellig Michael; or cruise around both islands, including uninhabited Little Skellig, one of the world’s biggest gannet colonies. The ocean crossing to the Skellig Islands lasts approximately 60 minutes each way and can be rough. Sea legs are definitely required!

Boat preparing to land passengers on Skellig Michael

Boat preparing to land passengers on Skellig Michael

Valentia Island – landlubbers can explore Valentia Island; accessible by bridge and full of fun activities. Lip-smacking is guaranteed at Valentia Ice Cream, made with milk from a local, grass-fed pedigree herd. Hike out to Bray Head for a stunning oceanic panorama – next stop, America!

Ring of Kerry tips from our VagaGuides

We are biased. But we recommend taking a Vagabond or Driftwood tour to get the best from the Ring of Kerry. We asked our amazing VagaGuides for their favourite Ring of Kerry spots:

Jason Tour Guide Vagabond ToursVagaGuide Jason says:

“If you’ve done the ring a few times before, don’t go around it, go straight down the middle via the Ballaghisheen Pass. It’s beautiful, quiet and off the beaten path; more of a scenic drive with optional hikes along the way.”

VagaGuide MarkVagaGuide Mark says:

“Some of the best parts of the Ring of Kerry are very near to, but not actually on it: Aghadoe viewing point; Rossbeigh beach; Bray Head, Derrynane fairy trail, beach and Ogham stone; Loher fort and Parknasilla.

Ciara MyburghVagaGuide Ciara says:

“Touring the Ring of Kerry in a car? We advise you to travel the route in a counter-clockwise direction because all large tour buses (though not ours!) must travel clockwise. Even better, try to stay away off the beaten path and away from the traffic.

If you found this blog useful, you may also enjoy our other guides to Ireland:

Ireland’s Prettiest Towns and Villages Skellig Michael: Star Wars Film Set Your Ultimate Ireland Travel Guide When is the Best Time to Visit Ireland? What to Pack for a Trip to Ireland

Let us guide you around the Ring of Kerry

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*Based on US$1 = €0.84. Above price is for 2019 tours.

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