The Ring of Kerry is a “must-see” when visiting Ireland. The beautiful, scenic Ring of Kerry is a trail that spans over 200 kilometers. Along the path there are multiple stop points to admire some of the most beautiful views in all of Ireland. Perfect for golf, cycling, fishing, hiking, riding, and watersports, the spectacular beauty of the Ring of Kerry has something for everyone. From castles, to beaches, to stunning mountain views, the sites are almost unfathomably beautiful. But where to start? What should you see first? Short on time and want to see just the highlights? Read on to find out more about the MUST SEES of the stunning Ring of Kerry.
*It is recommend to travel the Ring of Kerry counter clockwise to avoid the typical tourist traffic on the road and at the sites. The information listed below is listed in a counter clockwise order with a home base of Killarney.
Here is a map of The Ring of Kerry to help guide your travels.
Killarney: Killarney is a thriving and charming city situated on the Ring of Kerry. There are an abundance of places to explore, eat, drink, and listen to live, traditional Irish music. Read more about Killarney and Our Favorite Local Spots HERE.
Rossbeigh: Although the year-round temperatures of Ireland may not make you tempted to jump into the Atlantic Ocean, Rossbeigh is a stunning beach site to see, none the less. The sandy beach stretches over 8 kilometers and offers panoramic views of the region’s surrounding mountains. If you are feeling brave, try your hand at surfing or windsurfing on the waters here.
Reenard Point: If you want to explore the beautiful Valentia Island, Reenard Point is where to catch the ferry (the ferry will take your vehicle across as well). There is an excellent restaurant here called The Point Seafood Bar. It’s a perfect place to grab a snack before you embark on the next portion of your journey on Valentia Island.
Valentia Island: This Island was one of my favorite destinations on the Ring of Kerry. It is stunningly beautiful, with multiple lookout points around the island. I recommend stop number one to be the Valentia Lighthouse. Next, the Fogher Cliffs of Valentia. The cliffs offer panoramic views of the island and of the mainland (or the “main island”, more accurately stated).
Near the Lighthouse:
View from the Fogher Cliffs:
Portmagee: After exploring Valentia Island, you will cross a bridge that arrives in Portmagee. This tiny town has a few shops and a few pubs. If you didn’t have the chance to eat before exploring the island, it’s probably time for lunch and a pint! Of the five restaurants in town, I recommend the Bridge Bar. Their seafood is great, and so is the Guinness – although they also offer a list of local craft beer and ciders.
Waterville: Waterville is a quaint little town on the West coast, located along the Ring of Kerry. It is a fair size town with multiple restaurants, shops, and accommodations. If you are looking for somewhere quieter and smaller than Killarney for your home base, Waterville may be a good option. Charlie Chaplain apparently spent a large amount of time in this town, enjoying the beautiful ocean and views!
Sneem: Sneem is surrounded by beautiful mountains and a wild and rugged coast, boasting some of the best views in Ireland. There are two large hotels in Sneem, where you may choose to stay during your Ring of Kerry adventures. There are also plenty of pubs and shops to check out in town.
Moll’s Gap: Moll’s gap, a pass formed from old red sandstone rocks, is located on the Ring of Kerry and offers stunning panoramic views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks Mountains. This stop is visited by thousands of tourists each year and is a must-see for the Ring of Kerry visitors.
Ladies View: Debatably the most beautiful view on the Ring of Kerry, Ladies View is a lookout that offers panoramic views of the mountains and the three lakes. The name originated from the admiration of Queen Victoria and her ladies-in-waiting during their visit to Kerry in 1861.
Torc Waterfall: The Torc waterfall is located a mere seven kilometers from the city of Killarney, so it is the perfect destination for hikers and cyclists. The waterfall is over 70 feet tall and is surrounded by beautiful trees, shrubs, and woodland. The waterfall, although always beautiful, is most stunning after heavy rainfall. From the parking lot, it takes about five minutes walking to reach the falls. If you’re feeling up to the task, climb the 100 steps to the left of the falls to admire a beautiful view of the lakes.
Muckross House, Gardens, and Traditional Farms: This 19th century mansion, built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, Mary Balfour Herbert, was constructed between 1839 and 1843. In the 1850s, expensive gardens were created in preparation for Queen Victoria’s visit in 1861. To add to its charm is a background of the famous Killarney National Park and Muckross Lake.
Ross Castle: The 15th century tower house and castle is located in the Killarney National Park at the edge of Lough Leane. The beautiful castle is located at the start of the Killarney Lakes. The castle is open to the public. While you are here, catch a boat from the castle to the spectacular Gap of Dunloe.
Gap of Dunloe: Access the beautiful Gap of Dunloe by taking a scenic boat tour from Ross Castle. The boat ride lasts approximately 1.5 hours, and the boatmen are full of local knowledge about the surrounding national park. Once you reach the Gap of Dunloe, you can take a jaunting car (i.e., horse and carriage), walk, or cycle the 11 kilometers through the stunning black valley. Regular shuttles from the path’s end point will take you back to Ross castle in approximately 30 minutes.
The Killarney Lakes:
The hike to Gap of Dunloe: