Planning on visiting and exploring the stunning Ring of Kerry Ireland? I got you covered!
Nestled in the captivating landscapes of Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is a mesmerizing route through rugged coastlines, dramatic mountains, and charming villages that offer a truly immersive experience of ancient history, breathtaking natural beauty, and warm Irish hospitality.
I drove around the Ring of Kerry and stopped at all the most beautiful sights in the area and you will be surprised to know that there are so many detours you can take from the Ring of Kerry. In this post I will tell you all the main places you must visit during your trip.
The Ring of Kerry map
The Best Things to Do in the Ring of Kerry, Ireland
1. Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is an unparalleled destination within the iconic Ring of Kerry.
Spanning over 26,000 acres, this majestic expanse of pristine wilderness is known for its awe-inspiring beauty.
Therefore, from the enchanting trails that wind through ancient woodlands to the shimmering waters of the famous Lakes of Killarney, this national park offers a remarkable opportunity to witness Ireland’s natural wonders up close.
Furthermore, with abundant wildlife, including majestic red deer and various bird species, Killarney National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.
So, whether you prefer a day of hiking, cycling, or simply immersing in tranquility, a visit to Killarney National Park promises an unforgettable experience amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the Ring of Kerry.
2. Ross Castle
Ross Castle is the perfect destination to experience Ireland’s rich history and a must-visit attraction along the renowned Ring of Kerry.
Situated on the shores of Lough Leane, this imposing fortress is an excellent example of medieval grandeur.
In fact, the moment you step through its ancient stone walls, you’ll feel as if you suddenly went back in time.
So, immerse yourself in the tales of chivalry and intrigue that once unfolded within these hallowed grounds through a guided tour, explore its well-preserved rooms, and marvel at the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from the castle’s vantage point.
You can also book a boat tour from the Castle and enjoy a delicious scone and coffee in the cute coffee shop located in the Castle backyard.
3. The Gap of Dunloe
The Gap of Dunloe is a breathtaking natural wonder, leaving visitors awestruck with its rugged beauty along the Ring of Kerry.
Specifically, the Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass carved by glacial forces over millions of years with stunning landscapes of sheer cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and serene lakes.
Adventurers can choose to explore the Gap of Dunloe on foot, by bike, or by horse-drawn carriage, immersing themselves in the raw magnificence of the surroundings.
So, as you cross the winding path, you’ll be greeted by panoramic vistas that showcase the raw power of nature. Marvel at the imposing peaks, traverse the ancient stone bridges, and feel rural Irealnd’s magnificence.
4. Explore the Town of Kenmare
When visiting the Ring of Kerry, a stop in the charming town of Kenmare is a must for any traveler seeking an authentic Irish experience.
Nestled between the majestic mountains and the tranquil Kenmare Bay, this picturesque town offers a combination of natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality.
Stroll along the lively streets’ vibrant shops, boutiques, and traditional pubs to indulge in hearty Irish cuisine and enjoy live music sessions, and immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the Kenmare Heritage Centre to learn more about the town’s fascinating past through interactive exhibits and displays.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Kenmare is an ideal base for exploring nearby hiking trails, fishing spots, and even a round of golf on one of the world-class courses.
5. Torc Waterfall
Tucked away within the lush woodlands of Killarney National Park, Torc Waterfall is a natural wonder that will surely enchant all who visit the Ring of Kerry.
As you follow the park’s trail through the ancient forest, you’ll find the majestic Torc Waterfall, plunging gracefully into a crystal-clear pool below.
The sheer power and beauty of the cascading waters create a mesmerizing spectacle that leaves visitors in awe.
Capture the perfect photograph, breathe in the refreshing mist, or simply take a moment to immerse yourself in the tranquility of this natural oasis.
6. Muckross House, Gardens & Traditional Farms
Nestled within the enchanting surroundings of Killarney National Park, Muckross House is a grand Victorian mansion allowing you to immerse in Ireland’s rich heritage.
Step inside and explore the elegant rooms adorned with elegant furnishings and intricate details that transport you back in time.
Furthermore, marvel at the meticulously manicured gardens, with their vibrant displays of flowers and serene lakes that offer a tranquil escape from the bustling world outside.
But the experience doesn’t end there. Adjacent to the estate, traditional farms allow you to witness rural Irish life as it once was.
Meet the friendly farm animals, learn about traditional farming methods, and immerse yourself in the customs and traditions of the area.
👉🏽 Muckross Abbey
Another must-visit in the area is the Muckross Abbey, which stands as a hauntingly beautiful testament to Ireland’s rich history and spiritual heritage.
This ancient Franciscan friary, dating back to the 15th century, exudes an air of mystery and tranquility.
The abbey’s atmospheric ruins, with intricate carvings, moss-covered walls, and towering yew trees, create a captivating setting for exploration and contemplation.
Discover the beautiful courtyard, the unique triple-tiered windows, and the exquisite medieval tombstones that dot the grounds.
As you wander through the abbey’s halls and chambers, simply close your eyes, breathe, and travel to other lands, worlds, and times.
7. Ladies View
Perched high above the glimmering lakes and verdant valleys of the Ring of Kerry, Ladies View is a breathtaking viewpoint named after the admiration of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting during their visit in 1861, offering a vista that is nothing short of magical.
While at Ladies View, marvel at a sweeping panorama of the surrounding countryside, with rolling hills, shimmering lakes, and cascading waterfalls.
Furthermore, the ever-changing colors of the landscape, from the vibrant greens of the valleys to the deep blues of the lakes, will surely leave you spellbound.
So, breathe in the crisp mountain air, listen to the sounds of nature, and let the beauty of Ladies View wash over you.
8. Skellig Rocks
Located off the coast of County Kerry and rising dramatically from the wild Atlantic Ocean, the Skellig Rocks are remote and rugged islands.
Skellig Michael is the largest of the two islands and home to an ancient monastic settlement that dates back to the 6th century.
Therefore, perched precariously on the steep cliffs, the awe-inspiring St. Michael’s Chapel, as well as the stone beehive huts, transport visitors back in time, providing a glimpse into the lives of the monks who sought solace and spiritual connection in this isolated sanctuary.
But the allure of the Skellig Rocks extends beyond their historical significance. The jagged cliffs, beautiful seabird colonies, and pristine wilderness create an otherworldly atmosphere.
So, it’s no wonder that these mystical islands served as a filming location for the Star Wars franchise.
9. Portmagee Village
Portmagee Village is a charming and picturesque destination for those who wish to experience Irish coastal life.
Specifically, the village’s quaint ambiance, colorful houses, and bustling harbor offer a warm welcome to visitors exploring the region.
Stroll along the waterfront, enjoy the postcard-like scenery of the fishing boats bobbing gently in the harbor, immerse yourself in the friendly atmosphere as you visit the local pubs, indulge in freshly caught seafood delicacies in the popular The Moorings restaurants while listening to live music and, sample a pint of Guinness.
Make sure you book in advance as it’s always packed, especially on weekends.
Drive along the Skelling Ring and stop at the spectacular Kerry Cliffs, admiring the views, take a tour of Skelling Island, and drive all the way across the bridge to Valentia Island. More about it in a separate post.
I stayed in Portmagee Village for a couple of nights and I wished I stayed longer.
It’s indeed a hidden and underrated gem along the Ring of Kerry, providing an authentic Irish experience with its coastal charm, friendly locals, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
10. Cahergall Stone Fort
Steeped in history and mystery, Cahergall Stone Fort is a captivating spot showcasing Ireland’s ancient past.
It is a well-preserved stone ring fort, believed to have been constructed in the 9th century, offering a glimpse into the lives of the people who once inhabited this imposing structure.
As you approach the fort, you are greeted by its circular walls, meticulously built with layers of stone and featuring a distinct entranceway.
Explore the intricate network of stone passageways, marvel at the ingenuity of the construction, and enjoy panoramic views of rolling green hills and distant coastal vistas.
11. Visit Valentia Island
A visit to Valentia Island is a journey to a world of natural wonders and rich history, making it a standout attraction along the Ring of Kerry.
Located just off the coast, it offers diverse experiences. Begin by exploring the rugged coastline, with its towering cliffs and secluded coves, where crashing waves meet the land in a mesmerizing display of power and beauty.
Then, discover the striking geological formations, such as the breathtaking Bray Head and the awe-inspiring Tetrapod Trackway, one of the world’s oldest fossilized footprints.
To delve into the island’s history, visit the Valentia Heritage Centre, where you can learn about its role in the transatlantic telegraph cable and its impact on global communication.
And don’t forget to take a stroll through the colorful village of Knightstown, stopping by charming shops and local eateries.
👉🏽 Valentia Slate Quarry
A must-visit destination on the island is the Valentia Slate Quarry, a historic landmark offering a glimpse into the island’s rich industrial history.
The 19th-century quarry was once a bustling center for slate production, contributing to the construction of iconic buildings across Ireland and beyond.
Today, visitors can explore the remnants of this once-thriving industry and gain insights into the skilled craftsmanship and labor that went into extracting and shaping the slate.
However, Valentia Slate Quarry is both a testament to the island’s industrial heritage and a reminder of the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who worked there.
So, a visit to this historic site offers a unique perspective on the island’s past and the impact of its natural resources across the world.
12. Blasket Islands
Embark on an unforgettable adventure by visiting the Blasket Islands, a group of stunning and uninhabited islands off the coast of the Ring of Kerry, with rugged beauty and rich cultural heritage.
Specifically, the Blasket Islands were once home to a vibrant Gaelic-speaking community, whose remnants of their unique way of life can still be seen today.
Immerse yourself in the island’s rich literary history, as it was the birthplace of renowned Irish writers and poets, and wander through the abandoned villages to learn about the islanders’ hardships and triumphs.
Additionally, take a boat tour to experience the sheer awe of the Atlantic Ocean, marvel at the towering island cliffs, and explore the pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and rolling green landscapes that make up this untouched paradise.
13. Ballycarbery Castle Ruins
If you want to step into a world of ancient grandeur, then explore the beautiful ruins of Ballycarbery Castle, a must-visit attraction along the Ring of Kerry.
Located near Cahersiveen, this imposing fortress dating back to the 16th century features majestic stone walls striking against the backdrop of the rugged landscape.
Unfortunately, the castle was closed at the time I visited, and it was pouring as well, but you can still enjoy it from the road together with the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside with green fields, distant mountains, and the shimmering waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply seeking a picturesque setting, Ballycarbery Castle is sure to leave a lasting impression on your journey along the Ring of Kerry.
14. Gougane Barra
Gougane Barra is a little haven within the enchanting landscapes of the Ring of Kerry at the border with Cork County. It is a tranquil and picturesque valley home to the stunning Gougane Barra Lake, lush forests, and towering mountains.
Furthermore, at the heart of this idyllic setting lies a charming 19th-century church perched on a small island in the middle of the lake.
Once you cross the stone bridge, you’ll find a world of serenity and spirituality where you can immerse in peaceful bliss.
Apart from the church, explore the walking trails that wind through the surrounding woodlands and discover cascading waterfalls with breathtaking vistas and rich wildlife such as deer and otters.
15. Beara Peninsula
Make sure you don’t miss the Beara Peninsula. It’s this amazing, hidden gem of a coastal route that’s brimming with stunning scenery and awesome cultural finds. You won’t want to miss it! a lesser-known but equally captivating coastal route that offers a wealth of natural beauty and cultural treasures.
Firstly, drive through rugged landscapes, charming villages, and breathtaking vistas and discover the picturesque towns of Castletownbere and Kenmare, where traditional Irish charm and hospitality abound.
Then, admire the stunning coastal cliffs, all the way to the Mizen Head, with its dramatic drops into the crashing waves below. There you have to pay an entry ticket of 7 Euro and you can walk along the safe path all the way to the old lighthouse where besides the stunning views you can read about the local history.
Furthermore, be sure to discover ancient stone circles, mystical fairy forts, and historic castles that dot the landscape, each with its own unique story to tell.
And, of course, don’t forget to indulge in delicious seafood freshly caught from the nearby waters and immerse yourself in the warm atmosphere of local pubs and cafes.
16. Caherdaniel Beaches
If you’re a nature and beach lover, escape to the pristine shores of Caherdaniel Beaches, a collection of stunning coastal gems that highlight the natural beauty of the Ring of Kerry.
With crystal-clear waters, golden sands, and dramatic cliffs, the Caherdaniel Beaches offer a serene and picturesque retreat for beach lovers.
Derrynane Beach, in particular, is a standout destination, with its azure waters and soft sand, backed by lush green hills.
Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, feel the gentle sea breeze on your face, and listen to the soothing sound of waves lapping against the shore.
For the more adventurous, indulge in water sports such as kayaking or paddleboarding, or simply bask in the sun and enjoy a picnic on the beach.
17. Derrynane House
A fantastic way to experience the grandeur and history of Ireland’s past is to visit the Derrynane House.
Located in the stunning landscapes of Derrynane Bay, this historic house was once the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, a prominent figure in Irish history.
Step inside the beautifully preserved house and explore its opulent rooms adorned with period furniture, exquisite artwork, and personal mementos of the O’Connell family.
Learn about Daniel O’Connell’s significant contributions to Irish politics and Catholic Emancipation.
Then, after exploring the house’s interior and history, wander through the lush gardens surrounding the house, filled with vibrant flowers, serene ponds, and winding paths that offer breathtaking views of the bay.
Take a stroll along the sandy beaches just steps away from the house, and feel the cool Atlantic breeze against your skin.
18. Dolphin and Whale Watching
Whether you’re interested in marine life or simply want to see something different, an exhilarating adventure of dolphins and whales is an experience that will leave you in awe.
Step aboard a specialized boat and set sail into the vast Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by knowledgeable guides who will share their expertise and insights.
As you venture further into the deep blue, keep your eyes peeled for playful dolphins leaping through the waves and majestic whales breaching the surface.
Specifically, the waters surrounding the Ring of Kerry are home to various species, including common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and even the occasional humpback or minkewhale.
So, be ready to capture unforgettable moments as these magnificent creatures reveal themselves in their natural habitat.
The Best Tours to the Ring of Kerry
5.0 ⭐️ 154 Reviews
On this self-guided tour, you’ll receive a bike rental and a map highlighting the most popular landmarks, such as Muckross House and Gardens, Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfall, and Muckross Traditional Farms.
So, with the freedom to explore at your own pace, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Killarney National Park effortlessly.
5.0 ⭐️ 228 Reviews
Experience the enchanting beauty of Ireland’s oldest national park with a unique horse and carriage tour. Depart from St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney at your preferred time and embark on a private adventure.
Cross exclusive car-free routes and, for an additional fee, visit the historic Ross Castle, dating back to the 15th century.
4.5 ⭐️ 279 Reviews
Join this thrilling 4-hour cruise in Dingle Bay and witness the awe-inspiring world of whales and dolphins.
The journey begins along the stunning Wild Atlantic Way, where you can relish the breathtaking coastal scenery, and then, the cruise ventures towards the Blasket Islands, passing by Slea Head, the westernmost point of Europe.
5.0 ⭐️ 255 Reviews
Step back in time and discover the charm of Killarney with a fun horse and carriage tour!
Experience the nostalgic mode of transportation known as the jaunting car, once favored by tourists in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and explore Killarney National Park with the help of your guide, who will entertain you with fascinating stories of Gaelic chieftains and the area’s rich history.
4.5 ⭐️ 124 Reviews
Immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty of Ireland with a full-day tour of the Gap of Dunloe from Killarney.
Embark on an eleven-kilometer walk through the mesmerizing emerald landscapes, join a Jaunting Cart ride for added excitement, relax and unwind as you cruise along the scenic Gearhameen River, and visit the historic Ross Castle for a touch of cultural exploration.
5.0 ⭐️ 59 Reviews
This private tour offers the convenience of a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle, allowing you to pause and explore the Ring of Kerry at your leisure.
Marvel at the breathtaking ocean views along the Wild Atlantic Way and make stops to admire natural wonders such as Torc Waterfall and historic landmarks like Muckross House.
Immerse yourself in history at Cahergal Ring Fort and venture into Kerry Bog village for a glimpse into traditional Irish life.
Enjoy the freedom to create your own itinerary and savor the beauty and charm of the Iveragh Peninsula on this unforgettable tour.
5.0 ⭐️ 23 Reviews
Embark on a captivating cruise along the stunning Skellig Coast with a knowledgeable local guide, relax, soak in the scenery, and enjoy the informative and engaging narration throughout the tour.
Getting Around the Ring of Kerry
Getting around the Ring of Kerry is an adventure because it allows visitors to experience the stunning landscapes and the charm of the region in a blissful and immersive way.
Here are some of the most popular ways to get around the Ring of Kerry:
Renting a car is a popular option as it gives you the freedom to stop at various viewpoints and explore at your own pace.
The N70 road encircles the Ring of Kerry, and there are clear signposts along the way to guide you.
This is what I did and I had a blast. I rented a car in Dublin when I arrived and drove all around the island. It’s very safe and easy but there are a few things you should know about driving in Ireland and I cover everything about it in my detailed post.
✔️ Guided Tours
Joining a guided tour is a convenient way to explore the Ring of Kerry since you can get informative commentary and usually include stops at popular attractions and viewpoints, ensuring you don’t miss any highlights.
If you’re an avid cyclist, consider renting a bike to appreciate the scenery up close, breathe in the fresh air, and take detours to hidden gems along the route.
✔️ Taxi Tours
Hiring a local taxi or private driver is another option for a more personalized experience. This way, you can customize your itinerary, spend more time at your preferred destinations, and receive insights from a knowledgeable local guide.
✔️ Public Transportation
Public buses also operate along the Ring of Kerry, making it accessible for those who prefer not to drive. However, the schedules may be limited, making it a bit more challenging to make frequent stops.
Nevertheless, whichever mode of transportation you choose, remember to plan your journey in advance, check weather conditions, and allocate enough time for exploration and relaxation.
How Long Do You Need to Do the Ring of Kerry?
The time needed to complete the Ring of Kerry depends on how extensively you wish to explore the attractions along the route.
Generally, visitors spend a whole day to fully experience the highlights and enjoy the scenic drive by stopping at the main viewpoints, visiting the most popular attractions, and having enough time to immerse themselves in the picturesque surroundings.
However, if you want to visit additional attractions or engage in activities like hiking or cycling, you may want to spend multiple days along the Ring of Kerry.
Where to Stay to Visit the Ring of Kerry
Killarney is in the heart of County Kerry and the perfect base for exploring the Ring of Kerry.
With its breathtaking natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Killarney offers tranquility as well as adventure.
Visitors can immerse themselves in the stunning landscapes of Killarney National Park and the town’s charm.
🛏 Recommended Stay: Earls Court House
Located just a 5-minute walk from Killarney Centre, Earls Court House offers spacious rooms with antique furniture and balcony views of the mountains and valleys.
Furthermore, the hotel serves freshly baked pastries, full Irish breakfasts, and award-winning porridge each morning.
Kenmare is a picturesque town known as the “Jewel in the Ring.”
It features a perfect balance of natural beauty and charming heritage, with colorful streets lined with traditional pubs, boutique shops, and gourmet restaurants.
Visitors can wander along the tranquil Kenmare Bay, marvel at the surrounding mountains, or explore the nearby Killarney National Park.
🛏 Recommended Stay: Davitts Guesthouse
Davitts is a contemporary guest house offering both comfort and convenience.
The property features a bar and restaurant with an Art Deco theme, serving delicious traditional Irish food throughout the day.
Furthermore, the rooms ensure a peaceful and cozy stay, making guests feel at home away from home.
Portmagee is a charming coastal village nestled on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by breathtaking scenery, offering a tranquil and picturesque setting.
Furthermore, it is renowned as the gateway to the stunning Skellig Islands. So, visitors can enjoy exploring the village’s quaint streets and immerse in an authentic Irish experience.
🛏 Recommended Stay: Skellig Port Accommodation
Skellig Port Accommodation offers spacious modern rooms with stunning sea views.
The property is also about 3.1 km away from the Skellig Experience Centre, allowing guests the opportunity to have easy access to this beautiful destination.
Furthermore, guests can unwind in the garden or the shared lounge area after a day of windsurfing, cycling, or hiking.
Dingle is a picturesque coastal town on the Dingle Peninsula famous for its breathtaking scenery, vibrant atmosphere, and rich cultural heritage.
Visitors can wander through its lively streets filled with traditional pubs, seafood restaurants, and quirky shops.
🛏 Recommended Stay: Tower View
Tower View is a guest house offering comfortable accommodation with a garden and a sun terrace.
The guest house is within close proximity to popular attractions, including Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium and Siamsa Tire Theatre.
Furthermore, it serves a full Irish breakfast each morning, with a picnic area also available for guests to use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Ring of Kerry?
The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive and tourist route in County Kerry, Ireland.
It’s a circular road that takes you through stunning landscapes, including mountains, lakes, coastal cliffs, and charming villages.
Is the Ring of Kerry Worth Visiting?
Yes, the Ring of Kerry is definitely worth visiting if you enjoy picturesque landscapes and exploring Irealnd’s natural and rural beauty.
Why is the Ring of Kerry so Popular?
The Ring of Kerry is popular for several reasons.
But mainly, it is popular due to its breathtaking and diverse landscapes, rich history and culture, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
What is Included in the Ring of Kerry?
The Ring of Kerry features a variety of attractions and landmarks, including the Killarney National Park, Gap of Dunloe, Skellig Islands, Derrynane House and National Historic Park, Valentia Island, Kenamre, and Sneem.
What is the Most Scenic Part of Kerry?
One of the most renowned and beautiful areas is the Iveragh Peninsula, which encompasses the Ring of Kerry.
Can You Do the Ring of Kerry in One Day?
The route is about 179 kilometers, so it is possible to drive the Ring of Kerry in one day, but it can be quite a rushed experience.
Can You Do the Ring of Kerry Without a Car?
Yes, it is possible to do the Ring of Kerry with other options than a car, including guided tours, public transportation, cycling, and walking or hiking.
Where Should I Start the Ring of Kerry?
The starting point of the Ring of Kerry can vary depending on your preferences and the direction you choose to drive the route.
However, many people begin their journey in the town of Killarney.
What City is Closest to the Ring of Kerry?
The city closest to the Ring of Kerry is Killarney.
Wrapping Up: Things to Do in the Ring of Kerry Ireland
The Ring of Kerry in Ireland is indeed a captivating destination with enchanting landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture.
And these 18 fantastic attractions and tours can provide a comprehensive glimpse into the region’s diverse offerings.
In fact, whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking an unforgettable adventure, these 18 experiences in the Ring of Kerry promise an immersive adventure like no other.
So what are you waiting for? Get ready for an unforgettable trip and let Ireland’s majestic southwest allure delight your senses!
Before You Go…
Here are some useful posts that you may be interested in:
- 7-Day Ireland Itinerary – The Perfect Road Trip
- Driving in Ireland: 18 Must-Read Tips Before Renting a Car in Ireland
- Ballaghbeama Gap (2023): Going off the Beaten Path on the Ring of Kerry
- Ireland in November for Weather and Things To Do
- 18 Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Dublin Ireland (2023)
About the Author, Founder & Editor
Hello there! This is Isabella, the author of this blog, and a cat lover and restless traveler. I am an Italian expatriate in Mexico, but I am now traveling full-time in and out of Mexico. After 7 years of living in Cancun, I have decided to leave my fancy job and explore the world, at a slow pace, one country at a time. Among my favorite countries so far, besides Mexico of course, are Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Ireland, Portugal, Norway, and the list goes on…