If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, chances are you’ve heard of the Ring of Kerry. This scenic driving route through County Kerry is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, offering a deep dive into some of Ireland’s natural beauty. From rugged coastlines to rolling hills, the Ring of Kerry route has many extraordinary features.
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With so many sights along the way, it can be overwhelming to plan your trip. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the best sites to see along the Ring of Kerry route.
Whether you’re interested in history, exploring the outdoors, or just taking in the sights, this guide will help you make the most of your journey. So pack your bags and get ready to explore one of Ireland’s most stunning regions!
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The Ring of Kerry Route
The Ring of Kerry is a 179-kilometer (111-mile) circular route that begins and ends in the town of Killarney. Most tourists travel clockwise around the route, taking in the stunning coastal and mountain views as they go.
It takes about 3 hours to drive straight through. However, we recommend you plan at least a day or two on the Ring of Kerry route to be able to stop and explore along the way.
The route passes through picturesque towns and natural attractions, offering plenty of opportunities to stop and explore. With so many cool places to explore and beautiful destinations to see, it’s easy to spend several days traveling the Ring of Kerry.
Ring of Kerry Highlights You Don’t Want to Miss
1. Killarney National Park
One of the most popular sites along the Ring of Kerry is Killarney National Park. This expansive park covers over 26,000 acres and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.
Within the park, visitors can explore historic buildings like Muckross House and Ross Castle. Both offer a glimpse into Ireland’s past. The park is also home to the stunning Torc Waterfall. This is a gorgeous 66 foot tall waterfall that comes off Torc Mountain. It is accessible via a short walk from the main road.
To make the most of your visit to Killarney National Park, consider taking a guided tour. Another option is renting e-bikes to explore the trails (we used Rent-a-Bike on Muckross Road, and it was a very easy process). Keep an eye out for the resident red deer, which can occasionally be seen around the park.
2. Ladies View
Another must-see site along the Ring of Kerry route is Ladies View. This stunning viewpoint offers panoramic scenery of the surrounding mountains and lakes. It is a popular spot for photography.
You can take in the views from the parking lot, or take a quick 60-second walk up the road (toward Moll’s Gap). Here you will find a small path on the right-hand side, surrounded by bushes. Take a careful walk down this path and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view.
The name “Ladies View” is said to have originated from Queen Victoria’s 1861 visit to the area. Supposedly her ladies-in-waiting stopped to admire the view. Whatever the origin of the name, there’s no denying the beauty of this Ring of Kerry site.
3. Moll’s Gap
Moll’s Gap is a mountain pass that offers incredible views of the surrounding landscape. From here, marvel at the rugged peaks of MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and the serene waters of the Lakes of Killarney. Moll’s Gap is also home to a fantastic little cafe that offers coffee, cakes, and even some quirky souvenir shopping.
There is a large parking lot right at the Gap – just be careful of oncoming cars and bikers!
Located along the Ring of Kerry, the charming town of Kenmare is a must-visit for anyone exploring the area. Founded in 1670, the town has a rich history that is evident in its architecture and landmarks. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Kenmare Stone Circle, a prehistoric site that is believed to date back to the Bronze Age.
A few popular activities in Kenmare include hiking in Gleninchaquin Park or visiting Molly Gallivan’s Traditional Irish Farm. The farm is 200 years old and offers a unique way to experience traditional Irish farm life and culture.
The town of Kenmare boasts a variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants, making it a great spot to stop and soak up some Irish culture.
5. Derrynane Beach
One of the most beautiful sites along the Ring of Kerry is Derrynane Beach. This picturesque beach is situated in a sheltered natural harbor, surrounded by dunes and turquoise waters.
Derrynane is often considered one of the best beaches in Ireland. The soft, sandy beach is a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the stunning coastal scenery. Just be sure to swim only in the Blue Flag waters and when a lifeguard is present.
Visitors can also explore the nearby Derrynane House and National Park. This offers a glimpse into Ireland’s rich history and natural beauty. To make the most of your visit to Derrynane Beach, bring a picnic and spend the day enjoying the sun, sea, and sand.
6. Skellig Ring
For those looking to explore a less-traveled side trip from the Ring of Kerry, the Skellig Ring is a must-see. This scenic drive takes visitors along the rugged coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula, which offers stunning views of the panoramic landscape and Atlantic Ocean.
One of the highlights of the Skellig Ring is the Skellig Islands. The largest island is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to a 6th-century monastery and a variety of wildlife, including puffins and seals. Visitors can take a boat tour to the islands, or simply admire them from the shore.
Other highlights of the Skellig Ring include the charming village of Portmagee and the historic Ballinskelligs Castle. There’s also Cahergall Stone Fort, one of the fairy forts in Ireland that’s worth a visit.
Whether you’re a history fan, an adventure seeker, or simply want to see the quiet side of the Ring of Kerry, the Skellig Ring is definitely worth a visit.
7. The Gap of Dunloe
No trip along the Ring of Kerry would be complete without a stop at the Gap of Dunloe. This narrow mountain pass offers some of the most spectacular views in Ireland. This is your opportunity to get up close with towering peaks, gushing waterfalls, serene lakes, and lush greenery as far as the eye can see.
Visitors can explore the Gap of Dunloe on foot, horseback, or bike. There are also a variety of guided tours available for those who want to learn more about the area’s history and natural beauty.
Beyond the natural scenery and stunning views, you will encounter fascinating stone bridges and unique ancient ruins. Be sure to bring a camera, as the Gap of Dunloe offers countless photo opportunities.
Where to Stay Along the Ring of Kerry
If you’re planning a trip along the Ring of Kerry, there are a variety of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget (even for those trying to keep costs low on their trip to Ireland).
Some of the most popular towns to stay in include Killarney and Kenmare, which offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, and bed and breakfasts, as well as plenty of restaurants, pubs, and shops.
Killarney is the most popular choice for those visiting the Ring of Kerry. It has a central location and easy access to the National Park.
Technically, it’s the start and stop of the scenic route. It’s a bustling town with a vibrant atmosphere, offering a variety of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels.
Plus, there are many excellent guided tours of the Ring of Kerry that depart from Killarney.
We highly recommend Killarney Park Hotel, a luxurious 5-star hotel located in the heart of the town. This elegant hotel offers comfortable rooms, a spa, and fine dining options, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring.
For those looking for a more unique option, the Dingle Peninsula offers exquisite scenery and a more laid-back atmosphere. About an hour north of Killarney, this beautiful region is home to a variety of charming towns and some fantastic coastal views.
There are many incredible places to stay in Dingle from quaint Bed and Breakfasts to luxury family-friendly Ireland hotels. The Dingle Bay has some of the most unique and incredible scenery in Ireland. It tends to be less touristy and crowded than the Ring of Kerry, while still being within easy driving distance to the top sites.
Whether you choose to stay in Killarney, Kenmare, or the Dingle Peninsula, you’re sure to find a warm welcome and plenty of opportunities to explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage of County Kerry.
Conclusion: The 7 Best Sites to See Along the Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is a breathtaking route that offers a unique look into Ireland’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. From the stunning views at Moll’s Gap and Ladies View, to the historic landmarks in Killarney National Park, the charming town of Kenmare, the beautiful Derrynane Beach, and the less-traveled Skellig Ring, there is no shortage of amazing sights to see along the way.
Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or simply seeking a peaceful escape in nature, the Ring of Kerry is sure to leave you in awe.
About the author: After traveling to over 25 countries and living in Ireland, Janelle Axton created Make the Trip Matter – a travel blog that offers Travel Planning Services to help you travel more, live abroad, and discover a more meaningful experience from your travels.