Your Irish Road Trip Itinerary: The Ring of Kerry

Posted on 11 Nov 2020 in Activities

By Paris Donnatella Callan

Often referred to as "The Kingdom" of Ireland, County Kerry exudes scores of spectacular scenery and landscapes fit for a fairytale. Rugged and wild, with vibrant flora, fauna, culture and coastal settings, an Irish road trip around the Ring of Kerry is nothing short of sensational.

As the bank holiday weekend approaches, there is no better time to embrace a seasonal staycation. As one of Ireland's most-visited counties on the Emerald Isle, you're bound to fall in love with its tranquil lakes, rolling hills and postcard-worthy towns and villages.

With endless offers of things to see and do, there is much to take into consideration before planning your Irish Road Trip itinerary for the Ring of Kerry. Here, we will talk about routes, dining, spectacular sights and places to stay in this ultimate guide to road tripping the Ring of Kerry.


The Route

The Ring of Kerry – or, the Iveragh Peninsula, as it is formally known – is located in County Kerry, on the southwest coast of Ireland. Characterised by its wild beauty and a dramatic juxtaposition between striking landscapes and the Atlantic sea, Kerry is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers.

179-kilometres (111-miles) in length, this scenic drive covers the key highlights of the "Kingdom of Kerry". And while this distance is not a goliath by any means – in fact, it can be travelled in three or four hours without traffic – an Irish road trip around the Ring of Kerry deserves time to enjoy all this dreamy destination has to offer.

To make the most of your experience, we suggest three days to discover the Ring of Kerry at your own pace. As the trail is a looped circuit, you can interchange start and endpoints based on your preference. It's important to note, however, that tour buses are required to travel the trail anti-clockwise. So, if you want to avoid being stuck behind a slow coach the entire way, heading clockwise is highly advisable.

Killarney Town is the quintessential start and endpoint to any Irish Road Trip of the Ring of Kerry; humming with the buzz of traditional pubs and restaurants, Killarney is the perfect precursor or succession to a journey into the depths of Kerry's heartland.


Day 1: Killarney-Kenmare

We suggest beginning your day with a coffee and pastry to go from Petit Delice in Killarney Town. This critically-renowned French patisserie makes for the perfect morning wake up call.

Then, head south via Killarney National Park en route to Kenmare. As one of Ireland's most majestic landscapes, there is much to see in this striking setting including Ross Castle, Muckross House and Torc Waterfall.

Ladies View Cafe is the perfect rooftop vista to enjoy some al fresco dining with views overlooking both lakes and grassland. And as you make your way to Kenmare, we suggest Sheen Falls Lodge for a luxury five-star stay or Brook Lane Hotel for a boutique experience – both of which boast fabulous dining options.


Day 2: Kenmare-Valentia Island

Kenmare itself is a stunning stop along the Ring of Kerry, so allow for some time to explore its surroundings on day two.

The Kenmare Stone Circle is a worthy visit, as is Kenmare Brewhouse for coffee and brunch (as well as killer cocktails and dinner dishes). If you are looking for a feed on leaving Kenmare, however, stop off at a local's favourite: Wharton's Traditional Fish And Chips in Templenoe.

Make sure to visit Derrynane House and Ballinskelligs as you make your way over to Valentia Island. There, you can explore sights including the majestic Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs, and nearby Glanleam House, a B&B country manor estate (serving dinner on request).

Day 3: Valentia Island-Killarney

On leaving the island, be sure to make a pitstop at Portmagee. Smuggler's Cafe opts for mouth-watering plates of fresh fruit, pastries and artisan coffee – perfect breakfast fuel for the final day of your Irish road trip around the Ring of Kerry.

On heading back towards Killarney Town, make sure to stop by Cahergall Stone Fort in Cahersiveen – an impressive ancient ringfort which was built around 7th-century AD. Nearby, Whitestrand Beach and Ballycarberry Castle both make for a great photo-op.

In the afternoon, Camo's Restaurant is an ideal place for a long lunch in a humble setting that is brimming with Irish hospitality (a genuine hidden gem) before touching base back in Killarney Town.

Painted with 19th-century buildings and colourful shopfronts, this is the perfect place to explore on any given afternoon. And, to top off your Irish road trip around the Ring of Kerry? Some live trad music and local fare in The Laurel's Pub: the perfect ending to a three-day adventure around one of Ireland's most magnificent counties.

Subscribe to the newsletter!

And take note of the latest news and travel offers