Planning a Ring of Kerry itinerary? Got an entire week to spare and craving for some unforgettable adventure? Pack all your travel essentials and wear comfortable shoes, and explore the Ring of Kerry using this jampacked itinerary for 7 days.
Dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, magnificent mountains, stunning lakes and waterfalls, and quaint small towns spread over some of the most scenic drives you’ll ever experience in Ring of Kerry. You can hop on a bus that navigates the entire loop or rent a car to explore at a more relaxed pace.
We recommend the latter so you have more control over your schedule. You can also visit smaller towns and villages that otherwise will be impossible without a car. And if you don’t know where to start with renting a car, check out this guide on driving in Ireland.
Download a map and an offline navigation app just to be sure, and set out on a scenic adventure that will take you through some of Ireland’s best.
Here’s our Ring of Kerry itinerary for 7 days along with tips, guide, and map to help you out with your adventure.
Things you'll find in this article
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 1
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 2
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 3
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 4
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 5
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 6
- Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 7
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 1
Spend day one at the colorful small town of Killarney, and you can spend the night here as well before heading on to the rest of your Ring of Kerry adventure.
Whether you’re taking the bus or renting a car, this town is a great place to spend a day in to relax while fixing last-minute details of your trip, or simply exploring it. Stroll around downtown and marvel at how it’s like being in 19th century Ireland.
Visit old churches that showcase the town’s rich history and culture. You can start a few hours in the morning just exploring the town center.
Close to town and just under thirty minutes away are some interesting sights you need to visit in Killarney. These are definite musts before heading back to your Killarney accommodation: the Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, Torc Waterfalls and the Ross Castle.
These sites are part of Killarney National Park – one of the 6 national parks in Ireland.
2. Torc Waterfalls
As an alternative for the town center, you can head to Torc Waterfalls to start your Ring of Kerry journey. It’s about 7km from the town center. Spend an hour or two here with your coffee or picnic breakfast, while enjoying a few moments to relax.
Torc Waterfalls is a popular stop on the bus route so make sure you’re here early. You can climb a hundred steps on the left side of the waterfalls and you get to enjoy stunning views over the lakes of Killarney National Park and surrounding areas.
After enjoying nature, you can head to your next destination, Muckross House. It’s almost 4km on the way back to the town of Killarney and you can get here from Torc for less than 10 minutes.
3. Muckross House
Built around the mid-1800s, this magnificent Victo mansion has around sixty-five elegantly furnished rooms as well as a pretty garden that you could stroll around in. Also within the estate are three working farms you can observe.
From Muckross House, you can head to Muckross Abbey. About 1.5 km away, it’s also a quick drive.
4. Muckross Abbey
Founded in 1448 by Franciscan monks, this abbey is amazingly well-preserved, even if it doesn’t have a roof. Stroll around its premises and get a closer look at this curious structure. You can also wander into the pretty courtyard that has a vaulted cloister and a massive yew tree in the center.
After spending an early afternoon in Muckross, head to Ross Castle.
5. Ross Castle
Located just a few miles from Killarney town and 9km from Muckross Abbey is a former stronghold of an Irish chieftain, built in the 15th century. An ideal place to watch the sunset and cap off your first day in your Ring of Kerry adventure, Ross Castle is situated by the Lough Leane.
From the castle, you have fantastic views of the lake as well as Inisfallen Island. The island has a 7th-century monastery that you can also explore before going back to the town center.
After a full day of sightseeing, head back to Killarney’s town center for a night of good sleep. We recommend staying in Kathleens Country House for a truly lovely stay. The place is a good value for 2 people while enjoying their expansive garden.
Have a meal or a pint in one of the many pubs if you are not too tired to go out.
Ring of Kerry Route for 1st Day Map
Total Lenght: 21.1 km or 48-minute drive in total.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 2
1. Gap of Dunloe
Formed around two million years ago, the Gap of Dunloe is a mountain pass that spans 11 kilometers. It is situated between Purple Mountain and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and passes five lakes where you’ll also find a wishing bridge.
With its unique jagged appearance, the Gap of Dunloe is popular among hikers, cyclists, and even those riding on horseback. So if you want to explore this area, make sure you’re early to avoid the crowds.
That should take you a couple of hours or so including stops to take photos or simply take in the scenery. Afterward, it’s time to fuel up and have brunch at Kate Kearney’s Cottage.
2. Kate Kearney’s Cottage
This 150-year old former síbín (an unlicensed establishment that sold alcohol) is now a restaurant, bar, and pub, which also sells local crafts and other products.
Enjoy a hearty brunch here, have their famous breakfast tea and banoffee pie for dessert. That should fill you up enough to prepare for your next destination which involves a lot of walking.
Just several kilometers (29 km to be exact) and 30 minutes away from the Gap of Dunloe is a remote paradise of Glenbeigh.
You’d pretty much get a taste of everything Ring of Kerry has to offer in an hour or so. Its one of the recommended activities when exploring the area so make sure you give it a try.
4. The Rossbeigh Hill Loop Walk
Adjacent to Glenbeigh is Rossbeigh Beach, where a rather strenuous but immensely fulfilling journey begins. The hike that lasts for three to four hours offers some of the best views of the surrounding countrysides, as well as of gorgeous Rossbeigh Beach.
Stop every once in a while for pictures, or simply take in the views.
5. Kells Beach
A quick drive from Rossbeigh takes you to a quaint fishing village where you can stay the night as you prep for day three. Kells is located in between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen, and this is where you’ll find Kell’s Bay.
It’s a fairly remote, quiet beach with plenty of rock pools. You can relax here to watch the sunset, or head on to this area called the ‘mountain stage’ for views of the Dingle Bay and Blasket Islands.
You can either camp for the night in Kells Beach or stay in one of the lovely B&B’s in the area. We recommend staying in Kells Bay House and Gardens for a good night of sleep. They also have a good Thai restaurant that an Asian like me won’t pass on.
Ring of Kerry Route for 2nd Day Map
Total Lenght: 59.3 km or 1 hour and a 15-minute drive in total.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 3
A historic town in the Skellig Kerry region, Cahersiveen is pretty much where you’ll be staying in the good part of day three as you explore some of its sights. Situated on the River Fertha, it is the main town of the Iveragh Peninsula.
Start your day here with a filling Irish breakfast, then visit some of the town’s attractions. Such as the Daniel O’Connell Memorial Church, an old army barracks converted into a visitor center, Ballycarbery Castle and stone forts that date back to 600 AD.
2. Ballycarbery Castle
Once an imposing 16th century castle, this structure that’s perched on a hill is now in ruins covered in ivy and moss. Despite its state, Ballycarbery Castle is still quite stunning. This former home of the McCarthy Clan is also among the largest and most impressive strongholds in the Iveragh peninsula.
3. Cabergal Stone Fort
Located within a short walking distance from Ballycarbery Castle is the Cabergal Stone Fort. Said to have been around since 600 AD, it has undergone some reconstructions.
The stone forts of Cahergal has walls that are around 6 meters high and 3 meters thick, and a great example of a medieval fort built around this region
After Cahirciveen, a quick drive takes you to the starting point of most of the destinations, you’ll visit in the next couple of days. Located in the Iveragh peninsula, the village of Portmagee is close to Valentia Islands, and a known gateway to the Skellig Islands.
Portmagee has a variety of cafés and restaurants as well as affordable accommodations, so it’s a pretty convenient base while you explore the nearby islands in the next few days.
For accommodation, we recommend staying in The Moorings Guesthouse and Seafood Restaurant. It’s a nice guest house located just across the harbor where the boats that go to the Skelligs are. Aside from really nice amenities, they also have an awesome restaurant on site. You can check the latest rates here.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary for 3rd Day Map
Total Lenght: 36.8 km or 46-minute drive in total.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 4
Skellig Islands: Skellig Michaels and Little Skellig
The fourth day in your Ring of Kerry trip should be devoted to the Skellig Islands, as it’s not a place you can just visit on a whim. Make sure you book your trips in advance and hope for fine weather on the day of your visit.
The Skellig Islands is the collective name for Skellig Michael or Great Skellig, and Little Skellig. Most trips from Portmagee go to Skellig Michael as it’s one of the most important stops when touring Ring of Kerry.
A rather steep but worthwhile climb, you’ll find here an abandoned Christian monastery from the 7th century, as well as enjoy stunning views of surrounding areas. The place is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site and a known film location of a couple of recent Star Wars films.
To get here, you can take a boat from Portmagee, Valentia Island, Ballingskelligs and Catherdaniel. If you decide to stay in Portmagee, you can either go early in the morning to check for any availability or ring them in advance.
Below are the boat operators in Portmagee that you can try. The fare also varies depending on the operator but on average, it’s between €30-70. The trip lasts for an hour and visitors are only allowed up to 2 hours on the islands. Which should be ample time to explore the area.
- Casey’s Boat Trips – +353872395470
- Murphy Sea Cruise – + 353876451909
- Waterville Boats +353872202355
- Skelligs Rock – +353872362344
- Joe Roddy & Sons – +353871209924
You can explore the village of Portmagee some more in the afternoon or rest for the following day.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 5
1. Valentia Island
Day five of this weeklong Ring of Kerry adventure takes you to places close to each other. All are reachable either via a bridge from Portmagee or a short drive. The day starts with the picturesque Valentia Islands, which you can cross from Portmagee village via the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge.
Once you reach the island, relax a bit then start exploring. You can hike on the Bray Head Loop Walk which has great views of the Skellig Islands or climbs up the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs which has amazing views of the Ring of Kerry drive.
For something different, walk on the tetrapod tracks, which are preserved prints from an animal that lived millions of years ago.
2. Kerry Cliffs
The massive Kerry Cliffs doesn’t always make it to most Ring of Kerry itineraries but it’s a definite must. Easily reached via a quick drive from Portmagee, the cliffs which are about 300 meters high also offers views of the Skelligs and Puffin Islands.
Walk the entire stretch of these dramatic cliffs and enjoy some of the best views you’ll have in the Ring of Kerry.
3. Coomanaspig Pass
From the Kerry Cliffs, just drive up a steep hilly road to reach one of the highest places in Ireland. Coomanaspig may be a mouthful to pronounce but the views from this point are simply breathtaking and something you must experience.
It’s also an awesome place to catch the sunset so get up here, pull over, get out of the car and just take in the scenery.
4. St. Finian’s Bay
St. Finian’s Bay is also called by locals as the Glen. A place that’s popular among divers and surfers, you’ll also get excellent views of the Skellig Islands, the Puffin Island and the Atlantic from here.
Make sure you also check out the Skellig Chocolate Factory for some goodies and treats to take with you on your next Ring of Kerry destinations.
From St. Finian’s Bay, drive back to the main highway then head onto this picturesque and unspoilt coastal village called Ballinskelligs. One of the few remaining places where people still speak Irish, Balinskelligs has cafés, pubs, restaurants, and nice accommodations so you can stay overnight.
An overnight stay is a must, so you can join one of their “dark sky tours”. Balinskelligs is free of pollution and light so it’s a perfect place for stargazing.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary for 5th Day Map
Total Lenght: 25.5 km or 1 hour and a 43-minute drive in total.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 6
Spend the morning with an easy stroll around the picturesque little town of Waterville. Its population may just be 540, but it’s got enough cafés, restaurants, pubs and even accommodations to cater to its growing number of visitors.
This town is also known as Charlie Chaplin’s favorite vacation spot as well as for outdoor activities such as horseback riding, nature tours, and surfing as it has a nice beach you can visit.
2. Derrynane Beach
After brunch or lunch at Waterville, take the few miles drive to Derrynane, a small village by the sea which has some interesting historical sites. Make sure you check out the beach which is sheltered by mountains and said to be among the best in Ireland.
Other places you must visit are the Derrynane House, and the mysterious ruins of Derrynane Abbey, which is surrounded by graveyards.
Adjacent to Derrynane and pretty walkable is the scenic village of Caherdaniel, which is another great place to relax in. This is also surrounded by mountains as well as sharing a coastline with Derrynane.
Make sure you visit the Derrynane National Park nearby, which is made up of 300 acres of forest. The park has natural pools, sandy coves and a diverse landscape that you can explore.
4. Staigue Fort
This former stronghold is one of the most popular stops among those doing the Ring of Kerry tour. This circular stone fort was built sometime between 300 and 400 AD and said to be among the best examples of ancient engineering and masonry. It’s a quick stop on the way to Sneem.
Ending another day should always be where you’re sure to catch a magnificent sunset and on day six, it has to be at the little town of Sneem. Stunning views already greet you as you enter the town via an easy drive from Caherdaniel, with rolling hills and mountains and stunning greens all over.
It’s a coastal town so there’s a beach nearby perfect for an evening stroll, or watching the sunrise the next day. Sneem is home to artists and craftspeople, there are plenty of shops and galleries you can visit if you want to buy souvenirs.
For a hotel recommendation in Sneem, Sneem Hotel is a 4-star hotel in the area but it’s still very affordable compared to the other hotels in the area in the same category. We managed to get $130+ a night versus the other 4-star hotels at $200+. You can check their latest rates here.
Ring of Kerry Route for 6th Day Map
Total Lenght: 57.6 km or 1 hour and a 1 hour and a 17-minute drive in total.
Ring of Kerry Itinerary For Day 7
1. Moll’s Gap
Named after Moll Kissane who built a small pub and sold drinks to workers during the construction of the Kenmare-Killarney road in the 1820s, Moll’s gap shouldn’t be missed as you complete your Ring of Kerry adventure. This is a perfect lookout point, with stunning views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain ranges.
Spend some time here and marvel at one of the most recognizable sights during your weeklong tour, take more photos, buy souvenirs at nearby shops and have some drinks or snacks before heading to your next stop.
2. Ladies View
Most would say the Ring of Kerry tour ends at this point as it’s by the Killarney National Park already, but not yet. Either stand in one of the observation areas or sit in one of the cafe’s rooftop viewing areas and take in the magnificent views. Mountain ranges, lakes, forestry -it’s like a pocket Ring of Kerry.
Take more photos and spend some time taking in the scenery before heading to the final stop: the quaint little town of Kenmare.
Spend the rest of your afternoon and evening here, where there’s plenty to do and see. Kenmare is also adjacent to the first national park in Ireland – the Killarney National Park. And so you can still enjoy some stunning views of the lakes and forests before exploring the town.
Visit the 7th century Old Kenmare Cemetery and the Kenmare Stone Circle. Buy some needlepoint lace which has an inspiring story behind it. Then treat yourself to a hearty dinner and some drinks to celebrate this unforgettable Ring of Kerry adventure.
For our last hotel recommendation, let me tell you first a quick story. I, first saw this lodge more than 15 years ago on TV. Watching Samantha Brown of Passport To Europe where she featured this hotel, I can’t help but fell in love with the place. I saw her watching the stream goes by from the balcony of her room. And thought to myself (as a high school student) that someday, I will be writing from that balcony and enjoy the tranquility. So I guess, I didn’t do bad huh?
Sheen Falls Lodge is luxury accommodation in Kenmare and this means that it’s also expensive. But for someone who has dreamed of going to this place ever since I was a teen, it’s all worth it. To check for latest rates, click here.
Ring of Kerry Route for 7th Day Map
Total Lenght: 44.9 km or 1 hour and a 53-minute drive in total.
To check out which company offers the best rate, we used RentalCars. You can use the search tool below to help you find the car company that matches your need.
So I hope you find this itinerary for Ring of Kerry helpful. If you have any other recommendation, let us know in the comment below!