Ring of Kerry Itinerary
Few locations can rival the romance of County Kerry’s countryside and coast. Along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the Ring of Kerry stands out as a ‘must-do’ drive. Our Ring of Kerry itinerary (one day or two days) will direct you to the area’s best landscapes, heritage sites, and towns.
Our one-day Ring of Kerry itinerary begins in Killarney and proceeds clockwise. It includes stops and things to do on the Ring of Kerry route. The day ends with visiting attractions at Killarney National Park.
The two-day Ring of Kerry itinerary also begins in Killarney where the first day of the journey is spent immersing in the attractions of Killarney National Park. Then, after an overnight in Kenmare, day two of the route includes stops on the traditional Ring of Kerry as well as the Skellig Ring extension.
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RING OF KERRY MAP
RING OF KERRY ITINERARY ONE DAY
Plan to be on the road by 8:00 am. Leave Killarney and drive toward Kenmare on the N71.
Stop 1: LADIES VIEW (12 miles from Killarney)
Under a clear sky, the panorama from Ladies View is inspiring (under cloudy skies it’s not bad either). The spot was named in honor of Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting who were awed by the mountain and lake views during a visit in 1861. There is free parking and a gift shop onsite.
Stop 2: Moll’s Gap (4 miles from Ladies View)
The next stop is another scenic vista. From the top of a mountain pass Moll’s Gap takes in views of the McGillycuddy Reeks mountain range, glacial lakes, forests, and pastureland. The pass is named for Moll Kissane, a local lady who ran an illegal pub on the spot in the 1800s. There is free parking and a café onsite.
Stop 3: Kenmare (6 miles from Moll’s Gap)
Kenmare is a colorful Irish town full of art galleries, craft shops, and artisanal restaurants. The brightly painted storefronts invite visitors to linger. The town is well known for its lace and knitting industries (both of which are well represented in village stores). The bronze-age Kenmare Stone Circle also draws visitors. The circle is thought to have been used for ritual ceremonies.
Stop 4: Sneem (16 miles from Kenmare)
The village of Sneem revolves around two squares: the east side square known as South Square, and the west side square known as North Square. The town has organized a collection of town statues and memorials into a Sculpture Trail. Stretch your legs and follow the trail to discover this vibrant Irish village.
Stop 5: Staigue Fort (12 miles from Sneem)
Staigue Fort is one of the largest stone ring forts in Ireland. Overlooking Kenmare bay, the fort is thought to have been built during the Celtic period. Its function likely would have been to house the tribal chieftain and his/her followers. The fort walls stand 18 feet high and 13 feet thick (you can walk across them). One caution, the road to the fort is long and mostly one-lane. There is a 1-euro entry donation.
Stop 6: Derrynane National Historic Park (9 miles from Staigue Fort)
There is much to do at the Derrynane National Historic Park. Onsite visitors can tour the Derrynane House and Gardens (which was the family home of Irish leader Daniel O’Connell). Nearby, there is a 1.5-mile white sand beach to discover. The adjacent Abbey Island has stone ruins and an evocative cemetery that can be reached by foot at low tide.
Stop 7: Waterville (8 miles from Derrynane National Historic Park)
Waterville is a seaside village on the Ring of Kerry. The town is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Lough Currane (a freshwater lake) on the other. Waterville is known for its many bars, restaurants, and craft markets. It is a wonderful place to stop for lunch and a shop.
Stop 8: Rossbeigh Beach (29 miles from Waterville)
Rossbiegh is a 4-mile finger of land lined with beaches on either side. The stretch of shoreline is surrounded by sand dunes and has views of the mountains of the Dingle Peninsula.
Stop 9: Killarney National Park (25 miles from Rossbeigh Beach)
End the day at the heritage attractions of Killarney National Park. First drive to Ross Castle on Lough Leane to tour the castle’s ruins. Next, head to Muckross House to discover a well-preserved Victorian mansion and gardens. From the mansion, walk to Muckross Abbey, an old Irish monastery and burial ground. Finally, take a jaunting car (horse drawn pony cart) from the Muckross attractions to the Torc Waterfall, a cascading waterfall in the heart of the national forest.
See our A Day at Killarney National Park post for detailed information on park house, admission fees, attraction descriptions.
Stop 10: Killarney Town (bordering the Killarney National Park)
Enjoy a pint in a local pub.
RING OF KERRY ITINERARY TWO DAYS
Adding another day to your Ring of Kerry itinerary will turn your “drive” into a richer travel experience. Two days will allow you to better explore the attractions of Killarney National Park and County Kerry. If you have the time, this is the itinerary we recommend.
DAY 1 of 2
Stop 1: Killarney National Park
Enjoy the attractions of Killarney National Park by foot, bike, jaunting car, or motor vehicle. Spend the day exploring Ross Castle, Muckross House and Gardens, Muckross Abbey, and the Torc Waterfall. See our A Day at Killarney National Park post for detailed information on park hours, admission fees, and attraction descriptions.
For lunch, venture into Killarney Town and have a meal at a traditional Irish pub.
Stop 2: Ladies View (see description above)
Stop 3: Moll’s Gap (see description above)
Stop 4: Kenmare (see description above)
Stay overnight in the village of Kenmare.
DAY 2 OF 2
Stop 1: Sneem (see description above)
Stop 2: Staigue Fort (see description above)
Stop 3: Derrynane National Historic Park (see description above)
Stop 4: Waterville (see description above)
Stop 5: Kerry Cliffs (15 miles from Waterville)
Just after Waterville, look for signs for the Skellig Ring turnoff (Route 567). Drive the Skellig Ring stopping at attractions that interest you (Ballinskelligs Castle, Skelligs Chocolate, Templecashel Oratory). Stop at Kerry Cliffs, a privately run attraction that offers panoramas from the top of 1,000-foot cliffs. The cliffs are about a 10-minute walk from the parking lot. There is a $5 euro entrance fee.
Stop 6: Portmagee (2 miles from Kerry Cliffs)
Next, explore the lively fishing town of Portmagee. The village is the main fishing port on the south end of the Iveragh Peninsula. In addition to its wharves, the town has shops, restaurants, and pubs hosting trad-music sessions. Portmagee is also the main departure point for tour boats heading to Skellig Michael and the surrounding islands.
Stop 7: Skellig Experience Visitor Center (1 mile from Portmagee)
Cross the bridge from Portmagee onto Valentia Island. Drive to the Skellig Experience Visitor Center to learn about the lives, activities, and architecture of the early Christian Skellig monks who studied and worked on the Skellig Islands some 600 years ago. In addition to the center’s exhibits, boat tours can also be booked to cruise around, and land on, Skellig Michael.
Skellig Michael is a rocky island that was the site of an ancient Irish monastery. More recently, the landmass was used as Luke Skywalker’s Island Sanctuary in two Star Wars movies.
TIP: If you wish to enjoy a boat tour around Skellig Michael make sure to pre-book online as these cruises are apt to sell out. For a land trip to Skellig Michael add an extra day onto your itinerary (and pre-book).
Leaving the Visitor Center, explore the town of Knightstown. Then, take a 5-minute car ferry across Portmagee Channel back to the main road. A brief time later, you will rejoin the N70 Ring of Kerry Road. (Off-season the ferry closes, and you will need to retrace your drive to the N70.)
Stop 8: Rossbeigh Beach (28 miles from Knightstown. See description above.)
Goodbye from the out-of-this-world Kingdom of Kerry, Laura and Randy
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