Julie Ireland 16 Comments

The Ring of Kerry is one of Ireland’s most popular drives. In one day, you can drive through miles of green, rolling hills, explore colorful, Irish towns, and see a fantastic stretch of Ireland’s rugged coastline. It is a beautiful scenic drive and it’s no wonder that it makes it onto so many traveler’s wishlists.

We were not so lucky. When you visit Ireland, you expect it is going to rain at some point. The rain is infamous here. How else would this island stay so green without it?

On the day we had designated for the Ring of Kerry drive, not only did it rain, but it stormed. Gale force winds whipped across the peninsula. Thick, gray clouds loomed overhead. It was cold, wet, and dreary. Maybe it was because of the adverse weather conditions, but for us, the Ring of Kerry did not live up to the hype.

Even so, I am glad that we saw it. There are some gorgeous spots well worth your time, such as cute little Portmagee, the views out to the Skellig Islands, and the magnificent Kerry Cliffs.

If you are considering driving the Ring of Kerry, here is what you can expect to see (and what it will look like in the rain, which it may do while you are here. Hey, it is Ireland).

Driving the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is 120 miles long. It’s a loop that takes drivers around the Inveragh Peninsula, with much of the driving along the coastline. This drive takes most of a day, especially if you stop at many of the sights along the way.

Tour buses drive counterclockwise around the Ring of Kerry. Therefore, you should drive clockwise to avoid getting stuck behind a caravan of buses. If you start your day early (before 9 am) you can avoid most of the traffic.

Our loop starts in Killarney, one of the most popular cities to stay if you are visiting the Ring of Kerry.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the driving route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Killarney National Park

The first part of the day starts with the most mountainous section of the Ring of Kerry. Just south of Killarney is Killarney National Park. Here, you will drive up and over mountain passes, with sweeping views of mountains and lakes and one of the rare, forested sections on the Ring of Kerry. The roads are lined with insanely large rhododendrons.

Killarney National Park

The mountains continue as you drive through Molls Gap. This entire section was one of our favorite spots on the Ring of Kerry.

Staigue Stone Fort

From Molls Gap, you will drive through Kenmare and Sneem before reaching the Staigue Stone Fort. Follow the turnoff and drive 2.5 miles (for what feels like forever) along very narrow, hilly roads until you arrive at the Stone Fort.

Staigue Fort

The Staigue Fort is one of the largest stone forts in Ireland. Technically, it is free to enter, but €1 donations are appreciated.

Derrynane House

Continue the drive through Caherdaniel. If you are interested, take a detour to Derryane to visit the Derrynane House. This was the home of Daniel O’Connell, the man who worked to gain equality for Catholics in Ireland.

The Blind Piper

The Blind Piper in Caherdaniel

Views of the Atlantic Ocean

As you arrive at the western edge of the Inveragh Peninsula, the views open up to the Atlantic Ocean and the Skellig Islands. Our photos do not do this justice, since it was so overcast and rainy on our drive. Enjoy the views and the quick drive through Waterville.

Ring of Kerry in the rain



Ballinskelligs Castle

Past Waterville, follow the signs for the Skellig Ring Road. The road narrows here and the views get a little more dramatic. You get to escape the tour buses, since the Skellig Ring Road is too narrow for oversized vehicles.

Ballinskellig Castle

For another quick detour, complete with the ruins of a castle with beach views, take the turnoff for Ballinskelligs Castle.

Skelligs Chocolate

Skelligs Chocolate, located right on the Skellig Ring Road, is a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Beware, this place can be crowded on rainy days…it’s the perfect pitstop for a sweet snack and some hot chocolate.

Tyler Kara Ireland

Kerry Cliffs

For the most stunning view on the Ring of Kerry, this is your spot. Turn off at the signs alerting you to “Kerry’s most spectacular cliffs.” We weren’t sure if the €4 would be worth it, but it was. This is a gorgeous spot.

Kerry Cliffs


We skipped this on our first loop of the Ring of Kerry. On a separate day, we took the day trip out to Skellig Michael, and fortunately had much clearer weather. After Skellig Michael, we came back to this viewpoint, which is why these photos are brilliantly sunny.

Kerry Cliffs Lookout

Beautiful Ireland

By the way, if you are looking for a unique experience, consider the day trip out to Skellig Michael. Skellig Michael is a remote island and home to an ancient monastery and Puffin nesting site. It was one of our highlights while in Ireland and we highly recommend it.


This adorable town is where the boats to Skellig Michael dock. It’s also a great place for lunch. We ate at the cozy Moorings restaurant.


Need a bathroom break? Next to the parking lot in Portmagee is the bathroom that was awarded Ireland’s Top Toilet Award in 2002.

Top Toilet Award

Ireland Travel Guide

Skellig Experience Centre

Cross the bridge onto Valentia Island. The Skellig Experience Centre teaches visitors about the history of the monks on the Skellig Islands. A visit here is recommended if you do not have plans to visit Skellig Michael.

After visiting the Skellig Experience Centre, you can drive along Valentia Island and take the small ferry back to the mainland or cross the bridge back to Portmagee and then follow signs to Cahersiveen.

Valentia Ferry


For the remainder of the drive, it’s all about the scenic coastal views. On a clear day, you can see across to the Dingle Peninsula. Depending on your timing, you can have dinner in Killorglin or Killarney.


Where to Stay

Many people stay in Killarney. This is a huge hub for tourists, with lots of hotels and restaurants to choose from. Killarney makes a great base for driving not only on the Ring of Kerry but also the Dingle Peninsula.


We stayed in Killarney at the Gleann Fia Country House and we highly recommend this B&B. We had a huge family room, Tyler and Kara loved playing Monopoly in the conservatory each night, and being located just outside of town, it was very easy to get to by car.

Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula?

If you only have time for one scenic drive, the Dingle Peninsula is the clear winner. In our opinion, the scenery was more breathtaking and the roads were less crowded than the more popular Ring of Kerry.

About Driving in Ireland

Many roads on the Ring of Kerry are narrow, two lane roads. In many places, the roads are one lane, very windy, with periodic passing points. Remember, they drive on the left in Ireland! If you do not like the idea of driving these narrow, curvy roads it might be better to visit the Ring of Kerry on a tour.

Ireland Signs

It helps to have a map of the Ring of Kerry, however, the roads are very well marked. There are numerous signs directing you to turn-off’s and scenic viewpoints along the way.

Do you have plans to drive the Ring of Kerry? If you have any questions, comment below!

More Information about Ireland

TOP EXPERIENCES IN IRELAND: Our favorite things to do in Ireland include walking the Cliffs of Moher, visiting Giant’s Causeway at sunset, driving the Dingle Peninsula, and visiting Skellig Michael.

HORE ABBEY: If you have plans to visit the Rock of Cashel, learn why you should add on Hore Abbey in our Guide to Hore Abbey.

BEST OF IRELAND: For a list of top experiences in Ireland, read our post Best Things to Do in Ireland.

IRELAND ITINERARY: In 10 days, you can go on a road trip through Ireland and Northern Ireland, visiting the highlights. Get the full details in our 10 Day Ireland Itinerary.

DRIVING IN EUROPE: If you have plans to rent a car in Europe, read our article Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Europe for lots of helpful tips.


Planning a trip to Ireland? Read all of our articles in our Ireland Travel Guide.


Ring of Kerry Ireland


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Comments 16

  1. Avatar for Kim Moore
    Kim Moore

    Julie – Getting around Killarney and Hiking Killarney National Park from Gleann Fia Country house. We followed your well detailed hiking trip and lodging for Zermatt and it’s now our GO BY. Based on this – would you suggest we find lodging close to the national park vs. a few blocks outside of Killarney Central area? Do you recommend we rent a car to get around to different trail heads at the national park?

    Thank you – Kim & Robert
    Spring Tx USA

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Kim and Robert. If you want to explore the park, having a rental car is a good idea. I’m not sure how easy it is to get to the trailheads using public transportation (we had a car). Having a car would also allow you to drive the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula on your own schedule, rather than taking a bus or a tour. Staying at Gleann Fia Country House should be fine for visiting the park, as the park sits right outside of Killarney. Have a great time in Ireland! Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Cathy Diaz
    Cathy Diaz

    Thank you for this great info. Do you think we could do Killarney natl park jaunting car tour in the morning and start the drive at noon? We are looking to sleep in killorglin.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, you can do the Ring of Kerry in an afternoon, if you don’t mind moving quickly at some sights. If you will be doing this in the summer, you will have a long day, which is helpful. If it’s closer to winter, there will be less daylight hours, so it would be a lot tougher to get to everything before it got dark. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Thomas E Curran Sr
    Thomas E Curran Sr

    i am trying to find the name of the road that the bus takes though the town of killoglin where my grand parents lived

  4. Avatar for Ann Fristoe
    Ann Fristoe

    Your blog has been super helpful in so many ways! I’m traveling with adult children 18 and 26 who really want to do Skellig Michael. Did you drive there to do that tour and do the Ring a different day? I don’t plan on going as I get really sea sick but am wondering if there is a better way to get them to Portmagee? We will be in Killarney for 2-3 days

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We drove the Ring Road on its own full day, doing it as a loop from Killarney. The following day, in the morning, we drove to Portmagee and did Skellig Michael and then had some free time that afternoon in Killarney. You could potentially do both on the same day, but you would really have to move fast, and skip some things, on the Ring Road. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for merrily schweers
    merrily schweers

    We are thinking of visiting Ireland as a family–all adults–in the summer of 2020 or 2021. We have never been to Ireland and so welcome expert advice. Serious readers of Joyce, we do plan to spend 3 days in Dublin. My husband’s roots are from County Cork so we want to see that area and we love water views so are thinking of the southern coastal route ending in Galway and then either flying home to the US from Shannon or going back to Dublin. This a great website but I do best with a book and a cup of tea. Can I purchase something comprehensive?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I wish we offered a book about Ireland but the best I can offer you is what is on this website. You can check out our destination guide for Ireland, which is really just a collection of our posts. For more information and books on Ireland, I recommend doing a search on Amazon.com. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for thesigamoney
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      It’s a long drive between Bunratty Castle and these 2 peninsulas. It’s better to stay down near Killarney or another nearby town. You can do it from Bunratty Castle, but it will be about 2 hours just to get to the start of the drive for the Dingle Peninsula and Ring of Kerry (4 hours total). It took us most of the day for each drive and we were staying nearby. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Sandy

    Thanks so much for this. We are doing the drive with friends who have kids so it really helps to have spots that they would like in addition to scenery for us “grown ups”. Your route made planning this trip so easy. We are lucky enough to have time to do both Dingle and Kerry! Enjoy your travels!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  8. Avatar for Diane Attard
    Diane Attard

    Hi! I would like to make the drive of Ring of Kerry drive but I think that all of it will be tiring for us since we will be staying in Cork. Which are the spots that you suggest most also considering we are going to do the National Killarney park on a separate day on it`s own hiring a bike.


    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      The highlights for us were the Kerry cliffs, Portmagee, and the scenic views from Skellig Ring Road. These are all on the far western edge of the Kerry peninsula. Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Judy Gallegos

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