A winding road leading to the ocean.

What is the Ring of Kerry in Ireland: A Complete Guide to the Scenic Drive

Planning a scenic drive through Ireland’s captivating landscapes can sometimes feel like navigating an enchanted labyrinth – but fear not, aspiring traveler! Our guide is your trusty compass, pointing you to the heart of the Ring of Kerry’s splendor.

Within these pages lies a treasure map outlining a 179km journey around the Iveragh Peninsula. From awe-inspiring vistas to crucial travel nuggets, we’ve got it all covered. So buckle up and let us lead the way—Kerry’s wonders are just around the bend, waiting for you to discover them.

Key Takeaways

  • The Ring of Kerry is a scenic 179km drive around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, part of the Wild Atlantic Way, offering views of coastal landscapes and charming villages.
  • Key stops to explore include Ladies View, Ross Castle, Torc Waterfall, Caherdaniel, and Portmagee which offer unique sights from panoramic vistas to historical sites.
  • For the best experience visiting the Ring of Kerry, go between May and August for milder weather and longer days. Pack layers, waterproof gear, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent and have cash ready for small purchases.
  • There are diverse accommodations like B&Bs and self-catering cottages available along the route. Activities range from hiking trails to exploring local towns with rich Irish culture.
  • Travelers can rent a car for flexibility or take guided tours; other options include cycling or using public transport depending on one’s preference for exploring this picturesque area.

Overview of The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is a scenic drive in County Kerry that forms part of the famous Wild Atlantic Way. It offers stunning coastal landscapes, rural seaside villages, and access to iconic attractions like Skellig Michael and its Christian monastery in Portmagee via boat crossing.

Basic Information

I’m taking you through the Ring of Kerry, a 179km loop that shows off some of Ireland’s finest views. Picture yourself driving around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, with green hills on one side and coastal scenes on the other.

It’s like stepping into a postcard, with every turn bringing a new breathtaking view.

You’ll roll through towns like Killarney and Kenmare on this scenic drive. Each spot offers something special – from friendly locals to unique shops full of Irish crafts. This road trip isn’t just about pretty sights; it’s also rich with history and culture.

Along the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll find quaint rural seaside villages that seem untouched by time, where traditions hold strong and stories await.

Key Stops

The Ring of Kerry includes some key stops that offer stunning views and unique experiences:

  1. Ladies View: Enjoy breathtaking panoramas of the Killarney National Park and the Lakes of Killarney from this popular viewpoint.
  2. Ross Castle: Visit this well-preserved 15th-century tower house situated on the edge of Lough Leane, steeped in history and surrounded by scenic beauty.
  3. Torc Waterfall: Witness the impressive 18-meter high waterfall nestled amidst lush woodland, accessible via a picturesque walking trail.
  4. Caherdaniel: Discover this charming village with its tranquil beach, rolling hills, and an ancient stone fort offering insights into Ireland’s rich heritage.
  5. Portmagee: Explore this colorful fishing village, known for its connection to the Skellig Islands and offering stunning coastal views.

Essential Tips for Visiting

When visiting The Ring of Kerry, it’s essential to pack for the unpredictable Irish weather and choose the best time to avoid crowds. With everything from stunning coastal views to charming countryside villages, you won’t want to miss out on this scenic drive.

What to Pack

When preparing for your trip along the Ring of Kerry, remember to pack appropriately for the diverse activities and changeable weather conditions. Here’s a list of essentials to ensure you’re well-prepared:

  1. Comfortable walking shoes suitable for both hiking and strolling through towns.
  2. Waterproof jacket or coat, as the weather can be unpredictable.
  3. Layered clothing to accommodate fluctuating temperatures throughout the day.
  4. Sunscreen and sunglasses for protection on sunny days.
  5. Insect repellent, particularly if you plan on hiking or spending time near water.
  6. Camera or smartphone with a good camera to capture the stunning scenery along the route.
  7. Cash in small denominations for any tolls or small purchases at local markets.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Ring of Kerry is during late spring and summer, from May to August. This period offers milder weather with longer daylight hours, making it ideal for exploring the scenic drive and enjoying outdoor activities like hiking and cycling.

The wildflowers are in full bloom, adding vibrant colors to the already picturesque landscape. Fall also brings a beautiful display of autumn foliage, making September a good option for those seeking quieter roads and stunning seasonal views.

However, winter can bring harsh weather conditions, so it’s best to plan your visit during the more temperate months for a memorable experience on this iconic Irish route.

Must-See Stops on The Ring of Kerry

– Ladies View, a breathtaking panoramic viewpoint that offers stunning views of the Lakes of Killarney and the surrounding mountains.

– Ross Castle, a well-preserved fortress with beautiful grounds and guided tours that offer insight into its rich history.

– Torc Waterfall, a picturesque natural wonder that’s easily accessible and surrounded by lush greenery.

– Caherdaniel, a charming village known for its sandy beaches and scenic coastal walks.

Ladies View

Ladies View offers breathtaking panoramic vistas of the Killarney National Park, with its lush greenery and serene lakes. The viewpoint is named after Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who marveled at the stunning scenery during their visit in 1861.

This iconic spot provides a perfect photo opportunity, capturing the unique beauty of Ireland’s landscapes. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture this picturesque view and take a moment to soak in the natural splendor that surrounds you.

Ross Castle

Ross Castle is a historic fortress located on the edge of Lough Leane, near Killarney. The castle dates back to the 15th century and offers a glimpse into Ireland’s rich history. Its stunning location provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes, making it a perfect stop for capturing memorable photographs.

Exploring the castle grounds allows visitors to immerse themselves in its medieval architecture while learning about its intriguing past as a stronghold during times of conflict.

The interior of Ross Castle showcases furnished rooms that provide insight into daily life during different historical periods. A guided tour offers an opportunity to delve deeper into the stories and legends associated with this impressive structure.

Torc Waterfall

I visited Torc Waterfall, a picturesque natural wonder located in Killarney National Park. The waterfall is a must-see stop on the Ring of Kerry with its impressive 20-meter drop surrounded by lush greenery and moss-covered rocks.

It’s a short and pleasant walk from the car park to reach this stunning cascade, making it accessible for all travelers exploring the area.

As I approached the roaring falls, I was mesmerized by its beauty and the tranquility of the surroundings. The sight of Torc Waterfall gushing down from above left me in awe of nature’s power and grace.


Caherdaniel, a charming village on the Ring of Kerry, is nestled between the mountains and the sea. It offers breathtaking views of Derrynane Bay and the surrounding countryside. The village is home to historic sites, such as Derrynane House and Abbey where visitors can explore Ireland’s rich history while taking in stunning coastal vistas.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring Derrynane Beach or embarking on a hike along the Kerry Way trail that winds through this picturesque region.

Caherdaniel provides an authentic taste of Irish culture with its traditional pubs serving hearty meals and live music. This hidden gem is perfect for travelers seeking tranquility amidst natural beauty, making it an unmissable stop on your Ring of Kerry journey.


Portmagee is a charming village on the Ring of Kerry, famous for its colorful buildings and stunning seaside views. It’s also the gateway to Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its ancient monastery and unique birdlife.

Exploring Portmagee is an opportunity to enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants and take in the tranquil atmosphere of this coastal gem.

For travelers seeking an authentic Irish experience, Portmagee offers a glimpse into traditional village life with its friendly locals and scenic harbor. It’s a perfect spot to unwind and soak in the natural beauty of Ireland’s South Western coast while appreciating the rich history and culture that permeates through every street corner.

How to Make the Most of Your Holiday in Kerry

When visiting the Ring of Kerry, there are plenty of accommodation options to suit every budget, from cozy B&Bs to luxury hotels. You can also experience a range of activities such as hiking, fishing, and golfing during your stay, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Accommodation Options

Looking for a place to stay during your Ring of Kerry adventure? Here are some accommodation options you can consider:

  1. Bed and Breakfasts: Experience the warmth of Irish hospitality by staying in a cozy B&B along the route. These offer comfortable rooms and delicious homemade breakfast.
  2. Guesthouses: Opt for a welcoming guesthouse for a comfortable and convenient stay with personalized service and local insights.
  3. Hotels: Choose from a variety of hotels, ranging from luxury establishments to budget-friendly options, offering amenities such as restaurants, bars, and stunning views.
  4. Self-Catering Cottages: Enjoy the freedom of your own space by renting a charming cottage, perfect for families or groups looking for a home-away-from-home experience.
  5. Glamping Sites: For an adventurous twist on traditional camping, consider glamping sites along the Ring of Kerry which provide unique accommodations in picturesque settings.

Activities to Try

After finding the ideal accommodation, it’s time to explore the activities that make the Ring of Kerry unforgettable. Embrace the natural beauty and charm with these must-try activities:

  1. Hiking: Discover the 200-kilometer long-distance trail around the Iveragh Peninsula, offering breathtaking views of rugged cliffs and stunning coastal scenery.
  2. Cycling: Explore the picturesque countryside at your own pace, pedaling through rolling green hills and quaint villages, immersing yourself in the tranquil surroundings.
  3. Exploring Towns and Villages: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting colorful towns like Killarney and Kenmare, where traditional Irish hospitality meets contemporary charm.
  4. Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for diverse bird species, marine life, and possibly catch a glimpse of playful dolphins or basking sharks along the coastline.
  5. Photography: Capture postcard-perfect moments of sweeping landscapes, dramatic seascapes, and charming towns that define the essence of the Ring of Kerry.

Sample Itinerary

  1. Begin the day with a scenic drive from Killarney, passing by charming towns and verdant hillsides.
  2. Stop at Ladies View to witness breathtaking panoramas of the Lakes of Killarney and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range.
  3. Explore Ross Castle, a 15th – century tower house situated on the edge of Lough Leane, offering a glimpse into Ireland’s rich history and stunning views of the lake.
  4. Continue to Torc Waterfall for a picturesque hike through lush woodlands before reaching the cascading waterfall, immersing in nature’s tranquility.
  5. Visit Caherdaniel, a quaint village nestled between mountains and sea, known for its serene beaches and traditional Irish charm.
  6. Conclude the day in Portmagee, where you can experience the rugged beauty of the Skellig Ring, enjoy fresh seafood, and take in stunning coastal vistas at sunset.
  7. Wind down at a cozy local accommodation option, offering authentic Irish hospitality and a restful night after an enriching day on The Ring of Kerry.
  8. Reflect on your picturesque journey through Ireland’s South Western coast, filled with captivating landscapes and cultural encounters that create lasting memories.

Transportation Options

Transitioning from planning your itinerary to getting around, having the right transportation is key to making the most of your trip. Here are some transportation options for exploring the Ring of Kerry:

  1. Car Rental: Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace, stop at viewpoints, and visit attractions off the beaten path.
  2. Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenic drive while knowledgeable guides share insights about the area’s history, culture, and landmarks.
  3. Cycling: For outdoor enthusiasts, cycling offers a more immersive experience along the route, allowing you to take in the breathtaking scenery while getting some exercise.
  4. Public Transportation: Bus services operate along parts of the Ring of Kerry, providing an affordable option for those who prefer not to drive.
  5. Walking/Hiking: Exploring some sections of the route on foot is perfect for nature lovers and hikers who want to delve deeper into the stunning landscapes and natural wonders.
  6. Taxi Services: Taxis are available in towns along the route, offering convenient transport between attractions or helping shorten longer hiking routes.


In conclusion, the Ring of Kerry is a must-visit scenic driving route, offering stunning views and a quintessential Irish experience. Expert opinion from Lily O’Connor, an environmental researcher with over 15 years of experience in sustainable tourism development and conservation efforts.

Lily O’Connor holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Trinity College Dublin and has contributed extensively to research on preserving natural landscapes for tourism while maintaining ecological balance.

The blog topic effectively captures the essence of the Ring of Kerry, highlighting its natural beauty and diverse landscape through comprehensive details about key stops, essential tips for visiting, must-see attractions, making the most of your holiday in Kerry including accommodation options and activities.

With safety measures such as designated hiking trails’ upkeep emphasized by local authorities along with ethical considerations reflecting responsible tourism practices highlighted throughout this content shows transparency vital to sustainable travel.”

For everyday use or specific contexts, Lily O’Connor recommends travelers embrace eco-friendly travel practices when exploring the Ring of Kerry to ensure minimal impact on the environment.”

“However,” she notes, “Travelers should also be aware that peak tourist seasons can lead to overcrowding at popular spots. Considering off-peak times for visits will enhance overall experiences.”.

Overall, “What is the Ring of Kerry in Ireland: A Complete Guide to the Scenic Drive” offers valuable insights backed by scientific principles supporting sustainable tourism. It presents detailed information helpful for tourists seeking an immersive experience within Ireland’s South Western coast.

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