Driving the Ring of Kerry is a must for any Ireland bucket list! It’s one of the country’s most iconic road trip routes and covers an impressive 111 miles (179 km) in total. As part of the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way, this scenic drive will take you on a journey through some of the most awe-inspiring locations in Ireland. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
During my third trip to Ireland, I finally decided to venture out into the countryside, and it turned out to be the best experience I’ve had in the country. I meticulously planned my itinerary to drive the Ring of Kerry at my leisure, and now I’m excited to share very helpful insider tips with you!
Therefore, if you are looking for information on the Ring of Kerry driving route, this guide is going to cover everything you need to know! That includes a handy map, and information on what to see, where to stay, and tour options if you’re unable to drive yourself. Without any further ado, let’s dive into this Ring of Kerry driving adventure!
You might also be interested in:
- Ring of Kerry Quick Overview
- Ring of Kerry Driving Map
- Driving Your Own Car in Ring of Kerry
- Preparing to Drive the Ring of Kerry FAQ
- Best Tours in Ring of Kerry
- Ring of Kerry Driving Route
- Ring of Kerry Highlights
- Where to Stay in Ring of Kerry
- Ring of Kerry Driving Conclusion
Ring of Kerry Quick Overview
📍 LOCATION: County Kerry, the Republic of Ireland
⏳ RING OF KERRY DRIVING TIME: Driving distance along the Ring of Kerry is approximately 179 kilometers (111 miles
🌍 WHERE IT STARTS AND ENDS: Killarney
🚗 BEST RENTAL CAR: To rent a car for road trips, get the best deals with this reliable car rental which compares prices across several companies
📸 BEST PRIVATE TOUR: Private Tour of Ring of Kerry & Valentia Island (⭐️ 5/5)
🏆 BEST DAY TOUR: Ring of Kerry: Full-Day Tour from Killarney (⭐️ 4.2/5)
Ring of Kerry Driving Map
As you venture onto the picturesque roads of the Ring of Kerry, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the rules of driving on the left side. Take a moment to acclimate yourself before setting off on your journey, so you can really make the most of this experience.
The driving distance along the Ring of Kerry is approximately 179 kilometers (111 miles). The duration of the drive can vary depending on various factors such as traffic, road conditions, and the number of stops you make along the way.
On average, it takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete the full loop without any stops. However, I highly recommend allocating a full day for the Ring of Kerry to fully appreciate the scenic beauty and explore the attractions along the route.
⭐ INSIDER TIP: It’s important to note that the Ring of Kerry can get crowded during peak tourist seasons, so allowing extra time for traffic and potential delays is a good idea. Additionally, the narrow and winding roads in some areas may require cautious driving, especially if you are not accustomed to driving on the left side of the road.
Driving Your Own Car in Ring of Kerry
If you’re looking to drive the Ring of Kerry yourself then there are two main options. For those who are traveling from the United Kingdom or France, you can bring your own vehicle over on the ferry. If you are flying into the country, then I recommend picking up your rental car at the airport.
🚗 WHERE PICK YOU YOUR RENTAL CAR IN RING OF KERRY: The closest international airports to the Ring of Kerry are located in Shannon and Cork, both of which offer rental cars.
🚗 DOCUMENTS YOU NEED TO RENT A CAR IN IRELAND: 1) You must have a valid driver’s license from your home country, 2) International Driver’s Permit 3) a Passport or other identification 4) a Credit Card 5) Age requirements as most car rental companies typically request to be at least 21 years old
🚗 NAVIGATION SYSTEMS: The majority of car rental agencies offer rentals with many extras including satellite GPS navigators and baby car seats at additional cost – the GPS navigator will surely prove to be useful during your driving in Ring of Kerry.
🚗 CHOOSE A RELIABLE RENTAL CAR COMPANY: You need an online company to help you quickly and easily find the best rates possible. And Discover Cars is an amazing company. So, to rent a car in Irland just go to their website, enter your preferred pick-up location, and select your favorite rental car pick-up point.
🏆 When choosing an Irish car rental online, my number one pick is always Discover Cars. I personally use them and love them since they meticulously search through local and international companies to get you the best deal every time.
⭐️ Rating: 4.6/ 5.0 (115,000+ Reviews) | Details: Read more on discovercars.com now!
Preparing to Drive the Ring of Kerry FAQ
Is worth it to drive the Ring of Kerry?
I can wholeheartedly say that driving the Ring of Kerry is one of the best things to do in Ireland! It’s one of the world’s most scenic drives and you’ll get to stop off at a variety of awesome locations along the way!
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore epic landscapes, or visit historic castles, this drive has something for everyone.
Although you can drive the Ring of Kerry in one day, it’s best not to rush your time here. There are so many sights to see along this route, and you’ll find a couple of charming towns nearby where you can base yourself for a night or two.
Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula?
The Ring of Kerry is arguably the most popular option and will see you explore the Iveragh Peninsula. However, the Dingle Peninsula Drive also has a lot to offer! For the best experience, I’d recommend driving both routes.
In my opinion, you’ll need at least a day to drive each one, so preferably, allow at least two days to road trip both of them. If you’re short of time, then the Dingle Peninsula Drive is the shorter option at just 30 miles (47 km), whereas the Ring of Kerry covers around 111 miles (179 km) in total.
However, if you have a full day, then I’d recommend the Ring of Kerry!
When is the best time to drive the Ring of Kerry?
The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular road trip routes in Ireland so it can get extremely busy. That’s especially the case if you’re traveling through the country during the summer months, as this coincides with the summer holidays.
The full route takes around 3.5 hours without stopping although you’ll want to stop, as there are plenty of sights to see along the way. As such, I’d recommend starting the drive early, preferably before 9 am. This will give you a nice early start and you’ll get to fit more in this way!
It may be best to drive the route out of peak season too, so avoid the months of July and August if you can.
How is the driving in Ireland?
Driving in Ireland’s scenic Ring of Kerry is a captivating experience, but it requires adapting to the left-hand driving style. As you navigate the narrow roads, remember to keep left and yield to traffic on the right!
Exercise caution at roundabouts, be mindful of oncoming vehicles, and utilize designated pull-off areas for scenic stops. Respect speed limits and take your time to appreciate the stunning landscapes fully. Embrace the adventure of driving on the left side, as it can be both, exciting and challenging for those who are accustomed to driving on the right side.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving the Ring of Kerry, I recommend going on a tour instead!
Best Tours in Ring of Kerry
If you’re looking for top-notch travel agencies offering tours in Kerry, I highly recommend Get Your Guide and Viator. These two tour companies are featured in this article and have received outstanding ratings on Trustpilot. They provide exceptional customer service and offer a wide range of affordable tours with a hassle-free booking process.
🏆 TOP TOUR: This Full-Day Tour from Killarney is a great option for enjoying the dramatic landscapes of the Ring of Kerry in a comfortable van, with a local guide and it is a very budget-friendly option!
⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 7 Hours
⭐️ Rating: Rating: 4.2/5 (248 Reviews) | Details: Read more reviews now!
🏆 TOP TOUR: This Galway and Kerry 3-Day Budget Tour uncovers the best of South Ireland, including the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry on a bus tour from Dublin.
⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3-days
⭐️ Rating: Rating: 4.4/5 (35 Reviews) | Details: Read more reviews now!
Ring of Kerry Driving Route
The Ring of Kerry covers a total distance of 111 miles (179 km) and it takes around 3.5 hours to drive without stopping. As the name suggests, you’ll be exploring County Kerry, specifically the Iveragh Peninsula.
The Ring of Kerry starts and ends in the town of Killarney, and it can be driven either clockwise or anti-clockwise. However, I’d recommend driving the route clockwise, as typically, coaches and buses are only allowed to travel anti-clockwise and you won’t want to get stuck behind them!
Just keep in mind that some of the route is narrow, so you’ll need to take your time while driving. This is especially the case if you’re not used to driving on the left-hand side.
This fantastic route makes up part of the famous Wild Atlantic Way, so you can easily add on more destinations if you have the time. The nearby Dingle Peninsula is a popular extension, but there’s also The Ring of Beara.
Ring of Kerry Highlights
Although it only takes a few hours to drive the whole route, there are plenty of awesome places to stop off at along the way! That’s why it’s recommended to allow at least a full day or two, so you can visit the charming towns and natural attractions as you go.
Whether you’re looking to hit some of the local hiking trails, visit beautiful waterfalls, or take a trip to the Skellig Islands, you will find plenty of things to do in Kerry!
Here are some of the route’s highlights so don’t leave them off your itinerary!
1. Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park is one of the best places to visit along the Ring of Kerry. It stretches for over 10,000 hectares and is just a short walk from Killarney Town which is where many people choose to base themselves.
This national park is home to several heritage sites, dramatic landscapes, and fantastic hiking trails, so there’s a lot on offer. Heading out on a horse-riding tour is one of the best ways to explore, as you’ll get to see a lot of the sights within a short amount of time.
The highlight of Killarney National Park has to be the herd of red deer that call this place home, but you’ll also want to visit the Muckross Estate, the Lakes of Killarney, and Bourn Vincent Memorial Park.
2. The Gap of Dunloe
While driving the Ring of Kerry you need to visit the Gap of Dunloe. This incredible place was one of my favorite spots in Ireland so you don’t want to leave it off your itinerary.
The Gap of Dunloe is a breathtaking mountain pass that dates back around 25,000 years. The pass is located between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain, so as you can imagine, the scenery here will take your breath away.
There are plenty of awesome ways to explore this area including hiking or cycling. However, a pony and trap tour is one of the most traditional options, and that’s included in this fantastic 5-hour tour, alongside a Lakes of Killarney Cruise. So you’ll be getting excellent value for money!
Situated on the edge of Killarney National Park is the charming town of Killarney. It’s the largest town along the Ring of Kerry and it’s where many people choose to base themselves during their time in this area.
The scenery here is spectacular as the town is surrounded by the McGillycuddy Reeks mountain range. However, you’ll also find plenty of awesome things to do in Killarney! From going on a pub crawl to taking a jaunting car ride, you won’t be short of activities and attractions.
You’ll also find plenty of amenities in town including a variety of accommodation options, unique craft stores, and plenty of restaurants. If you’re still not convinced, there are lots of day trip opportunities from here too.
4. Muckross House & Gardens
While driving the Ring of Kerry, make sure you stop off at Muckross House & Gardens. This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in County Kerry and you’ll find it along the shores of Muckross Lake.
Muckross House dates back to the 19th century and is one of the most spectacular stately homes in Ireland. Home to elegant rooms, landscaped gardens, and traditional farms, this incredible place has so much to offer.
There’s a lot to see at this stately home so allow at least two hours here. This will give you time to head out on a guided tour if you wish and explore the grounds. Don’t forget to check about the local craftworkers here too, as they specialize in bookbinding, pottery, and weaving.
5. The Skellig Islands
Although the Skellig Islands can be spotted from the Ring of Kerry, they’re located off the coast. If you’ve got more than a day in this part of Ireland, then you’ll want to head out on a boat trip to Great Skellig.
This incredible island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it can be explored on foot. Here, you’ll find a 6th-century monastery, that used to be home to the monks of St Fionan.
However, the highlight of this place has to be the wide variety of birdlife. If you time your visit right to Great Skellig, then you’ll get to see hundreds of puffins! This island is one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland so don’t leave it off your itinerary!
Kenmare is one of the most popular towns along the Ring of Kerry. In fact, it’s often referred to as the ‘Jewel of the Ring of Kerry’ so as you can imagine, it’s got a lot going for it. This is another great place to base yourself while exploring the area.
Located within the scenic Kenmare Bay, this charming town is home to a variety of awesome attractions. This includes Kenmare Stone Circle, Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre, and Reenagross Woodland Park. During your time here, you’ll also want to look out for seals as they can be spotted swimming in the bay!
Famous for its gourmet food, variety of outdoor activities, and beautiful accommodation, Kenmare has so much to offer.
7. Ladies’ View
Ladies’ View is another must-visit for any Ring of Kerry driving itinerary. It’s a stunning viewpoint, located just a 20-minute drive outside of Killarney so it’s easily accessible too.
Aside from the breathtaking views, there’s also a craft shop and cafe on-site. In fact, the cafe features huge windows, so you can always grab something to eat here, and admire the panoramic vistas. Just make sure you’ve got your camera with you!
For the best experience, you’ll want to drive here yourself, so you can spend as much time as you like enjoying the views. However, if you can’t drive or you’d simply prefer not to, this Ring of Kerry full-day tour will take you to Ladies’ View along with some other popular places.
8. Torc Waterfall
Torc Waterfall is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in County Kerry and that’s saying something! With a height of 70-80 feet (21-24 meters), these falls are rather impressive. Not to mention the surrounding scenery is beautiful.
It’s just a short walk from the car park to Torc Waterfall, and the trail is relatively easy. This is also a great place to visit if you’re short of time, as it won’t take you long to get there, and you won’t need much time at the falls themselves.
If you don’t have any transport, then this full-day Ring of Kerry tour includes a visit here, as well as several other popular locations. That includes Killarney National Park, Sneem, and Moll’s Gap.
Sneem is a picturesque village that’s located out on the Iveragh Peninsula. It’s famous for its gorgeous scenery, colorful houses, and tranquility, so it’s another great place to visit while driving the Ring of Kerry.
You won’t find tons of things to do here as Sneem is only small. However, there are several unique craft stores and traditional Irish pubs in the village. While in Sneem, don’t miss out on walking the Riverside Wildlife Trail and grabbing a drink at O’Shea’s Pub.
Sneem is another great place to base yourself when exploring County Kerry. Popular attractions nearby include the Staigue Fort and the Skellig Islands. You’ll also find several affordable accommodation options in this village and a range of amenities.
10. Valentia Island
Valentia Island is one of Ireland’s most western points and is situated off the Iveragh Peninsula. Not only is it beautiful, but you’ll find tons of awesome things to do here.
Firstly, Valentia Island is a popular spot for hikers as this is a great way to explore. Some of the places you’ll want to prioritize during your visit include the Transatlantic Cable Station, Valentia Lighthouse, and Valentia Island Heritage Centre and Tourist Information. There’s also Bray Head Tower and Valentia Slate Quarry.
Not only that, but this island is home to tetrapod footprints that date back over 350 million years. This makes them some of the oldest fossilized examples of life on Earth, so don’t leave them off your itinerary!
Where to Stay in Ring of Kerry
For the best experience, you’ll want to spend at least two days driving the Ring of Kerry. As such, you’ll need the perfect base. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic hotels on the Ring of Kerry so you’ll be spoilt for choice, no matter your budget.
There are several charming towns that you can stay in along the route including Kenmare, Killarney, Killorglin, Cahersiveen, and Sneem. Each one has something unique to offer, and the guide above will take you through the highlights of each area.
If you’re short of time, here are some of my top hotel recommendations!
📍 TOP OVERALL: Arbutus Hotel, Killarney
⭐️ RATING: 8.7/10 Fabulous (653 Reviews)
Arbutus Hotel is one of the original hotels in Killarney and has been in the same family for nearly 90 years. It’s a beautiful place to stay and is famous for its distinct decor, on-site bar, and cozy rooms.
📍 LUXURY: The Lake Hotel, Killarney
⭐️ RATING: 9.1/10 Superb (2,035 Reviews)
The Lake Hotel is one of the most luxurious options in County Kerry. In fact, Queen Victoria even stayed here! Boasting a scenic location, gorgeous rooms, and excellent facilities, this place has a lot to offer.
📍 BUDGET: Skellig Port Accommodation, Portmagee
⭐️ RATING: 8.9/10 Fabulous (144 Reviews)
Skellig Port Accommodation is one of the cheapest options you’ll find in Kerry. This studio apartment offers fantastic value for money as it features a fully-equipped kitchen, a garden area, BBQ, and a hot tub!
Ring of Kerry Driving Conclusion
Driving the Ring of Kerry is a must for any Ireland bucket list. There are so many amazing places to visit along the way, so don’t rush your time and take plenty of photographs!
As you can tell, there’s a lot to think about when planning your trip! The first thing you’ll need to decide is how much time you can allow. For those who just have the day, then you’ll need to prioritize where you visit. It’s best to work out your timeframe first and then plan your itinerary from there.
However, just make sure you visit some of the route’s highlights such as Killarney National Park, the Skellig Islands, The Gap of Dunloe, and Kenmare.
If you’ve got any further questions about driving the Ring of Kerry then just leave a comment below. If you’ve done the route yourself, where did you stay and what were your highlights? I’d love to know!
If you are planning a trip to Ireland, here are some other guides for you:
- How to Visit Dublin in a Day
- A Perfect 2-day Dublin Itinerary
- Top-rated Dublin Tours to Take
- How to hike the Cliffs of Moher
- Top Things to Do in Clifden, Ireland
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Galway
- How to Hike the Causeway Coast Way
- Wild Atlantic Way Route Planner
- Wild Atlantic Way Itinerary
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