Visiting the Ring of Kerry- a guide

Is driving the Ring of Kerry worth it?

Absolutely! The Ring of Kerry is full of quintessential Irish sights- colourful towns, green fields, craggy cliffs, small islands, windswept beaches, low mountains, castle ruins, and ancient stone forts.

The Ring of Kerry is 170 kilometers long and encircles the Iveragh Peninsula .It consists of three national roads, namely N70, N71, and N72, creating a circle around the peninsula. There is a basic Ring of Kerry route, known as just the Ring, but you extend it by adding on places such as Valentia Island.

In theory, it it should take about 3.5 hours to drive the whole ring, but because we kept stopping it took us a lot longer. We started at Killarney and drove out on the N70, towards Killorglin.

I am going to take you through my favourite places to stop on the Ring of Kerry. I have been visiting Kerry since I was a young child (my family come from there), but went back quite recently to do the whole drive.

  • Route: Ring of Kerry route
  • Distance: 179 kilometres (111 miles)
  • Start / End Point: Killarney, County Kerry
  • Duration: 3-3.5 hours (without stopping)


Killarney is where most people stay when doing the Ring of Kerry and I would recommend it. It’s very thriving and you should be able find somewhere playing live music. Keep an eye out for the jaunting cars.

Killarney National Park and Muckross House

Killarney National Park was Ireland’s first (and is now Ireland’s largest) national park. The gardens of Muckross House are truly beautiful and lead out onto terrific views of Killarney National Park. We went in October, which meant that we could enjoy the glorious colours of the leaves. I also recommend a trip to Ross Castle, a 15th- century tower house.

Torc Waterfall

I absolutely adored Torc Waterfall. It’s about a 30-minute walk from Muckross House and parts were hard going, but worth it. You can get pretty close, but be careful not to slip.

The pictures speak for themselves:

Caragh Lake

Caragh Lake was a little gem and doesn’t tend to feature heavily on many Ring of Kerry itineraries. However, I really recommend this freshwater lake for a visit. We only intended to stop for a short while, but ended up spending quite a bit of time enjoying the views and the peace. You have to be careful when driving to Caragh Lake and keep your concentration. However, once there it’s a haven of serenity and stillness.


Famous for its Puck Fair Festival in August, Killorglin is a beautiful town and worth a visit. We stopped at the Red Fox Inn in between Caragh Lake and Killorglin for lunch.

Ballycarbery Castle

I’d been going to Caherciveen for a long time, but didn’t realise about the existence of Ballycarbery Castle until recently. It is just outside the town and isn’t open to the public, but the ruins are a magnificent sight.


I have a tie to Ballinskelligs as it is the place where my grandma was from and I spent a lot of time here in my younger years, including almost every summer. The castle is a major draw and I have happy memories of climbing the ruins (although I wouldn’t recommend it!). This time we visited quite late in the day and it was getting dark, but was very atmospheric.

The beach is also stunning, one of the best ones I have visited (and I have been to a few!). My tip is to visit in the good weather to enjoy it at it’s best.


Portmagee is a archetypal Irish fishing village, with cute cafes, pubs and restaurants and great views of Skelligs Rocks.

Valentia Island

Valentia Island is one of Ireland’s most western points and is wonderfully remote. Knightstown is the main settlement on the island.

Whilst on Valentia Island, please do yourself a favour and visit Geokaun Mountain and Fogher cliffs. You can either drive or walk to the top and the views are stunning. We barely encountered any other people whilst up there. Be prepared that it can get very windy and also that there is a €6 charge for parking.

Skellig Rocks

These floating pyramids of sandstone have been home to some of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland as well as providing sanctuary to birdlife in the area. In 1996, UNESCO gave recognition to Skellig Michael and its “outstanding universal value”, placing it upon the World Heritage List, where it sits next to the likes of the Giants Causeway and Yellowstone National Park.

There are two Skellig Islands, Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. Skellig Michael featured in Star Wars Episode VII “The Force Awakens” in 2014. If you’ve watched the movie, you’ll see Skellig Michael at the end of the movie when Luke Skywalker gets reintroduced to viewers.

The islands can be visited via boat tours from several locations in Kerry. These run from April until the beginning of October. You can either book to go around the islands or to land on them. You will need to book early, as these can get booked up quickly.


Waterville is another place I loved visiting as a child and I spent a few birthdays there. In Waterville, you will see a monument to Charlie Chaplin who apparently loved the place and visited often. 

The Lobster Bar and An Corcan Restaurant are great spots for a bite to eat.


Sneem is Ireland’s most colourful village. As a child, a trip to Sneem was always a treat.

Ladies View

The name “Ladies View” dates back to Queen Victoria’s 1861 visit to Ireland when her ladies-in-waiting expressed their admiration for the view. I think this was my favourite part of the Ring of Kerry drive, I actually came here again, at night.

There is also a lovely café and gift shop here overlooking the view. We grabbed breakfast here one morning and it was such a great place to get ready for a long drive.

The Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass forged between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain by glacial flows.

It is generally suggested that you walk or take a jaunting car, due to the difficult nature of the roads. However, if you do decide to walk it, be prepared it will be a long walk (several hours). We arrived quite late in the day and chose to drive. If you choose this option, either do it early or late in the day. The roads are very narrow and it is best to choose a time when you avoid the walkers, cyclists, and jaunting cars. I should also mention the roads consist of a lot of sharp bends and steep drops, so this is probably best attempted by an experienced driver.

The scenery is otherworldly and breath-taking. It was strange to think that I had been visiting this area for so many years and hadn’t paid it a visit. The glacial lakes are stunning.


Leave a Reply