The Ring of Kerry is one of the most scenic drives in all of Ireland. It features open pastures, charming villages with shops, restaurants, and a bustling atmosphere. The Ring takes you along the dramatic coast of south-west Ireland on the Iveragh Peninsula that extends out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The drive can be done in one day but to get the most from this experience, take it over two days. As a note of caution, the weather can change dramatically at anytime of the day...so be prepared!
Begin your drive in Kenmare, no later than 9:00 am, and head clockwise against the tour bus traffic onto N70 towards Reen.
Passing by Glacier Lake on your right, a long lake carved out by a glacier more than 10,000 years ago.
Continue on with a stop at the historic Parknasilla Hotel for some traditional Irish tea and scones, or stop off at the village of Sneem further ahead for a quick break.
Continue on turning right in Castlecove to find the magnificent Staigue Fort, situated in a beautiful lonely valley. This well-preserved fort, circa 1500 B.C. is approximately 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter, with great thick walls and steps that lead to some excellent sea and mountain views.
Returning back through Castlecove turning right to Caroll's Cove. It has a nice beach with some of the warmest water in Ireland along with scenic views of Kenmare bay and Ireland's only beach side bar.
Continue on and take the turnoff to Derrynane House the home of Daniel O'Connell.
Continue on towards Waterville on Ballinskelligs Bay. The road leads to a scenic viewpoint from Coomakesta Pass with views of the Skelligs, Scariff and Deenish Islands.
Stop off in Waterville for lunch or tea and scones in the Charlie Chaplin Room at the Butler Arms Hotel. A favorite spot of Charlie Chaplin's with lots of photos of silent-film star Charlie Chaplin.
Continue on rejoining the main road and later turning left onto R-567 for4 the Skellig Ring loop. The Ring of Skellig is not crowded due to its narrow roads that cannot by accessed by buses. Continue on through Ballinskelligs and along St. Finian's Bay with a beach popular with surfers and picnickers. Just before the bay is the Skellig Chocolate Factory. Stop off. It's a good break for family's with kids. The have a cafe and some delicious free samples of their famous chocolate. For a nice little hike and a great scenic view, turn left into the driveway with the sign pointing to the "Best View in County Kerry". Park and walk about ten minutes up the gravel road to take in the scenic coastal cliffs.
Continue onto Portmagee, a small port town with boats to the Skellig Islands. Cross the bridge onto Valentia Island. Valentia Island is a charming island of tiny patchwork fields, high cliffs, and a great view of the tower like rocks of Great Skellig and Little Skellig. These towering rocks are sea bird sanctuaries, where until the 12th century were occupied by monks. Ask about fishermen who will take you in a boat across to Great Skellig where you can hike 1,000-year-old steps to the sixth-century small huts and chapels of the monks, 700 feet (215 meters) above the waves.
Continue onto to Knightstown, turn left for the Knightstown Heritage Museum. Return to the main road going through to Knightstown, taking the ferry that leaves you back onto N-70, the main road.
Turn left to the village of Cahersiveen, detouring to the Barracks Heritage Centre, to the Cahergeal and Leacanabuaile stone forts. The history associated with these stone ring forts is impressive as they date back to the Bronze Age, over 4,000 years years ago.
Return to N-70 at Cahersiveen and follow the signs to Glenbeigh and Killorglin, where there are scenic views of the Dingle Bay coastline and Dingle Peninsula. The ring ends at Killorglin.