Ireland has its fair share of beautiful drives, and one of the most stunning is the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula. This 120-mile round trip takes you through impressive scenery, pretty towns and stretches of wild coastline.
Allow plenty of time for photo stops and the chance to explore castles, remote beaches, lakes and vast expanses of mountain scenery.
Whether you’ve travelled the Ring of Kerry before or this is your first time, there’s always something new to discover.
Start at Killarney
Your tour begins in the south-west of Ireland in Killarney in County Kerry. We advise you to take the clockwise route, to avoid tourists as most people go the other way. Allow plenty of time (you can do the whole trip and make plenty of stops in a day) or even find a local B&B to stop off at for the night to make the most of the fantastic Irish scenery.
First stop – Moll’s Gap
Head south for half an hour through a spectacular stretch of road flanked by mountain scenery until you arrive at Moll’s Gap. When you arrive take a moment to absorb the fantastic views and dramatic landscape this area has to offer. Legend has it that the Gap is named after Moll, who ran a local pub that sold potent potato whiskey. One of her descendants still runs the Kissane Sheep Farm, where you can take the kids to see the lambs and sheep.
Brace yourself for Staigue Fort
Next comes a 45-minute drive along narrow lanes to the ancient Staigue Fort. This stone fort reaches 30m in diameter and its 4m drystone walls will fascinate history lovers. The kids can let off steam here while you marvel at the amazing views.
Derrynane – perfect for an overnight stop
If you want to break the journey and spend some time relaxing, then Derrynane is only 15 minutes from Staigue Fort. The curving roads will lead you to this enchanting region, where you can explore fairy trails, go horse riding, try out water sports or just relax on the beautiful sandy beach for the afternoon. You’ll find some lovely Irish pubs here – ideal for a spot of lunch washed down by a pint of Guinness or a craft beer (another reason not to drive any further).
Stop off for chocolate in Skelligs
As the scenery gets more dramatic, you’ll realise just how wild and wonderful Ireland is. Half an hour away, the next stop on your Ring of Kerry adventure is Skelligs Viewpoint and the spectacular Kerry cliffs – where rocky cliffs drop down to the pounding of the ocean and are home to a massive range of seabirds. After your birdwatching you can treat the kids to a visit to Skelligs Chocolate Factory, where you can stock up on treats for your journey.
A quick 15-minute drive leads you to the picturesque village of Portmagee. This colourful little gem holds Ireland’s Top Toilet Award, so you’ll have to hold on until you get there for a bathroom break. Portmagee is the perfect base to take a boat trip over to the natural wonder of Skellig Michael, where you can learn about the Skellig monks and the history of this craggy rock that rises from the sea.
North to Killorglin
The adventure continues with an hour’s drive through wild landscapes and awesome views to the rural and cosmopolitan town of Killorglin. This historic town hosts some great cultural events including Ireland’s oldest festival, the Puck Fair, which puts on a spectacular array of free entertainment for the whole family every August. Another event not to be missed is the K-FEST arts festival with its amazing performances of live music, drama, art and poetry. It’s well worth staying a night in or around this lovely town, to make the most of everything it has to offer.
And back to Killarney
Complete your journey with a stop off at Killarney National Park, for a final exploration of Ireland’s exquisite countryside. You can take a romantic stroll through the stunning scenery where you’re sure to spot some of the local wildlife such as rabbits, badgers and even rare red squirrels. If you want to offer the kids some more entertainment on your Ring of Kerry trip there are boat trips, cycle hire and plenty of mountain trails to explore.
These are the main sights of the famous Ring of Kerry, and you’re sure to find plenty more to immerse yourself in this beautiful part of Ireland.