Asking anyone about the Ring of Kerry, and opinion can generally be summed up in one word: wow. The Ring itself is a 110-145 mile route that circles the south-western Iveragh peninsula, through some of the most breath-taking scenery in Ireland. Dotted with picturesque villages, coastal towns, and dozens of scenic views and hill walks, the twisting road takes you through a corner of the earth renowned for its unparalleled beauty and splendour.
The clockwise tour route itself follows the N71 going out of Killarney, before joining the N70 at Kenmare and winding through Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, and Glenbeigh to Killorglin where it joins the N72 back to Killarney. Those in the know advise you to depart from the prescribed route at Cahersiveen and divert through the Skellig Ring so you don’t miss Portmagee, Ballinskelligs or Valentia Island, which is accessible only by ferry and bridge. This adds around 35 miles to the route but is well worth it.
Car visitors are recommended to take the clockwise route to avoid the tourist coaches that travel counter-clockwise. Some of the roads are very narrow, and it is considerably easier to deal with a group of coaches coming at you than to try and get passed them as they keep stopping along the way. Pick up your car rental Dublin and hit the road.
There is no shortage of accommodation around the Ring of Kerry, but many travellers choose to spend their nights in Killarney and explore different parts of the Ring from there. Boasting more hotel beds than any other city or town in Ireland after Dublin, situated in the Killarney National Park, the surrounding area is beautiful, and the town itself is a hive of US, UK and European visitors frequenting the huge selection of pubs, restaurants and shops.
Each of the towns spread along the Ring has their fair share of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs, all available to review and book through various internet sites. If you are concentrating a good portion of your vacation on the Ring, you may want to arrange a selection of bookings so you can travel round to at your own pace, enjoying a different location every two to three days.
Aside from the incredible countryside, there is so much to see and do around the Ring of Kerry it could warrant a book all of its own, and take months to experience everything. So here are some highlights:
· Klllarney – Enjoy the surrounding lakes and parklands, the Blue Pool, the Purple Mountains, Ross Castle and the spectacular Ladies View. Indulge in fishing, kayaking or try some of the 140mile Kerry Way walking trail. Plus much, much more.
· Kenmare – Tour the harbour, visit the 4000 year old stone circle or have a go at some water sports.
· Sneem – Visit the Geopark, the ancient Church or try some of the fabulous walks.
· Caherdaniel – Relax on the Blue Flag beach at Derrynanne.
· Ballinskelligs – Treat yourself at Skellig’s Chocolate Factory, then explore the castle and lay on the Blue Flag beach.
· Portmagee – Take a boat trip to the Skellig Islands, just off the coast.
· Valentia – Valentia Island is a full vacation by itself. Some of the things to see include the natural swimming pool known as Blue pool, a 385 million year old fossil of Tetrapod footprints, Geokaun Mountain, Culoo and Fogher Cliffs, and the famous Valentia Slate Quarry.
· Caherciveen – Visit the ancient stone forts at of Cahergal and Leacanabuaile, Stretch out on the White Strand Blue Flag beach or explore Ballycarbery Castle.
· Glebeigh – Revel in the magnificent Mountain Stage views and visit Rossbeigh Beach or Drung Hill.
· Killarney – See the MacGullycuddy Reeks Mountains including Corrán Tuathail, the highest peak in Ireland, on your way back into Killarney
That is a small selection of the delights awaiting you at the Ring of Kerry. The beauty is you can set your own itinerary, see as much or as little as you like. After all, just surrounding yourself with the splendid scenery of Co Kerry is a vacation in itself.