The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip – The Ring Of Kerry

A Short Road Trip Guide of The Ring Of Kerry

Beginning and ending in Killarney, the Ring of Kerry is a circular 180-km (112-mile) road trip around southwest Ireland’s County Kerry. Although it’s possible to complete the loop in just a few hours, as many as three days is really needed to fully explore and appreciate the route. An unmissable road trip destination, the Ring of Kerry offers lush green hills, stunning coastal landscapes, rich culture and history, diverse wildlife, and charming seaside villages.

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Killarney Route

The Ring of Kerry Photo by Jean Carlo Emer on Unsplash 

Top Tips Before you Plan your Ultimate Ireland Road Trip – The Ring Of Kerry

What time of year should you go?

As well as being a diverse and friendly country, Ireland is also known for its sometimes-underwhelming weather. Mild in summer and rainy during spring and autumn, the weather is unpredictable to say the least!

Whatever season you decide to go in, always pack for every eventuality when you leave for the day. That includes waterproof clothing and plenty of warm layers. The worst weather tends to be in January and February, so it’s a good idea to avoid these months.

What to Prepare?

Road trips, fun as they are, need plenty of preparation to ensure they go smoothly. That includes figuring out the route as well as all the things you need to pack and take with you.

Setting off with a reliable and comfortable vehicle will help you enjoy your Irish road trip to the fullest. Whether you opt for a saloon or SUV, indeed, many consumers praise trucks for their positive handling experience. However, the most important factor is that your vehicle of choice guarantees you, and your passengers, a safe and smooth ride. And this includes doing a good check of your vehicle before you set off.

There are a number of checks to be carried out on your vehicle before you set off on a road trip including:

  • Check your car tyres are the correct pressure.
  • Ensure the oil in the engine is at a good level – always check this when the engine is cool.
  • Make sure there’s enough screen wash in the car.
  • Ensure you have an emergency kit in the boot – and if not request one from the car hire company. Or if using your own vehicle, create one.

Once you’re happy with your vehicle, next up is ensuring you have a navigation tool which will see you hit the road with little to no effort – leading you to your destination without you having to pour over a map for hours (and yes maps still exist!). Your navigation tool might be a built in GPS system, one that plugs into your car, or could simply be google maps on your phone. Whichever your choice, makes sure all systems are up to date and ready to go.

Your final vehicle check is to make sure you include a car phone charger for really long journeys. Water and snacks are always a good idea too.

Killorglin to Waterville

You’re then ready to begin the road trip from Killarney to Killorglin in the heart of Kerry — make sure to get a photo of the famous King Puck statue.

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Ballycarbery Castle

Ballycarbery Castle Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Drive onward to the medieval Cahergall and Leacanabuaile Stone Ring Forts built around 9th or 10th century. While en route, you can also admire 16th century Ballycarbery Castle from the road (unfortunately visitor’s aren’t permitted).

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Valentia Island

Valentia Island Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Valentia Island is a must-see destination before Waterville; it’s one of Ireland’s most westerly points reached by bridge (or ferry). Enjoy the stunning 360-degree views from
Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs, and visit the Tetrapod Trackway — amazing fossilised tetrapod footprints.

Waterville to Kenmare

Waterville is a small waterfront town with a  number of hotels, B&Bs and Holiday Homes suitable for a comfortable overnight stay. Check out the epic statue of Charlie Chaplin, who made the town one of his favourite holiday destinations from 1959 and for the next decade.

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Charlie Chaplin Waterville

Waterville Photo by TuendeBede from Pixabay 

Enroute to Kenmare, stop at Skelligs Chocolate in Ballinskelligs to stock up on delicious chocolate treats. The open-plan shop and factory even lets you see the chocolate being made. Next, venture on to the historical Derrynane House located on 120 hectares of picturesque parkland. You can also visit the nearby nature trail, beach, and abbey and graveyard.

Lastly, Kenmare is the ideal place to enjoy an evening meal before settling down for the night. It’s packed with charming galleries, restaurants, craft shops and cafes.

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Kenmare

Kenmare Photo by Tina Kuper on Unsplash

Kenmare to Killarney

The next morning, drive on to the famous Moll’s Gap; the Avoca store and café provides amazing views of this stunning mountain pass. You’ll then soon reach Killarney National Park, which is home to breathtaking scenery, stunning lakes, and dramatic mountains. You may also spot Ireland’s only red deer herd here. You can explore some of the park’s many beautiful trails, either on foot or by jaunting cart.

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Moll's Gap

Moll’s Gap Photo by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash

Lastly, you’ll arrive at your final destination of the road trip: Killarney, a welcoming and picturesque town on the shores of Lough Lean. There’s no shortage of things to do in Killarney. The beautiful Torc waterfall, in particular, is just a short three-minute walk. When you’re ready, grab a bite to eat in one of the many local pubs with a backdrop of traditional live music.

The Ultimate Ireland Road Trip - The Ring Of Kerry - Killarney

Killarney Photo by Catalina Rete on Unsplash

The Ring of Kerry is truly an unmissable road trip around the southwest of Ireland. It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience some of the best natural beauty and fascinating history Ireland has to offer.

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