If you’re planning a road trip around Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is a must-see. Here is a list of the 12 best places to visit on the Ring of Kerry.
This 179 km-long scenic drive will take you through rural seaside villages and along the rugged coastal landscape of the Iveragh Peninsula. One of Ireland’s main tourist attractions, a drive around the Ring of Kerry and its highlights, is one of the best ways to explore Ireland’s most southwesterly county.
From ancient castles to stunning natural landscapes and quaint seaside villages, the Ring of Kerry has a lot to offer. So here is a list of 12 must-see highlights of the route.
12. Ladies View – for spectacular landscapes
This scenic viewpoint on the Ring of Kerry is on the N71 about 19 km from Killarney in Killarney National Park.
Ranked by the Irish Times as one of the most photographed places in Ireland, you’re sure to see some breathtaking Irish scenery with a stop here.
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.
Address: Ladies View, Derrycunnihy, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
11. Ross Castle – a great Ring of Kerry stop
This 15th-century tower house and keep is located on the edge of Lough Leane in Killarney National Park. It’s a must-see if you’re taking a tour of the Ring of Kerry, especially if you’re interested in medieval castles and architecture.
The castle was built by Irish Chieftain, O’Donoghue Mór, in the late 15th-century and is believed to be amongst the last to surrender to Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads during the Irish Confederate Wars of 1641-1653. This is definitely one of the top Ring of Kerry stops.
10. Torc Waterfall – natural splendour
Another must-see sight in Killarney National Park is Torc Waterfall. The 110-metre long waterfall is just a five-minute walk off the N71 Killarney Kenmare road and is surrounded in stunning woodland scenery.
Lying at the base of Torc Mountain, Torc Waterfall is formed by the Owengarriff River and drains from the Devil’s Punchbowl corrie lake at Mangerton Mountain.
Address: Rossnahowgarry, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
9. Kenmare – one of the top Ring of Kerry stops
This small town in the south of County Kerry is known as the ‘Little Nest’ of the Wild Atlantic Way. Located between the Ring of Kerry and the Beara Peninsula, Kenmare is a great place to stop for lunch if you want to explore a cute, little Irish seaside town.
The town is set in a picturesque location at the head of Kenmare Bay between the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks to the north and the Caha Mountains to the east.
While you’re here, you can take in the views of the stunning Kenmare Bay or check out the colourful painted houses.
8. Killarney National Park and Muckross House – full of history
Another of the top Ring of Kerry stops, you can’t take the drive without stopping off at Killarney National Park and Muckross House.
The National Park is an area of scenic beauty spanning over 26,000 acres. You can take in the views of Killarney’s lakes and the surrounding mountains, including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland.
The house, which looks out over Muckross Lake, was built in 1843 for Henry Arthur Herbert and his family but was sold in 1911 to William Bowers Bourn. He, in turn, gave the estate to his daughter Maud, on her marriage to Mr. Arthur Rose Vincent.
The estate was then sold to the Irish Free State in 1932. It became Ireland’s first national park which still welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
Address: Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, Ireland
7. Caherdaniel – extraordinary beaches
On your Ring of Kerry drive be sure to visit Caherdaniel. Caherdaniel is a village in County Kerry located on the Iveragh Peninsula, overlooking Derrynane Harbour, Scariff and Deenish Islands, Kenmare Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Caherdaniel is home to one of the world’s most beautiful cleanest beaches, Derrynane Beach, that you can explore when you stop off at the village.
You can also visit the nearby Derrynane House, which was home to Daniel O’Connell, after whom Caherdaniel got its name. There are also plenty of watersports you can try, including windsurfing and sailing, as well as a stone ringfort.
6. Cahersiveen – breathtaking sights
Another great town to stop off at is Cahersiveen in the region of the Skellig Ring, Kerry. Known as ‘the town that climbs the mountain, and looks upon the sea’, there is plenty to see and do here from breath-taking beaches, forest walks, and much more.
Located on the Beentee Hill on the lower course of the River Ferta, Cahersiveen is the principal settlement of the Iveragh Peninsula. It is connected to the Irish road network by the N70, so it is easy to get to if you’re driving the Ring of Kerry.
While you’re here, you can do the 9 km Beentee Loop walk that takes you to the top of the Beentee mountain for spectacular views of the scenery around Cahersiveen and the nearby Valentia Island.
5. Kells – you can see Dingle Bay from here!
Kells is a quiet, picturesque fishing village halfway between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen. The village is also home to Kells Bay, one of Kerry’s only Blue Flag beaches and one of the top Ring of Kerry highlights.
From Kells, you can take in the stunning views of Dingle Bay and Blasket Island, especially if you head to the nearby ‘mountain stage’.
You can also head to ‘Kerry Way’ to do some hill walking and stretch your legs, or you can check out Kells Bay Gardens, an old Victorian garden home to one of the best collections of Southern Hemisphere sub-tropical plants in Europe.
4. Portmagee – a quaint village
Portmagee is a village on the Iveragh Peninsula, south of Valentia Island. Locally it is known as ‘the ferry’, referring to its use as a crossing point to the island.
The name Portmagee comes from Captain Theobald Magee, a notorious 18th-century smuggler who traded contraband spirits, textiles, tea, and tobacco through the inlets around Ireland’s south-west coast.
In December 2012, Portmagee was awarded the Fáilte Ireland National Tourism Town Award, the first town to receive the award.
3. Cahergal Stone Fort – a monument of a different time
Cahergal is a stone ringfort and national monument dating back to the Iron Age.
The renovated stone fort, located about 3.5 km west of Cahersiveen, is surrounded by a 4-metre high wall. Inside the fort are the remains of a circular stone house. The site is well worth a visit if you are passing by.
Address: Ballycarbery East, Co. Kerry, Ireland
2. Valentia Island – an exciting island
Linked to the mainland by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge at Portmagee, Valentia Island lies off the Iveragh Peninsula and is one of Ireland’s most westerly points.
The island is home to a mix of traditional and planned built architecture and plenty of beautiful walks, including the Valentia Slate Quarry or the lighthouse at the Cromwell Fort.
1. Skellig Rocks – one of the top Ring of Kerry highlights
The Skellig Rocks are one of the most famous tourist attractions on the Ring of Kerry, and you can see why.
Skellig Michael is the larger of the two uninhabited Skellig Islands located 11.6 km west of the Iveragh Peninsula. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Although the islands are today uninhabited, a Christian monastery was founded there between the 6th and 8th century. It remained continuously occupied until its abandonment in the late 12th century.
There you have it, our top Ring of Kerry highlights you need to visit when you’re in this part of the country.