- This article is an itinerary.
County Kerry is famous throughout the world for its natural beauty, and the Ring of Kerry is the most common tourist route for seeing it. There are relatively few historic sites along the route, though those that are there are worth seeing. Unfortunately, with fame comes the masses, and there are dozens of tour buses that run this route every day. This is good news if you don't have a car or a bike, but bad news if you do.
All the tour buses run counter clockwise, as in many places there is no way two could pass each other. If biking, it's best to go around clockwise, so that you meet tour buses head on. For driving, this depends on your vehicle size: go clockwise so that you don't spend hours seeing nothing but a giant coach rear end; or counter clockwise if driving a large vehicle and don't want to risk encountering a coach at a narrow section.
Though officially the Ring Of Kerry is a 179 km horseshoe around the Iveragh Peninsula, for the purpose of this itinerary the 214 km loop from Killarney will be used. For those on bike, the Kerry Way trail passes through most of the same sights, though it doesn't extend all the way to the end of the peninsula. If going by car, a minimum of two days is recommended, but that leaves no time for side trips, so, like almost everywhere, the longer you take, the more you'll enjoy it.
Killarney to Kenmare
Starting in Killarney (Irish: Cill Áirne), head south on the N71. Not long after leaving town, you'll arrive at the Muckross Estate, a Dúchas  [formerly dead link] property that includes Muckross House, a 19th century manor, the Muckross Traditional Farms, reproductions of 1930s Kerry farmhouses, and Muckross Abbey (Irish: Mainistir Locha Léin), a fifteenth century abbey that was torched by Cromwell in 1652. For anyone who enjoys poking around ruins, the abbey is a real gem.
Only a few short kilometres from the Muckross Estate is the Torc Waterfall (Irish: Easach Toirc) where water comes cascading down a mountain surrounded by a million different shades of green.
Continuing on toward Kenmare, there are many spots worthy of a photo break, the best known of which is the Ladies View above the Upper Lake of Killarney National Park.
Skellig Michael (Irish: Sceilg Mhichíl) is a 6th century monastic settlement on a small Island. You can go there on boat from Portmagee (Irish: An Caladh). The boats are small and licensed for 12 passengers, but you might get seasick. The steps to the top are small and steep, so do not fall off.
The boat ride takes 30-40 minutes each way and you get to spend approximately two hours on the island. There are no water, food or flush toilet facilities on Skellig Michael so bring your own lunch and plastic bag.
There is a little museum close by on the mainland with an audio video show about the monastery and its history.
Towns along the Ring that can offer full tourist services are:
In an area this geared towards tourists, there is no shortage of restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets. See the individual towns for details on options there. Outside the major towns, food can be found at:
Depending on how much time you have and how thoroughly you want to see the area, you could end up stopping for the night anywhere along the ring. See individual cities for details on accommodation in those areas.