The Ring of Kerry. The most gorgeous piece of road we have ever driven. If you’re spending time in Ireland, we would most definitely recommended dedicating a chunk of time to this 120 mile stretch of road. You could do it in one day like we did, but we don’t think any less time would do it enough justice to fully enjoy the landscape and stops along the way.
Because we were staying in Killarney, that’s where we began the famous loop. We followed advice we had received on driving the ring clockwise to avoid the big tour buses (which drive counter clockwise) and were really glad we did! (We ended up only having to pass one charter bus.) Before you begin the loop, make sure you feel very comfortable driving…because it will get challenging. And by challenging, I mean you will be driving down a barely big enough one lane road, see a bus coming at you, then have to pull out off the road because you are the smaller car and they have the right of way…so be prepared. Anyways, here are all the places we stopped during our trip around the Ring of Kerry:
1. Torc Waterfall
Keep your eyes peeled for the small sign and pull off to Torc Waterfall. With an easy, short hike to the waterfall, this was definitely worth the stop. Although we also climbed the stairs and continued to the top of the mountain, the best views of the waterfall are right at the bottom. There is, however, a gorgeous viewing point of the town of Killarney if you climb up the top of the first set of stairs.
2. Killarney National Park
Driving through this gorgeous park we didn’t stop much. We slowed down and gawked a ton, but felt it was a little too dangerous to get out unless there were pull outs on the road. With Muckross Lake and Upper Lake at the center of the amazing views and gorgeous mountains in the backdrop we couldn’t help but stare.
3. Ladies View
Named for Queen Victoria’s Ladies in waiting who adored this spot and viewing point, we have to admit we loved it ourselves. We were lucky enough to see some deer just a few feet in front of us down the hill, and also took advantage of the bathrooms and snack bar inside.
4. Molls Gap
Although we didn’t hike to the actual Molls Gap, we stopped at the pull off along the Ring of Kerry road for the viewing point to snap a quick picture. We also admired the sheep, not realizing how many we were about to see on our day trip.
5. Staigue Stone Fort
Almost driving past and not driving through the back roads to get here, we were so glad we stopped. It was a lot cooler than we thought, and because it was only 1 euro a person it was super cheap too. Hiking up to the fort we saw a few stray sheep crossing the road and walking around, and after climbing to the top of the fort we saw some amazing views of the bay as well!
6. Castlecove Beach & O’Carroll’s Cove Beach Bar & Restaurant
By the time we arrived here everyone was pretty hungry. We were glad we pulled off towards the bay and we would definitely recommend this restaurant to everyone. Their staff was SO friendly (our waiter even gave us a copy of the map of the remainder of the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring) and the views of the bay were stunning. Also, their food was so delicious!! Our waiter explained to us that all their food is caught right there in that bay, and it tasted so fresh and so good! We would definitely recommend getting the seafood platter to get a little taste of everything.
7. Skellig Loop – 125 miles
A miniature loop off of the Ring of Kerry, we had enough time to add this to our day trip. We would recommend taking time to explore this loop, as some of our favorite stops were on this loop. Skelligs Chocolate Factory, Kerry Cliffs, Portmagee, and Valentia Island were all on this loop.
8. Skelligs Chocolate Factory
You need to stop here. It’s that simple. We were able to not only watch how they make their chocolate, but were given so many free samples of all the different kinds of chocolate they have (like honey and rose and mint and caramel) that we were almost too full to eat any more. On the other hand we bought a few different kinds that we loved and saved them for the next few days and for some souvenirs for friends and family back home.
11. Kerry Cliffs
Some say they are more amazing than the Cliffs of Moher. We absolutely loved them. Although at a few points we thought we might just get blown over the edge, we were very thankful that there was a fence around the entire cliff’s edge. The views were stunning and although it was drizzling we could still make out the Skellig Islands.
12. Valentia Island
Valentia Island was so pretty, and we wish we would have had more time to explore. Driving through the small, colorful town of Portmagee to the bridge to cross over, we also wished we would have been hungry enough to stop. In all honesty we were only on the Island for about half an hour, where we admired the different viewpoints of the Skellig Islands and the Kerry Cliffs. Supposedly there are also a ton of outdoor activities to do (we didn’t see them because it was so windy and rainy at this time) and a lighthouse somewhere on the island!
13. Ballycarbery Castle
Now closed to the public, the closest you can get to the castle is in the parking lot to admire it from afar. We loved seeing all the castles and ruins, and although this one wasn’t in the best shape, we still loved it and the views of it nearby the water with flowers surrounding the road to the castle!
We just wanted to end by pointing out there are a ton more places you can stop, if you have time. We just included the stops that we had time for and those that we enjoyed the most!
~Tyler & Deborah