Ireland is the ultimate road trip destination. It is a country full of so much history and natural beauty. And the best way to see all this beauty is to rent a car and just drive. We happen to think one of Ireland’s most beautiful drives is the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is a 111 mile coastal road that goes around the Iveragh Peninsula in Ireland. Technically it is not a ring but a horseshoe shape although some people start their Ring of Kerry journey in Killarney and make it a full circle. It is beautiful because you get to see a really rugged and beautiful coastal Ireland. This is the Ireland that the guide books gush about.
Where to start
The best way to see the Ring of Kerry is to hire a car and do it at your own pace. We stayed in Killarney the night before and started our journey from here. This seems to be the most popular option with a lot of tours starting from this point also. Killarney is a vibrant town full of traditional pubs, music, and some fantastic food. It is full of good ‘craic’ as the Irish say. And before you start speculating, craic in Ireland actually means enjoyment or fun.
How much time do you need
Driving the ring takes about 3-4 hours, but you really are going to want to make stops along the way. So a good 5 or 6 hours is needed. There are also times you will find yourself stuck behind a tour bus wobbling up a hill so plan some time for this as well.
First stop Killarney National Park
Whilst technically not in the Ring of Kerry if you start your journey in Killarney you are going to drive through here. There are so many places to pull over and explore but these are some of our highlights.
A 70 ft waterfall popular with tourists. It takes about 5 minutes or so to reach the waterfall from the road and you do so in some beautiful woodland.
Another popular tourist attraction is Ladies View. Here you get to enjoy some sweeping views of the mountains and lakes that make up Killarney National Park. Plus if you are feeling peckish or nature calls there is a very conveniently located coffee shop here.
Driving the Ring of Kerry
Officially the start of the Ring is when you reach Kenmare. There are quite a few hotels and restaurants here, but other than that it is a small but scenic town. Once you leave the town driving on the roads is amazing especially as you try to navigate your way through stone tunnels. Just watch out for oncoming traffic!
As you continue driving you will reach Caherdaniel. For us this was the highlight of the drive. You get to see some amazing beach views with beautifully blue water. You could briefly be mistaken for thinking you were somewhere off the Mediterranean. That is of course until the Irish weather kicks in.
We stopped for lunch at Caherdaniel and discovered O’Carrols Cove beach bar. They serve some amazing home cooked meals as well as some amazing soup and soda bread and pretty fresh seafood.
Our next stop was Waterville, a very quaint little town with so much greenery. From this point on everything is really green. I started to understand why they call this place the Emerald Isle. We left the Ring at Killorglin and headed north to Tralee, but you can continue east back to Killarney.
Is this Irelands most beautiful drive?
Driving around the Ring of Kerry and the Killarney National Park were real highlights for us. This is where Ireland really shows off its natural beauty. It is something not to be missed. This was definitely one of the most beautiful drives we took. This also forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way which is another must do drive in Ireland.
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