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Driving the Ring of Kerry Route: Map and the Best Stops!

The Ring of Kerry is one of the most famous attractions in Ireland, topping many a traveler’s bucket list. It’s easy to see why, thanks to the area’s gorgeous coastline views and traditional Irish villages. However, if it’s your first time visiting, there are a few things to know before you start your drive!

With this in mind, I’ve written this comprehensive overview featuring highlights along the Ring of Kerry route, practical driving tips, and a detailed map. From ancient crumbling castles to beautiful sandy shores, you won’t want to miss this incredible road trip.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission when you purchase a product or book a stay through these links at no extra cost to you.

What is the Ring of Kerry?

White SUV driving through Moll's Gap on the Ring of Kerry in IrelandThe Ring of Kerry is a 111-mile (179 km) loop drive that begins and ends in Killarney, winding around the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. It passes through cute Irish towns like Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, Cahersiveen, Glenbeigh, and Killorglin, with much of the route overlapping with the famous Wild Atlantic Way.

Why is the Ring of Kerry famous?

The Ring of Kerry offers visitors a chance to experience a range of quintessential Irish landscapes all in one drive. For example, picture rugged mountains, dramatic coastlines, picturesque villages, and serene lakes!

How long does it take to drive the Ring of Kerry?

Street signs along the Ring of Kerry (N71) with signs for the Ring of Kerry and KillarneyYou could technically drive the Ring of Kerry loop in about 3.5 hours without stopping. However, between traffic and getting out of the car to explore, most tourists realistically spend 6-8 hours here. Plus, day trips from Killarney typically last around 7 hours, so it’s best to allocate a full day for the journey.

If you have the time to spare, two days is even better! This way, you won’t be in a rush and can stop at any attractions that pique your interest. You can also choose to add the Skellig Ring, a popular extension of the Ring of Kerry, to your itinerary.

Can you drive the Ring of Kerry in one day?

Coin-operated binoculars at Ladies View along the Ring of KerryPeople often ask if driving the Ring of Kerry in a day is possible. Well, the answer depends on factors like daylight hours, weather, and the tourism season! It’s more feasible in seasons with longer days, such as between April and August, but monitoring the weather forecast is essential.

Tourist walking a pathway through Killarney National Park along the Ring of Kerry route in IrelandFurthermore, be aware that traffic can impact the duration of this loop route, especially during the high season (June-August). To avoid crowds, consider an early start, as most group tours begin around 9:30-10:30.

If you have two days, explore Killarney National Park and the Gap of Dunloe on the first day, spend the night in Killarney, and drive most of the Ring of Kerry on the second day. Planning for two days is also advisable for the Skellig Michael Landing Tour (mid-May to September).

Tips for driving the Ring of Kerry

Driving clockwise vs. counter-clockwise.

View of the winding highway that is the Ring of Kerry route in IrelandDriving the Ring of Kerry clockwise has its pros and cons. For example, tour buses operate anti-clockwise, so driving clockwise helps avoid getting stuck behind them. It also allows you to reach popular attractions in the morning, reducing the chances of encountering crowds.

However, the downside to driving the route clockwise is that you may have to pass a tour bus head-on. Therefore, first-time visitors to Ireland will sometimes opt to drive the Ring of Kerry counter-clockwise.

Start your drive early in the morning.

Tourists walking along the top wall of the Staigue Stone Fort on the Ring of KerryThe Ring of Kerry gets crowded, especially in peak season (the summer months). For a more peaceful drive, start early if you’re driving yourself, ideally hitting the road by 8:30.

If you’re staying in nearby towns like Killarney or Kenmare, beating the tour buses is easier. Most bus tours start between 9:30 and 10:30, so an early start increases your chances of enjoying the scenery without traffic concerns.

Choose your stops ahead of time.

A view of Kerry Cliffs along the Skellig Ring, an extension of the Ring of Kerry in IrelandWith numerous stops along the Ring of Kerry, creating a list of must-visit places beforehand helps manage the options, especially for a one-day itinerary. Allocate around 6-8 hours for the drive and mark each point of interest on Google Maps to avoid missing them accidentally.

Book a guided tour if you’d prefer not to drive yourself.

Woman in yellow rain jacket posing in front of Ross Castle along the Ring of Kerry

If driving on the left side is too stressful for you, opt for a guided Ring of Kerry tour, offering transportation on an air-conditioned bus with a local guide. Note that bus tours follow the counter-clockwise loop. Check out our recommended guided tours below:


Map of the Ring of Kerry

If you’re planning on driving yourself, I’ve put together a Ring of Kerry map featuring some of the best stops along the way. It’s important to note that I only included the main highlights because otherwise, it would be overwhelming. 

However, note that you don’t have to choose the exact stops I suggest! For example, I include a short additional scenic route on the map above: the Skellig Ring. 

Pro tip: You can add this map to your Google Maps by clicking the star to the right of the title.

Best stops on the Ring of Kerry route

Woman looking through coin-operated binoculars at Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry drive

Killarney National Park

View of pathway leading up to Ross Castle, a popular stop along the Ring of Kerry driveKillarney National Park is one of the top Ring of Kerry highlights, encompassing almost 26,000 acres (10,200 hectares). Of course, you won’t have time to explore the whole park, but you can see Ross Castle, situated on the edge of Lough Leane.

This 15th-century fortress was the stronghold of the O’Donoghue clan. Nowadays, Ross Castle is open to the public to explore seasonally (March-November). Depending on how much time you have, you could also choose to take a boat tour of the lake. 

The front façade of Muckross House & Manor, located within Killarney National ParkMuckross House and Manor is another must-see in Killarney National Park. This 19th-century Victorian mansion was the home of the wealthy Herbert family and now serves as a museum featuring extensive gardens and even a traditional farm. You can also take a jaunting tour from Muckross House!

Before continuing your drive, make a quick stop by Muckross Abbey. There’s a small car park just off the N71 where you can leave the car and take a short, five-minute walk to see these 15th-century abbey ruins.

Torc Waterfall

View of Torc Waterfall from staircase along hiking trailTorc Waterfall is a 66-foot-high (20m) and 360-foot-long (110m) cascading waterfall. Luckily, it’s just a 5-minute walk from the N71’s official parking lot (Torc Waterfall Lower Parking). However, I recommend arriving early to snap a parking spot during the high season! 

The short hiking trail to the waterfall is well-marked and suitable for all fitness levels. However, it can be a bit slippery after rainfall, so make sure to bring good hiking shoes with traction! For those looking for a bit more of a challenging hike, there are longer trails that wind through the surrounding forest park.

Ladies View

Panoramic view from the famous Ladies View observation deck along the Ring of Kerry driveLadies View gets its name from Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, who were impressed during a visit in 1861. Overlooking the Lakes of Killarney in Killarney National Park, it provides gorgeous views of surrounding mountains and forests.

Visitors often make a quick stop at the car park here to capture panoramic views before continuing on the N71 road to Molls Gap. For snacks, a gift shop and café are conveniently located across the street from the main parking lot.

Moll’s Gap

View of N71 road winding through mountains in Molls Gap on the Ring of Kerry routeMolls Gap, or Céim an Daimh in Irish (Gap of the Ox), is both a popular viewpoint and mountain pass on the Ring of Kerry. It’s a great place to take a photo capturing the N71 road winding through the scenic MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains! 

You’ll find an Avoca Café directly across the street from the parking lot, where you can grab a bite to eat. I recommend the delicious cakes and scones! All in all, Molls Gap is the perfect place to stretch your legs and take in the stunning scenery of the Irish countryside.


View of colorful shops along the main road in the town of Kenmare, Ireland.If you travel clockwise on the Ring of Kerry, Kenmare is the first town you’ll encounter. This charming village offers cafés, restaurants, and souvenir shops for tourists. I recommend stopping at Café Mocha for a coffee break before continuing the drive on the N70.


Photo showing park and shops lining a street in Sneem, IrelandAfter about 30 minutes on the N70, you’ll pass through the charming town of Sneem. Explore gift shops and check out Dan Murphy’s Bar, one of our favorite bars to visit in Ireland. Use this opportunity for a bathroom break before heading to our next attraction, Staigue Stone Fort.

Staigue Stone Fort

View of pathway leading up to Staigue Stone Fort, a top attraction to visit while driving the Ring of KerryStaigue Fort is one of the many ancient stone forts dotted around Ireland. It requires a bit of a detour, and there’s a small €1 land trespass charge to enter the fort, but it’s well worth it!

Apart from the impressive 2,500-year-old ringfort, this site is also home to Roast Coffee Bar and public restrooms. Plus, sometimes, the farmer who owns the land will bring baby lambs out that you can pet.

Derrynane Beach 

Tourists walking along the sand on Derrynane Beach, a beautiful stop on the Ring of KerryDerrynane Beach is one of my favorite Ring of Kerry stops. However, you’ll need to drive cautiously and be prepared to give way to passing vehicles on a narrow road to reach the parking lot. This sandy Blue Flag beach is a great place to take a walk, relax, and enjoy the scenery. 

If you have additional time, consider visiting Derrynane House, the historic home of Daniel O’Connell, a prominent 19th-century Irish political leader advocating for Catholic Emancipation.

Façade of Derrynane House, a historical home along the Ring of KerryWaterville

Waterville, a charming village, is known in Irish as An Coireán, meaning “little cauldron.” Following the N70 road, you’ll pass directly through Waterville, making it a great place to stop for lunch if you haven’t eaten yet! 

Skellig Ring Road

View of the Skellig Islands and green pasture in County Kerry, IrelandIf you have extra time while driving the Ring of Kerry, don’t miss the chance to drive part of the Skellig Ring near Waterville. This 20-mile extension reconnects to the N70 south of Cahersiveen, showcasing beautiful places like the Kerry Cliffs and Valentia Island along the drive.

Keep an eye out for views of the Skellig Islands, especially Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and filming location for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Even if you don’t visit the Skelligs, the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre in Portmagee or Skelligs Chocolate is worth a stop.

Kerry Cliffs

Scenic view of the Kerry Cliffs, sea cliffs that are a popular attraction on the Skellig RingThe Kerry Cliffs, a 400-million-year-old natural wonder along the Skellig Ring, stand at 1000 feet (305 m), providing stunning views of the Skellig Islands and Puffin Island. Thankfully, there are fences near the cliff edges, so you can safely experience the vista.

Now, you may be wondering: how do the Kerry Cliffs compare to the Cliffs of Moher? Although I think you should budget time to see both on your trip to Ireland, I prefer the Kerry Cliffs! They’re taller, less crowded, and the tickets are cheaper than the Cliffs of Moher.


View of the town of Portmagee, Ireland, from the water, with rolling green hills in the distancePortmagee, a small fishing village, is renowned as the departure point for boat tours of the Skellig Islands. While Little Skellig is off-limits, you can opt for an eco-boat tour to view both islands from the water. To see Skellig Michael up close, book a landing tour via the official website here.

If you have your heart set on doing a landing tour, you’ll need to book tickets as far in advance as possible. Since these visits are limited and have a short operating season (mid-May through the end of September), time slots tend to sell out quickly. 

Valentia Island

Scenic view of Valentia Island, including the Valentia LighthouseValentia Island, one of Ireland’s westernmost points, is accessible via the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge in Portmagee. The island boasts the popular Bray Head Loop Walk, providing breathtaking views of the Skellig Islands and the Kerry Cliffs.

Don’t forget to visit Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs, the island’s highest point, with a fantastic cliff viewing deck. If time permits, climb to the top of the Valentia Island Lighthouse, which includes a small museum and café.

Rossbeigh Beach

View of Rossbeigh Beach at the sunsetRossbeigh Beach, my final recommended stop, is a blue flag beach perfect for walking, relaxing on the sand, swimming, or surfing. Plus, there’s substantial parking available here, making it easy to get to and from the beach. 

Is the Ring of Kerry worth it?

Woman in pink hat walking the trail up to the Staigue Stone Fort along the Ring of KerryThe answer to this question comes down to two things: how much time you have and the weather during your visit. In my opinion, a Ring of Kerry road trip is worth it if you can take your time and have clear weather. Since most activities are outdoors, heavy rain can limit your experience.

If you can spend more time in County Kerry, I highly suggest heading north to the Dingle Peninsula. In our opinion, Slea Head Drive is actually even more beautiful than the Ring of Kerry, and you can drive it in half a day. 

Where to stay on the Ring of Kerry

View of the Skellig Islands from the Kerry Cliffs in Portmagee, IrelandThere are various hotels and B&Bs located near the driving route, each with its own unique benefits. If you plan to travel the entire loop in one day, you may want to stay in Killarney, Kenmare, or Killorglin. Or, if you want to space out your drive, Sneem or Waterville is ideal.

Most tourists stay in Killarney, so for a more intimate experience, consider Kenmare, Sneem, Waterville, or Killorglin. If not renting a car, staying in Killarney is recommended, as it serves as a departure point for bus tours and offers numerous dining options.

Here are our top hotels near the Ring of Kerry, all within easy reach of the main attractions along this route:

The Lake Hotel (Killarney)

This 4-star hotel has been family-operated for over 100 years and sits next to Loch Lein in Killarney. Even Queen Victoria visited here once in 1861! Today, the Lake Hotel is a popular base for exploring the nearby Ring of Kerry.

Click here to book your stay!

The Brehon (Killarney)

Located mere minutes from Killarney National Park, the Brehon is a convenient place to stay for those planning to drive the Ring of Kerry. Moreover, this property is home to the first Angsana Spa in Europe, offering a wide selection of treatments and massages.

Click here to book your stay!

Park Hotel (Kenmare)

The Park Hotel Kenmare is a five-star luxury hotel in the picturesque town of Kenmare. It was built in 1897 in the Victorian style and overlooks Kenmare Bay. The property has a range of facilities and amenities, including a spa, a 16-seat cinema, and an 82-foot (25m) lap pool.

Click here to book your stay!

Parknasilla Resort & Spa (Sneem)

Parknasilla Resort & Spa is a 500-acre estate on the shores of Kenmare Bay along the Ring of Kerry. It features a 12-hole golf course, a luxurious spa, and a variety of dining options, including Pygmalion Restaurant. Guests can also enjoy hiking, cycling, and tennis on-site.

Click here to book your stay!

The Bianconi Inn (Killorglin)

Nestled in the town of Killorglin, The Bianconi Inn is a warm and intimate 15-bedroom hotel that has been in business for over 150 years. Rossbeigh Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the Ring of Kerry, is just a 20-minute drive from the property.

Click here to book your stay!

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The Ring of Kerry is a popular scenic drive in Ireland, known for its stunning coastal scenery and charming towns. This guide provides information on the route, tips for driving, the best stops, and guided tours. The drive takes 6-8 hours, so it's recommended to start early, choose stops in advance, and consider guided tours! Our detailed map highlights key attractions like Killarney National Park, Ladies View, Derrynane Beach, and other sites you won't want to miss.

This article was first published in July 2022 and has since been updated.

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