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The Ring of Kerry, a renowned scenic drive in County Kerry, Ireland, spans approximately 179 kilometers (111 miles) of stunning landscapes.

Our 1-day Ring of Kerry drive itinerary is a journey through some of Ireland’s most breathtaking landscapes and historic sites. This iconic route winds through rugged coastlines, green hills, and charming villages, and offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean in just one unforgettable day.

Practical Tips for 1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive

  • Starting and Ending Point: Kick off your adventure along the Ring of Kerry from Killarney, serving as both the starting and ending point of this iconic route.

While tradition favors Killarney, you have the flexibility to begin and conclude your journey at any location along the route that best suits your plans.

  • Length of the Ring of Kerry Drive: The Ring of Kerry stretches across 179 kilometers (111 miles), passing through notable stops such as Killarney, Kenmare, Sneem, Cahersiveen, Waterville, Glenbeigh, and Killorglin.

Each destination offers its own unique charm and attractions, adding depth to your journey.

  • Duration of the Drive: While the non-stop drive along the Ring of Kerry typically lasts around 2.5 hours, you’ll want to plan for a full day of exploration with stops along the way.

Taking time to soak in the scenery, explore attractions, and savor local cuisine ensures a fulfilling and memorable experience.

If you have more time, make sure to check out my post: 22 Best Stops on the Ring of Kerry (Map+Top Attractions at Each Stop). It is a comprehensive list of all the stops along the Ring of Kerry and it is best completed over a 2-day period.

  • Recommended Driving Direction: Opting to navigate the route in a clockwise direction is advisable. This strategic choice minimizes the likelihood of encountering multiple tour buses, as they commonly travel in the opposite direction.

By following this direction, you can enjoy smoother travels and easier access to viewpoints and attractions along the way.

  • My Favorite Places to Stay in Killarney: 

My top choice for a stay in Killarney is undoubtedly The Killarney Park Hotel. Its blend of old-world charm and modern amenities will provide you with an unforgettable experience. I always select a room overlooking the garden and make sure I have at least one meal at their restaurant.

My second choice, Aghadoe Heights Hotel & Spa, is a perfect retreat in Killarney. You will like its modern feel, spacious rooms, and generously sized bathrooms.

Map of 1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive

Mpa of 1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive (click on the map to view it in Google Maps)

Killarney National Park

Begin your 1-day Ring of Kerry drive at Killarney National Park, a beautiful natural area with historical landmarks. Founded in 1932, Killarney National Park is Ireland’s oldest national park, covering over 100 square kilometers. It is recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

  • Start with Ross Castle, erected by the O’Donoghue clan in the 15th century. It served as a stronghold during Ireland’s tumultuous clan warfare and English invasions.

Its architecture, characterized by a square tower and robust stone walls featuring arrow slits and battlements, exemplifies medieval Irish defensive design.

Legend has it that its founder, O’Donoghue reputedly emerges from Lough Leane every seven years on May Day on a white horse, bestowing blessings upon the land.

Ross Castle

Aerial View of Ross Castle in Killarney National Park 

  • Next, stop by Muckross Abbey, a 15th-century Franciscan friary within Killarney National Park, which features Gothic-style architecture, including elegant cloisters and a courtyard with an ancient yew tree. Despite periods of conflict, the abbey remains well-preserved.
Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey in Killarney National Park 

  • Continue to Torc Waterfall, where you’ll find two parking lots. The second lot is just a 5-minute walk away from the trailhead. Torc Waterfall drops 20 meters amidst lush woodland. It’s a popular spot for hikers and nature lovers in Killarney National Park. The trail is well-kept and suitable for all ages.
Torc Waterfall on the Ring of Kerry Drive

Beautiful Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park 

  • Ladies View is the final stop within Killarney National Park. Here you can marvel at panoramic vistas of the Lakes of Killarney and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range.

The viewpoint gained its name from the admiration Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting expressed during their visit in 1861.

1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive

Ladies View in Killarney National Park on the Ring of Kerry 

Read More About Killarney National Park:

9 Amazing Things to Do in Killarney National Park (Maps+Tips)

Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone Circle is your next stop.

Kenmare Stone Circle, also known as the Kenmare Druid’s Circle, is one of the largest stone circles in southwest Ireland. The circle has a diameter of approximately 17 meters (56 feet) and the tallest stone measures around 2.7 meters (9 feet) in height.

Kenmare Stone Circle

Kenmare Stone Circle 

Archaeologists believe that the circle dates back to the late Bronze Age, around 2200 to 500 BCE. The alignment of the stones may have astronomical significance, possibly related to solar or lunar events.

Despite its age, the circle remains remarkably intact


Sneem is a charming village renowned for its brightly colored buildings that line its streets.

INTREPID’S PRO TIP: Whenever I pass through Sneem, I always stop at The Village Kitchen and enjoy their hearty chowder, delicious classic fish and chips, or freshly baked soda bread. It’s a favorite spot of mine in the village and the service is super friendly.

Staigue Stone Fort

Your next stop is Staigue Stone Fort, an ancient structure dating back to the late Iron Age.

This circular stone fort, with walls reaching up to 5.5 meters high and 4 meters thick, showcases remarkable craftsmanship. Built without mortar, it stands as one of Ireland’s finest examples of its kind.

You can explore the inner chambers and passageways to experience a glimpse of Celtic life from centuries ago!

1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive

Staigue Stone Fort 

Caherdaniel Stone Fort

Your following destination is Caherdaniel Stone Fort another intriguing relic from ancient times.

This circular fort, believed to date back to the early Christian period, offers a glimpse into early Irish settlement patterns. The fort is constructed using dry stone masonry, with walls reaching heights of up to 3 meters and enclosing a central courtyard.

Its strategic position offers views of the surrounding landscape, suggesting its defensive purpose.

You can take a quick tour of the fort’s interior and outer walls and gain some insight into the daily life and defensive strategies of early Irish settlers.

Catherdaniel Stone Fort

Caherdaniel Stone Fort 

Derrynane House and Abbey

Next on your journey is Derrynane, encompassing Derrynane House and Abbey.

Derrynane House was the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell, a prominent Irish statesman known as “The Liberator.” The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Guided tours are offered if you are interested in learning about O’Connell’s life and legacy.

Near Derrynane House you will find a stunning stretch of golden sand known as Derrynane Beach. It is a perfect spot to take a leisurely stroll and stretch your legs.

Close to the Derrynane House and Beach, you will find Derrynane Abbey, also known as St. Finian’s Bay Church. It is located on Abbey Island, and you can access it during the low tide.

This historic monastery dates back to the 6th century and is associated with St. Finian, an early Irish Christian saint. The abbey features ancient stone ruins, including remnants of walls and a Celtic cross.

Derrynane Abbey

Derrynane Abbey 

Ballinskelligs Abbey and Castle

The next stop on your itinerary is Ballinskelligs Abbey and Castle.

Ballinskelligs Abbey, also known as St. Michael’s Abbey, is a medieval abbey located in County Kerry, Ireland. Founded in the 12th century by the Augustinian Canons Regular, it served as a religious center.

The well-preserved ruins include a church, tower, and cloister, offering insight into medieval religious life.

1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive

Ballinskelligs Abbey 

Ballinskelligs Castle, also known as McCarthy Mór Castle, is a fortified tower house near Ballinskelligs Abbey. Built in the 16th century by the McCarthy clan, it served as a defensive stronghold against coastal raids.

The Kerry Cliffs

The highlight of this itinerary is undoubtedly the Kerry Cliffs!

Situated near Portmagee on the Iveragh Peninsula these cliffs rise over 300 meters (984 feet) above sea level and offer panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline.

There are designated viewing areas and well-marked paths, where you can safely soak in the beauty of the rugged coastline and the distant Skellig Islands.

Kerry Cliffs

Stunning Kerry Cliffs on the Ring of Kerry


Portmagee is a quaint village nestled on the Iveragh Peninsula and perched right at the edge of Valentia Island.

The village serves as a hub for tourists embarking on excursions to the nearby Skellig Islands, notably Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its ancient monastic settlement.

Portmagee is also a good spot to grab something to eat. There are a lot of great restaurants on West End Drive near Portmagee Pier all serving delicious seafood!

Valentia Island

Valentia Island is accessible by a bridge from Portmagee.

Make sure to check out the Valentia Island Lighthouse located on Cromwell Point. It was built in 1841 and was originally powered by whale oil before being converted to electricity in 1969. The lighthouse provides guided tours where you can learn about its maritime history and enjoy panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Valencia Island

Valentia Island Lighthouse 

Next, drive to the summit of Geokaun Mountain. It is the highest point on Valentia Island, standing at 266 meters (873 feet) above sea level where you can enjoy the views of Valentia Island, the Skellig Islands from the Geokaun Viewing Point.

Next, make your way to Fogher Cliffs which are located on the northern coast of Valentia Island. These cliffs provide a habitat for seabirds such as puffins, razorbills, and guillemots during the breeding season.

Rossbeigh Bay Beach

Arriving at Rossbeigh Beach, you’ll find it an ideal spot for a quick leg stretch!

Situated near Glenbeigh this sandy beach extends approximately 4 kilometers along the stunning coastline of Dingle Bay. Offering sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and surrounding mountains.

Rossbeigh Beach on the Ring of Kerry

Rossbeigh Beach

The Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company

Concluding your 1-day Ring of Kerry itinerary, your final stop brings you to The Killarney Brewing and Distilling Company.

It was founded in 2013 and is housed in a historic building, the former Franciscan monastery.

The brewery produces a range of craft beers and ciders, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

You can join a guided tour of the brewery and learn about the brewing process and the history of beer in Ireland. The company also operates a distillery, producing Irish whiskey and gin.

Additionally, the brewery features a taproom where you can sample a selection of their products.

Intrepid Scout's Tips for 1-Day Ring of Kerry Drive

  • I highly recommend checking local weather conditions before setting out, especially because fog, rain, and strong winds are common along the coastal areas. It’s essential to be prepared for changing weather conditions.
  • From my own experience, taking breaks to stretch your legs and explore local amenities adds to the charm of the Ring of Kerry. Don’t miss the chance to visit cafes and craft shops in towns and villages along the route.
  • Having navigated the narrow roads and tight turns myself, particularly along the coastal sections, I advise being prepared for these driving conditions. Take your time, stay alert, and enjoy the breathtaking views.

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