Ring of Kerry One Day Road Trip: The Ultimate Adventure!

Do you dream of driving along coastal roads, surrounded by mesmerizing natural beauty and breathtaking views? If so, the Ring of Kerry in Ireland can make that dream come true. With its picturesque scenery and landmarks, this breathtaking Irish road trip offers awe-inspiring views, magnificent rolling hills, beaches, and several historical sites. Ring of Kerry is a perfect one-day road trip for families, road trippers, and travelers who want to explore the beauty of Ireland’s natural landscape. After a fun Ring of Kerry One Day Road Trip, I am sharing 5 must-visit locations along the route. Let’s get started!

Sal and I road tripped around the Ring of Kerry after spending a rainy Friday morning exploring Blarney Castle. After leaving Blarney around noon, we set off an unforgettable Irish road trip! Driving the Ring of Kerry was an incredible experience.

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a very narrow road hugs the side of a green mountain covered in mist. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels.
The Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry: The Details

The Ring of Kerry drive is a 111 mi or 179 km circular route that travels around Uibh Ráthach or the Ivergah Peninsula in County Kerry on the Southwest part of Ireland. From well-known sites like the Gap of Dunloe to Staigue Fort to fun activities like hiking, fishing, and golf, there are many things to see and do on the Ring of Kerry. There are also many fantastic places to stay on the Ring of Kerry as well like Kenmore, Kells, Portmagee, and Killarney. For more information, visit the official Ring of Kerry website.

Ring of Kerry Fast FAQs

Can you drive the ring of Kerry in one day?

Yes, you can. But it will be a very long day so make sure you plan accordingly and know what you want to see. Also, expect the unexpected.

Is the Ring of Kerry worth it?

Absolutely! It was one of the highlights of our Irish road trip! We definitely recommend it.

How long is the ring of Kerry?

The Ring of Kerry drive is a 111 mi or 179 km circular route, but if you want to visit Kerry Cliffs, you will drive off the official path. This will add miles to your trip.

Is the Ring of Kerry one way?

No, the Ring of Kerry is not one way. But the roads are very narrow so sometimes it might feel like it. Especially as you share the road with tour buses. Be mindful of large tour buses that you will drive past on long narrow winding roads!

Pro Tip: Drive the Ring of Kerry clockwise to avoid following large tour buses. In general, large tour buses drive the Ring of Kerry counterclockwise.

When we visited, we drove the Ring of Kerry clockwise to avoid the tour buses. I am glad we did because there were many buses on the road on that Friday in July. It made for some great views for me, the passenger, as the coast is on the left. I am so glad we did not get stuck behind a large tour bus!

A narrow road surrounded by thick overgrown green plants. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Ring of Kerry drive

Why the Ring of Kerry in one day?

Great question! First, we were pressed for time. As we were following Buddy’s tour around Ireland and were determined to meet up with him on his birthday, we wanted to get in as much as possible. However, in my initial travel plans, I blocked off one full day to drive the Ring of Kerry, and it was supposed to be a Saturday.

Buuuut, the Saturday we planned to do the drive happened to be the day of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle! With roads closed for such a large event, there was no way that we could do our day long leisurely drive. So, we opted to drive the Ring of Kerry after spending the morning at Blarney Castle and we spent the next day at Killarney National Park. If I could do it again, I would take the full day for the Ring of Kerry or even spilt it up and stay in Portmagee or Waterville and divide the drive in half.

Pro Tip: If you plan on driving the Ring of Kerry in July, make sure to check the dates of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle and plan around the event. Hotels in Killarney and Kenmare book up for this event too, so make your travel arrangements early and plan accordingly.

Because the hotels were full in Killarney and Kenmare, we stayed at a lovely place in Killorglin.

Our road trip around the Ring of Kerry

Sal and I road tripped around the Ring of Kerry after spending a rainy Friday morning exploring Blarney Castle. After stopping into a local grocery store to get snacks, we left Blarney and drove the hour and a half trip to Kenmare. At Kenmare, we kicked off our Ring of Kerry drive.

After leaving Blarney at 12:15pm, we officially began our Ring of Kerry drive at 1:45pm with our first stop in Kenmare. We arrived at our Airbnb in Killorglin at 8:40pm. This means that we spent 7 hours on the Ring of Kerry. And this is without us visiting Killarney town and Killarney National Park. It was a very busy day! So much so, we did not have a moment to film a Movement Postcard.

It is important to note that we detoured from the Ring of Kerry and drove the Skellig Ring, an 11 mile loop off the Ring of Kerry with spectacular views of the Skellig Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. This part of the drive was spectacular, and we highly recommend taking this additional loop if time allows. Additionally, we also drove around Valentia Island, which is also not a part of the Ring of Kerry, but a lovely spot to visit if your schedule allows.

The Ring of Kerry

Our Ring of Kerry Road Trip (with some detours!)

Although we rented and car and road tripped the Ring of Kerry on our own, I realize that this isn’t for everyone. Luckily, there are a lot of tours that will take you around the Ivergah Peninsula. Some are listed below.

Where’s Buddy?

Buddy says, “Unfortunately, I did not get to visit the Ring of Kerry with my choir. My itinerary said that we were going to do a “mini-Ring of Kerry Tour’ but it was just a drive from Torc Falls to our hostel in Killarney.

On the day my parents did the Ring of Kerry drive, I visited Blarney Castle and then performed in St. Mary’s Church of the Sloes in Killarney. The next day, we did a tour of Muckross House and then visited Torc Falls in Killarney National Park. Hopefully next time I can do the full Ring of Kerry drive. It seems like it would be very exciting!”

So unfortunately, this post does not include a teenager’s perspective.

Kenmare Stone Circle. 15 boulders. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Kenmare Stone Circle a stop on the Ring of Kerry

6 must-visit locations for your Ring of Kerry One Day Road Trip

1. Kenmare Stone Circle

If you begin the Ring of Kerry drive at Kenmare, the first stop on your trip will be the Kenmare Stone Circle. The Stone circle, known locally as The Shrubberies, was built during the Bronze Age. The burial has 15 large boulders, including a large capstone in the center.  The standing stones date are an ancient architectural masterpiece worth admiring.

Kenmare Stone Circle is located at 52 Market St, Kenmare, Co. Kerry, Ireland. The plus code for the Kenmore Stone Circle is VCH6+9P Kenmare, County Kerry, Ireland. For more information, visit the website.

The Kenmare Stone Circle placard. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels

The Kenmare Stone Circle was the first stop on our Ring of Kerry road trip. After driving through Kenmare, we spent some time exploring the Stone Circle. It was a site to behold! I also really enjoyed the Fairy Tree that was onsite. Next to the parking lot was a coffee stand where you could get coffee and snacks. We did not get any food, but it was a nice option.

Kenmare Stone Circle is a great for: Travelers in history and culture. It is also a great place for kiddos and littles to stretch their legs.

2. Cathair na Stéige (Staigue Fort)

The next stop is Cathair na Stéige or Staigue Fort. Staigue Fort is a well-preserved stone fort from the Iron Age. The circular fort, thought to have been built during the Celtic period, is accessible to visitors who can walk inside the fort and admire the intricate stonework and the craftsmanship. Visitors can also walk the ramparts.

a circular rock wall with green rolling hills in the background with mist. Green grass in the foreground. Stone Forts. Staigue Fort. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Cathair na Stéige or Staigue Fort on the Ring of Kerry

Staigue Fort is located 13 miles from Sneem and about a 50-minute scenic drive from Kenmare. The plus code for Staigue Fort is RX4M+2R Liss Upper, County Kerry, Ireland. For the most up-to-date information about Staigue Fort, visit the website.

When we visited Staigue Fort, it was pouring rain! The rain was falling so hard that people were leaving when we arrived. But, we bundled up and headed out in the rain. I am glad that we did. The fort was very interesting. The stonework was incredible. We went inside the fort for a bit, and it was very dark. I enjoyed walking the ramparts and taking in the Irish countryside.

Pro Tip: Carry change with you. Some of the historical sites on the Ring of Kerry, like the Staigue Fort, are on private property. Property owners charge a trespassing fee, usually €1. Be prepared to pay the fee.

Staigue Fort is great for: Travelers in history and culture.

3. Doire Fhíonáin (Derrynane) Beach

Next, make your way to Doire Fhíonáin or Derrynane Beach, a tranquil and peaceful area with white sandy beaches and stunning views in Derrynane Bay. On sunny days, Derrynane Beach is perfect for a family picnic our building sandcastles. And if you don’t mind cold water, you can take a dip in the ocean!

A light sand beach with turquoise  waters dotted with small islands. A mountain in the distance. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Doire Fhíonáin or Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach is located two miles, about a 10-minute drive, from the village of Caherdaniel on the Ring of Kerry. It is about a 21-minute drive from Staigue Stone Fort to the beach. There was no plus code for Derrynane Beach at the time of writing. For more information, visit the website.

We visited Derrynane beach after our time at Staigue Stone Fort. Luckily, it was not raining on the beach. For us desert dwellers, the weather was still too cold for us to take off our shoes and test the water.

Green rolling hills and the sea with two islands in the distance. A cloudy sky. Derrnane Beach. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
View from the Derrynane Car Park

However, that didn’t stop some visitors donning swimsuits who jumped right into the cold water. The beach was very empty for a Friday afternoon in July. I am assuming this was because of the weather. But the solitude was nice. We were able to take in some of the astonishing views uninterrupted by crowds. It was a nice moment.

Derrynane Beach is great for: Beachgoers. Families of all ages.

4. Cathair an Lóthair (Loher Stone Fort)

After your trip to the beach, another stone fort is in store! This time it is Cathair an Lóthair or Loher Stone Fort. Loher Stone Fort is a reconstructed fort near Ballinskelligs Bay. Originally constructed in the 9th Century, Cathair an Lóthair, is a small circular fort with two houses inside, one circular, and one rectangular. It is an interesting place to visit.

A circular rock fort sits surrounded by green grass under a cloudy sky. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Cathair an Lóthair (Loher Stone Fort)

Loher Stone Fort plus code is QRPM+CP Reen, Beenarourke, County Kerry, Ireland. For more information, visit the website.

We enjoyed visiting Loher Stone Fort. The views of the mountains and sea were lovely. It is a bit of a walk from where you park your car to the stone fort. There is a green fence and gate surrounding the fort. It might seem as if you are walking into someone’s yard, but rest assured, if you see the green gate, you are on the right path!

Staigue Fort is great for: Travelers in history and culture.

5. Aillte Chiarraí (Kerry Cliffs)

Although technically not on the Ring of Kerry, they are on the Skellig Ring, a must see are the Kerry Cliffs. The 1000-foot-high cliffs offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Skellig Islands, and Puffin Island. Visitors can take a walk along the spectacular cliffs, look out into the deep blue sea, and watch the sunset while taking in the beautiful surroundings. The Kerry Cliffs are also home to several bird species, so if you are a bird watcher, make sure you bring your binoculars.

A view of the Atlantic Ocean, ocean cliffs, and a bright sun in a cloudy sky. Skellig Ring. Kerry Cliffs. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Kerry Cliffs on the Skellig Ring

Kerry Cliffs are located at Skellig Ring, Foilnageragh, Portmagee, Co. Kerry, Ireland. And the plus code for Kerry Cliffs is VJ97+9R Doora Cross, County Kerry, Ireland. For the most up to date information, visit the website.

Kerry cliffs tower over a bright sunlit ocean. Ring of Kerry One Day. Skellig Ring. MPA Project Travels
Kerry Cliffs

My favorite stop on our day trip were Kerry Cliffs on the Skellig Ring. When we visited, the rain had let up and the sun was peeking through the fluffy clouds. We could see both Puffin Island and Skelligs Islands from Skelligs Viewpoint. The views were spectacular – such amazing sights! The cliffs were impressive. And there were very few fellow travelers at Kerry Cliffs when we visited. It was nice to take in the views without crowds.

The hike up to the Kerry Cliffs is a bit steep, so be prepared for a mini hike! But with the gorgeous views waiting at the top, the hike is worth it!

Pro Tip: Kerry Cliffs are on private property, and it costs €5 to visit. There is ample parking and a food on site.

A man in a black jacket looks out over the Atlantic Ocean with the Skelligs Islands in the distance. A blue but cloudy sky. Skellig Ring. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Sal at Skelligs Viewpoint at Kerry Cliffs.

Simple tips for driving the Ring of Kerry

For drivers – It’s okay to go slow and take your time. Make sure you are comfortable driving on the left side of the road before heading out on your adventure.

For passengers– Breathe. And trust your driver. Yes, there will be a few nail-biting moments, especially if you drive clockwise. Sometimes it is just a few bricks or a rock wall and then the water many feet below. But the views are spectacular. Also, be prepared to help your driver out with navigation.

For everyone– It is okay if you get lost! We got lost a few times and had to turn around, but that is all part of the adventure!

For people who get car sick – this might not be the loop for you.

A very narrow road along along the side of hills. The road to Kerry Cliffs. Ring of Kerry One Day. Skellig Ring. MPA Project Travels
The road to Kerry Cliffs on Skellig Ring.

Closing the Circle: Killarney National Park

Okay, so we did not technically do the full Ring of Kerry in one day because we skipped Killarney National Park for the Skellig Ring and Valentia Island. But we did close the circle the next day with a visit to Killarney National Park.

This is what we did on day two.:

  • Killarney National Park
  • Muckross Abbey
  • Muckross House
  • Torc Waterfall hike
Two pointy islands jet out of the Atlantic Ocean. Skellig Michael as seen from the Kerry Cliffs.
Skellig Michael as seen from the Kerry Cliffs.

What we missed on the Ring of Kerry day trip

Because there is just so much to see and do on the Ring of Kerry, we could not see it all in one day. Below are the things we missed:

  • Innisfallen Island
  • Skellig Michael
  • The Gap of Dunloe
  • Derrynane House
  • Portmagee
  • Waterville Lake
  • Molls Gap
  • Ladies View
  • Ross Castle

Of all the things we missed, a trip to Skellig Michael is the one that I wish we had time to see. One day at the Ring of Kerry is doable, but just not enough time to take everything in. Hopefully we can go back and see these sites.

What to bring for a Ring of Kerry one day road trip

These are a few things that we brought with us on our Ring of Kerry day trip that were helpful:

And it did rain a lot this day. To stay nice and dry, this is what I wore.

Cliffs tower over a blue ocean. Ring of Kerry One Day. MPA Project Travels
Another view of Kerry Cliffs.

The Ring of Kerry One Day Road Trip offers an unforgettable experience with rolling green hills, charming villages, historic sites, and stunning coastal views. Even though squeezing the trip into a single day is challenging, it’s an excellent opportunity to make the most of your journey to Ireland.

This itinerary is an excellent start to experience the highlights of the Ring of Kerry, but don’t forget to tailor your experience to your preference and discover the hidden gems of this fantastic destination. So, pack your bags and hit the road, the Ring of Kerry awaits!

Have you visited the Ring of Kerry? If so, what are your tips and recommendations? Are you planning an Irish road trip? Let us know in the comments below!

Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.

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Hello! We are Yvonne & Buddy and we create family travel blogs based on firsthand knowledge and experiences of a destination. Our goal is to inspire teens, parents, and families to share time together engaging in new experiences whether the destination is near or far from home. Come join us on our travels!

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8 thoughts on “Ring of Kerry One Day Road Trip: The Ultimate Adventure!

  1. We want to do a long visit to Ireland. And would definitely want to rent a car and drive the Ring of Kerry. Good to know you can drive it in one day. But it would be a long day for us! Great tip to drive the route counter-clockwise to avoid the tour buses!

  2. I loved driving the Ring of Kerry – it is one of my favourite drives in Ireland. Your post and fabulous photos are such a great reminder to me of the great time I had.

  3. I actually just got back from Ireland! I chose to do the Dingle Peninsula instead of the Ring of Kerry (which was beautiful!) but if I make it back to Ireland I want to do the Ring of Kerry to compare the two. Such a beautiful country!

  4. I think the Ring of Kerry is probably one of the coolest road trips to do! I’ve seen so many photos of it and would love to see it in real one day 🙂

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