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Ring of Kerry: Ultimate Road Trip Guide

Tour the Ring of Kerry by car

The Ring of Kerry is one of the world’s most celebrated driving routes, famous the world over and a top touring destination for visitors travelling to Ireland. Not only is it breathtakingly beautiful, but it also offers both a glimpse of history going back to the bronze age and a chance to sample the best that Ireland has to offer today.

In this guide we explore just what makes the Ring of Kerry, Ireland’s most talked about drive and what can be enjoyed along the way, from the wild landscapes to the local food and culture. We’ll uncover each section of the route and offer top tips on planning a Ring of Kerry road trip.  

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Visitors in County Kerry, Ireland

What is the Ring of Kerry?

So, what is the Ring of Kerry and where does it get its name? The Ring of Kerry is a famous driving circuit around the edge of Ireland’s southwest coast in the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. It is renowned for its scenic beauty and is a hot favourite with the motoring press as well as tourists keen to test their skills on this stunning, wild stretch of coastline. The Ring of Kerry gets its name as it takes drivers on a complete, circular tour of the coast with the horseshoe-shaped section of the N70 linking up with the N71 and N72 to complete the tour. The landscape has received worldwide attention – featuring in films such as Star Wars and on TV’s Top Gear when presenter Matt LeBlanc cruised around the shoreline in a Rolls Royce Dawn. Audi came to ‘the Ring’ in 2019 to launch its Q7 bringing hundreds of journalists to try the circuit.

Where is the Ring of Kerry?

The Ring of Kerry route traces County Kerry's largest Atlantic peninsula, bringing breathtaking sea views around every corner. Towns along the route of the Ring of Kerry include Killarney, Killorglin and Kenmare and gems such as the village of Sneem. Looking inland you’ll see the brooding mountain range known as MacGillycuddy’s Reeks while out towards the sea, the route gives a great view of the Skellig Islands.

How to get to the Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry is in the southwest of Ireland. One of the appeals of this striking coastal location is its remoteness, however it is surprisingly accessible to international visitors. The nearest airport is Kerry Airport, 17km north of Killarney, probably the best place to start a road trip around the Ring of Kerry. This tiny airport has just one terminal and you’ll find an Avis rental office in car park 2 just after arrivals ready for an easy 20min drive along the N22 to Killarney. The other airport close to the Ring of Kerry is Cork Airport, the country’s second largest airport after Dublin. The Avis rental desk at Cork Airport is just after arrivals inside the main terminal building.

If you are looking to travel by train, there is a daily service from Dublin’s Heuston station to Killarney taking around 3hr20min.

How long is the Ring of Kerry?

In total, the Ring of Kerry route covers 111 miles or 179km.

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

Driving the Ring of Kerry can take as little as 3hr30min depending on road and weather conditions. But what’s the hurry? Driving the Ring of Kerry can take a few hours, a single day or even a few days. Depending on your schedule and the season, there are so many points of interest, places to explore and festivals and events throughout the year that make it worth taking your time.