Explore the glorious ‘Kingdom’
This gorgeous, circular route around the Kingdom of Kerry is an absolutely must-do. Though its steep and narrow roads are more suited to experienced cyclists, the views of the lush, mountainous countryside will be your well-earned reward! For those less experienced, keep an eye out for a new cycle lane opening in 2016. The entire 172km can be done in one day for those who like a challenge, but we recommend breaking into a more relaxed three-day trip, allowing for lots of stops to admire the stunning Kerry scenery. What’s more, we suggest you cycle the route in an anti-clockwise direction as you’ll enjoy the most panoramic scenery that way. Bear in mind too that in the months leading up to the Ring of Kerry charity race in July, cyclists train on this route, so it can get busy. From August, it quietens, making this an ideal time to plan your visit.
Day 1: Killarney – Cahersiveen / 3 hours 20 minutes cycling / 60km
Kick off your adventure in the charming town of Killarney; Ireland's most popular travel destination for 2015, and a perfect gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way. As you head out on the road to Killorglin, you’ll be afforded an amazing view of the soaring Macgillycuddy Reeks mountain range; home to Ireland’s tallest peak – Carrauntoohil. Just over an hour’s cycle will bring you to Killorglin, a charming town that plays host each August to the Puck Fair festival where the goat is king; well worth a visit! In another 45 mins you’ll reach Glenbeigh; known as the ‘Jewel in the Ring of Kerry’. Be sure to visit its six-mile stretch of golden beach, Rossbeigh, where you can go for a surf, or opt for a spot of horse-riding on the strand. Finish your day in the fishing town of Cahersiveen, or if you fancy further adventure, take a detour to Valentia Island; just over 11km away. Hop on a ferry and enjoy an invigorating ride across the waves to this idyllic getaway, where you can explore soaring Geokaun Mountain (its peak is one of the most westerly parts of Ireland, and indeed Europe). Valentia also offers amazing views of the rugged and ancient Skelligs (a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back 1,300 years), particularly from atop of Bray Head. If you’re planning of heading to the Skelligs, know that ferries run from April to September.
Derrynane’s golden beach
Day 2: Cahersiveen – Sneem / 3 hours / 51km
Just a 50-minute cycle from Cahersiveen is the stunning town of Waterville, where golf fans can pause for a well-deserved game! Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo and Ernie Els have all enjoyed a round at Waterville Golf Links; a beautiful seaside course that’s intertwined with the ever-changing weather. Carry on for another hour’s cycle to Caherdaniel; where you can visit gorgeous Derrynane House; a national historic park that was once home to iconic Irish politician, Daniel O’Connell, known as ‘the Emancipator’. It sits on Caherdaniel’s extensive stretch of golden, sandy beach and looks out to the wild Atlantic. Finish up the day in Sneem, a small village where you can indulge in a spot of crab fishing or kayak out on Kenmare Bay.
Day 3: Sneem – Killarney / 3 hours / 48km
Continue on Day 3 towards the town of Kenmare (roughly an hour-and-a-half cycle). Here you can enjoy a marine adventure on board a local boat; and either fish or just enjoy the trip, which will take you to visit local seal colonies. Be sure to also pay a visit to the town’s ancient stone circle, which dates back to the Bronze Age. Find out more at the Kenmare Heritage Centre, and while you’re in the town, the Kenmare Lace & Design Centre is perfect for picking up delicate souvenirs. Back on the road, you’ll come upon Moll’s Gap; a pass on the N71 which offers panoramic views of the magnificent Macgillycuddy’s Reeks. The iconic area is named after Moll Kissane, who ran a small pub here in the 1820s, known for its sale of homemade poitín (a very strong, then-illegal Irish brew!). There’s another viewing area not far after Moll’s Gap; ‘Ladies View’ received its name during Queen Victoria’s 1861 visit to Ireland. Her entourage of ladies were so impressed with the amazing views of lake and mountain, it was named in their honour. You’ve almost reached the end of this journey, in just an hour you’ll find yourself back at Killarney, with views of the lovely Lakes of Killarney on your left.
• Enjoy a canoe or kayak trip on beautiful Lake Caragh, just 11km from Killorglin.
• At Kells Bay House & Gardens, explore 17 hectares of varying terrain overlooking Dingle Bay.
• Embark on the nearby Skellig Ring, and in the charming port town of Portmagee, immerse yourself in the life of pirate smuggler Captain Magee!
• During your Skelligs excursion, sample sumptuous sea salt chocolate, and other delicacies at Skelligs Chocolate Factory.
• For breathtaking views of the surrounding Kerry islands, climb atop Coomakista (700ft above sea).
• Less than an hour’s cycle from Cahersiveen is the town of Waterville, a beloved haunt of iconic comedian Charlie Chaplin. Check out his commemorative statue on the seafront.
• If you’ve extra time, the Kerry Way is a great way to see even more of this vast county. Its 200+km route takes in hidden gems, charming towns and fantastic scenery.
Find places to stay along the Ring of Kerry by searching ‘Kerry’ in our handy directory, and find Kerry bike rentals here.