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Our Tried And Tested 1 Day Ring of Kerry Itinerary

Our Tried And Tested 1 Day Ring of Kerry Itinerary

I have done this exact 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary 8 times now (I’ve driven the Ring 14 times and this itinerary is the route I settled on 5/6 years ago).

Ideally, you’d want at least 2 days to tackle the Ring of Kerry, but you can squeeze it into a day, once you follow a clear, logical route.

The itinerary below contains:

  • Times: E.g. when to aim to arrive at a stop and when to leave. You don’t have to follow this to the letter
  • Stops/highlights: A mix of the main attractions along with a couple of ‘hidden’ gems 
  • Lunch/dinner stops: You’ll be driving through both meal times, so we’ve some solid food options along the route for you
  • The Skellig detour: The Skellig Ring is an area of immense natural beauty just off the main route. This 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary fits it in

An overview of this 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary

Before you scroll any further, it’s well worth taking 30 seconds to look at our 1 day Ring of Kerry map above, as it’ll give you an overview of the route.

As you can see, it starts in Killarney Town before following the N71 towards the town of Kenmare and then continuing along the N70.

Now, you don’t have to start in Killarney – there are plenty of Ring of Kerry towns that you can stay in, like Sneem and Caherdaniel.

Stop 1: Ross Castle

Ross Castle

Photos via Shutterstock

Ross Castle makes a great first stop if you’re doing this 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary as you can arrive as early as you like (just keep in mind you’ll only be able to admire it from the outside).

Gazing out proudly over the vast expanse of Killarney’s Lough Leane, Ross Castle is a medieval gem in the heart of Killarney National Park and it’s stood proudly for over 500 years.

Ross Castle is a typical example of the stronghold of a Middle Ages Irish Chieftain and it is believed that it was constructed towards the end of the 15th century.

As you’ll be visiting here nice and early, you’ll likely have the place to yourself. You can walk around its perimeter and soak up some views of the park, too.

The need-to-knows about stop 1:

  • Drive time from Killarney Town: 5 minutes
  • Arrive at: 07:10
  • Leave at: 07:40
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 2: Muckross Abbey

Muckross Abbey 

Photos via Shutterstock

Muckross Abbey is one of the most popular stops on this 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary and it’s a short 10-minute spin from Ross Castle.

Now, it’s important to note that you should try and get parking around this area as it’s a shorter walk into the Abbey (through the little arch).

Although it is in ruin, many parts of the abbey are very well preserved, which is incredible when you remember that it was founded in 1448!

You can walk through the graveyard and then stroll through the abbey. The most impressive feature is the giant yew tree growing in its centre.

The need-to-knows about stop 2:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 10 minutes
  • Arrive at: 07:50
  • Leave at: 08:40
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 3: Torc Waterfall

how to get to Torc Waterfall

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the beauties of arriving at Torc Waterfall nice and early is that you’ll manage to get parking in the tiny (and often overrun!) car park right next to it.

Park up (here on maps) and take the 5 minute stroll to the waterfall – you’ll here the water crashing into the river below long before you see Torc.

The waterfall is 20 metres (66 ft) high and 110 metres (360 ft) long and was formed by the nearby Owengarriff River. This is one of the most popular things to do in Killarney for good reason!

The need-to-knows about stop 3:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 5 minutes
  • Arrive at: 08:45
  • Leave at: 09:10
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 4: Ladies View

Ladies View

Photos via Shutterstock

The next stop on our 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary takes us to Ladies View where you’ll be treated to an eyeful of the Lakes of Killarney and the surrounding mountains.

Now, a warning first – there is parking right in front of the view, but it’s very dangerous when you’re pulling out, as there’s a bend just up the road. Take great care when leaving here!

So, what’s the story with the name?! Well, in 1861, Prince Albert and Queen Victoria visited the area and the queen was accompanied by her ‘ladies in waiting’.

It’s said that they were so gob-smacked by the view that it was named after them. You’ll understand why when you visit!

The need-to-knows about stop 4:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 20 minutes
  • Arrive at: 09:30
  • Leave at: 09:50
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 5: Moll’s Gap

Molls Gap

Photos via Shutterstock

Now, Moll’s Gap is an optional stop. However, it’s a handy one as you can park at the Avoca cafe, grab a coffee, use the toilet and be on your merry way.

The Gap is named after the now-famous Moll Kissane – the landlady of a ‘Shebeen’ in the area (an unlicensed pub).

It’s said that when the Killarney to Kenmare road was being built in the 1820s, Moll would provide Poitin (a ‘hard liquor’ usually made from potatoes) to the men working on the road, who then named it after her.

There’s a fine bend in the road here and you can watch the cars meander around it from the parking area. Don’t spend too long here.

The need-to-knows about stop 5:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 10 minutes
  • Arrive at: 10:00
  • Leave at: 10:10 (see note above)
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 6: Kenmare


Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Kenmare is one of the most beautiful towns in Ireland and it makes a great base to explore from (see our Ring of Kerry hotels guide for places to stay).

Although there are plenty of things to do in Kenmare, like the stone circle and the park, I’m going to recommend that you just take a saunter around the town.

If you’re doing this 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary during summer, the place will be abuzz with tourists and locals alike.

The need-to-knows about stop 6:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 15 minutes
  • Arrive at: 10:25
  • Leave at: 11:00
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 7: Staigue Stone Fort

Staigue Stone Fort

Photo bottom right: powerofforever. Others: pepmiba (Canva)

One of the more unique stops on this 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary is the ancient Staigue Stone Fort, located just outside of Caherdaniel.

Now, a warning – you’ll need to drive up a narrow ‘country’ road to get to the parking area, so take your time and be careful.

It’s thought that the fort was built during the late Iron Age (sometime between 300 and 400 AD) and it would have acted as a defensive structure.

This is a mighty bit of finely preserved history that’s well worth seeing. There’s also a seasonal coffee van (Roast at Staigue) and a well kept public toilet, too.

The need-to-knows about stop 7:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 50 minutes
  • Arrive at: 11:50
  • Leave at: 12:20
  • Parking: Here on maps
  • Coin needed: €1 entrance fee (price may change)

Stop 8: Caherdaniel for lunch

lunch on the ring of kerry

Photos via the Blind Piper

Ring, your 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary started early in the morning, so let’s grab a bit of lunch to keep you ticking over.

Head to the nearby town of Caherdaniel (it’s en route) and drop into the brilliant Blind Piper – a lovely traditional pub where you’ll find some hearty fare.

Take some time to eat and relax. There’s plenty more ahead of you for the rest of the day!

The need-to-knows about stop 8:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 15 minutes
  • Arrive at: 12:35
  • Leave at: 13:20
  • Location: Here on maps

Stop 9: Derrynane Beach

Derrynane Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Derrynane Beach is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland and, if the day is in any way dry, it’s well worth a visit.

This is a sheltered dune-backed beach is a crescent of beautiful white sand that overlooks Abbey Island (see the ancient burial ground in the photo above).

Although the water might look tropical, there are some dangerous currents at play and parts of the beach have no-swim zones.

Keep an eye out for Derrynane House, the ancestral home of politician Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847).

The need-to-knows about stop 9:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 10 minutes
  • Arrive at: 13:30
  • Leave at: 14:00
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 10: Coomakista viewpoint

Coomakista discovery point

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

One of the better-known viewpoints in our 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary is known as Coomakista viewpoint – a key Wild Atlantic Way discovery point.

There is a huge amount of parking here so pull in, park up and let the breeze rushing over the Atlantic wash over you.

If the day is clear, you’ll be able to see both Deenish and Scariff islands, not to be confused with nearby Skellig Michael.

The need-to-knows about stop 10:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 10 minutes
  • Arrive at: 14:10
  • Leave at: 14:25
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 11: Ballinskelligs


Photos via Shutterstock

So, it’s from this point that we’ll take a detour off the main Ring of Kerry route and venture onto what’s known as the Skellig Ring.

If you’re stuck for time, you could skip this detour, but it’s well, well… well worth including.

Head for the coastal village of Ballinskelligs and make a beeline for Ballinskelligs Beach. You can saunter along the sand and get an eyeful of Ballinskelligs Castle.

The need-to-knows about stop 11:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 25 minutes
  • Arrive at: 14:50
  • Leave at: 15:20
  • Parking: Here on maps

Stop 12: Coomanaspig


Photos by The Irish Road Trip

One of my favourite things to do in Kerry is to drive up to Coomanaspig – one of the highest points in Ireland that’s accessible by car.

On a clear day the view as you spin down towards Portmagee is mind-boggling. There’s plenty of parking up at the top but beware – it’s fierce windy up there!

It’s as you start to make your way down towards the next stop that you’ll realise what the Skellig detour is an unmissable section of our 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary – it’s like driving into an oil painting.

The need-to-knows about stop 12:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 20 minutes
  • Arrive at: 15:40
  • Leave at: 15:50
  • Parking: Here on maps

13. The Kerry Cliffs

Kerry Cliffs

The Kerry Cliffs tend to get overshadowed by the Cliffs of Moher, but anyone that has visited both will confirm that it’s a close contest for the top spot!

The cliffs are accessed via private land, so you pay around €5 in and then make your way up a steep path for around 15 minutes.

There are multiple viewpoints here and by God the scenery they treat you to is something else.

The cliffs are a whopping 1,000 feet high and they are believed to have formed over 400 million years old.

The need-to-knows about stop 13:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 2 minutes
  • Arrive at: 15:55
  • Leave at: 16:40
  • WARNING: Opening hours change if the weather is bad

14. Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs

Valentia Island

Photos via Shutterstock

When you finish up at the Kerry Cliffs, continue straight, pass through the village of Portmagee and take the short drive over the bridge to Valentia Island.

This is one of the most impressive stops on this 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary. The island is home to a wealth of history (the first transatlantic telegraph cable was built here over 150 years ago) and some outstanding scenery.

As you’ll be stuck for time, head straight for Geokaun Mountain and the Fogher Cliffs. You’ll need to pay in (around €6) and then you’ll follow a very steep path to the viewpoint.

You won’t find many places in Ireland with a view like this that are so easily accessible (you literally drive right up to the viewpoint).

The need-to-knows about stop 14:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 20 minutes
  • Arrive at: 17:00
  • Leave at: 17:40
  • Parking: Here on maps

15. Dinner in Portmagee

the Moorings Portmagee

Photos via the Moorings

When you’re ready, drive back to Portmagee, park up and head for the Moorings. You can’t miss it as the village is tiny.

You’ll have likely worked up an appetite at this point but, if not, feel free to head on to the next stop and then grab a bite later.

The need-to-knows about stop 15:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 10 minutes
  • Arrive at: 17:50
  • Leave at: 18:40
  • Parking: Here on maps

16. Rossbeigh Beach


Photos via Shutterstock

The final stop on our Ring of Kerry 1 day itinerary takes us to the breath-taking Rossbeigh Beach near the town of Glenbeigh.

It’s a good 45-minute drive here from Portmagee so, when you arrive, hop out and head for a ramble. There’s 7km of sand here so plenty of room to stroll.

You’ll often see surfers tackling the waves here. There’s a fine big car park, too. When you’re ready, head back to the starting point/wherever you’re staying.

The need-to-knows about stop 16:

  • Drive time from previous stop: 45 minutes
  • Arrive at: 19:25
  • Leave at: 19:45
  • Parking: Here on maps

FAQs about our 24 hours on the Ring of Kerry itinerary

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is 1 day long enough?’ to ‘Where’s the best start point?’.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Can you do the Ring of Kerry in one day?

If you follow the 1 day Ring of Kerry itinerary outlined above then yes, it’s entirely possible to do it in one day. You need a logical route and clear timings.

How long do you need for the Ring of Kerry?

You could drive the Ring of Kerry without stopping in 2.5 hours, however, it would be relatively pointless. You need to stop in places. Allow at least 7 hours to scratch the surface.

Can you do half of the Ring of Kerry?

Yes. You can. Waterville is around the half way point. You could drive back to Killarney in 1.5 hours from this point.

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