48 Hours In Kerry: A 2-Day Road Trip Packed With Scenery, Walks + Plenty More (Full Itinerary)

A detailed itinerary that you can steal

weekend in Kerry
Photo left: Poogie. Right: Joe Dunckley (shutterstock)

This was hands down the hardest 48 hour guide that I’ve written. Unsurprisingly enough, trying to fit the best things to do in Kerry into 48 short hours is pretty damn hard.

To be perfectly honest, 2 days isn’t anywhere near enough time to check out all of the places to see in Kerry that are likely on your list.

Now, if you only have 2 days, don’t be worrying – you can still squeeze plenty of exploring into 48 hours.

Once you have the right itinerary, that is. If you take a few minutes to read the guide below, you’ll leave with:

  • A full 2-day itinerary that packs in scenic drives, waterfalls and loads more
  • Advice on where to eat, sleep and drink
  • Loads more stuff to help make planning your trip eeeeeeasy

A mighty weekend in Kerry

OK, first things first – here’s a map of Kerry with the attractions that we’ll be visiting over the two days plotted out.

Now, you don’t have to follow this in its entirety – if you don’t fancy seeing something, just skip it. If you want to add in something that isn’t there, whack it in.

Day 1: Waterfalls, castles, spectacular views and lots more

So, to make the most out of your first day on the road, you’ll need to get up early. Really early.

I’m not talking about half 8 in the morning – you need to be on the road and at our first stop for 07:00 (it’ll be worth it – trust me!).

Day 1 Stop 1: Driving The Gap of Dunloe

// Arrive to the Gap of Dunloe for 07:00 //

walking the gap of dunloe
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The Gap of Dunloe is special. There’s no other way of putting it. A trip here is like a shot of adrenaline for the senses.

The Gap of Dunloe was formed around two million years ago when Killarney’s ice age took hold, lasting until around 10,000BC.

As the snow and ice were steadily pushed northward through the Killarney Valley, it gave the mountains their distinct, jagged appearance, forming what we now know as the Gap of Dunloe.

While there’s many a lovely walk at the Gap of Dunloe, we’re going to recommend driving it as you’ll be there early in the morning.

Now, if you’re thinking, ‘Eh, you’re defo not allowed to drive the Gap of Dunloe’, that’s not true – it’s perfectly legal to drive the Gap of Dunloe.

However, it’s recommended that you avoid doing so during peak hours, as it’ll be packed with walkers, cyclists and Jaunting Cars.

As we’ll be arriving at 07:00, you’ll be grand – but be careful nonetheless and make sure to keep an eye out for people on the road.

Day 1 Stop 2: A big fat cup of coffee in Killarney town

// Gap of Dunloe to Glebe Car Park – 25-minute drive (arrive for 9) //

jame cafe killarney
Photo via Gluten Free Cailin

I made you get up early. So let’s get caffeinated. Aim your car in the direction of ‘Glebe Public Car Park’ in Killarney.

You’ll have to fork out for the parking here. When you’ve paid and displayed, walk down the lane towards Jam Cafe on Old Market Lane.

Grab a cup of coffee (and a cake, if you fancy) to go. I was here last winter and can vouch for the breakfast being deadly!

Day 1 Stop 3: Listen to the water crash at Torc Waterfall 

// Glebe Car Park to Torc Waterfall  – 15-minute drive (arrive for 9:40) //

torc waterfall kerry
Photo via Tourism Ireland

Torc Waterfall is a handy 7 kilometres from Killarney Town. You can park the car here* and take the short stroll up to the waterfall.

Sip your coffee, soak up the music of the water crashing and bask in the knowledge that you’ve another two days of exploring Kerry to go.

If you fancy it, you could also do a nice walk up along Torc Mountain. It takes a few hours but the views are spectacular (info on the walk).

*Note: The car park here gets crazy at certain points of the day, and it’s pretty small. Arriving early will hopefully improve your chances of being able to pull in and park.

Day 1 Stop 3: Have a ramble around Killarney National Park

// Torc Waterfall to Ross Castle – 15-minute drive (arrive for 10:25) //

killarney national park deer
Photo via Tourism Ireland

Aim your car in the direction of Ross Castle, next. There’s a big car park there where you can plonk it for a while.

You’ll find Killarney Park south and west of the town of Killarney, enveloped by rugged mountains, like the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland.

Nestled at the foot of these mountains are the magnificent lakes of Killarney. It’s here, where the mountains meet the shores of the lake, that you’ll find the 26,000 acres Killarney National Park.

A visit to Killarney National Park regularly tops the lists as one of the best things to do in Kerry. Why? Well, it has a little something for everyone.

For the adventure junkies: you’ll have ample opportunities to climb, hike and kayak to your heart’s content

For the nature lovers: you can admire the herd of native red deer (if you’re lucky), ogle at the mountainous terrain, and explore some of the 26,000 acres that the national park boasts.

For the history buffs: Ross Castle and Muckross House have a wealth of history attached to them. So, fill your boots!

Head for a saunter around Ross Castle when you’re ready

ross castle kerry
Ross Castle by Tourism Ireland

in this Kerry itinerary, we’re going to have a little ramble around and check out Ross Castle in the process.

Ross Castle is a typical example of the stronghold of an Irish Chieftain during the Middle Ages.

Although the date of when the castle was founded is unknown, it’s thought that it was built in the late 15th century by one of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains.

Head off on the guided tour. It takes 40 minutes and it’ll give you an insight into the history of the castle.

Day 1 Stop 4: Ladies View

// Ross Castle to Ladies View – 25-minute drive (arrive for 12:00) //

ladies view killarney
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

It’s been a couple of years since I last visited Ladies View (don’t worry, I’ve burned the hoody that I’m wearing in the photo above…).

Ladies View is about 12 miles from Killarney on the road that’s going to take us Kenmare. Park the car and nip into the little cafe if you’re feeling peckish. The view here is just sensational.

You can get to the section in the photo above by carefully walking up along the road away from the car park and turning right when you come to a little opening in the trees.

Day 1 Stop 5: Moll’s Gap

// Ladies View to Moll’s Gap – 8-minute drive (arrive for 12:40) //

Molls gap best thing to do in kerry
Photo via Failte Ireland

When you finish at Ladies View, keep heading along the road until you reach the Avoca Cafe on your left. Park up here and hop out of your car.

Moll’s Gap is a bendy pass that offers spectacular views of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the surrounding area.

It earned its name from Moll Kissane. Moll ran a shebeen (a pub ran during a time when the sale of alcohol was prohibited) in the area during the construction of the original Kenmare Killarney road in the 1820s.

She was well-liked in the area. Possibly due to the fact that she sold homemade poitin and whiskey to the men working on the road. Chill here for a bit and admire the view.

Day 1 Stop 6: The gorgeous little town of Kenmare for lunch

// Moll’s Gap to Kenmare – 10-minute drive (arrive for 13:20) //

Kenmare town kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Still with me? Fair play! You’ve been up for hours at this stage and you’ve wedged in plenty already. We’re going to head for lunch next.

When you arrive in Kenmare nip over to Mick & Jimmy’s Restaurant for a bit of lunch. Once you’ve eaten, have a stroll around the town.

Kenmare is somewhere that I could see myself living. The people (the ones I’ve encountered, anyway) are lovely and the pubs are buzzing. Get your fill and let’s get going.

Day 1 Stop 7: Sneem

// Kenmare to Sneem – 30-minute drive (arrive for 15:20) //

sneem county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Our next stop is the little village of Sneem on Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula. The view that unravels in front of you as you drive into Sneem is worth the visit alone.

Rolling mountains seem to fold in upon you from every angle as you enter one of Kerry’s most beautifully quaint villages.

Imagine winding down with the below view laid out in front of you after a hard day exploring! I love this place.

We aren’t spending long here on this trip, but take a little time to admire the mountains that surround the town as you walk through.

Day 1 Stop 7: A walk along Derrynane Beach

// Sneem to Derrynane Beach – 30-minute drive (arrive to the sand for 15:00) //

derrynane beach co kerry
Derrynane Beach: Via Tourism Ireland

Derrynane is widely regarded as the best beach in Kerry, so we’re going to factor in a stroll here to brush off any cobwebs that are starting to creep in.

You’ll find the beach just two miles north of Caherdaniel on the Ring of Kerry. The minute you step out of the car and start to soak up the view, you’ll understand why so many people recommended adding it to your Kerry itinerary.

Derrynane Beach is beautiful. It’s reasonably sheltered and boasts a natural harbour, and there’s a lifeguarded on duty during the summer months. A great little spot to clear the head.

Day 1 Stop 8: Road trippin’ along the Skellig Ring

// Derrynane Beach to Portmagee – 60-minute drive (allow as long as you like – we’ll be checking into our room for the night once we reach Portmagee) //

the skellig ring in kerry
Photo by Tom Archer

The next two hours are going to be special. We’re about to travel along an 18km route that links Waterville to Portmagee via Ballinskelligs.

Expect raw, wild, magnificent scenery, with the jagged outline of Skellig Michael on the horizon rarely far from view.

The Skellig Ring is a very straightforward drive, where you’ll discover the best it has to offer as you spin along it. The one stop-off point I’m going to recommend is the Kerry Cliffs.

I’ve visited the Kerry Cliffs near Portmagee twice now, and on both occasions, I was one of maybe 2 or 3 other people that were there at the time.

The cliffs, which are over 1,000 feet (305 meters) high, offer spectacular views of the Skellig Islands and Puffin Island.

This is one of those places that makes you really aware of how powerful mother nature is. The thunderous crash as waves collide with sharp cliff face rings out in your ears constantly.

Day 1 Stop 9: You’ve made it! Portmagee for the night

// You should arrive to Portmagee for around 18:00. // 

Portmagee in Kerry
Photo by Tom Archer via Tourism Ireland

That was a long-ass day. But one that you’ll remember for many years to come.

I’m going to recommend that you stay in The Moorings Guesthouse, which is at the heart of the lovely little village of Portmagee.

Check-in and then head down to the bar for some food and a couple of pints. You’ve earned them.

You may have seen videos from this pub back when Star Wars was being shot in the area (Mark Hamill was shot pulling a pint at the bar).

Day 2: My Favourite Place in Ireland, Dingle and lots lots more

Try and get to bed at a reasonable hour on day one and get up and on the road for 09:00 the next morning.

We’ve another busy day ahead that’s wedged from start to finish with some of the best scenery on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Day 2 Stop 1: My favourite place in Ireland

// Portmagee to Valentia Island – 2-minute drive (leave Portmagee at 9, arrive to Valentia for 9:02.. handy or whaaaaat) //

geokaun mountains kerry
Image © The Irish Road Trip

Valentia Island is one of my favourite places in Ireland. Connected to the little town of Portmagee by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge, Valentia Island is one of Ireland’s most westerly points.

Our first stop-off is the car park near Bray Head. For those of you that fancy an early morning walk, you can do the Bray Head Loop Walk if you like.

In this itinerary, we’re going to just admire the view out towards the Skellig Islands. From here, make your way up to the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs.

There’s a €5 entry fee and, after you’ve paid it, you’ll start the steep ascent (it’s insanely steep – keep the car in first gear the entire way up) towards one of the best views in Ireland.

I’ve done a reasonable amount of travelling outside of Ireland, and there are very few places that I’ve been to that offer a view as spectacular as the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs. Kick-back, relax and just soak up what lies before you.

Day 2 Stop 2: The long drive to Dingle

// Valentia Island to Dingle – 3.5-hour drive with stops (arrive in Dingle for 13:30) //

rossbeigh beach Kerry
Photo by S. Mueller (Shutterstock)

We’ve a two-hour drive ahead of us. But don’t fret, it’s a picturesque one to say the least. We’re going to stop off at Rossbeigh Beach to stretch the legs

Rossbeigh is around a 50-minute drive from Valentia, so you’ll escape the car before cabin fever starts to kicks in.

Take a little ramble along the beach and gulp down some of that fresh Atlantic air. We’re going to take another stop after another 50 minutes on the road for lunch.

Keep on driving until you reach Inch Beach. We’re going to hop out here and grab a bit of lunch while the waves crash away in the distance.

You’ll generally find groups of surfers in the sea here, so kick back, fuel up and watch as they tackle the wild Atlantic waves.

Day 2 Stop 3: The Slea Head Drive

// This Drive takes roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes – we’re going to allow for 5 hours. Start the drive at 14:00) //

slea head ireland
Slea Head: Via Tourism Ireland

I’m excited for any of you that are doing this drive for the first time. The Slea Head Drive is a circular route that begins and ends in Dingle.

It takes in an abundance of attractions and fabulous views on the western end of the peninsula and it’s one of the best things to do in Dingle.

My only piece of advice for this drive is to stop and wander wherever and whenever the feeling takes you.

The best parts of this drive aren’t the stops, they’re the ever-changing landscape that engulfs it.

Here’s a full guide to the drive that you can follow. I’ll also whack in some stops below so that you can see what’s waiting for you. 

Slea Head Stop 1: Coumeenoole Beach

beach in kerry ryans daughter
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Our first stop is at Coumeenoole Beach, a place that I’ve been to many times before and that I’ll keep returning to over and over again.

This is a fantastic little beach that’s surrounded by jagged cliffs and spectacular coastal scenery.

For any fans of the movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, you may recognise Coumeenoole Beach as it was one of the locations used in the film. This place really is wild. Park the car and explore the area.

The beach is to the left, down the little winding hill, and then to the right you have a path that, if you take it, will offer spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Slea Head Stop 2: Admiring the view of Dunmore Head

dunmore head slead head drive
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

You’ll find the lookout point for Dunmore Head a short distance from Coumeenoole Beach, so make sure you keep an eye out for it while you drive.

This is another one of those places that tends to rock you a little bit. When you step out of your car and gaze out, expect to be greeted by the crash of waves combined with a powerful, salty breeze.

Slea Head Stop 3: Dun Chaoin Pier

dun chaoin pier county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Dun Chaoin Pier is the departure point for the Blasket Island Ferry, and you’ll find it at the northern end of a small secluded bay enveloped by rocky cliffs.

You can take a stroll down the pier itself or admire the view from above (be careful – the cliff is unguarded).

When gawked at from above, the narrow, winding road that leads down to the pier can only be described as a charming little slice of architectural madness.

The quirky road combined with the gorgeous rocky peaks that jut out from the water in front of the pier make for a wonderfully unique scene on County Kerry’s dramatic coastline.

Slea Head Stop 4: the stop that isn’t a stop

gallarus oratory in kerry
By Chris Hill

I tried to emphasise this earlier, but I really believe that you need to go with your gut on this drive.

Take your time and just enjoy the scenery that envelopes you from start to finish. Here are some other things you can do along the drive, if you’d like a bit more guidance.

  • Great Blasket Centre
  • Reasc Monastic Site
  • Dunbeg Fort
  • Beehive Huts
  • Gallarus Oratory
  • Kilmalkedar Church

Day 2 Stop 4: Dingle for dinner, ice cream and pints

// The Slea Head Loop will get you back to Dingle for around 19:00. //

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

It’s been a long day. So it’s time to eat, drink and be merry. Head to John Benny’s Pub for a bite to eat and then tip on over to Murphy’s Ice Cream for a bit of a #TreatYoSelf buzz.

The Caramelised Brown Bread and the Dingle Sea Salt are both ammmmmmmmmmmazing!

When you’ve grabbed your ice cream, head off for a little stroll around the town – it’s a grand little spot for a ramble.

Once you’ve had your fill of the town, it’s time to sample some of the local pubs. My two favourite pubs in Dingle are Dick Mack’s and Foxy John’s, but there are plenty to choose from.

Where to stay in Dingle

pax guesthouse kerry
Photo via Pax Guesthouse

I’m going to recommend that you stay in Pax Guest House (mainly for the amazing views). Imagine kicking back here with a coffee in the morning?!

If you’re looking for somewhere that’s nice and close to the town, give the Dingle Skellig Hotel a lash – the reviews speak for themselves.

And that’s a wrap!

48 hours is such a short space of time, but don’t let it discourage you from just hitting the road and going for it.

I get that the above Kerry itinerary is packed, but it’s completely doable if you follow the timings given.

Did you find this useful? Is there something you thing we should add (or remove)? Let me know in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

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