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The Ring of Beara: A Guide To The Route With Map + Itinerary

The Ring of Beara: A Guide To The Route With Map + Itinerary

The Ring of Beara is a 148km/92 mile scenic route that showcases some of the best of Ireland’s rugged scenery.

The route, which is best driven or cycled in a clockwise direction, takes you around the brilliant Beara Peninsula.

While the majority of the peninsula is in Cork, a reasonable chunk of it sits within Kerry.

Below, you’ll find a Ring of Beara map along with a road trip itinerary to follow. Enjoy!

Some quick need-to-knows about the Ring of Beara route


It’s worth taking a couple of minutes to look at the Ring of Beara map above, as it’ll give you a lay-of-the-land nice and fast.

When you’re ready, there are some quick need-to-knows about the route below.

1. Location

The beautiful Ring of Beara route circumnavigates the stunning Beara Peninsula, just south of the better known (and consequently busier) Ring of Kerry. The peninsula is sandwiched between the Bay of Kenmare and beautiful Bantry Bay.

2. Length

The official Ring of Beara route is 92 miles (148km) in length. If you were to drive the route without stopping, it would take 3 – 4 hours. However, allow at least half a day. Ideally, you’d stay in one of the towns and explore it over 2-3 days.


3. Start and finish point

So, you can start the Beara Peninsula drive in either Kenmare (Kerry) or Glengarriff (Cork). Make sure to drive/cycle in a clockwise direction as this will afford you the best views.

4. The Ring of Beara cycle

The Ring of Beara cycle route is hugely popular. It’s a challenging route regardless of experience. You can find two different cycle routes mapped out here.

A Ring of Beara map with attractions plotted


The Ring of Beara map above contains a couple of things:

  • The blue line shows a rough outline of the route
  • The yellow arrows show the ‘main’ towns and villages, like Allihies, Adrigole, Eyeries etc.
  • The reddy-pink arrows show the different attractions
  • The purple arrows show the different islands

Tip: It’s worth taking a bit of time to look at the points on the map above to decide what you want to visit and what you want to leave out.

A 1-day Beara Peninsula Drive itinerary

The best way to tackle the Beara Peninsula drive is to do it over a couple of days. That way you’ll have time to tackle the walks and you’ll also be able to visit the islands.

If you do have 2 days, chop the itinerary above in half and spend night 1 in Allihies. If you only have a day, you’ll find a 1-day itinerary below that starts in Glengarriff (start in Kenmare if you like!).

I’ll stick in the optional stops for those of you with more time.


Stop 1: Glengarriff Woods

Glengarriff Woods

Stop one is the Glengarriff Nature Reserve which is home to a whopping 300 hectares of woodland.

There are a number of trails here that range from long (like the 1.5-hour Esknamucky trail) to short.

For this itinerary, I’m going to recommend that you take the handy Waterfall Walk. It’s a linear trail that takes around 30 minutes in total.

You’ll stroll along an uneven forest track, pass mossy trees and a gentle river before reaching the lovely little Glengarriff Waterfall.


Optional stop: Garnish Island

Garnish Island

Photos by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

When you finish up at the Reserve, there are plenty of other things to do in Glengarriff to keep you busy, like the glorious Garnish Island.

Down at Glengarriff Pier, the Harbour Queen Ferry runs every 30 minutes (April through October), transporting visitors to the 37-acre Garnish Island at the head of Bantry Bay.

The island is a garden paradise, lovingly created 70 years ago by owner Annan Bryce and garden designer Harold Peto.

Set in its own microcosm, the colourful gardens are a showcase of subtropical plants and there’s a nice restaurant for light lunches in this magnificent island garden setting.


Stop 2: Healy Pass and Glanmire Lake

Healy Pass

Now, our next stop isn’t technically part of the Ring of Beara route, but, as it’s one of the best things to do in West Cork, it’s worth the detour.

Constructed in 1847 as part of the famine relief scheme, the Healy Pass reaches 334m (1,095 feet), cutting through the Caha Mountain Range on the county boundary between Kerry and Cork.

This is a very bendy mountain road that takes you through a wild and rugged landscape. Drive right up to the top and you’ll find a little bit of space to pull in (here on Maps).

If you climb the hill, you’ll be treated to a view out over Glanmire Lake. This is arguably one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s finest viewpoints!


Stop 3: Castletown-Bearhaven for lunch

food from The Chef's Table in Castletown-Bearhaven

Photos via The Chef’s Table on FB

Castletown-Bearhaven is a 25-minute drive from Healy Pass and it makes a great stop for lunch.

The Chef’s Table (above) and McCarthy’s Bar are the two places that I find myself returning back to.

However, Lynch’s on the Pier, Murphy’s and Breen’s Lobster Bar are worth a look, too!


Optional stop: Bere Island

Bere Island

Photos via Shutterstock

If you have a couple of days to do the Beara Peninsula Drive, the trip to Bere Island is well worth taking.

Located 2km offshore from Castletownbere, Bere Island is a small, inhabited island that boasts an interesting history and beautiful scenery. 

There’s plenty to see and do on Bere, as you’ll discover here. The ferry to the island leaves from Castletownbere and takes around 15 minutes.


Optional stop: Dursey Island

Dursey Island

Photos via Shutterstock

Continue down towards Lamb’s Head at the tip of the Beara Peninsula. From there, you can take a 10-minute trip to Dursey Island, the most westerly inhabited island in Cork.

The journey to Dursey is made via Ireland’s only cable car. It stands 250m above the choppy sea below and takes just 15 minutes.

Once there, visit the 200-year-old Signal Tower, the ruined church of St Kilmichael and the ruins of the castle built by O’Sullivan Beara.


Stop 4: Allihies and Eyeries

things to do in allihies cork

Photos via Shutterstock

Before you make your descent down into Allihies, you’ll drive along a section of road that has been cut through the rock. There’s a tiny bit of parking that’s easily missed here on maps.

You’ll get the view in the photos above from the parking area. When you’ve had your fill, make your way down into Allihies – one of the most beautiful villages in Cork.

This tiny, colourful village has been a hub for copper mining since the late Bronze Age. Stop at Allihies Beach, first, and then have a nosey around the Copper Mine Museum.

The village of Eyeries (just up along the coast from Allihies) is another gorgeous little village that’s worth dropping into.


Stop 5: Gleninchaquin Park

Gleninchaquin Park

Photos via Shutterstock

Enjoy the constantly-changing coastal scenery as spin northeast along the section of Beara that overlooks Kenmare Bay. Our next stop is Gleninchaquin Park.

Set in a magnificent valley, this park delivers more breathtaking scenery, mountain paths with carved steps, tiny orchids, wildlife, lush meadows and a waterfall cascade.

Formed by glaciers over 70,000 years ago, this often-missed valley also has a trio of lakes including Inchaquin, Uragh and Clonee Lough, all fed by the waterfall.


Stop 6: Molly Gallivan’s Visitor Centre

Molly Gallivan's Visitor Centre

Photos by Brian Morrison via Ireland’s Content Pool

Our 2nd-last stop is the 200-year-old stone cottage and heritage farm known as Molly Gallivan’s.

There are animals, chickens and antique farm machinery outside while the interior of the cottage depicts a family dwelling around the time of the Great Famine (1845) when the potato harvest failed. 

Watch the short film telling how enterprising Molly and her 7 children survived when she opened an illegal pub (Sibheen) and sold moonshine whiskey (Poitín) known as Molly’s Mountain Dew.

Walk the Neolithic Stone Row that forms part of a 5,000 year old sun calendar before hitting the road again.


Stop 7: Caha Pass

Caha Pass

Photos via Shutterstock

The Caha Pass is a breathtaking challenge for cyclists (in every sense of the word!). After the winding ascent to 332m elevation, you can look forward to magnificent views from the top.

The hand-carved tunnels on the N71 are the stand-out features of this section of the Beara Peninsula Drive. With a height limit of 3.65m, these tunnels are too low for modern-day coaches.

The first tunnel is 180m long followed by three smaller ones totalling 70 metres.

As you exit the main tunnel, it frames a dramatic view of Barley Lake and Bantry Bay as you descend into the rolling countryside of the Sheen Valley.


Where to stay when doing the Ring of Beara Drive


Photo left: The Irish Road Trip. Others: Shutterstock

Where you stay while exploring the Ring of Beara route should be determined by 1, how much time you have and 2, what you plan on doing.

Note: if you book a stay through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.


If you only have a day

If you only have a day to do the Ring of Beara drive, I’d recommend either staying in either Glengarriff or Kenmare as they can be used as the starting point.

Here are some good places to stay:

If you’re here for a weekend

If you have a weekend, personally I’d stay in Allihies in the Seaview Guesthouse or at Coulagh Bay House in Eyeries.

Both villages make a good half-way-point.


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Wednesday 18th of October 2023

We're leaving Cork in the morning and staying in Killarney that night. Is it reasonable to cover the peninsula along the way? The main things I want to see are Ballydonegan Beach, Glenbeg Lough, and Uragh Stone Circle, and Healy Pass if time allows a detour.

Keith O'Hara

Thursday 19th of October 2023

It is indeed. Just prepare yourself for a good bit of driving that day. If I was you, I'd stop in Kenmare for dinner before heading on to Killarney! Safe travels!

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