There are some wonderful Ring of Kerry towns that make a great base to explore the route from.
However, travel guides will often lead you to believe that the only towns and villages worth a look are Killarney and Kenmare, but that just isn’t the case.
Yes, these are the most popular towns on the Ring of Kerry drive, but this is far from a 2-horse-county, as you’ll discover below!
The main Ring of Kerry towns
If you’re following our Ring of Kerry itinerary, or if you’re just interested to see what charming towns lay along the route, this guide will come in handy.
It’ll show you the main towns on the Ring of Kerry, like Kenmare, along with some that many tourists will have never come across, like Glenbeigh. Dive on in!
Killarney is one of the better-known towns in Ireland and it’s the traditional starting point for the Ring of Kerry drive.
Home to around 14,500 residents as of the 2022 census, the town is surrounded by breath-taking beauty courtesy Killarney National Park.
- Main attraction: Killarney National Park
- Our favourite pub: O’Connors
- Where to stay: The Towers (see more suggestions in our Killarney hotels guide)
Although, as of the 2022 census, the town has a population of around 2,400 people, Kenmare comes alive during the summer months thanks to an influx of both foreign and domestic tourists.
While there are plenty of things to do in Kenmare, the main attractions are its colourful streets, Kenmare Stone Circle, Cromwell’s Bridge and Reenagross Woodland Park.
- Main attraction: Kenmare Stone Circle
- Our favourite pub: Florry Batt’s
- Where to stay: O’Donnabhain’s (see our Kenmare hotels guide for more suggestions)
If you’ve a longing for small and picturesque Ring of Kerry towns, look no further than Sneem (it recorded a population of under 300 in the 2016 census).
The first thing that hits you as you make your way into Sneem is the mountains – it almost feels like they’re folding in on top of the town.
If you visit, keep an eye out for the stone bridge (it’s hard to miss). From here, you’ll get a good eyeful of Sneem River and the little Sneem Falls.
- Main attractions: Sneem Falls
- Our favourite pub: O’Shea’s
- Where to stay: Hotel Sneem
The village of Caherdaniel home to a population of about 200 residents. However, despite its size, Caherdaniel is home to a fine bit of history.
It’s here that you’ll find Derrynane House – the ancestral home of politician Daniel “The Liberator” O’Connell (1775-1847) – along with unique relics from his life.
Caherdaniel also boasts one of the most beautiful beaches in Kerry – the magnificent Derrynane Beach (keep an eye out for the ruins while you saunter along the sand).
- Main attractions: Derrynane Beach
- Our favourite pub: The Blind Piper
- Where to stay: Derrynane Bay House
You’ll find the coastal town of Waterville, once a favourite holiday destination for Charlie Chaplin, in a scenic corner of the Iveragh Peninsula.
It’s a quaint little town with a population of around 462 (as of the 2016 census) and it makes a very picturesque base to explore from (it’s also home to one of our favourite Ring of Kerry hotels – the Butler Arms!).
Cahirsiveen is one of the bigger Ring of Kerry towns and, as per the 2022 census, it’s home to around 1,297 people. It makes a good place to explore from, with Beentee Mountain and Valentia a short spin away.
There’s also a wealth of history on offer, from Ballycarbery Castle and the nearby Cahergal and Leacanabuaile forts.
Birthplace of Daniel O’Connell, Cahirsiveen is a busy market town with plenty of pubs, restaurants and accommodation, making it a great base to explore South Kerry from.
- Main attractions: The Old Abbey
- Our favourite pub: The Fertha
- Where to stay: Quinlan & Cooke
Kells is a tranquil little village on the Ring of Kerry that’s often overlooked by those exploring the area. However, for those in the know, there’s plenty to love about this place.
It’s here that you’ll find Kells Bay Beach along with the very popular Kells House and Garden (try the Sky Walk Rope Bridge, see the exotic plants and explore the gardens).
If you’re looking to sample a bit of rural Irish living right by the coast, look no further than Kells (you can glamp in pods by the sea, too!).
- Main attractions: Kells Bay House and Gardens
- Our favourite pub: NA
- Where to stay: Kells Bay House
While Glenbeigh is another of the lesser-known Ring of Kerry towns, it makes a great base to explore from for those looking to sample a slice of country living.
It’s right on the Ring of Kerry route and, while nice and quiet, it’s only a 35-minute drive from Killarney, so you get the best of both worlds!
Home to around 308 people as per the 2016 census, Glenbeigh sits beneath the Seefin Mountains a short spin from beautiful Rossbeigh Beach.
Killorglin is another of the larger Ring of Kerry towns with a popular of 2,199 as per the 2016 census. It’s famous for the annual Puck Fair where a goat is made king for a week (it’s one of the oldest festivals in Ireland).
The town is finely plonked on the banks of the River Laune, a short 25-minute spin from Killarney. It’s also under 20 minutes from the Dingle Peninsula, where you’ll find the likes of the Slea Head Drive.
- Main attraction: The King Puck statue
- Our favourite pub: Falvey’s
- Where to stay: The Bianconi Inn
FAQs about towns on the Ring of Kerry
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What’s the quietest town on the Ring of Kerry?’ to ‘Which has the cheapest hotels?’.
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.
What towns are near the Ring of Kerry Ireland?
The main towns on the Ring of Kerry are Killarney, Kenmare, Killorglin, Caherdaniel, Sneem, Waterville and Cahersiveen.
Which of the Ring of Kerry towns is best to explore from?
Personally, I try and stay in either Kenmare or Killarney. The reason for this is that the make good start points for the drive/cycle and there are plenty of hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.