48 Hours In Kerry: The Best Things To Do In Kerry On A 2-Day Road Trip (Detailed Itinerary)

A 2-day Kerry itinerary for those stuck for time

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.

BUT… don’t worry!

I’ve spent a good chunk of time researching and writing out this 2-day Kerry itinerary for you, so you’ll get to squeeze in loads of stuff over the two days.

What you’ll get from reading this guide

  • A full 2-day itinerary that packs in as many of the best things to do in Kerry as physically possible
  • Advice on where to eat, sleep and drink
  • Loads more stuff to help make planning your trip eeeeeeasy

The best things to do in Kerry Ireland (when you’ve feck all time)

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

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

So, to make the most out of the day 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 //

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 kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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 was 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.

walking the gap of dunloe
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

‘Hold on, can you drive the Gap of Dunloe?’

It’s perfectly legal to drive the Gap of Dunloe, but it’s recommend 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.

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’ (it’s on Google Maps) and when you’ve dropped it off, walk down the lane towards Jam Cafe on Old Market Lane.

Grab a cup of coffee (and a cake, if you fancy) to go.

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 (note: this car park gets crazy at certain points of the day, and it’s pretty small) and take the short 200 metre stroll 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.

Enjoying this guide? Check out our 48 hour guide to Clare next!

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

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

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

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.

killarney national park deer
Photo via Tourism Ireland

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

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

For the history buffs: you have the chances to dive into the past of Ross Castle and Muckross House.

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 lakes shores, that lies the 26,000 acres of Killarney National Park.

lakes of killarney
The Lakes of Killarney: By Chris Hill

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.

ross castle
Photo via Killarney.ie

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 castles history.

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.

Day 1 Stop 5 – Moll’s Gap

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

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.

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

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

It earned its name from Moll Kissane. Moll ran a shebeen (a small pub) 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) //

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.

Kenmare town kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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 I could see myself living. The people (the ones I’ve encountered the three times I’ve visited, anyway) are lovely, the pubs are buzzing and the town is surrounded by endless adventure opportunities.

Get your fill and let’s get going.

Day 1 Stop 7 – Sneeeeeeeeeem (Sneem…)

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

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 wonderfully quaint villages.

Imagine winding down with the below view laid out in front of you after a hard day exploring!

sneem county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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 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.

derrynane beach co kerry
Derrynane Beach: Via Tourism Ireland

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 next two hours are going to be special.

We’re about to travel along an 18km route that links Waterville to Portmagee via Ballinskelligs.

the skellig ring in kerry
Photo by Tom Archer

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.

the kerry cliffs tour
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

I’ve visited the Kerry Cliffs 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. // 

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, a dolphin and lots lots more

We’ve a lot in store for day 2.

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.

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) //

Valentia Island is one of my favourite places in Ireland. It’s also home to one of the best things to do in Kerry.

geokaun mountains kerry
Image © The Irish Road Trip

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

Here’s a guide, and a tonne of photos, of Valentia Island– visit it, it’s deadly!

Our first stop-off is the car park near Bray Head.

bray head valentia island

For those of you that fancy an early morning walk, you can do the Bray Head Loop Walk if you like, but for this trip we’re going to just admire the view above out towards the Skellig Islands.

From here, make your way up to the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs (€5 entry fee), and 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.

valentia island lighthouse
Valentia Lighthouse: By Chris Hill

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) //

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 kicks in.

rossbeigh strand kerry
Photo by Desmond at TrekEarth

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.

inch beach county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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.

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.

Coumeenoole beach kerry
By Chris Hill

Slea Head Stop 1 – Coumeenoole Beach

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.

beach in kerry ryans daughter
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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.

What you won’t get from the images above and below is the power of the wind that was gushing over me constantly, rocking me from side-to-side when I was taking the photos above and below.

beach from the movie ryans daughter
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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

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 (the best places to visit in Kerry generally do).

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.

dunmore head slead head drive
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Slea Head Stop 3 – Dun Chaoin Pier

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).

dun chaoin pier county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When gawked at from above, the narrow, winding road that leads up 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

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.

Some other stuff to check out on the Slea Head Drive

  • Great Blasket Centre
  • Reasc Monastic Site
  • Dunbeg Fort
  • Beehive Huts
  • The Upside-Down-Bridge
  • 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 gorgeous.

dingle town kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Once you’ve had your fill of the town, it’s time to sample some of the local pubs.

My two favourites in Dingle are Dick Mack’s and Foxy John’s, but there are plenty to choose from.

dick macs bar dingle
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Polish off your 2-day Kerry road trip in style.

Where to stay in Dingle

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?!

pax guesthouse kerry
Photo via Pax Guesthouse

The best things to do in Kerry in 48 hours – finito!

And that’s a wrap.

48 hours is such a short space of time, but don’t let it discourage you from just 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!

Keith
Howaya!The purpose of this site is to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories.No spam. Clickbait. Or boll*x. Ever.Keith

Get the best of Ireland in your inbox (no spam, EVER!)

The best road trip guides and Irish travel inspiration to your inbox twice per week.

When you submit your email, you'll need to go to your inbox and click 'confirm' on the mail we've sent you. If it's not in your inbox, check your junk folder.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It was my impression that all the guide books and tourism sights say to travel counter clockwise.
    Will we have a terrible time dodging the tour busses and cars traveling in the opposite direction?
    THanks for insight

    • Hi Diane,

      If you’re driving the Ring of Kerry you should definitely drive it counter clockwise.

      It’ll save you meeting the tour buses head-on on the narrower roads.

      As this guide doesn’t really follow the ring of Kerry to a tee, I haven’t gone with the clockwise approach.

      That being said, if you’re a competent driver and have driven in Ireland before, you’ll be fine.

      Cheers,

      Keith

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.