Touring the Ring of Kerry // County Kerry, Ireland

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Touring the Ring of Kerry // County Kerry, Ireland

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Where do I think you need to go? Ireland.

Here’s why:

A few months ago, Dan and I nearly lost our marbles during our visit to County Kerry, Ireland. One of those flawless vacations where everywhere we turned we were positively wowed. Sure, the weather was remarkably perfect, but the Guinness, our hotels, the charm, all of it left a lasting impression. Within minutes of arriving our chipper car rental attendant welcomed us, genuinely, to his country and we knew were somewhere special. 

We had lots of things on on our list to accomplish (like meeting a friendly dolphin), but at the tippy-top was driving the Ring of Kerry, a famous 179km route circling the Iveragh Penninsula in County Kerry. Being honest, we aren’t exactly car people but with the pressure of the 5 star Trip Advisor reviews and chatter from locals, we knew we’d have to see what the fuss was all about.

We opted to go counter-clockwise and departed Killarney just after breakfast. The skies were unusually bright and full of big, puffy clouds. To say the route is just ‘scenic’ is an understatement. For some reason I want to say it was “marrrrvelous, darling, simply marvelous” in some fru-fru Mid-Atlantic accent. It just seems appropriate, no?

Anyways, our path led us to a medley of delightfully stops called names like “Ladies View”, “Portmagee”, “Puffin Island” and who doesn’t love “Ballinskelligs”? 

In total the drive took us about 5 hours with a pit stop at the stunning Valencia Island, a lunch of fresh seafood chowder in Portmagee, and (you know me) at least 15 pull-off-to-the-side-of-the-road-(trynottogethit)-and-take-a-picture stops. It was a perfect day in my book. 

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This was the first of very many pull-offs we opted to explore. As the only manual driver in the family (ahem!), I was on triple duty of shifting with my left hand, observing backwards driving policies and keeping my eyes peeled for shots to share with you fine folks. 

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At one point I spotted this wild leprechaun who likes to eat pizza and watch March Madness. Cute, right?

Ring of Kerry_Ireland-9Ring of Kerry, Ireland Ring of Kerry, Ireland Ring of Kerry_Ireland-12 … and later surveyed the scene from the cliffs on Valencia Island – seriously stunning.

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The views from the top of Valencia island, looking back onto the peninsula, were some of the most remarkable I’ve ever seen. Cottages dotted the countryside as rays of sunshine (“grace” as my hubby’s family lovingly calls it) beamed through the clouds. 

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Lunchtime in Portmagee (Guinness is just out of focus, don’t worry):

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So yes, there you go, another activity to add to your bucket list!

If this has caught your fancy and you want to make it happen – we flew into Kerry, Ireland and found it to be an absolute logistical breeze to overnight in Killarney then depart from there the following morning to drive the Ring.

  • Ok, I can’t lie. I didn’t read any of this. I just looked at the pictures and wanted to pack right this second! SOO gorgeous. This makes me want to explore Ireland tomorrow!

    • Ha, I love your honestly. Well, if you want to hop a plane to Ireland tomorrow I’ll meet you there. County Kerry stole my heart.

  • No no. This isn’t real. Not possible. Daydreaming of Ireland now! 🙂

    • ha! ya caught me! alllll photoshopped! Ireland is all a con!

      jk ;D

  • I loveeeee Ireland! I’d love to go back and do a road trip myself!

    • Such a great idea. Backpacking/hiking around Ireland would be incredible… accompanied by lots of Guinness, of course. 🙂

  • Nina

    Ireland has got to be the most beautiful country. No matter where you go there are stunning views and everything is green!

    • I couldn’t agree more! Have you visited? It really is just a place allll it’s own!

  • GORGEOUS photos!

    • Thanks so much dear! 🙂

  • ieatistay

    This is my home. I am from Ireland but absolutely loved your article. Ist awesome to see in your Pictures some wonderful weather. If you get bad weather the ring of Kerry can turn into being dark, dull and really quite miserable. There are some breathtaking views and drives around Ireland in General but glad you touched one of the most important!

    • The fact that you even remotely liked this post means so much to me! I don’t feel like I could ever do Ireland justice in my pictures and commentary. There’s so much beauty and heaps of charm – lucky you for getting to call it home! 🙂

  • holy moly…I HAVE to do this when I move there! Like…I must. Those pictures are absolutely glorious! So you were able to rent a car and just drive it around? Seriously though…I’m gonna have to look into this!

    • Yes, exactly! We just rented a car from the airport and made the loop. It was so easy and well signed.

      So, yes, you MUST do it. ;D

      • Wow, I’m really going to have to look in to that because I would LOVE to do that! I just thought it was a little more complicated..that you may have to have an international driver’s license or something! But that’s awesome I’ll add that to my (ever-growing) list!

      • did you have an international license? Gosh, I think I would have a panic attack driving on the wrong side of the road AND in the wrong side of the car! Holy moly

  • Gorgeous! And may I say I’m SO happy I married a fellow manual driver – when we drove the 2000km around Armenia I was really thrilled not to have to drive up and down the mountains the whole time 🙂

    • Umm, what!? 2000km roadtrip!? I can’t imagine how buff your left calf must have been after that!

      PS. If surviving a 2000km isn’t a testament to a great marriage/relationship then I don’t know what is!

  • Puffins?! So cute! I literally LOLed at your “only manual driver in the family” comment! My husband is that person in our family so he gets the fun duty of driving us everywhere in Germany and Austria next month, ha! All your photographs are stunning, makes me want to go back to Ireland! Stat!

    • Ha, you’re right, I think I did use that opportunity to brag a little bit about my manual driving abilites. You don’t want to know how many accidents I nearly caused as I was learning stick shift in my first car – a 1989 volvo that could be equivalent to a tank. My sister actually hit a deer in that car and it didn’t need to be fixed because it was barely dented. Ha!

  • Robin G.

    OH MY!!! Ireland is one of my top 5 countries that I definitely want to visit. Everyone always has such incredible things to say about Ireland and the pictures always look SO breathtaking.

    xo Robin

    • wow, thanks so the incredibly kind words about my pictures dear! and to your comment about wanting to visit – the pictures don’t even do it justice. Ireland is definitely a must-see place! ;D

  • Brandi James

    My boyfriend and I drove the ring of Kerry on our Ireland visit a year and half ago and absolutely loved it. it was probably the best day of the entire trip. We actually got to see a full rainbow and drove underneath the end of it, it was pure magic. Thanks for sharing your memories!!

    I also love that you took a picture of the fake birds on top of the little huts…they threw me off for a little bit until I got up closer to them…haha!!

    • ha! so, I had completely forgot those birds were fake until this comment. as I was compiling this post I even thought to myself “wow, I don’t remember all those birds being there… cool” I guess I’m not as observant as I’d like to think.

      your account of your drive around kerry should be converted into a poem. pure magic is right!

  • Kari Guastella

    Gorgeous photos! I love all of the green!

    • Thanks so much love! We lucked out big time and missed all the rain that made things so green too!

  • I am so in love with these photos! I have been wanting to visit Ireland for ages and this post has inspired me to make it happen!

    • oh yes, you musssst go, just must. And when you do, feel free to bring me with you! I absolutely loved Kerry!

  • Love these photos. They make me want to leave now!

    xx Leesa & Kate

    Travel inspiration?

    • ha, well if you leave take me with you! I’d go back to Kerry in a heartbeat! 😀

  • Hi Margo. It’s been ages since I’ve visited Ireland, but these beautiful photos are calling me back. I’m so glad you had a lovely time, and thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Absolutely, Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed them! 😀

  • Your pictures are so swoon-worthy! 😀 Hope you have fun at St. Paddy’s Day this weekend! 🙂 I kind of, sort of have my mind set on doing a long-distance hike in Ireland one day – I’m not sure if it’s going to happen this year, but hopefully soon! 🙂

    • ohhh how exciting. which hike do you want to do? from where to where? I bet that’d be incredibly beautiful!

  • Gah so amazing, your pictures are stunning! And aren’t you a superstar driving on the opposite side!

    • ha, well, I may not be the best driver, but I managed alright. dan, the normal driver in our family, was an interesting passenger – not quite a fan of maps, I learned.

  • Julia

    As always, your pictures are so damn stunning!! Looks like you had an amazing time, such a pleasure (and huge inspiration) to read this post!!

    • thanks for the sweet words, julia! hope you can make to to Kerry and see the beauty firsthand someday soon! ;D xo

  • Those views though! What a great idea for a roadtrip!

    • agreed! it was absolutely awesome! 😀

  • Ashley

    These photos are absolutely gorgeous! I’ve always wanted to drive the Ring of Kerry (despite not being a fan of driving at all, haha!) and there’s nothing better than a day with blue sky and white fluffy clouds for scenic photos! How lucky!

    • ‘lucky’ is the ONLY word for it! you’re so right, the weather and conditions were pretty unreal!

  • Wow! Just gorgeous! And good for you for driving the manual!! I feel like I am going to have a hard time going back to automatic on the right side of the road 🙂

    • oh man. i can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when y’all eventually move back. it’s going to feel SOOO weird. my dad is from south africa and they drive the same, supposedly he drove the wrong way out of the airport parking lot for almost a mile before nearly running into someone. be careful out there!!! xo

  • Seriously, ALL these photos are insane! Hopefully we will make it to Ireland in a few months… So jealous you’re there for St. Patty’s Day! xx

    • so you’re basically across the river from Ireland. promise me y’all will see co. kerry sometime this summer? i need to see YOUR pictures of the same ring of kerry drive. because those would be insane.

      ps. my friends and i just booked an apartment to stay in CASSIS all thanks to youuuu and that unreal post of yours from a few months ago. i can not waiiiiit.

  • Looking at your photos I can see that I did almost the identical things you did. My family and I ate at the same restaurant in Portmagee and I see the beehive huts from the Cliffs of Kerry.

  • We took a small bus tour of the Ring of Kerry back in 2009 but the weather was terrible so it was a bit of a bust. We’re moving to Dublin in August and I definitely want to go back and drive it ourselves. Your post has just moved the trip up my list by leaps and bounds.

  • WOW! This looks incredible. We did Co. Donegal last summer and it was stunning, reminded me so much of my home country Scotland! Your photos are amazing. x

    Laura | | Scottish travel & book blog

  • Gorgeous photos! My favourite thing was the 360 views from Geokaun mountains and relaxing with a couple of Guinness in Kenmare. Love to go back again.

    If your readers need a car to get around, check out these rental tips