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Exploring the Magic of the Ring of Kerry: A Complete Guide for US Travelers

a waterfall with a mountain in the background

The Ring of Kerry, a picturesque route in County Kerry, Ireland, is an absolute gem for any traveler seeking the essence of Irish beauty and culture. Embarking on this adventure was a chance to truly experience the heart of Ireland, and I can’t wait to share this complete guide with you.

Getting There from the US: To reach the Ring of Kerry from major US cities, I recommend flying into Shannon or Cork airports. Both of them offer convenient connections to Kerry. Once you arrive, renting a car is your best bet for flexibility in exploring the route. Just a friendly reminder to drive on the left side of the road!

Top Attractions Along the Route:

  1. Killarney National Park: My journey started in the charming town of Killarney, nestled at the edge of the national park. Muckross House and Gardens were a delightful introduction to the area, and I highly recommend taking a jaunting car ride if you can.
    a stone castle with a clock tower in front of a brick building with Ross Castle in the background
  2. Torc Waterfall: A short drive from Killarney, this majestic waterfall was an absolute must-see. The short hike to get there was more than worth the breathtaking view.
  3. Sneem: This picturesque village stole my heart with its colorful houses and scenic surroundings. It felt like a step back in time to old-world Ireland.
    a sign on a rock next to a brick wall
  4. Valentia Island: Accessible by bridge, this island provided some of the most stunning coastal views I’ve ever witnessed. Don’t miss the chance to visit the Valentia Island Lighthouse.
  5. Skellig Michael: Weather permitting, a boat trip to Skellig Michael is an unforgettable experience. It’s a true journey back in time, offering a glimpse into ancient monastic life.
    a rocky island in the middle of a body of water

Insider Tips:

  • Timing is Everything: I found that visiting in the shoulder seasons (spring or fall) was perfect for avoiding crowds however even during the busy season, choosing the right small group experience can still offer a really cool and genuine Irish experience.
  • Pack Layers: Irish weather can be drunk (Translation = unpredictable), so be sure to bring layers for comfort.
  • Engage with Locals: Some of your most cherished memories will come from striking up conversations with locals. Their insights and recommendations were invaluable. There are lots of small group tours available that make this interaction super easy.

My final thoughts

The Ring of Kerry is a journey through Ireland’s soul, offering a taste of its natural beauty and warm-hearted people. With the right preparation and a sense of adventure, you can create cherished memories along this iconic route. So, I encourage you to embark on this magical journey and let the Ring of Kerry leave an indelible mark on your heart.