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Driving the Ring of Kerry, an Ireland Road Trip

Greeen Irish landscape on the Ring of Kerry

One of the most popular Ireland road trips is driving the Ring of Kerry, a loop road following the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula in the extreme southwest of the Republic of Ireland.


Many parts of the Ring of Kerry road are narrow, windy (both kinds of windy), and hilly. To make it more frightening interesting, they allow two way traffic, much of which consists of tour buses. If you are from a good deal of the rest of the world, you will also be driving the Ring of Kerry on the wrong side of the road. (Please remember to stay on the wrong side!)

Rick Steves is not in need of any blogger love, but we heavily relied on his Ireland guide book during our trip to Ireland, so he deserves a shout out.

The section of  Steves’ book covering the Ring of Kerry provides a kilometer by kilometer guide to driving the Ring of Kerry and living to tell about it. It is ominously entitled, “Driving the Ring of Kerry (Made Less Scary)”.

We also used a road atlas of Ireland and Google Maps on my husband’s I-Phone (when there was coverage). This came in handy when coming upon a fork in the road with no signs.


Most people drive the Ring of Kerry for the beautiful, scenic views of the emerald green fields and the edge of Ireland meeting the sea. However, you can also find evidence of the people who lived there eons ago.

One such spot is the Staigue Ring Fort near Sneem on the Ring of Kerry. The fort was thought to have been constructed using no mortar between 300 and 400 A.D. for defensive purposes. The 18 foot high walls are 12 feet thick at the base.

Entrance to Staigue Fort on the Ring of Kerry


We spent an entire day driving the Ring of Kerry and the adjoining Skellig Ring from Kenmare to Dingle. This is one of those places in the world where the journey itself is the there there.

Tea and scones on the Ring of KerryMy husband hero, Steve, did all the driving. Give yourself plenty of extra time for stops to take in the views because driving the Ring of Kerry requires the driver to keep his eyes on the road at all times, and the passenger is likely to have her eyes squeezed shut in terror. (I’m only exaggerating a little bit).

You might want to stop and refresh yourself with a pot of tea and scones (with clotted cream and jam, of course) along the way.

If you think you will be too petrified to enjoy driving the Ring of Kerry on your own, I personally would not think less of you if you were to decide to be one of the passengers on a tour bus.

Whether you drive or take a tour, experiencing the beauty of the rural, and often rugged, Ring of Kerry should be on your list of “things to do” while visiting Ireland.

 Have you ever done the Ring of Kerry Road Trip? Do you think you’d drive yourself or leave the driving to a professional?

Suzanne Fluhr, Travel Editor

Suzanne Fluhr, Midlife Boulevard's travel editor, is a recovering Philadelphia lawyer, empty nester, wanderer, dog person and Zentangle® enthusiast. She also writes about Baby Boomer travels for the body and mind on her personal blog, Boomeresque. Instagram: Boomeresque2

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Madaline Resendes

Monday 17th of July 2017

Hi, there! I get that the Ring of Kerry is scary, but I am not sure I get why? Are there unpaved, narrow roads? Are there sheer cliffs at the edge of the road? Are you driving on the left side of the road, at risk of veering to the right while lured by the siren call of a beautiful vista? I do love what nature does with green and it sounds like Ireland is a master!

Rosemary Superager

Friday 7th of July 2017

A lovely part of the world. So green and peaceful.

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