Hike the Ring of Kerry at your own pace on this 11-day self-guided itinerary. The iconic Ring route is a loop of the Iveragh Peninsula on Europe's westerly edge. With the Atlantic and mountains ever-present, you'll follow the trail between some of Ireland's most charming towns and beauty spots, like Kenmare Bay, Caherdaniel, and Glencar. The start and end point of Killarney is easy to reach from a host of airports in Ireland.


  • Explore the lakes and mountains of tranquil Killarney National Park 
  • Discover myths, legends, and medieval sites around the Ring of Kerry
  • Venture through the wild and isolated Bridia Valley and Black Valley
  • Gaze up at a clear night sky in the official Kerry Dark Sky Reserve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Killarney Killarney
Day 2 Hike Killarney to Kenmare Kenmare
Day 3 Hike Kenmare to Sneem Sneem
Day 4 Hike Sneem to Caherdaniel Caherdaniel
Day 5 Hike Caherdaniel to Waterville Waterville
Day 6 Hike Waterville to Cahersiveen Cahersiveen
Day 7 Hike Cahersiveen to Glenbeigh Glenbeigh
Day 8 Hike Glenbeigh to Glencar Glencar
Day 9 Hike Glencar to Black Valley Black Valley
Day 10 Hike Blackvalley to Killarney Killarney
Day 11 Depart Killarney  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Killarney

Seaside houses in Killarney
Lakeshore houses in Killarney

Welcome to Ireland! Your adventure starts in the pretty town of Killarney, on the shore of Lough Leane in County Kerry. Located in the rural southwest, you can easily get there by bus or train from Dublin, Cork, and Shannon airports. Killarney sits at the edge of a magnificent national park of the same name; a stone's throw from your guesthouse are mountains, lakes, and ancient woodlands steeped in Irish mythology.   

You'll receive an information pack to prepare you for the road ahead, along with suggestions on the local restaurants and pubs. In the town, visit the neo-Gothic St Mary's Cathedral to see its vivid stained-glass windows, then stroll around the peaceful Franciscan Friary. Come the evening, catch a live band at one of Killarney's pubs, with shows nightly in the summer and several times a week in spring and fall. 

Day 2: Hike Killarney to Kenmare

Lough Leane in the national park
Lough Leane in Killarney National Park

Transfer to the start of your walk, about 3 miles (5 km) from Killarney, and pick up the Kerry Way trail. You'll spend the day walking through Killarney National Park, which was Ireland's first national park when it launched almost a century ago. Home to the largest expanse of native forest in Ireland, it's now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. As you enter Esknamucky Glen on a medieval road, keep a watchful eye out for native red deer.

Walk along the Old Kenmare Road, also known as the "Butter Road," which got its name in the mid-1700s as a butter trading route. Spend the night in the heritage town of Kenmare, the gateway to the Ring of Kerry, which loops the Iveragh Peninsula. This colorful town sits against the backdrop of misty mountains—you'll find great bars and restaurants as well as some of Ireland's finest scenery.

You can also walk just out of town to visit the Bronze Age stone circle, thought to be 3,000 years old. This site of egg-shaped monuments was used for ritual and ceremonial purposes, so pay a visit to absorb some good vibes for your journey ahead.

Hiking duration: 6 hours
Hiking distance: 14 miles (22 km)

Day 3: Hike Kenmare to Sneem

The Iveragh Peninsula's Ring of Kerry 

Today you'll set off into the Iveragh Peninsula, the largest peninsula in southwestern Ireland, where a dramatic Atlantic shore circles the MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range. Set off along Kenmare Bay on the south coast on a trail that takes in woodland, hills, and quaint villages. Four miles from Kenmare, you'll pass the village of Templenoe, where you can visit its pier and Chapel of Ease.

Your destination for the night is the village of Sneem, a treasure trove of traditional pubs, colorful buildings, and archaeological sites, including a sixth-century monastery and stone monuments. Set on an estuary at the foothills of the Dunkerron Mountains, spend some time exploring the area's natural beauty before settling in for the night. 

Hiking duration: 6.5 hours
Hiking distance: 14 miles (23 km)

Day 4: Hike Sneem to Caherdaniel

Beara Peninsula
Views over the Beara Peninsula

Continue along the south coast of the peninsula, toward its tip, where you'll see incredible views across the adjacent Beara Peninsula and its Caha Mountains. You'll pass unspoiled beaches such as White Strand, where Valentia Island and Begnis Island look a skip across the Atlantic.

Your destination is Caherdaniel, a postcard-worthy village sandwiched between a wide white-sand bay and rolling mountains. This village was once home to famous historic politician Daniel O'Connell, also known as "The Liberator," for his work lobbying for Catholic emancipation and Irish rights under Britain.

Hiking duration: 5.5 hours
Hiking distance: 12 miles (19 km)

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Day 5: Hike Caherdaniel to Waterville

House along the bay
Pass dramatic clifftop scenery on today's walk along the bay

Leave Caherdaniel behind as you hike over rock and grass, and pick up a mountain track. Your ascent will be rewarded with a vantage point over the coast, toward Ballinskelligs Bay and the Skellig Islands, which you might recognize as Luke Skywalker's hermitage in the "Star Wars" films.

Spend the night in the village of Waterville, the only village directly on the seafront along the Ring of Kerry. Charlie Chaplin used to come here to fish, and its seafood is still A-list worthy. Refuel on local lobster, mussels, salmon, or prawns, then, after watching a blazing sunset, you could also join a stargazing tour. The Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve frequently arranges gatherings on the peninsula's southwest coastline.

Hiking duration: 5 hours
Hiking distance: 10 miles (16 km)

Day 6: Hike Waterville to Cahersiveen

The castle at Cahersiveen

After a quick transfer inland to Mastergeehy, you'll rise up through peaceful pastures and onto paths that bisect the peninsula among miles of green mountains. As you reach the higher altitudes, you'll be able to see both coastlines at once, with the Dingle Peninsula across the sea to the north and Kenmare Bay behind you.

Finish the day in the village of Cahersiveen, on the lower slopes of 1,234-foot (376 m) Beentee Mountain, beside the River Fertha. one of the westernmost towns in Europe. It's also among the most original settlements on the Ring of Kerry, remaining undeveloped over the centuries. A turreted white 19th-century castle, now a museum and heritage center, is the elegant focal point of the town.

Hiking duration: 6.5 hours
Hiking distance: 15 miles (24 km)

Day 7: Hike Cahersiveen to Glenbeigh

Glenbeigh countryside
Trek deep into the wild countryside around Glenbeigh 

There's more glorious coast today, as you'll hike east along the northern shore of the peninsula, with an omnipresent view of Dingle Bay. This dirt and gravel mountain track once saw its share of "traffic" as it was built as a stagecoach (horse and cart) road in the 17th century. Eventually, you'll reach the village of Glenbeigh, where you'll be treated to sweeping views across Rossbeigh Beach. The locals will be glad you tell you the legend of their homeland: nicknamed the "Land of Eternal Youth," Glenbeigh is said to have a magical ability to keep its inhabitants young.

Hiking duration: 6.5 hours
Hiking distance: 15 miles (24 km)

Day 8: Hike Glenbeigh to Glencar

Blackstones Bridge
Cross the 200-year-old Blackstones Bridge

Enjoy a slightly shorter hike today, heading inland by skirting the slopes of Seefin Mountain. Then, it's back down into the Caragh Valley and into the shade of a forest. Walk along to the relaxing sound of the Caragh River, following its path and crossing over the 200-year-old stone arches of Blackstones Bridge. Continue through the trees until you reach the village of Glencar.

Folded into rolling green hills, Glencar is an authentic taste of traditional Irish life. The slow pace of life is infectious, and luckily you'll have the whole afternoon to relax at your homestead or roam the shore of Caragh Lake. The lake is fed by the river, meaning it's a popular place to fish for salmon, brown and sea trout, and the occasional char.

Hiking duration: 4 hours
Hiking distance: 9 miles (14 km)

Day 9: Hike Glencar to Black Valley

Lough Acoose
Take in the remote, sweeping scenery around Lough Acoose

Today's expansive views make it one of the most cinematic stages of the Kerry Way. Trace the turf shore of Lough Acoose and tread the rolling foothills of MacGillycuddy's Reeks. An old cattle droving path takes you to an isolated pocket of Ireland, the Bridia Valley. As it's so remote, the Cooky Monsters Café here is a delightful surprise and welcomes passing walkers for a bite and a break before their final ascent.

You'll then cover a variety of terrain, from road, grass, and gravel tracks to open mountains and bogland. After crossing the second mountain saddle, finish the day in the Black Valley—so-called because it was the last place in Ireland to be connected to the electric grid in the 1970s.

Hiking duration: 6 hours
Hiking distance: 13 miles (21 km)

Day 10: Hike Black Valley to Killarney

Upper Lake
Trace a trail along Upper Lake on your last day of hiking

Having almost come full circle, follow an old pilgrim path along the shores of the Upper Lake of Killarney. Pause at the tranquil Derrycunnihy Church on the other side of Galway's Bridge. Here, you'll connect with the trail you followed at the start of your trip, but with a new sense of pride at having conquered the trails over the last 10 days. Entering the uplands of Killarney National Park, hike through hilly moorland to exit the Ring of Kerry and arrive back at Killarney town on the lough shore.

Hiking duration: 6 hours
Hiking distance: 14 miles (22 km)

Day 11: Depart Killarney

Get back on the road
Get back on the road

Wave goodbye to Killarney after breakfast, and catch your connection by train or bus to Cork, Limerick, Shannon, or Dublin. If you're not headed home quite yet, continue on to the next part of your Irish adventure.

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Map of Ring of Kerry Self-Guided Hike - 11 Days
Map of Ring of Kerry Self-Guided Hike - 11 Days