The Ring of Kerry

September 30, 2011 by

Best Of Lists, Suggested Itineraries, Things To Do, Travel Tips

A trip on the Ring of Kerry boasts beautiful views of the Atlantic, among other sights

Ireland is renowned for its green, green landscapes, lovely villages and wild cliffs and seas. In south-west Ireland, on the Iveragh Peninsula you get all of this and more. Known as the Ring of Kerry, this famous tourist drive sums up Ireland in one scenic go-around. The main road is about 112 miles long but you’ll want to take lots of diversions. (If you drive round without stopping it takes about four hours.) There are old monasteries and pagan standing stones (Ogham stones), lakes, national park, beaches and sea.

Start at Killarney, Ireland’s second most popular town for visitors, after Dublin, and see the town by jaunting car – a kind of horse-drawn carriage. Then head a little way out of town to the spectacular Gap of Dunloe and walk, ride a pony, or again take the more leisurely option of jaunting car; modern cars don’t fit between the cliffs and steep drops away to glacial lakes.

Once you head out of town onto the Ring road don’t miss the 15th century Ross Castle on the banks of Lough Leane. Relatively new, 19th century Muckross House is also worth a visit especially for its lovely gardens; Queen Victoria stayed here in 1861. Then there are all the little beachside coastal villages, filled with places to stay and a surprising number of pubs (this is Ireland after all).

If you prefer not to have the windscreen of a car between you and the landscape, there is a walking trail and cycling path, which follow basically the same route as the road. But if you are in a car, it’s recommended to drive the Ring in a clockwise direction, visiting Kenmare first; this means you won’t be delayed by the many tour buses on the narrow roads.

Philippa Burne

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