Ireland Road Trip pt 1: The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry

I know, I know. To say I’ve been AWOL from this blog is a total understatement. NEVER have I gone this long without posting! That just goes to show how insanely busy my summer has been, and how much I have to share! Since getting my visa situation sorted in April, it’s been non-stop! From road trips and rural hikes to markets and music festivals, this summer has been a whirlwind of fun and great weather and I’m only been able to squeeze in a few posts. But the chilly weather is creeping up, which means fall is approaching and the long summer days will be coming to an end soon. SO. Back to business then, shall we?

One of my favorite summer activities was actually one that could be done at any time of the year. A road trip! THE RING OF KERRY to be specific. Ever heard of it? If you’ve been to Ireland or done any research on things to do, you probably have. Along with The Giant’s Causeway and The Dingle Peninsula, it’s one of the best and most well-known scenic routes in the country –  a 179km circular route through the Iveragh Penninsula in County Kerry. And what I believe to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world.

Sure, I may be a bit biased with my love for Ireland. It’s a beautiful place with amazing scenery and stunning natural landscape, but there are many other countries that this can be said about as well. But one of the things I think makes Ireland unique is it’s charming people. And during my Ring of Kerry experience, the Irish charm once again made the experience truly memorable.

…OH, but so did the fact that in one day we drove past mountains, beaches, loughs (lakes), medieval ruins, and overall STUNNING views!

You should rent a car (and get over your fear of driving on the opposite side of the road – it’s not that bad!), pull over at as many photo-op spots as your heart desires, drive off the beaten path when you can, breathe in the fresh air, make pit stops at any chocolate factory you find, and enjoy the ride…

We started our journey in Killarney, and decided to circle the Ring in a counter-clockwise direction based on online suggestions. Turns out this tip was great. Even though the weather was amazing and it’s the prime time of the year for buses full of tourists to be everywhere, we found the route to be surprisingly quaint, quiet, and dare I say empty.

We hit the road with our maps, excited for the long day ahead. And what was the first thing I see on our way out of onto the start of the ring? These cute, cuddly buddies in front of a stunning view – what we soon learned was our first of many stunning backdrops. How adorable are they?!

The Ring of Kerry   The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry

A little ways into the Ring we started to pass stunning coastline. Cliffs, rugged terrain, and basically just a totally natural setting. The only sign of human invasion was the very road we were traveling on.

The Ring of Kerry

We see a sign for a beach so we take a tour off of the main road. This road ended up being a super narrow, super winding road down to a tiny, almost hidden beach. I’m still not even sure if we were supposed to be there…but it was (of course) stunning and mostly empty.

The Ring of Kerry The Ring of KerryThe Ring of Kerry

Next, we found Ballycarbery Castle, a notable attraction on the Ring of Kerry.

The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry

All along the Ring there’s so many cute, tiny villages to stop for coffee or the bathroom. At a few of them, we also did a little ‘splorin and deduced that all Irish village have certain “mandatory” components: church, pub, and grocery store. Everything else differs from village to village, but those 3 seemed to be the constants. It was nice to break up the unbelievable scenery with a little bit of human civilization, so that I didn’t start feeling like I had *actually* transported in time to Game of Thrones or something.

The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry

After lunch in (yet another) picturesque town of Portmagee, we needed some dessert…so stopping by a chocolate factory was a MUST! We made a pit stop at Skelligs Chocolate Factory, a family-owned business where we had the BEST chocolate and got to see how it was made, too! They had all kinds of products like truffles and chocolate bars in the coolest flavors like lime zest, honey, Rose & Pistachio, and more. Oh, and they happen to have a perfect view of the Skelligs Rocks from their front windows.

The Ring of Kerry

Another stunning view from the coast in Ballinskelligs with the little McCarthy Mór Castle standing proud in the sun!

The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry

Another pit stop in the appropriately-named village of Waterville…

The Ring of Kerry The Ring of Kerry

At one point in our trip, we had to stop because there was a few sheep blocking the road so we couldn’t pass. Is that not the most stereotypical Irish countryside thing you’ve ever heard?!

The Ring of Kerry

Another photo-op in Ladies View

The Ring of Kerry The Ring of KerryThe Ring of Kerry

Our last stop on the ring was in Killarney National Park, home of the stunning Torc waterfall!

The Ring of Kerry    The Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry can definitely be done in a day. OR you can stretch it out and stay the night in one of the many picturesque villages along the way. There are so many things to see and do; I only scratched the surface of what The Ring of Kerry has to offer. We took about 6 hours to drive the whole ring, stopping for food, fun, and photo-ops along the way. However, I absolutely could’ve stopped even more and taken 2 days.

It was truly stunning. Of course the views were amazing, but another cool thing about The Ring of Kerry are the variety of views it offers. One minute you’re looking out onto a coast of jagged rocks and cliffs jutting into the sea. Then the next, you’re in the middle of green, rolling hills with grazing sheeps. Then suddenly you’re looking inland at lakes and valley with dark brown grass. It’s hard to believe you’re in the same country, let alone the same road. But you are, and that road is the unbeatable, unmissable, unbelievable Ring of Kerry.