A serene saunter around the Kerry countryside
This 177-km horseshoe around the Iveragh Peninsula on Ireland’s south-west coast weaves through some of Ireland’s most majestic and varied landscapes.
From enchanting forests peppered with wild stag to storm-carved coastlines, you'll find it hard not to pull your car over to admire the beauty beyond every bend in the road.
Starting in the town of Killarney, head south along the N71 into Killarney National Park, home to Ireland’s only herd of wild red deer.
Along the way, admire the wildlife and views of the glacial lakes dotted with islands.
Explore the Muckross Estate, which includes a 15th century abbey that was torched by Oliver Cromwell. Muckross House is a stately home where Queen Victoria stayed in 1861. You’ll also see reproductions of 1930s Kerry farmhouses, where you’ll find a bean an ti (woman of the house) baking soda farls on an open fire.
Continuing your journey to the pretty little town of Kenmare. On the way, you’ll pass Ladies View, a much photographed spot with a jaw-dropping view of the lakes of Killarney and the steep mountains.
You’ll know you’ve reached Kenmare, reputed to be Ireland’s first planned town, by the rainbow of colours splashed across main street’s houses and shops. For a picturesque view, head to Kenmare Pier and look out across the spectacular Kenmare Bay.
The tiny village of Caherdanie is named after Irish political hero Daniel O’Connell, who campaigned for Catholic emancipation in the early 19th century. Nearby, you'll find golden beaches surrounded by turquoise water.
A 1.5-km detour will take you to Derrynane, where you’ll find O’Connell’s house, which is now a museum containing many of his personal belongings. If the weather holds up — never a guarantee in this part of the world — stretch your legs along one of the three pristine beaches.
A 30-minute drive along the coastline and across country will take you to the capital of the Iveragh Peninsula, Cahersiveen. It's a bustling town that offers plenty of history.
The town lies at the foot of the Beentee Mountain. Just north, you'll find two stone ring forts, one that dates back to the 6th century. Cahergal Stone Ring Fort features a 3-metre thick wall housing an amphitheatre-like interior with tiered seating.
Continuing north along the coast, you can gaze across the water to the Dingle Peninsula before arriving at Killorglin. The town is famous for its annual Puck Fair, held in August, where a wild mountain goat is crowned and raised on a high pedestal in the town square.
Looping back towards the start of your route, you’ll pass the haunting MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range to the east, which includes Ireland’s highest peak, the 1,038-metre Carrauntoohil. Eleven kilometre beyond Killorglin, there’s a short detour that you simply must take. The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow path that meanders through Purple and Bull mountains, past slate-coloured valley lakes and weather-beaten cottages, offering a wonderfully serene end to your road trip.