Hiking on the Beara Way
The Beara Peninsula
Hiking on the Beara Way in counties Cork and Kerry offers breathtaking panoramas, dominated by mountains and sea. Few tourists reach this peninsula, making it a treasured location by hikers as they discover a remote and relatively untouched landscape.
The beautiful Beara Peninsula can be found in the south-west of Ireland.
Few roads penetrate the mountains of the Beara Peninsula, and those roads which do are spectacular feats of engineering. The Healy Pass is probably the most famous of all with its series of hairpin bends, as dramatic as any alpine pass.
This adds to the charm of the Beara Peninsula by keeping it fairly “bus tour free”. All of Beara’s towns and villages are dotted along the coast. The largest is Castletownbere (or Castletown Bearhaven), a major fishing port located on one of the deepest natural harbours in Ireland.
Furthermore, the Beara Peninsula offers some great island exploring opportunities. With Bere Island and Dursey Island around the corner, you have every chance to soak up the authentic island life.
Colourful villages, such as Eyeries and Allihies, are renowned for their rows of brightly contrasting houses featuring every shade of the rainbow, welcoming walkers in the brightest way.
We offer 3, 8 and 11 day Self Guided Hiking options on the Peninsula, along with a our Beara Way Cycle.
How to get to the start of the Beara Way
Beara is located in both Kerry and West Cork, approximately 2 hours from Cork City by public transport. There are 4 buses travelling the route daily. However, some of these can take up to 3 hours, so timing of your trip is essential.
Travelling to Cork city is quite straightforward from the 3 major airports. From Cork Airport you can take the 225 or 226 bus which will have you at Parnell Place Bus Station in around 20 minutes.
From Shannon the number 51 bus will get you to Cork Bus station in around 2.5 hours – from here you can connect to the bus to Glengarriff.
Finally, from Dublin Airport, you have a number of options to get to Cork City. The Dublin Bus Service, Bus Eireann or Irish Rail (connecting from the Aircoach) will have you in Cork in around 3.5 – 4 hours.
Glengarriff is a delightful little town, well known for Garinish Island with its sub-tropical Italian gardens. The influence of the warm Gulf Stream make it a great place to visit all year round. You will be staying here for 2 nights, in a lovely house just outside the town.
You will have a choice of excellent local restaurants for your evening meals. There are also some wonderful options in the town for your packed lunches for your hikes.
Hike from Glengarriff to Adrigole
This is your first day on the Beara Way walking route! From Glengarriff you follow the signposted route under Sugarloaf Mountain and Glenlough Mountains to finish in the village of Adrigole.
This walk gives glorious views over Bantry Bay and across to Sheep’s Head. Your route joins some tiny old roads as you near Adrigole.
Here you have the opportunity to detour a little to see excellent examples of standing stones and megalithic tombs. Telephone from Adrigole and return to Glengarriff for second night.
Hiking from Adrigole to Castletownbere
Today you will continue on the hiking trail where you finished yesterday. You will be dropped to Adrigole along with your luggage transfer.
From here you will walk under the dominating mass of Hungry Hill and Maulin Mountain, before reaching Castletownbere.
This is a long distance and very varied walk, giving beautiful views over to Bere Island.
Explore Bere Island
If you walk the Beara Way, a visit to Bere Island is one of many highlights.
A ferry journey will take you from Castletownbere over to Bere Island – a fascinating place, steeped in history. There is a number of hiking options on the island.
The longest takes you on a loop around the west end of the island, and on to the little village of Rerrin. From here, you can continue to the eastern tip of the island, exploring the old army base, before returning by road to the harbour for the return ferry.
As this piece of water is naturally sheltered by the island, the ferry service runs every day.
Castletownbere to Allihies Hike
Today you will walk from Castletownbere into the Slieve Miskish Mountains, crossing from the south coast of the peninsula to the north.
Along the way you will leave the Beara Way for a short distance as you cut across the centre of the peninsula, re-joining the route, and continuing around the coast to finish in the colourful village of Eyeries, which overlooks the stunning Coulagh Bay.
Close to Eyeries, the Hag of Beara can be found, an ancient rock that is associated with Irish mythology.
According to legend, the Hag of Beara was a goddess who was said to have ruled over the Beara Peninsula in ancient times. She was believed to have magical powers, associated with landscape and nature. For instance, she was said to be the bringer of winter.
Ardgroom to Lauragh
From Eyeries you will be driven a short distance to the village of Ardgroom, to start your walk from here. You will have the opportunity to visit some of the famous stone circles in this area along today’s route. These ancient standing stones will bring you right back to a time long gone.
Leaving Ardgroom, you follow a wonderful old mountain path, which treats you some exquisite views over Kenmare Bay. The path eventually leads to the little village of Lauragh at the base of the famous Healy Pass.
Drombohilly to Kenmare Trail
From Lauragh you will be dropped at Drombohilly the next day to start your hike. From here, you will cross over the first of two mountain saddles on today’s trail, with views of the Caha Mountains and towards the Ring of Kerry.
Descending to the Cloonee Lakes, you continue along the shores of Lough Inchiquin before ascending again over the second saddle.
Descending into the lovely Dromoghty valley, follow small backroads before joining the main road for approximately 2 kms to walk into the heritage town of Kenmare for overnight.
From Kenmare you have 2 options for departure. You can take a bus to Cork – which takes about 2.5 hours – or Killarney – approximately 40 minutes. From Cork, you can access the major airports as you did on arrival.
From Killarney, you have direct access to the international airports as well.
For Cork Airport there is a direct service from Killarney – journey time is approximately 90 minutes.
If you are travelling to Shannon Airport, you can take the Bus Eireann service to Limerick before changing here to travel direct to Shannon – journey time is around 3 hours.
To get to Dublin Airport, you can choose between train, bus and plane services. The journey will take you between 3 & 7 hours. You can take the Dublin Coach – there will be 1 change on the way.
Bus Eireann also offer a service to the main bus terminal in Dublin (Busaras) and then on to the Airport. If you would prefer to take the train, you can travel to Heuston Station in Dublin and then on to the airport on the Aircoach.
If you would like to add a hike, you can enjoy an extra walk from Kenmare to Glengarriff. From Glengarriff you can depart using the same services used to arrive at the start of your hike.
Additional Walking Trails
There are a few extra days we recommend adding to your trip to Beara.
The walking routes on the southern tip of the peninsula, on the Wild Atlantic Way, are a must if you have the time. You will visit Allihies, with its ancient Copper Mines, Dursey Sound and take Ireland’s only cable car to Dursey Island.
As you can see, hiking on the Beara Peninsula can be as varied as you wish. There is no reason to stay away from this beautiful, slightly undiscovered part of Ireland!