The Kerry Way, Ireland’s longest signposted walking trail, with 214kms of magnificent scenery that rivals any hike in the world. It is a magical place to discover on foot. From rugged cliffs to golden beaches and small villages to green pastures along with picturesque views of Ireland’s highest mountain ranges in sight. Hiking the Kerry Way allows you to see the “real” Ireland, away from crowds and only the sounds of nature to accompany you.
This area was first settled around 300 BC by the people of Ciar – an early Celtic Tribe, and your holiday will immerse you in almost 10,000 years of dramatic history. Come and discover this region of Kerry known as the Iveragh Peninsula or more famously “The Ring of Kerry” & you will wonder why it has taken you so long to discover such an idyllic part of the world. This holiday begins & ends in Killarney and takes you to the eastern highlights of this trail.
Our 8 day hike is the most popular option for our visitors but we also offer 5 day or 11 day options. We will look at the day to day hikes of this hike below.
How to get to the start of the Kerry Way
The route starts and finishes in Killarney which very accessible from all major international airports in Ireland.
If arriving in to Shannon you can take the Bus Eireann service from Shannon to Limerick before changing here to travel direct to Killarney – journey time is approx. 3 hours.
From Cork there is a regular Bus Eireann service to the city centre where you can change to a direct service to Killarney – journey time is approx. 90 minutes.
If travelling from Dublin Airport to Killarney you can choose between train, bus and plane services. The journey will take you between 3 & 7 hours. You can take the Dublin Coach from just outside Arrivals to Killarney – there will be 1 change on the way. Bus Eireann also offer a service from the Airport to the main bus terminal in Dublin (Busaras) and then on to Killarney. If you would prefer to take the train you need to take the Aircoach to Heuston Station and from here you can take the train to Killarney – usually involving 1 change.
For a shorter journey you can use the Aer Lingus flight between Dublin and Kerry Airport – departing twice daily and taking around 1 hour. Once at Kerry Airport you can opt for a private taxi – costing around €40.00 – or a public bus transfer.
Killarney, County Kerry
Killarney is one of the best known, and loved, tourist towns in Ireland……for good reason! There is an abundance of things to see and do in the town – from Ross Castle to a boat trip through the lakes, or Killarney House to the horse & cart rides through the National Park.
For your evening dining options you can choose from fine dining to pub grub and everything in between. Our recommendations would be JM Reidy’s, Lord Kenmare’s & An Bricin.
Nightlife in Killarney is always lively, with many pubs offering live trad music every night and there is also the chance to visit Celtic Steps – an Irish Dancing show nightly during the summer months.
If your schedule allows we would recommend taking an extra night here, either at the start or the end of your trip, to really make the most of what the town has to offer. You could also add in a hike up Carrauntouhill – the highest mountain in Ireland.
Hiking from Killarney to Kenmare
You will start your walking route from Killarney town, making your way to the magnificent Muckross House & Gardens – about 5kms outside Killarney.
From here you will start following the Kerry Way, passing Torc Waterfall, across Killarney National Park & through Esknamucky Glen to the heritage town of Kenmare. This is a glorious hike, along the banks of the Lakes of Killarney, giving you an opportunity to see or hear some of Ireland’s native red deer.
Our select accommodations in Kenmare are within walking distance of Kenmare town and its wonderful bar and restaurants, such as O’Donnabhain’s Gastro Bar, Tom Crean’s Bar and The Purple Heather.
Hike from Templenoe to Sneem
As the first 12km of the route from Kenmare to Sneem is road walking, and not particularly scenic, we start this hike in Templenoe. We arrange for a taxi to transfer you from to the start of the hike at this scenic little village.
From here, you follow the Kerry Way west to the award winning village of Sneem. This hike takes you along the shores of Kenmare Bay, with views south to the Beara Peninsula and the Caha Mountains.
For a small village Sneem is a gourmet delight. You will find some of the finest dining options on this long distance trail in Sneem, with the highlights being Sacré Coeur Restaurant or O’Shea’s Bar.
Sneem to Caherdaniel Hike
The next leg of the hiking trail takes along an old ‘butter road’ to the little village of Caherdaniel. The route gives you amazing views of Kenmare Bay, and across to the Beara Peninsula……if the weather is right! Caherdaniel is known for being the home of our famous “Liberator” – Daniel O’Connell.
Dining options are a little limited tonight but the option available is top quality – the Blind Piper Bar & Restaurant.
Derrynane House and Caherdaniel to Waterville
Today is the midpoint of the coastal hiking as your travel around the tip of the Iveragh Peninsula. Departing the village of Caherdaniel your first stop is Derrynane House and Gardens, the ancestral home of Daniel the Liberator. Take your time to explore the house and gardens before continuing along the coast line and a nice relaxing walk on Derrynane Beach.
As you round the head of the peninsula you will have some spectacular views of the Skellig Islands and Ballinskelligs Bay.
As you enter the town of Waterville you will see some interesting statues on your left – in honour of Charlie Chaplin and GAA (Gaelic Football) legend Mick O’Dwyer. Waterville was a favourite holiday destination for Charlie Chaplin and his family.
There is a few lovely dining options for your evening meal in Waterville, including Dooley’s Seafood & Steakhouse and the Butler Arms Hotel.
Waterville to Cahersiveen
To remove around 8km of road walking of this hike we you will be driven a short distance to the starting point of today’s walk at Mastergeehy. From here you will be hiking along the Kerry Way in a easterly direction to the town of Cahersiveen. This walk takes you across the highest point of the peninsula with amazing views north to Dingle Bay and Peninsula and south to Kenmare Bay and the Beara Peninsula.
Our choice accommodations in Waterville are on the outskirts of the town, but still within walking distance. Our dining recommendations here would be QC’s Bar & Restaurant and the Ring of Kerry Hotel Restaurant.
Cahersiveen to Glenbeigh and the Old Stage Coach Road
The final hike along the Wild Atlantic Way Coastline takes you from the town of Cahersiveen along the northern shores of to the little village of Glenbeigh. This section of the Kerry Way follows an old 17th Century “Stage Coach” route. You will have even more spectacular views across to the Dingle Peninsula. Along the trail you will pass through old deserted villages which were once busy centres of activity, trading with passengers on the old stage coaches.
If you have time, and energy, at the end of the day there is a little excursion we would highly recommend. Around 2km from the town of Glenbeigh is Rossbeigh Beach and is well worth a visit!
If you have chosen either the 5 or 8 day tour you will be departing Kerry from Glenbeigh. Public transport options are quite limited from here so you will need to be aware of this when planning your trip home. There is a public bus twice daily – once in the morning and once in late afternoon – to Killarney. If the time of this service does not line up with your travel plans we can gladly arrange a private transfer for you back to Killarney – costing approx. €50.00.
If you have planned to enjoy the entire Kerry Way, completing the 11 day tour, you will start travelling inland towards Killarney. The next 3 hikes are extremely spectacular and take in some of the remote valleys in the county. You will travel through the Bridia Valley the Windy Gap & the Black Valley, stay at Lough Acoose and visit Lord Brandon’s Cottage before returning to the National Park and returning to Killarney for your last night.
If this sounds like the trip for you please check out:
Our Guided Hikes on the Kerry Way here.
Self-Guided Kerry Hike options are here.
The Ring of Kerry Cycle here.
And, if your trip is shorter, you can enjoy a Guided Day Tour on the peninsula.