It would seem that the coaches and buses loaded with tourists take the anti-clockwise way round the Ring : ie Killarney - Glenbeigh - Cahersiveen - Kenmare because the turns a a lot less difficult that way "dixit a coach driver I asked". So you're much better off if in your own vehicle to go clockwise, so avoiding the inevitable hold-ups following two or three of these same coaches.
The Ring of Kerry is a scenic 175 km (110 mile) road that circles the Iveragh Peninsula, a very popular draw for tourists who visit Ireland. You can visit via a self driving tour if you are willing to rent a car and drive on the "wrong" side of the road (if you are from the US like us) or join one of the multitude of bus tours that follow along one after another going counterclockwise. 110 miles doesn't sound like a lot of driving but you aren't driving 60 miles an hour, you wouldn't enjoy the scenery and the roads are not designed for high speeds.
We decided to go the self drive route since we had a car, we started off around lunchtime as we spent the morning seeing the sights around Killarney. Our first stop was Cahersiveen, the first "big" village that you come across, for lunch and a quick walk around town; drove to Valentia Island where we watched the crazy locals actually swimming in the cold, cold water; drove the Ring of Skellig (or at least I think we did), and visited Staigue Fort near Caherdaniel before heading to Kenmare where we spent the night.
We had a beautiful day for the drive, the sun was out for most of the day and we had great visibility. The next day when we drove around the Beara Peninsula to the south we looked over to the Ring of Kerry and noticed that it was fogged in, this is when it would be nice to have an extra cushion day in the area as it's much more enjoyable to do the drive with sunny skies. Lots of visitors with less ambitious plans than us spend several days in the area enjoying a leisurely drive and delving more into the nooks and crannies of the peninsula.
The tour was my favorite activity while visiting Killarney. You will see some of the most spectaular scenary that is in Ireland. We left Killarney about 10 AM and returned about 4PM. The bus made several stops for tea, lunch and afternoon snack. Be sure you pack your camera. The bus driver afforded the tourists many places to take photos. I enjoyed the Irish music played on the tour by the Chieftains.
Everyone talks about the Ring of Kerry and all the tour busses. We rented a car and were able to stop many places along the road side where a bus could not. The photo opportunities are endless and range from moutain scenery to a rugged coastline with small protected harbours. There are ruins to explore and small villages wher the people treat you like family.
You can make it in a day and did, but next time we will stay the night on the west end of the peninsula and take even more time exploring.
Whether you go by tour bus or drive round yourself, the scenery will not dissapoint you from ancient mountain peaks to sparkling lakes & hills dotted with sheep not to mention the famous 40 shades of green
The tour bus can be great fun the driver's banter was hilarious!!
If you look at a map of Ireland and see the 2nd peninsula in the south, the Ring of Kerry is just a road around the peninsula encompassing the main towns in the area like Killarney, Caherciveen, Kenmare. Yes, there is some great scenery in some parts of it, but when the Ring road is heavily laden with tour buses, it does spoil the experience - in my most humble opinion.
The weather was perfect after some rain the day before, so we very much enjoyed this drive-sometimes hairy, around the one way road-playing with the sheep, many lakes, bogs, blooming trees. First time seeing painted pink and blue lambs-to identify them. We got dropped off downtown to shop awhile before dinner back at the hotel. A very nice long walk back to the Ryan Hotel- but finding gifts for everyone.
I reccomend strapping on the backpack and walking/hitchiking your way around the ring of Kerry. I started walking it with the intention of walking the entire length but this proved to be impossible because every car that went by stopped to give me a lift. I met some great people and I felt very safe doing it.
Being one of the more popular sightseeing tours in the Kerry region, there are many tour buses that will drive you around. My tour included a stop at Waterville, the vacation home of Charlie Chaplin (something I didn't know), a sheep dog demonstration, Moll's Gap (for photo pics)....
We managed to tour on a nice day which made for very nice photos. I will upload one once I figure out how to scan a photo onto the internet.
In my opinion the best way to see the most of this beautiful area of Ireland in the shortest amount of time is via a Ring of Kerry tour. The tours cost around 20 euro and last approximately 5 hours. Make sure it includes stops at or affords views of Magillicuddy's Reeks, Killorglin, Sneem, Gap of Dunloe, and Ladie's View. Ladie's View was my favorite part.
If possible, try to meet with the driver before your tour as well. That's the greatest asset you will have on such a tour. A lousy guide will make for a lousy trip.
If I ever did this tour again, I would rent a car and just drive to the places that were more interesting on my own. Some of the roads are pretty narrow and covered with sheep though.
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