Overview for The Beara Way Complete
Walk the Beara Way, a 196-km route circumnavigating the dramatic Beara peninsula located in Ireland’s south-west corner and one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Beara is quieter than its northern neighbour, the famed Kerry Way, but is equally beautiful and offers superb walking. Hiking is through low rounded hills, walking old bog roads, exploring abandoned copper mines. It is a largely undiscovered area, hilly but not mountainous, with some good open hill-walking sections. The rocky coastline of the Beara Peninsula is a walker’s dream. Visit Dursey Island by cable car, walk the green roads of Bere Island and sample the best fresh fish from the port of Castletownbere. The full trail starts at and finishes in Kenmare.
This itinerary covers the complete Beara Way – it is a true immersion that walks you right to the tip of the peninsula and onto Dursey Island before meandering back along the north coast. However, if you have less time, you can also consider:
- The Beara Way in 10 days – the itinerary from Glengarriff allows you time to explore the most southerly corner of the peninsula and Dursey Island.
- The Beara Way in 8 Days – starts in Glengarriff and follows the southern shore of the peninsula to Castletownbere. After a rest day in this major fishing port, the route turns north to Eyeries before returning along the northern coastline to Kenmare.
Itinerary for The Beara Way CompleteGo to top of page
Day 1: Arrival Kenmare
Overnight in this lovely town on the Roughty River and the head of Kenmare Bay – the name translates as Ceann Mara, the Head of the Sea.
Day 2: Kenmare to Glengarriff
The ascent between Esk and Barraboy Mountain crosses the border between counties Cork & Kerry and opens a vista of Bantry Bay. Walk to Dromahassig Waterfall, through the glen of the Baureagh River before climbing to the pass. Descend to the Nature Reserve of natural forest that makes Glengarriff the “rough glen”. Overnight accommodation Glengarriff village.
Walking for the day: 19 km, 6 hours, ↑350 m
Day 3: Glengarriff to Adrigole
Walk through the Glengarriff woods and Glenlough Mountains, following old tracks alongside Coomarkane River, climbing the flank of the Sugarloaf, skirting mountain lakes to descend from Mass Mount and the Holy Well. Overnight accommodation near Adrigole.
Walking for the day: 16 km, 5-6 hours, ↑510 m
Day 4: Adrigole to Castletownbere
Today you will enjoy wonderful views over Bantry Bay and a series of pre-historic sites close to the route. Cross the rugged slopes of Hungry Hill by bog roads, farm tracks and minor roads. Castletownbere, nestled in the lee of Bere Haven Harbour and sheltered by Bere Island, is the principal town of the peninsula and the largest whitefish port in Ireland. It offers a full range of services. Overnight accommodation in Castletownbere town.
Walking for the day: 22 km, 6 hours, ↑550 m
Day 5: Castletownbere Circular Walks / Bere Island
Visit Bere Island with a resident community of 210 people. Walk through open sheep farming country, visiting Ardnakinna Lighthouse and the Martello Tower. Or on the mainland, visit Dunboy Castle, home to O’Sullivan clan who ruled the area for three centuries. Puxley mansion was a 19th-century family home of the Puxley’s, who mined copper in the area. Bicycles are available for hire in Castletownbere for more exploration. Overnight accommodation in Castletownbere town.
Walking for the day: 24 km, 6-7 hours, ↑250 m (optional shorter walk 8 km)
Day 6: Castletownbere to Garinish
The area you will cross today is rich in megalithic remains, stone rows, forts, tombs indicating its importance in the Bronze Age period, 1200-700BC, and a stone circle at Derreentaggart. The Way crosses open hill terrain under the peak of Knockgour at 481 m, with views to Allihies and Ballydonegan Bay. A spectacular descent brings you to Garinish at the western end of the peninsula. Overnight accommodation in Garinish townland.
Walking for the day: 19 km, 6 hours, ↑660 m
Day 7: Dursey Island
A magnificent place to spend a day, along the very western end of Europe. The Dursey Island Cable Car is a unique experience (short transfer and ticket not included, c. EUR 10-15 pp). On the island are the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey and in the nearby the family vault of O’Sullivan Beara. From the furthest tip of the island, Dursey Head, there are three little islands: The Bull, The Cow, and The Calf. The Bull has the largest gannet colony in Ireland and both it and The Cow have been designated as areas of wild-life protection. Overnight Garinish townland.
Walking for the day: 14-24 km, 4-6 hours, ↑240 m
Day 8: Garinish to Allihies
Walk the southern side of the Garinish Loop trough Firkeel Gap. Retrace your steps through Foher to Ballydonegan and follow the coastline out to Allihies Point and along the wonderful coastline at Dangan Rocks. Visit the Allihies Copper Mining Museum to understand the influence this industry had on the area before you walk through it tomorrow. Overnight accommodation Allihies village.
Walking for the day: 14 km, 4-5 hours, ↑300 m
Day 9: Allihies to Ardgroom
Follow the mining tracks with views of Coulagh Bay to the north and the mouth of the Kenmare River. Pass coastguard ruins, rocky shorelines to the Ballycrovane standing stone before venturing inland, past Lough Fadda above Ardgroom Harbour and the beautiful isolated coast of Cleanderry and Bird Point. If you have time this evening, the Pulleen sea caves are worth a visit. Overnight near Ardgroom village.
Walking for the day: 21 km, 6 hours, ↑340 m
Day 10: Ardgroom to Lauragh
A line of prehistoric monuments accompanies you today. At Killmackillogue Harbour and Lauragh visit Dereen House & Gardens, more than 60 acres of sub-tropical garden and woodland with wonderful views. Overnight in Lauragh townland.
Walking for the day: 14 km, 4 hours, ↑140 m
Day 11: Lauragh to Kenmare
Climb to a saddle at 150 m between the hills of Knockatee and Knockanoughanish and then higher through the open hillside. Superb views of the Cloonee Lakes descending to Lough Inchiquin and a stone circle from the Neolithic era 3500 – 2000 B.C. Climb the Inchiquin Valley, past isolated farmhouses and onto a saddle at 370 m to reach Kenmare. Overnight accommodation Kenmare town.
Walking for the day: 24 km, 6-7 hours, ↑470 m
Day 12: Departure
There are scheduled bus services from Kenmare to Killarney or Cork for onward connections.
Hotels for The Beara Way CompleteGo to top of page
Accommodations on this tour include a mix of welcoming B&Bs and guesthouses. They have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere, cuisine and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Note that it is sometimes necessary to accommodate you a short walk away from the trail itself, as there is not always suitable accommodation close to the trail. Details will again be given in your pre-departure info pack.
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village inns and restaurants.
Travel for The Beara Way CompleteGo to top of page
You are best to fly in and out of Dublin, Cork or Shannon airports.
Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily, so do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.
Transfers to/from Airports
Local bus service to Cork city bus station (Parnell Place). Expressway service to Glengarriff and then local service. Return travel: Bus from Kenmare to Killarney. Expressway service Killarney to Cork.
All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on walking days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person).
A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.
Up-to-date travel advice on Ireland is available here
Trip Info for The Beara Way CompleteGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate to Strenuous
This itinerary is suitable for regular walkers but you will need to be physically fit as there are some steep climbs. The terrain consists of mainly quiet tarmac roads, bog roads, cliff and woodland paths and open moorland, some sections of which can be quite rough and remote. During rainy weather some of the trails can be very muddy and waterlogged, so wear good quality walking boots. Approximately 30% of the route is on tarmac roads, which is inevitable because rights of way are almost non-existent in Ireland, and this is common for most Irish trails. However, it is little enough not to distract from the superb scenery (read more about difficulty grades).
The routes are very well waymarked, and the itinerary is easy to follow. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to Go
This trip is available from early May till the end of October. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
What to Bring
We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing no more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several T-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for The Beara Way CompleteGo to top of page
- 11 nights in private en-suite rooms (B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 11 breakfasts
- Detailed journey documentation and practical information (road notes, 1:50000 maps)
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 20 kg per person)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local representative in Cork
Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements
- Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room (subject to availability); note that single rooms may be of inferior standard to double/twin rooms
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, there is a solo traveller supplement to the standard price.
To see the price of the holiday for your desired dates, including the cost of different options and supplements, please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above.
Other Trip-Related Costs
- Entrance fees for attractions and museums
- Flights and airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- All lunches and dinners
- Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
Extensions and Optional Extras
- Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request