Walk the Beara Way, a 196km 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 (closed for renovation until end of 2022), 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 8-day itinerary 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. You can also consider:
- Walking 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.
- Walking 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.
- Glengarriff Nature Reserve – an extensive old oak woodland nestled in a rugged glen
- The unspoilt dramatic coastline and archaeological sites
- The charming fishing villages of Allihies and Eyeries
- Enjoy traditional Irish music and a pint of Guinness in Kenmare
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival Glengariff
Travel to Glengarriff situated on beautiful Bantry Bay. “Glengarriff” means the “rugged glen”, and is now a wooded and beautiful valley. You may wish to visit Garinish Island, a planted sub-tropical garden about 10 minutes off the coast by ferry, famous for its Italian Garden and ancient sun temple. Overnight accommodation Glengarriff village.
- Accommodation: Island View House or similar
Day 2: Glengarriff to Adrigole | 16km
Walk through the Glengarriff woods and Glenlough Mountains, following old tracks alongside Coomarkane River, climbing the Sugarloaf’s flank, skirting mountain lakes to descend from Mass Mount and the Holy Well. Overnight accommodation near Adrigole.
- Walking for the day: 16km, 5-6h, ↑510m
- Accommodation: Dromagowlane House or similar
Day 3: Adrigole to Castletownbere | 22km
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 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: 22km, 6h, ↑550m
- Accommodation: Cottage Heights B&B or similar
Day 4: Castletownbere Circular Walks / Bere Island | 24km
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: 24km, 6-7h, ↑250m (optional shorter walk 8km)
- Accommodation: Cottage Heights B&B or similar
Day 5: Castletownbere to Eyeries | 21km
Walk through the Slieve Miskish Mountains and via the coast at Coulagh Bay. The area 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 481m, with views to Allihies and Ballydonegan Bay. Eyeries nestles between the mountains and sea. Overnight accommodation in Eyeries village.
- Walking for the day: 21km, 6h, ↑260m
- Accommodation: Coulagh Bay House or similar
Day 6: Eyeries to Lauragh | 22km
Climb the slopes of Gortbrack hill over the stunning Cleanderry Harbour to the pretty village of Ardgroom. Under the striated glaciated face of Tooreenamna and Coomacloghane, there are no less than ten prehistoric monuments. The Owenashagh River meets Killmackillogue Harbour at Lauragh – a glorious sub-tropical setting of rhododendron and Scot’s Pine. Derreen House & Gardens are well worth a visit. Overnight accommodation in Lauragh village.
- Walking for the day: 22km, 6h, ↑300m
- Accommodation: Mountain View B&B or similar
Day 7: Lauragh to Kenmare | 24km
Climb to a saddle at 150m 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 370m to reach Kenmare. Overnight accommodation in Kenmare town.
- Walking for the day: 24km, 6-7h, ↑470m
- Accommodation: Watersedge Guest House or similar
Day 8: Departure
There are scheduled bus services from Kenmare to Killarney or Cork for onward connections.
What to expect
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.
Click to view default hotels
- Island View House
- Dromagowlane House
- Cottage Heights B&B
- Coulagh Bay House
- Mountain View B&B
- Watersedge Guest House
*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.
Difficulty and terrain
This itinerary is suitable for regular walkers. The terrain consists of mainly quiet tarmac roads, bog roads, cliff and woodland paths and open moorland, and some sections 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 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.
Click to view travel options
By train or bus
- Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route as well as scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin. From Dublin Airport there is a good bus service to Dublin city centre. You can take a bus from Dublin to Glengarriff via Cork.
- Cork Airport: Flights are available to Cork Airport from Bristol, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. There is a direct bus to Glengarriff (approx. 2h journey).
- Shannon Airport: Flights are available to Shannon Airport from Dublin, Bristol, Manchester, London Heathrow and Birmingham, and Boston and New York JFK. From Shannon Airport, take there are several buses to Glengarriff via Limerick and Cork.
- See Bus Éireann and Irish Rail for details or use the Omio planner above.
- 7 nights in private en-suite rooms (B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 7 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to18 kg per person)
- Detailed journey documentation and practical information (road notes, 1:50000 maps)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras and supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room – we will endeavour to fulfil but reserve the right to decline single room bookings in July and August. Any booking is limited to 2 single rooms, of which one room may be subject in places to an additional supplement if we cannot secure a single room rate
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights along the trail are bookable upon request
- A transfer supplement will be added to tours when accommodation in our usual guesthouses in the relevant location is not available for your booking dates