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:
- 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 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.
- Dursey Island – separated from the mainland by a narrow stretch of water called the Dursey Sound
- Glengarriff Nature Reserve – an extensive old oak woodland nestled in a rugged glen
- The unspoilt dramatic coastline and archaeological sites
- The charming fishing village of Allihies
- Enjoy traditional Irish music and a pint of Guinness in Kenmare
Click to view map
Day 1: Arrival Kenmare
Overnight in this lovely town on the Roughty River and Kenmare Bay’s head – the name translates as Ceann Mara, the Head of the Sea.
- Accommodation: Hawthorn House or similar
Day 2: Kenmare to Glengarriff | 19km
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: 19km, 6h, ↑350m
- Accommodation: Island View House or similar
Day 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: Castletownbere to Allihies | 16km
Walk through the Slieve Miskish Mountains. Some of today’s route passes through conifer forests, about the only alternative on poor bogland to turf cutting or sheep farming. The Way crosses open hill terrain and is under the peak of Knockgour at 481m. You will pass a ringfort – an ancient farm enclosure, which would have served as a home for people and animals. Allihies is a colourful coastal village, surrounded by the remains of copper mines – crushed stones from the mines formed the beach.
- Walking for the day: 16km, 5h, ↑220m
- Accommodation: Seaview Guesthouse or similar
Day 7: Rest Day. Dursey Island | 8-17km
Your hosts will transfer you to the cable car station to walk back to Allihies. You will see deserted farming villages and superb cliff scenery, following the coastline out to Allihies Point and along the wonderful coastline at Dangan Rocks. You may also wish to take a day exploring the Allihies area and Copper Mines or visit the Allihies Copper Mining Museum to understand the influence this industry had on the area.
Dursey Island is 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 nearby, the family vault of O’Sullivan Beara. From the island’s furthest tip, 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 wildlife protection.
Note that the cable car is closed for maintenance (expected to be reopened in November 2022).
- Walking for the day: 8-17km, 6h, ↑200m
- Accommodation: Seaview Guesthouse or similar
Day 8: Allihies to Eyeries | 20km
Mining tracks link Allihies with Eyeries, and the views are to the north of Coulagh Bay and the mouth of the Kenmare River. The coastal route takes you past coastguard ruins and rocky shorelines to the Ballycrovane Standing stone – 4.7m and quite a sight!
- Walking for the day: 20km, 6h, ↑500m
- Accommodation: Coulagh Bay House or similar
Day 9: Allihies to Ardgroom | 21km
Follow the mining tracks with views of Coulagh Bay to the north and the Kenmare River’s mouth. 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.
- Walking for the day: 21km, 6h, ↑340m
- Accommodation: Sea Villa or similar
Day 10: Ardgroom to Lauragh | 14km
A line of prehistoric monuments accompanies you today. At Killmackillogue Harbour and Lauragh visit Derreen House & Gardens, more than 60 acres of sub-tropical garden and woodland with wonderful views. Overnight in Lauragh townland.
- Walking for the day: 14km, 4h, ↑140m
- Accommodation: Mountain View B&B or similar
Day 11: 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 Kenmare town.
- Walking for the day: 24km, 6-7h, ↑470m
- Accommodation: Watersedge Guest House or similar
Day 12: 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
- Hawthorn House
- Island View House
- Dromagowlane House
- Cottage Heights B&B
- Seaview Guesthouse
- Coulagh Bay House
- Sea Villa
- 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, 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 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 train from Dublin to Kenmare via Mallow.
- Cork Airport: Flights are available to Cork Airport from Bristol, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. There is a bus to Kenmare via Killarney Station.
- 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 a bus to Kenmare via Limerick and Killarney.
- See Bus Éireann and Irish Rail for details or use the Omio planner above.
- 11 nights in private en-suite rooms (B&Bs and guesthouses)
- 11 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days (up to 18 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