fbpx
Skip to content
The Kerry Way

Walking the Kerry Way

Overview

Experience the unspoilt beauty of Ireland on The Kerry Way, including the famous Ring of Kerry. This 12-day walking tour starts and finishes in Killarney and takes in the entire Kerry Way. The 210 km of The Kerry Way make it Ireland’s longest trail, offering a unique mix of mountains, lakes and coastal views. Take in Muckross House and Killarney National Park, enjoy the vistas to the Skellig Islands and the Atlantic from Foilclogh Hill. And don’t miss the Skellig chocolate makers!

If you have less time, we recommend our Kerry Way Highlights on Foot, and if you are interested in cycling the Ring of Kerry, we have something for you too.

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival Killarney

From Cork or Shannon airports, travel by bus to Killarney. The lively small town of Killarney is the official start of the Kerry Way. The town is famed for the unsurpassed beauty of its setting on the shores of Lough Leane. It is a nice place to stay, with plenty to see and do. Overnight accommodation in Killarney town centre.

Day 2: Killarney to Black Valley | 22 km

Follow the lakeshore through Killarney National Park, passing Muckross House & Gardens, Torc Waterfall, and through native oak forests. From time to time, you will be following the famed Ring of Kerry road route, with impressive views across to the Purple Mountain, and MacGillycuddy’s Reeks beyond. The Way is well marked and a pleasant start to the tour. Lunch at Lord Brandon’s Cottage at the Upper Lake head before entering the remote Black Valley – the last place in Ireland to be electrified in 1967. Overnight in Black Valley farm guesthouse.

  • Walking for the day: 22 km, 7 hours, ↑400 m
  • Accommodation: Black Valley Lodge or similar

Day 3: Black Valley to Glencar | 23 km

Walk on old green roads and through mountain sheep country, under the magnificent Magillicuddy Reeks and Carrauntoohil, Ireland’s highest mountain (1039 m). The Black Valley passes into the Bridia Valley with its mountain farming communities. Old roads from settlements go by the magnificent Lough Acoose under the Reeks to Glencar on the Caragh River.

  • Walking for the day: 23 km, 6-7 hours, ↑300 m
  • Accommodation: The Rowan Tree or similar

Day 4: Glencar to Glenbeigh | 13 km

Easy trails characterise today’s section. Start through the old woodlands of Glencar and lovely Blackstones Bridge. The route climbs above Caragh Lake then crosses Seefin Mountain via the Windy Gap with views of Dingle Bay. Descend through the Cummergorm Glen to the seaside village of Glenbeigh.

Day 5: Glenbeigh to Derrymore Valley | 19-23 km

Pass under Seefin mountain with stunning views to the north over the magnificent Rosbeigh Beach and Dingle Bay. The route turns inland at Drung Hill before walking through the Foilmore valley overlooked by the majestic Knocknadobar. Overnight in Derrymore valley or Caherciveen town.

  • Walking for the day: 19 km or 23 km, 7 hours, ↑300 m
  • Accommodation: Iveragh Heights or similar

Day 6: Derrymore Valley Rest Day

Free day in Derrymore with several options. Transfer to Cahirciveen to take a ferry (fare not included) to Valentia Island and walk on the island (11 km). Or take a boat trip from Portmagee to the UNESCO heritage site at the Skellig Islands (45 minutes, fare not included); spectacular scenery with 5th-century monastic remains perched on the Atlantic edge. Overnight in Derrymore valley or Caherciveen town.

Day 7: Derrymore Valley to Waterville | 25 km

Walk through the hinterland of Cahirciveen. The route passes through turf bogs and pine forest. Some short climbs give views over Valentia Island and the western end of the peninsula. Overnight in Waterville, a colourful coastal village.

Day 8: Waterville to Caherdaniel 15 km

A wonderfully scenic route as the Way rounds the southern side of the peninsula into a different region. The distance is short, and there is time to take a detour at Derrynane and visit Derrynane House and Gardens, home of Daniel O’Connell known as ‘The Liberator’ who was the father of Catholic Emancipation during the 19th century.

Day 9: Caherdaniel to Sneem | 19 km

Walk on the Old Butter Road – from where butter was transported to Cork in the 19th century. The Way climbs again on Eagle Hill’s foothills, and a short detour takes you to the 3rd century, stone-built Staigue Fort. Your route stays above the main Ring of Kerry road, following rocky paths through sheep country to Sneem.

Day 10: Sneem to Kenmare |14 km

Today’s walk takes you along the rocky shoreline of Kenmare Bay, easy walking through a forest and the estate of Dromore Castle. The delightful Blackwater Bridge spans the Blackwater River coming from high in the Macgillycuddy Reeks. Kenmare is an interesting and colourful market town on the Roughty River banks where it opens up into Kenmare Bay.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 6 hours, ↑320 m (longer option: 26 km, 8 hours, ↑320 m)
  • Accommodation: Kenmare House B&B or similar

Day 11: Kenmare to Killarney | 25 km

Walk on the Old Kenmare Road, a delightful pass at 500 m between Peakeen & Knockanaguish mountains. Descend through Killarney National Park with its old oak forests, lichens, red deer, views over the Lakes of Killarney. The end of the Way passes 18th century Muckross House and Gardens and into the lively town of Killarney. Overnight accommodation in Killarney town centre.

  • Walking for the day: 25 km, 7 hours, ↑550 m
  • Accommodation: Noraville House or similar

Day 12: Departure

Departure by bus or train.

What to Expect

Accommodation

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

*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.

Meals

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 & terrain

This itinerary is suitable for regular walkers. While the daily itineraries are not overly strenuous, this tour is graded moderate to strenuous for its duration. It includes daily walks of around 20 km on average, on varied terrain. Overall, about 1/3 of the Kerry Way follows tarmac roads, which is less than most Irish national trails. This is unavoidable because rights of way are almost non-existent in Ireland. The road walking is mostly along quiet and scenic lanes, and there are only a few busier stretches where you will need to be cautious with traffic (read more about difficulty grades). The routes are 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 April 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.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Dublin (DUB), Kerry (KIR), Cork (ORK) or Shannon (SNN).

By train or bus
  • Dublin Airport is easily accessible from the UK with several low-cost airlines covering the route and scheduled international carriers. Irish Ferries also operate from Holyhead to Dublin. From Dublin Airport there is a good bus service to Dublin city centre. From Dublin take the bus or train to Killarney.
  • Kerry Airport: There is a bus (25 mins) from Kerry Airport to Killarney.
  • Cork Airport: From Cork Airport it is a short bus ride (20 mins) to Cork Kent train station, then a two-hour train ride to Killarney.
  • Shannon Airport: Bus service via Colbert Station to Killarney. 
  • For bus/train timetables, see Bus Éireann and Irish Rail for details or use the Omio planner above.

Inclusions

Included

  • 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

Excluded

  • 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 & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • 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

Gallery

Reviews

[WPCR_INSERT]