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Ring of Kerry — a magical Irish weekend

Martin Donat

Ring of Kerry — a magical Irish weekend

Road Cycling Collection by Martin Donat

3

Tours

16:50 h

149 mi

9,525 ft

The very name of this road sounds like the setting of a fantasy film in which little trolls, dwarves and other mythical creatures scurry through the unbelievably green landscape against a magical backdrop. But the Ring of Kerry really does exist. I explored the picturesque bays, rugged cliffs and mountain ridges covered in lush greenery on a fantastic trip. Again and again, this unique, panoramic route in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland granted me epic views. I passed through idyllic villages and saw mystical stone circles and ancient bridges, silent witnesses to the long history of this extraordinary landscape.

There’s nothing more beautiful than discovering all this by bike; you’re just fast enough to discover the Ring of Kerry on a (long) weekend but you’re still in the midst of nature and can take the time to admire everything around you. Feel the gentle wind around your ears, hear the sound of the waves as you roll along the coast and smell the scent of the many rare herbs and plants on the lush green hills. Stop at any time if you see something amazing along the way or just want to enjoy the breathtaking scenery a little longer.

There's just one catch: the main route is popular and busy with cars and buses, especially in summer. Luckily, on two wheels you have access to roads and paths that are rarely used by cars. That's why I chose (sometimes somewhat bumpy) side roads. A gravel bike is a good choice as a result, even if you’re mainly on asphalt. This way, you’re much more flexible and can, for example, take a detour to the beach. There’s also a second trick to alleviate the traffic problem: trucks and buses usually drive the Ring of Kerry in the opposite direction because the roads are so narrow. My route simply goes the other way. So, when it goes along the main route, it uses the lane with less traffic.

When you drive through such an enchanting landscape, it makes sense to spend the nights as close to nature as possible. That's why I've been on the lookout for campsites that make the Ring of Kerry weekend a great bikepacking outdoor adventure. If you prefer something a little more comfortable, the small towns along the way also offer plenty of opportunities to sleep with a roof over your head. A simple and inexpensive option is the numerous bed & breakfasts, which are often well adapted to cyclists.

Even though the Ring of Kerry adventure works as a weekend trip, it makes little sense to travel to Ireland for such a short time. Since I generally don't fly but take the train, I always plan more time anyway. In the case of Ireland, however, it's a really good idea either way, because the rest of the country is also beautiful. I recommend you plan the Ring of Kerry ride as part of a longer trip. If you plan to travel by train, make sure you reserve a place for your bike or rent one locally.

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Ring of Kerry

148 mi

9,425 ft

9,425 ft

Last updated: May 3, 2022

Ring of Kerry Tours

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Killarney to Sneem — Ring of Kerry

    Difficult
    05:57
    50.5 mi
    8.5 mph
    3,800 ft
    3,825 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Killarney is the perfect base for a cycle tour of the Ring of Kerry. The small town is easily accessible and has a cozy town center with small pubs where you can sniff a bit of Irish atmosphere or sip a delicious Guinness the evening before the tour starts. Various B&B and hotels offer you accommodation

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  • Difficult
    05:45
    51.0 mi
    8.9 mph
    3,400 ft
    3,325 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From Sneem you start with a small uphill over a hill, from which you roll straight to the coast a little later. Here you follow the road from which you can enjoy breathtaking views of the sea and the rugged coast. On the left you will pass a wonderfully situated campsite, which is a nice alternative

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  • Difficult
    05:08
    47.4 mi
    9.2 mph
    2,325 ft
    2,275 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Could a day start any better? You are on a mini island in Ireland. Water all around you and the fantastic view of a landscape that couldn’t be more inviting. And it is precisely this landscape that is the scene of today's bike tour over the Ring of Kerry. But before you pedal yourself, you can relax

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    by Martin Donat

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    149 mi
  • Duration
    16:50 h
  • Elevation
    9,525 ft

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