The Ring of Kerry is the most spoken about cycle route in the country of Ireland and beyond. It has gained popularity due to the annual Ring of Kerry event hosted on the first Saturday of July each year. The event attracts thousands of cyclists with varying abilities who come to enjoy the scenery and the challenge.
However it is important to remember that the roads around the Ring of Kerry are open 365 days per year and with many people actually enjoying cycling the route over multiple days. The route and it’s side roads can be a more serene adventure to cycle away from the large crowds.
Coomakista Pass (between Waterville and Derrynane).
Dereenauliff (between Caherdaniel and Sneem).
Molls Gap (between Kenmare and Killarney).
Towns en Route
8 out of 10
Area of Kerry
The road surface is generally in good condition, but remember this is Ireland so keep the eyes peeled for the odd rogue pothole. The terrain is suitable for all bike types, from the road bike to mountain bike and anything in between.
Killarney-Killorglin 22 km
This road is called the N72 and is generally a flat road running parallel with the River Laune. Possibly the busiest part of the route traffic wise and the least spectacular. For a quieter and picturesque alternative, take a left over Beaufort bridge and a right into the village (Deelish Park). Follow the route through Beaufort village until you reach Killorglin.
Killorglin-Caherciveen 40 km
You are now on the N70 and once clear of Killorglin the adventure starts the take shape. The scenery becomes more rugged and the mountains and spectacular views are now within touching distance. After Glenbeigh you get your first view of the Atlantic Ocean, west Kerry lying across the bay. The terrain here starts to get slightly more hilly. Look out for the lovely views down on Kells Bay.
Caherciveen-Caherdaniel 28.7 km
Continue on the N70 to the seaside town of Waterville with it’s Charlie Chaplin links. From here on you start the gentle climb up Coomakista Pass with it’s spectacular ocean views. Once at the top stop to enjoy the fantastic views of Derrynane and the small Islands dotted around the coast. Hold on tight and go carefully down the Pass to the tiny village of Caherdaniel.
Caherdaniel-Sneem 22.3 km
A nice stretch of the route which takes in the some stunning ocean views. The quaint O’Carroll’s Cove is a must see to your right with its mediterranean like hidden beach and cafe. The road meanders for a while close to the coast before cutting inland slightly. For the historians an interesting sight just off the road in this area is the Staigue Fort, on a narrow road to your left. Just before Castlecove village.
Sneem-Kenmare 26.3 km
On leaving Sneem, the road to Kenmare takes on more “rolling” effect, with gentle hills dotted along the route. From here on the sea views are replaced by more of a tree/foresty lined route. The main village between the 2 towns is Templenoe, which is within striking distance of Kenmare, so don’t get caught on this leg without food and drink.
Generally when doing the actual Ring of Kerry cycle, this part of the route can catch many cyclists as tiredness sets in. So take your time and eat well in Sneem.
Kenmare-Killarney 32.7 km
Once in Kenmare there is that feeling of being almost there. Certainly a lovely town and a great fuel stop. On leaving Kenmare though you are straight into the Molls Gap climb. Although not quite a lung buster of a climb it does seem to go on for a bit and has it’s twists and turns. Heading through the Gap at the top you immediately have views of the Black Valley. Don’t expect an immediate downhill free fall either, as there is still work to be done well into Killarney National Park, before enjoying a technical descent down from Ladies View. Once the free-wheeling stops you have a relatively flat ride into Killarney, through a forest of trees,the odd lake and the added bonus of viewing a deer if you are lucky.
On the day of the charity cycle the road is taken over mainly by cyclists travelling in an anti-clockwise direction from Killarney. Parts of the route are sometimes closed to traffic, but there is still a danger of road traffic on route, especially coming from the opposite direction.
On normal days the route is quite busy during the Summer, with many tour buses, who generally travel the Ring in a clockwise direction. Be aware of cars and motor cycles. Outside the summer months expect mainly local traffic.
The Ring of Kerry is dotted the whole way around with towns and villages, so you are never too far from a bed for the night or just a hot cup of coffee.
All the larger towns would have hotels, B&B’s, campsites and hostels. A few pubs on route would cater food as well as a bed for the night. There are also a good few B&B’s between towns and villages that would be more than welcoming.
The majority of towns and villages on the Ring of Kerry would cater for the hungry and thirsty cyclist. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, supermarkets, shops and garages would all cater in varying degrees.
As with any cycle it’s always wise to bring provisions with you eg. water, snacks, water proofs and that extra layer.
There are various cycle hire outlets in Killarney as well as Caherciveen and Kenmare.