What is the Ring of Beara?
The Ring of Beara is a road trip peninsula that runs through two counties in Ireland. This is County Cork and County Kerry. It’s a lot lesser known the famous “Ring of Kerry”, but it’s arguably even more beautiful thanks to its wild landscape, untouched beauty and unique spots.
The Ring of Beara was one of our favourite places in Ireland and we were surprised by the amazing landscapes that surrounded us.
How long is the Ring of Beara?
The Ring of Beara driving route is around 130 km (around 80 miles) so it’s definitely easy to do in a day. Without any stopping it would take you around 3-4 hours without stopping, but you’re going to want to stop- trust me!
You can start driving the Ring of Beara from either Glengarriff in County Cork (which we did) or start in Kenmare in Co Kerry (which is also a starting point for the Ring of Kerry).
Just depends on what direction you are going!
What’s great about driving the Ring of Beara is that once you get on the right road, you don’t even need maps, it’s sign posted the whole way so you can just focus on the amazing views that surround you.
Best stops on the Ring of Beara: Ring of Beara travel itinerary
Okay, so now I will take you through my top stops to visit on the Ring of Beara. These are not listed in a particular order as it will depend on the direction you’re going, but just pop them into your maps then you can create your own route for driving the Ring of Beara.
Stop 1: Visit the colorful town of Kenmare
Kenmare is a great little tourist town in Ireland. It’s filled with colorful buildings, souvenir shops, great pubs and restaurants and an all round great atmosphere. It’s a great place to stay a night if you need some rest and you’ll be sure to make friends when you enter a pub.
Stop 2: Explore the Tuosist area: Gleninchaquin Park and Uragh Stone Circle
The Tuosist area is a beautiful area with lots of natural beauty on the Ring of Beara. It’s got waterfalls, a village, a lake and much more. There is the Gleninchaquin park to explore with ti’s great walking routes and the unique Uragh Stone Circle in which there is an entrance fee.
Stop 3: Get your drone out any stage
What I really love about driving the Ring of Beara is the ruggedness of the landscapes. Some of the roads are super tiny (so be careful passing others), but when you pull over, it’s a perfect place to fly a drone (if you have one and you’ve registered it). It looks even more breathtaking from above.
Stop 4: Healy Pass
This is a stunning part of the Ring of Beara. Half way along the drive, the Healy pass makes it way up and across the stunning Caha mountains that are a prominent feature in the Beara peninsula. The crossing creates stunning views to Bantry Bay on the South and Kenmare Bay on the North!
Stop 5: Eyeries
Another beautiful town on the Ring of Beara and this one brings with it beautiful beaches on the Coulagh Bay and stunning views out to the Atlantc sea.
Stop 6: Ahillies
The Ahillies is an area of natural beauty and it’s a very small (colorful!) little town too. It’s known for its copper mining back in the past and it’s famous for its very friendly locals, beautiful landscape, rocky coastline and countless sheep. Stand out of your car, breathe deep and take in the fresh, relaxing air.
Stop 7: Dursey Cable Car and Island
Well before I seen the signs for this cable car whilst we were driving the Ring of Beara, I didn’t actually know Ireland had one. Well, they do! It’s the only cable car in Ireland, therefore the oldest and it’s the only water crossing cable car in Europe.
It’s not too expensive to get across and you can explore the Dursey island when you are there in which people actually live on. This part of the Ring of Beara is beautiful. There is no one around, it’s like you’ve got a whole island of yourself!
There are some random coffee shops along the way too.
Stop 8: Bere island
Lying off the south coast of the Ring of Beara, this island is steeped in military history. Both the British and Irish army have used it as a base and there are plenty of beautiful walking routes, ruins and a lighthouse to discover. You can get the ferry over from Pontoon in June, July August and times etc are all listed here.
Stop 9: Castletownbere
Brad and I loved this town and we stayed overnight as they offer free parking spaces for campervans and motorhomes which is great. The little town itself is packed with bars, restaurants and a great atmosphere. It’s also close to beara island if you fancy a day trip over.
Stop 10: Highest waterfall in Ireland: Mare’s Tail Waterfall
Waterfalls in Ireland aren’t like waterfalls in Asia or Central America, but they are picturesque and quaint. Well, whilst driving the Ring of Beara you’ll come across what’s thought to be Ireland’s highest waterfall. This is linked to the Hungry Hill which is one of the mountain tops in Cork.
Stop 11: Glenariff
This is a beautiful place to start or end your Ring of Beara road trip. This town offers a lot of beautiful sites including the Caha Pass which is on the main road between Glenariff and Kenmare which offers a stunning view of mountain tops and bantry bay.
There is also Barley lake which is also a small hike and offers beautiful views.
Where to stay on the Ring of Beara?
There are lots of great places to stay on the Ring of Beara. We stayed in Castletownbere and I can highly recommend that spot for both B&B stays and wild camping. Lots of food and drinks options and there is live music at the weekends.
If you want to find the best hotels on the Ring of Beara, then use Booking.com we use it for all our hotel needs and find it has the best options and best price.
Read also: Best Wild Camping Spots In Ireland
Driving the Ring of Beara travel tips
- Drive Carefully: You might be wondering is it safe to drive the Ring of Beara and the answer is yes, if you act sensibly. The roads are wild, winding, and small, and you are near large cliff drops, so drive slow and be aware of other vehicles coming your way.
- Watch out for animals on the road: Ireland tends to have a lot of sheep on the road, and if you do some across some, slow down until they move. If they don’t move, you can beep your horn lightly as a form of encouragement.
- Clockwise/Anticlockwise: it doesn’t matter: There are no real coaches that do the Ring of Beara like they do the Ring of Kerry, so you won’t get stuck behind any coaches regardless of the direction you head.
- You can get fuel on route: In the town of Castletownbere you can get fuel for your vehicle if you need it, so don’t worry about running out.
- Bring a jacket: Irish weather is unpredictable. Even if the sun is shining, the rain can come at any second. That’s one of the things I’ve learnt growing up in Ireland, never trust the weather to do what you want it to do!
When is the best time to drive the Ring of Beara?
For pure scenic purposes, I am going to say June, July, August and September. June and September are the shoulder months of the peak season, but I have to say, the Ring of Beara isn’t that well known and because no big tour buses go to it, you won’t have lots of people there.
When we visited we were basically alone the whole time, which was great!
If you’re renting a campervan or motorhome, you can get them cheaper in off-season months but remember the bad weather can obstruct some views, but it’s Ireland, what do you expect!
Is the Ring of Beara worth it?
YES! In many ways the Ring of Beara is even better than the Ring of Kerry (although still very beautiful). This is because it’s so rugged and just quiet. It’s a sense of being in this beautiful landscape on your own and it’s amazing.
Make sure you include it on your Ireland bucket list.
Beara Peninsula or Ring of Kerry: What’s better?
This question is often asked and I don’t want to say one over the other because I love them both for different reasons. But for the purposes of not expecting it, I’d say the Ring of Beara.
No one had mentioned driving the Ring of Beara, we stumbled across it and realised we were driving on it as part of the Wild Atlantic Way, so the beauty and quietness of it all really impressed and shocked me. I spent a lot of time just looking out the window with a “wow” expression on my face.
Saying that, the Ring of Kerry is beautiful too, especially Killarney, BUT, it is more touristy.
I think they’re both worth doing! (As well as the Dingle Peninsula)
Ps, if you don’t fancy driving the Ring of Beara, you can actually walk it too the Beara Way. This isn’t something we did, although it’s probably something Bradley would be interested in, but you can find out all about the walk here.
Oh and apparently you can do the Ring of Beara Cycle too, so you’ve got lots of options!
So there you have it, my guide to driving the Ring of Beara. There aren’t any big tour companies that go to the Ring of Beara (that I know of) which is a good thing actually.
So you’ll have to rent your own car or campervan to witness the beauty. I can recommend the Spaceships Rentals as we took an awesome campervan with them for our Ireland roadtrip. You can read our review here.
If you’ve already driven the Ring of Beara and you’ve got some other stops you think I should add to the list, then just comment below.