We’ve experienced a few scenic drives in our time – but there are few places that do it like Ireland. The Emerald Isle takes the humble country drive to the next level. Here, roads weave sinuously through the landscape, passing soaring mountains, windswept beaches, green pastures, and pretty villages. From the Ring of Kerry to the Dingle Peninsula, we look at two of the most divine drives you’ll experience on our Ultimate Ireland tour.
Travel inspiration: Ireland destination guide
The Ring of Kerry Scenic Drive
Set on the Iveragh Peninsula, the Ring of Kerry scenic drive is one of Ireland’s finest.. In one 193-kilometre loop, you’ll see the best this stunning country, from charming villages and ancient castles, to rolling green hills and rugged coastline. You’ll experience it all on Day 8 of our Ultimate Ireland tour, as we journey from Killarney around the Ring of Kerry.
We’ll start in the Killarney National Park, famed for its 10,000 acres of mountains, woodlands, sparkling lakes, and abundant wildlife. There’s also the nearby Ross Castle, a striking 15th-century tower house on the edge of Lough Leane. Explore the ancient castle while learning about the ancestral home of the Chiefs of the Clan O’Donoghue. Or enjoy a traditional jaunting cart ride through the stunning scenery.
We’ll also stop in the picturesque town of Kenmare. Here, you can admire the colourful facades and streets before indulging in a gourmet lunch at the historic Park Hotel. You’ll enjoy fresh, local flavors all with a backdrop of lush gardens stretching to the shores of Kenmare Bay.
Gap of Dunloe
As we continue our scenic drive, you’ll lock eyes with the MacGillycuddy Reeks. It’s the highest mountain range in Ireland, home to some of the most impressive views in the country. You also can’t miss the Gap of Dunloe, the iconic mountain pass that encapsulates Ireland’s wild beauty.
We’ll end our drive by heading back to our nearby hotel, The Dunloe. This is the most luxurious place stay on the edge of the Ring of Kerry. This sublime hotel is set on a spectacular 64-acre estate with emerald forest and the ruins of a 12th-century castle. A relaxing spa, gorgeous views, and locally-sourced delicacies like Kerry lamb and wild Atlantic fish. The Dunloe is the icing on an unforgettable day.
Read more: The best hotel in Ireland? Dunloe Hotel is certainly a firm contender
Dingle Peninsula Scenic Drive
The Dingle Peninsula Scenic Drive is shorter than its famous Ring of Kerry counterpart. But it’s equally spectacular. This 47-kilometre loop encompasses towering mountains, patchworks of green pastures, traditional villages, and the Wild Atlantic Way. Experience it on Day 9 of our Ultimate Ireland tour, as we journey from Killarney around the Dingle Peninsula and onwards to Adare and Limerick.
Wild Atlantic Way
We’ll start our adventure by taking in the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Wild Atlantic Way. Marvel at the waves crashing on the sandy beaches and craggy sea cliffs. On a sunny day, the ocean shines a bright shade of turquoise, while cloudy days contrast beautifully with the emerald mountains and pastures, creating dramatic scenery. You can’t miss setting eyes on Mount Brandon, the second-tallest mountain in Ireland towering almost one kilometre high.
There are only a few tiny towns here, but around 500,000 sheep call the peninsula home. We’ll make stops in some of the whimsical towns like Dingle, loved for its historic streets and colourful buildings. For lunch, make a stop in one of the traditional pubs, for fresh fish and chips and Guinness – quintessential Ireland.
The winding roads and ancient ruins of the Dingle Peninsula are so beautiful they’ve become film stars. You might recognise them from films such as “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi”.
Read more: The 10 Most Beautiful Villages and Small Towns in Britain and Ireland
After enjoying the divine Dingle Peninsula, we’ll continue our scenic drive to Adare. This quaint village is heritage listed and famed as the prettiest village in Ireland. Admire the charming thatched-roof cottages and explore historic castles and abbeys before continuing on to legendary Limerick, where you’ll see highlights such as St. Mary’s Cathedral and Limerick’s Treaty Stone.
After conquering two of the most dazzling Irish drives in two days, you’ll be left with unforgettable memories, stories and photos of one of the most heavenly regions on earth.