Beara – the lesser know Peninsula

You’ve heard of the Ring of Kerry and maybe the Dingle Peninsula – but have you heard of Beara? That’s right, Beara is much less well known, but at least as beautiful…

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South coast of Beara
South coast of Beara (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Intro

I was like most people – time is limited and the more well-known destinations are travelled to first. Why? They’re better known, so surely they’re better, right?

Well, that can be the case, but it doesn’t have to be. I have noticed that tourist offices like to market destinations that are suitable for the masses. Where you can go by coach or motorhome and where there is plenty of accommodation, restaurants, (paid) attractions and other tourist infrastructure.

Good examples are Dublin, Cork, Galway, the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland or Derry/Londonderry, Belfast and the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. I don’t mean to make these destinations less attractive, they are beautiful too. But there are also many lesser-known beauties in Ireland.

Motorbike in Beara mountains
Motorbike in Beara mountains 8photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Ireland has a low population density and many narrow, sometimes single-lane roads. So if you are travelling in a rural area, there may not be many B&Bs or pubs and the roads may simply not be suitable for coaches or motorhomes. So less tourism and less marketing.

It’s a bit like that on Beara. A lot of the roads, especially on the north-west coast, are really small and winding and there is limited tourist infrastructure. Is that a problem? On the contrary!

If you’re travelling in a normal car, or on a motorbike, you’ll get along fine on small roads and you can easily book your accommodation in advance with Booking.com or Airbnb.com.

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What you get in return is a peninsula that is not overrun by tour buses and where there is not much going on at all. And only now can you really enjoy this beautiful peninsula in the south-west of Ireland and explore it extensively.

That’s how my wife and I felt when we set off for a few days from our second home on the east coast to get to know Beara. We were travelling by motorbike and both the outward and return journeys were pretty wet. But the two days on Beara were just mega beautiful!

The initial wet weather changed to grey and dry and then to sun-with-clouds and still dry and the peninsula revealed itself in all its beauty.

Southern coast of Beara Peninsula
Southern coast of Beara Peninsula (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Incidentally, Beara is the southern neighbour of Iveragh, better known as the Ring of Kerry. The peninsula is divided lengthways by a mountain ridge in the centre. The Healy Pass road takes you from the north coast over the mountains to the south coast or vice versa and is one of the most beautiful mountain roads I have ever driven on the island of Ireland.

Towards the coasts, the land flattens out and becomes slightly hilly towards the water. The coasts are characterised by cliffy landscapes interrupted by small bays and beaches.

In the north and south there are large bays and behind them you can see the mountainous silhouettes of the neighbouring peninsulas. There is almost always water and land to be seen and plenty of variety, it never gets boring. Even to the west, towards the open Atlantic side, there is land again, namely the offshore island of Dursey. You can take the Dursey Cable Car, the only cable car in Ireland, to get there.

Dzogchen Buddhist Centre on Beara Peninsula
Dzogchen Buddhist Centre on Beara Peninsula (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Epic views on all coasts alternate with small colourful villages in the west of the island, which stand out as colourful spots against the green hilly landscape.

The details are also beautiful and varied: rocky mountains at Healy Pass, palm trees on the south coast and long rows of buoys on the north coast invite the eye to linger. The buoys belong to mussel and oyster farms, which thrive here in the clean waters of the Atlantic.

The towns on the peninsula are all quite small, villages rather than small towns. This reinforces the impression of being away from the mainstream. Rural tranquillity with incredible views, that’s perhaps how you could summarise Beara. Yes, of course there are a few cars here, but the traffic was really very manageable as we chugged across the peninsula.

If you want hustle and bustle, stay in Killarney, if you’re looking for peace and quiet, Beara is the place for you – I think you get my point.

Motorcycle and rider at the southern coast of Beara
Motorcycle and rider at the southern coast of Beara (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Some facts to Beara

The Beara peninsula is located in the south-west of Ireland. It is around 50 kilometres long and a maximum of 15 kilometres wide.

The southern part of the peninsula still belongs to County Cork, while the northern part belongs to County Kerry. The county border runs along the mountains.

Motorcycle and rider at Healy Pass
Motorcycle and rider at Healy Pass (photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

The largest town on the island is Castletownbere on the south coast. Bere Island is located in front of the village. There are several other smaller villages on Beara.

The island is named after the ancient Irish fertility goddess “Beara”. There are numerous prehistoric monuments on the peninsula, such as burial mounds, stone circles and menhirs.

The most important attraction is probably the Dursey Cable Car, the only cable car in Ireland, which runs across to the island of Dursey at the tip of Beara.

There are some fun festivals on Beara and on Dursey in the summer, music, dancing, family festivals etc, which you can definitely join in with when you visit. For more information see: https://bearatourism.com/.

West coast of Beara
West coast of Beara (Photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Conclusion

Beara is a wake-up call to holiday planning: don’t just go to the well-known places, but also to the lesser-known ones. Of course you can do what everyone else does and of course you can take the same photo that you’ve seen 100 times on Instagram – but isn’t it much more exciting to discover the lesser-known corners on holiday?

“Setting off into the unknown” – that’s an exaggeration, I know, because Beara is not unknown. But less visited than other places. Discovering a piece of Ireland for yourself without many people around you? I find that extremely appealing. And we found the Beara Peninsula incredibly beautiful and also extremely appealing!


More interesting articles for you

KILLARNEY MOUNTAINS AND THE RING OF KERRY


MIZEN HEAD SIGNAL STATION – FIRST AND LAST CONTACT WITH EUROPE


THE ANCIENT STONE-HOUSES OF DINGLE


THE BEARA WAY

Photo credits cover photo: At Beara Peninsula, photo by: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tourswww.irland-insider.dewww.ireland-insider.com)

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg