The Kerry Way

Last updated on February 6, 2024

Where is Iveragh? The Iveragh Peninsula is located in the southwest of Ireland. Together with its neighboring peninsulas, it stretches like a thick finger into the Atlantic Ocean.

Ladies View viewpoint in Killarney National Park
Ladies View viewpoint in Killarney National Park (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Intro

Better known is the Ring of Kerry, the beautiful coastal road that runs once around the peninsula.

Less known to most tourists is Killarney National Park. It is a beautiful mountainous area in the heart of the peninsula, and so every summer the buses and campers go around the Ring of Kerry.

It is also beautiful. But the real highlight is revealed in the mountains! There are the highest and most rugged mountains of Ireland, which crack the 1000 meter mark!

And there runs the Kerry Way. Surely one of the most beautiful and most strenuous long-distance hiking trails in Ireland.

You are fit? And an experienced hiker? Then read on:

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The Kerry Way at a glance

The Kerry Way has a total length of about 200-220 kilometers, depending on the variant. There are 3900-4000 meters of altitude to overcome.

Experienced hikers walk the entire route in about 8-10 days.

The route is made up of small roads, gravelled forest paths and stony trails. Sometimes it goes over rocky terrain or muddy ground, depending on the weather.

Scenically, it goes through and over the mountains, skirting the highest mountain ranges, such as the McGillicudy Reeks.

Kerry Way overview
Kerry Way overview (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Weather and best season

The main hiking season runs from April to October, with an emphasis on the months of May through September.

In spring and autumn you can expect temperatures of about 12-16 degrees, in summer about 18-25 degrees.

There can always be a rain shower, as in Germany.

In winter there are more often stormy winds with a lot of persistent rain. Significantly more than in summer.

In the mountains, as well as on the coast, you always have to expect wind, even in summer.

By the way, we live in Ireland, at least as a second home. In summer we run our motorcycle rental business here (www.easycruiser.tours). We also have nice guest rooms (www.the-view- accommodation.ie) for hikers, motorcyclists, golfers, etc…So we know the weather very well from our own experience.

In the mountains of Killarney NP
In the mountains of Killarney NP (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Tips for clothing

The well-tried onion principle also helps here: it is better to wear several thin layers of clothing than one thick one.

There may also be cool days. Good functional underwear is important. It helps to wick away body sweat and keeps you warm. It requires little packing space and can also be used as pajamas.

Avoid cotton! Cotton gets damp quickly and dries poorly, thus promoting cooling. Synthetic fibers or wool-synthetic fiber blends are better.

Good hiking socks (synthetic fiber or wool-synthetic fiber) and medium-strength hiking boots are also important. You will walk partly on rough paths and the underground. can also get wet sometimes. Especially in spring and autumn I would recommend ankle-high and waterproof hiking boots.

You should always have rain gear with you. At least a waterproof jacket in the summer and waterproof pants in the cooler seasons.

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Arrival by public transport

Killarney is one of the most popular vacation destinations on the island of Ireland and therefore well connected by public transport.

There are bus connections via Limerick or via Mallow. You can also take the train from Dublin Heuston via Tralee to Killarney.

You can find timetables at buseireann.ie and at irishrail.ie. There you can also buy your tickets online.

In Killarney there are plenty of cabs and even horse-drawn carriages.

Accommodation along the Kerry Way

Killarney is a busy place. In summer there are many tourists here, as there are all over the peninsula. Most of them are on the Ring of Kerry, at the Gap of Dunloe and around Killarney. As soon as you leave the town behind, it quickly gets lonelier.

The advantage of the hustle and bustle is that there are plenty of B&Bs, hostels, hotels, campsites and other accommodations all over the peninsula.

Wild goats in Killarney mountains
Wild goats in Killarney mountains (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

So you should have no problem finding accommodation. However, I would highly recommend booking well in advance to get better prices and avoid surprises on the spot.

We mostly use the apps from Booking.com or Airbnb to book accommodation. Both are very common in Ireland and work very well.

If you are thinking about wild camping, I have written an article about it, which I will link for you at the end of this text.

The daily stages of the Kerry Way

You can choose your daily stages individually, depending on your condition and time budget. Below you will find a variant with 8 days. If this is too stressful for you, you can also take longer or shorten the trail and return to Killarney by cab or bus.

Day 1: From Killarney to Black Valley, about 24 km.

Day 2: From Black Valley to Glencar, about 20 km.

Day 3: From Glencar to Glenbeigh, about 23 km.

Day 4: From Glenbeigh to Caherciveen, about 21 km.

Day 5: From Caherciveen to Waterville, about 33 km.

Day 6: From Waterville to Sneem, about 31 km.

Day 7: From Sneem to Kenmare, about 31 km.

Day 8: From Kenmare to Killarney, approx. 28 km.

Small road near Ballaghbeama Gap


Information sources about the Kerry Way

Here I have some great sources of information for you, for your planning:

Printed hiking guides and maps

Outdoor hiking guide Ireland Kerry, by Hartmut Engel

Kerry Way by Sandra Bardwell

3 maps from Ordnance Survey, 1:50000 in a bundle

Downloadable maps and online descriptions

Tough Soles is a very readable Irish blog. The writers, Ellie and Carl, have all hiked over 40 long distance trails in Ireland and report on them. They have also made some very good walking maps of their own, which you can download and print for free. You can find the maps of the Kerry Way on their website.

The site Kerryway.com is also very interesting. Here you can find a description of the route, an overview map and some tips about accommodation. To the route description – click here.

Apps for the smartphone

There are great navigation apps for the smartphone. In case you have no reception, I recommend to have a map with you.

To the online maps from Hiiker.app – click here.

Komoot also offers online maps for the Kerry Way – just click here.

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Conclusion

County Kerry has many beautiful corners. One of the most beautiful areas you will find in Killarney National Park. The high, rugged and picturesque mountains will inspire you!

The Kerry Way takes you through the most beautiful areas of the National Park and is one of the most spectacular, but also one of the most strenuous long distance hiking trails in Ireland.

But if you are fit and well prepared, it is also one of the most exciting hiking opportunities in Ireland.

I hope to have made you a bit curious and I hope to have given you enough information to help you get started – in planning your individual hike on the Kerry Way!

More interesting articles for you

THE DINGLE WAY – ALL INFO FOR YOUR INDIVIDUAL HIKE

HIKING THE WICKLOW WAY – ALL INFO FOR YOUR VACATION PLANNING

SOUTHERN IRELAND ROUND TRIP WITH DAY HIKES – 9 GREAT IDEAS FOR YOU

HIKING WITH DOG IN IRELAND – ALL INFO FOR YOUR TRIP


Photo credits cover photo: Mountain view in Killarney National Park, photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (www.easycruiser.tourswww.the-view-accommodation.iewww.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