The beautiful Ring of Kerry is always hailed as one of the best places to visit when adventuring along the Wild Atlantic Way, but The Ring of Beara is beautiful, if not more so than it’s better know cousin.
The Ring of Beara begins in Kenmare, and loops all around West Cork. It is a remote location and takes quite a bit longer to get to than most places in Ireland, but my god is the journey worth it! Travelling this route is like travelling back in time, with nature that surrounds you at every turn and no sight or sound of largely built up areas or city living. The roads are bendy, and somewhat impassable at times, there are sheep hidden in every field and up every hill and the coastline glistens with the crystal clear blue of the Atlantic.
Starting off in Limerick, we had a breakfast in The Good Room in Adare to fuel for the long day ahead that went a little something like the below!
Adare to Kenmare: 2 hours
Kenmare is such an amazing spot in Kerry. You wouldn’t struggle to spend an entire day here, and still feel like you have so much left to do. Alas, since this was just a stop on our road trip we briefly parked the car in the town for a bite to eat and a casual drink in one of the many bars that they have to offer. A lot of people use Kenmare as a base for their Ring of Kerry roadtrip, so if you are more inclined to visit that route instead, you will still get to enjoy the beauty of Kenmare.
Kenmare to Eyries: 45 minutes
Eyries is such a stunning little village in West Cork, known for it’s beautifully coloured houses all in a row. This is the type of quaint place that really makes you feel at home. Once again, we didn’t stop for long as we only had a day to cover our route, but we opted to sit on a picnic bench outside O’Sheas bar and enjoy the colours around us.
Eyries to Allihies: 30 minutes
Alliehies is actually where my grandmother grew up, so I automatically took a liking to the place. It once again is filled with welcoming locals and colourful houses, and sitting right at the waters edge means you get the best views while you are there. In Allihies you can visit the Copper and Mine Museum, do the Copper Mine Trail or simply visit Allihies beach.
Allihies to Castletown-Bearhaven: 25 minutes
Driving along the coast from Allihies to Castletown will give you some of the most beautiful views (and windy roads!). If you have time, you can make a pit stop to Lambs Head, where you can get Ireland’s one and only cable car across to Dursey Island for only €10 return! We unfortunately did not have time for this, but I am making it my business to go back!
Castletown-Bearhaven will be the most built up area on the journey since Kenmare, but as it is still by the water you can enjoy amazing views. You can do a number of walks around the area here, rent bikes, or visit castles such as the Dunboy Castle & Mansion.
Castletown-Bearhaven to Glengarriff: 35 minutes
Glengarriff is known for being one of the most popular holiday destinations that Cork, or even Ireland has to offer. Located just next door to Bantry bay, there is an abundance of things to do here. I would recommend if you are taking the journey, to stop in Glengarriff for the night to make the most of everything there is to do here the next day. Here you can visit the Glengarriff Nature Reserve and Woods, Bamboo Park, The Blue Pool Ferry and take a trip to Garnish Island to name but a few things to do. Learn even more about the things that you can do while visiting Glengarriff here.
Glengarrif to Bantry: 20 minutes
There are so many ways that you can spend your time in Bantry. We had originally decided that we were going to camp in Bantry for the night in Eagle Point Camping, a stunning campsite on the waters edge but ended up opting to get a little further on the route as the day went on.
We were after somewhere with a bit more nightlife, but if you were travelling for just a nice break or with family I think this campsite would be superb.
Bantry to Skibbereen: 25 minutes
Veering off the Beara Way, we set our sights on heading to Skibbereen for the night. It was quite late when we arrived, so we set up shop at a wonderful camping facility ‘The Hideaway‘ . This campsite is perfect for families and young people alike. For families, it offers a playground and kitchen facility along with ample caravan space. For younger folk, you can camp here and walk into the town as we did to enjoy your night in Skibbereen. We visited here on a bank holiday, so the town was very lively and I would definitely recommend it if you are going with a group of friends for the night! We didn’t get up to any activities in Skibbereen as we arrived late and left early but you can read more on what you can do here.
One of the best activities I have heard of to date to do in Skibbereen is night kayaking on Lough Hyne. It is one of the most bio-diverse lakes in Europe, and boasts stunning bioluminescence. I have been recommended this activity directly by friends, and have it high on my list of things to do when I return.
If you are travelling from Bantry to Skibbereen, you can also make a stop at the famous Ballydehob. Here, boasts amazing sea front views for you to take in and is one of the most photographed spots on this route.
Skibbereen to Mizen Head: 55 minutes
On our second day, we decided to visit Mizen head before heading home as the day was so clear. Mizen head is the most Southwesterly points in all of Ireland. Here, you will find a signal station located across a rather majestic bridge. There is an entry fee of €7.50 per person, but with several walks to enjoy along and several museum type buildings outlining the flora and fauna of the region, I think it is worth the money! We spent about an hour enjoying the routes surrounding the area, and even spotted a seal and her baby in the water below as we crossed the bridge. Although getting here is a bit of an experience in itself with the long, winding roads, there are ample facilities when you arrive such as a cafe, bathrooms, outdoor seating, etc.
This is where we ended out West Cork roadtrip, but there are so many more iconic places that you can visit such as Baltimore. We were quite pushed for time and really managed to squeeze quite a lot of locations into a short space of time. While it was amazing, if you would like to get more out of the trip and engage in more activities than just sight seeing I would recommend breaking up this journey into another two days or so. After visiting here, I really regard West Cork as one of the most beautiful places on our Island and I was actually quite upset with myself that it took me so long to visit there! While it is out of the way, most of the most amazing places are and you will not regret visiting here one bit. Given some nice weather, you can even dedicate some time to spend on one of the many crystal clear water beaches dotted along the coast.
After spending some time here, I have already curated a list of things that I want to see and do when I go back! Is this somewhere you think you would visit, or have you visited before? Let me know!