Tucked away on the South West Coast of Ireland, five fingers of joy stretch out like a hand of friendship to the US. Each of these rocky fingers are peninsulas which hold arguably the best walking and cycling experiences in all of Ireland, places to immerse yourself in the culture, experience the people, country and landscapes like no other. One of the most famous of these peninsulae is home to the most famous walking and driving trail in all of Ireland, and now, you can explore this region on your bike as we present Cycle the Highlights of Kerry.
Quiet country roads lead you through County Kerry
In a Nutshell:
Where: Settled right in the heart of County Kerry sits Killarney, the starting point for your trip. After arriving here, we whisk you across the peninsula to Cahersiveen where you spend your first night. It is here we kit you out with your bikes for the week and set you off on your two-wheeled adventure. From here you take a day-trip out to Valentina Island, before your journey continues along the north coast of the Kerry Peninsula, back to Killarney.
Distance: This trip takes you over 120km of Irish country roads, which is about 75 miles. This is over four days of cycling, so you are averaging about 30km (18 miles) per day, which is a lovely distance as there are a lot of things to distract you on this trip.
Grade: We grade this trip Easy to Moderate, which basically means that unless you have never ridden a bike before, you will be fine. The daily distances are pretty short, there are not too many hills and apart from when you are cycling in and around the larger towns, you will be on quiet country roads and cycle paths. It is a lovely, relaxed way to see a stunning part of Ireland.
A traffic jam on Valentia Island
Why Cycle Here?
This part of Ireland looks out onto the Wild Atlantic, and this dominates much of your cycling experience. Whether it is standing on the cliffs watching the waves crash against the rocks below with seabirds calling all around you, or taking a boat trip out to see the famous Skellig Islands, the Atlantic shapes this part of the world both literally and figuratively. There are a host of white sand beaches that equal the beauty of the Caribbean, except that there is hardly anyone ever on them. Untouched, wild beauty. The coastline is beautifully imposing, with the cliffs roughly carved to form inspiring ragged shapes. There are also a couple of great island opportunities on this trip. The first is Valentia Island, which you will cycle around on your second day. This island has history! Stretching from tetrapod footprints from 360million years ago, up to more recent history with the site where lines of longitude came to be, or the delightful 18th-century Glanleam House. From here you can also take a boat ride out to see the Skellig Islands, made famous by the recent StarWars films, but definitely a sight to behold as they jut from the steely-grey ocean, pointing up towards the heavens. Killarney is another excellent highlight on this trip, and you get to spend two nights there at the end, so you have enough time to explore it all. Killarney is a veteran of the tourist trade, having been the gateway to the wilderness of the peninsula for over 250 years. Surrounded by tall peaks and vast lakes, Killarney's setting is enough to justify a visit, but it has so much more. There are the historical sites of Ross Castle and Aghadoe Cathedral both of which are well worth exploring, and of course, there is the town itself, where high levels of tourism ensure that the restaurants are good and the pubs are lively.
Ross Castle in Killarney
And, of course, there is no point in mentioning a trip to Ireland without mentioning one of its major draws, the people. The Irish people are so incredibly welcoming and friendly that it just puts you at ease straight away. Once you tune in to the dialogue, you will find a wonderful, inquisitive and friendly bunch, always willing to lend a hand or offer a suggestion. This delightful attitude is what makes the nightlife so wonderful. An Irish pub, complete with traditional music is a wonderfully inclusive place to be. With a desire to ensure everyone is having a great time, you will certainly enjoy your time in Ireland.
The tranquillity of Valentia Island
Planning and Preparation
To Cycle the Highlights of Kerry, you can fly into Kerry Airport, which is a mere 25 minutes away from Killarney, but if you are travelling from Cork you are looking at around 2 hours by bus and train and from Dublin, about 3 hours. However, all travelling through Ireland is a visual feast, so time spent on a bus or train is not time wasted! If you have any questions about the route, don't hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.