A Guide to Hiking the Kerry Way in Ireland


The Kerry Way is Ireland’s longest and best known sign posted walking trail with a total length of 203 kilometers (122 miles). It mirrors the Ring of Kerry which is the driving version but rarely does the Kerry Way reach the ocean. It is primarily an inland route starting in the town of Killarney in southwest Ireland. Most people hike it in a counter clockwise direction and allow 8-10 days. Generally towns are nicely spaced and offer a variety of accommodation and restaurants choices though the selection is limited on the first few days out.

You will enjoy diverse scenery ranging from dramatic peaks including the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, isolated valleys, beautiful lakes, wild moorlands and some spectacular coastal vistas. The Kerry Way is for the most part well signposted and efforts are in place to fix areas of ambiguity. If time permits, a day off in Cahirciveen to visit the Skellig Islands – a World Heritage Site – could become the highlight of your trip.

The weather is changeable so though the probability of rain is high it rarely lasts for long. The popularity of this hike allows for a certain camaraderie and social atmosphere at cafes and pubs along the route. This is a trail well worth hiking and the Irish with their unique brand of hospitality will ensure that it is a memorable experience. The Kerry Way can be hiked on almost a year round basis though it is not recommended in the height of winter. It would be foolhardy to start out with short days of only 7-8 hours of light and long hikes with no room for any error. Also in winter the bus doesn’t run between towns and many B&B’s are closed for the season. The fabulous side trip to the Skellig Islands is not available either.

It is a surprise to many as to just how difficult the trail can be. The shortest day is 13 kilometers (8 miles) and there are a couple of days in the 28-30 kilometer (16.5 -18 miles) range. Add a backpack, sore feet, sore shoulders, occasional route finding issues and changeable weather to the mix and at times you may find it’s more than you bargained for.

Inside this Kerry Way hiking guide you’ll find the following information:

  • How to get to the start in Killarney
  • Where to stay all along the route
  • A sample itinerary and detailed day to day route notes
  • What to pack for the hike
  • Side trips including the Skellig Islands

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