Fly into Kerry airport, or take the train from Dublin or Cork to arrive into Killarney. Killarney is a vibrant and welcoming town, a great place to rest before the start of your trek. Look out for horse-drawn cars around the town which offer journeys to the nearby national park.
B&B in Killarney (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 24km with 530m ascent, 500m descent
The first stage is a great introduction to Ireland’s Southwest. The walk out of Killarney is straightforward: hills can be seen ahead, and this adds to the anticipation of what is to come. Most of the day is on good tracks and paths, with just a few rockier or rootier sections. The scenery varies from open moorland and mountain to wonderful native deciduous woodland.
B&B in Black Valley (breakfast and dinner)
Red 3 (grade) 21.5km with 660m ascent, 645m descent
Today’s stage is tougher than Stage 1, as it features two mountain passes where the paths are steep and rocky in places. In between times, the route follows good tracks, paths and quiet lanes. There are very few trees today to impede the views, so take time to revel in the glorious mountain scenery: the highest mountains in Ireland are visible all day.
B&B in Glencar (breakfast and dinner)
Blue 2 (grade) 15.1km with 390m ascent, 440m descent
An easier stage with 2 climbs today. The second climb leads to Windy Gap: a chance to look back South to the high mountains already passed, and to look North and West to the route to come. The day ends with an enjoyable descent to Glenbeigh, with views across Dingle Bay. Glenbeigh itself will seem like a metropolis after the previous two evenings.
B&B in Glenbeigh (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 29.5km with 480m ascent, 495m descent
This stage is longer in its daily distance with easy and straightforward walking. An early woodland walk is followed by open hillsides with views North across the bay to the Dingle peninsula. At the one third mark, Cahersiveen can be seen in the distance. Finish the day amongst fields as you walk into Cahersiveen, the biggest settlement since Killarney.
B&B in Cahersiveen (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 21.5km with 895m ascent, 960m descent
This stage starts with a short taxi journey to rejoin the Kerry Way. This is a tough stage including two ridges to be traversed, linked via quiet country lanes: the first has many undulations along its length, and the ground can be boggy after wet weather. The second ridge is shorter and simpler, with fantastic views to the coast, and finishes looking down onto Waterville. Enjoy the challenge: the views make it all worthwhile!
B&B in Waterville (breakfast)
Blue 2 (grade) 14.8km with 315m ascent, 295m descent
On this stage, start by heading South along the coast with views out West to the Skelligs. Secondly, bend towards the East to begin the return to Killarney, with views South to the Beara peninsula. Later there is a choice of routes: a shorter, higher, route for long distance views, or a longer route down at shore level, with maybe a dip in the sea. A much easier day in terms of distance and terrain, and it is definitely worth taking the time to linger along the way.
B&B in Caherdaniel (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 17.2km with 440m ascent, 455m descent
Today we largely follow the old Butter Road, used in olden times for taking butter to Cork. It runs a pretty direct course, with only a few deviations: at most junctions, keep ahead. The surface is generally good, and there are good views South across the Kenmare River and North to the mountains. The stage ends in the pretty town of Sneem, a real gem of County Kerry with its colourful buildings and picturesque river.
B&B in Sneem (breakfast)
Blue 4 (grade) 33.6km with 650m ascent, 650m descent
A long stage, which splits into two halves. The first half, as far as Blackwater Bridge, is similar to Stage 7: long straight sections on the old Butter Road. After Blackwater Bridge, a lovely coastal section, followed by more hilly terrain. The ascent of Gortamullin near the end of the day is not too tough, and provides great views: a fitting end to the penultimate stage of The Kerry Way.
B&B in Kenmare (breakfast)
Blue 3 (grade) 25.3km with 760m ascent, 730m descent
This final stage completes the circle, and brings you back to Killarney via the Old Kenmare Road. Much of the walking is on lanes or good solid tracks, with just the one rougher section that was encountered on Stage 1. If you don’t fancy walking all the way back to Killarney, a fitting end point would be the Garden Restaurant at Muckross House, after which the Redbus can be taken to Killarney. Enjoy this final stage of The Kerry Way.
B&B in Killarney (breakfast)
Enjoy your last breakfast before departing from the trip. Take the train back to Dublin or head to Kerry Airport for your flight home.
To make your trip shorter, we can recommend walking the trip in just 8 stages. This would mean a long stage on Day 2 walking from Black Valley to Glenbeigh, skipping the stopover in Glencar. This would be a 33km stage.
Make the trip longer
We can offer a 10-stage or an 11 stage option on the Kerry Way which will involve some taxis off-route for your accommodation. For example, it is possible to split the longer stage between Sneem and Kenmare by finishing the day's waking at Blackwater Bridge, and then taking a taxi back to Sneem for a further night in the B&B there. This splits the 30km distance to be 13km on the first day, and 17km on the second day to Kenmare.
We do not include a rest day as standard on the Kerry Way, but we'd be more than happy to add one to your schedule for you. We would advise taking a rest day in the coastal town of Cahersiveen. It's a popular place to take a boat trip to visit the UNESCO heritage site of Skellig Michael.
Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and arrangements taken care of. You're welcome to walk on any date within our season and we can adjust the hike to suit your needs.
Kerry Way (Self-guided)
1 May to 15 Sept 2024
Our standard schedule uses a mix of comfortable and welcoming guesthouses and B&Bs for 10 nights of your trip. Breakfast is included during these stays and we book ensuite rooms as standard. We also include dinner on 2 nights in Black Valley and Glencar. The majority of our accommodation stays on the Kerry Way, except for one night in the coastal town of Cahersiveen. Here we organise a taxi to take you back to the trail for you.
For a touch of luxury while you trek, our ‘Comfy’ option upgrades your accommodation on 4 nights on the trip in Killarney, Cahersiveen and Sneem. We aim to book a 4* hotel in Killarney, a boutique hotel in Cahersiveen and a 4* hotel just outside the centre of Sneem.
The single supplement covers the difference in cost between a single room and a double room on a per person basis.
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.
Our approach to the Kerry Way
The Kerry Way is Ireland's oldest signposted walking trail starting and ending in Killarney. We offer a 9-stage trip as standard following the well-known circular route. We follow the trail in the counter clockwise direction starting with the Black Valley stage and ending with the Kenmare stage. Walking the trip in 9 stages results in some long walking days including two days in particular that we estimate to take around 10 hours of walking across 30km. These are the stages between Glenbeigh and Cahersiveen as well as the stage between Sneem and Kenmare.
The Kerry Way is mostly a low-level inland route surrounded by hills which would see you walking through valleys, mountain passes, moorlands and along the rocky coastline. The Kerry Way runs on good clear paths but can be quite wet underfoot. There are a few boardwalks throughout the trail to help with the wet ground in places. For some long stretches of the route, the track underfoot is on long abandoned country lanes known as “boreens” which are quite firm underfoot. Good boots and fresh thick socks will help reduce the pressure.
Is it for me?
The Kerry Way makes a delightful trek for fit walkers who are happy to walk for on average 8 hours per day along a long-distance trail. Due to the remoteness of the trail, the daily walking generally alternates between 5 hour days and 9 hour days. Despite county Kerry being home to some of the highest mountains in Ireland, the Kerry Way does not pass over these higher peaks. Instead it passes over some of the lower passes and ridges to create a more low-level walk.
The challenge of the Kerry Way lies in the daily walking distances rather than the terrain and navigation. The waymarking on the trail is very clear (similar to the West Highland Way).
Travelling to Killarney
Killarney is the largest town on this trip and marks the start and end point of your holiday. There are many options to reach Killarney as the town boasts a train station, bus station and is just 15km away from Kerry Airport. Kerry Airport offers direct flights from Dublin, London and Manchester.
If you are unable to fly directly to Kerry Airport, we'd recommend flying into Dublin Airport, Cork Airport or Shannon Airport. From each of these airports you can take the bus or the train to reach Killarney. The train from Dublin takes around 4 hours, and the train from Cork takes 1.5 hours, and the bus from Shannon (via Limerick) takes around 3.5 hours.
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to provide plenty of notes on how to reach your trip as well as notes on travel options during the trip. We supply these both on booking and in your information pack which we send via the postal service. We also offer personalised tips at any point.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast on 10 mornings on our standard itinerary
- Dinner on 2 nights on our standard itinerary
- Taxi transfer between Cahersiveen and the Junction South of Teeraha on Stage 5
- Detailed Routecards KRW1-9 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- 3 topographical maps of the route
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (8am until 8pm in the UK)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferWe offer our baggage transfer service for all nights as an extra. Please ask us for details if you are interested. Alternatively it is possible to leave your bag at your hotel in Killarney.
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
|Contact Alpine Exploratory
|+44 (0)131 214 1144
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|02 8319 2266
|04 889 4515
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Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.