Ireland offers so much, and so it’s difficult to narrow down which things make it on the “to do” list when you’re only visiting for a short time. But after spending a year here, I can say without a doubt that the Ring of Kerry and Inishmore should make it on the list every single time.
Whether it’s hail, rain or sunshine, you will not be disappointed with the stunning views along the drive. The Ring of Kerry is a 180 km tourist route in county Kerry. Following the N70, N71 and N72, this route hits towns such as Killarney, Dingle, and Valentia Island. Some of the most popular points of interest (and ones which we ourselves stopped into) include the Muckross House, Lough Leane, Ladies View, Killarney National Park, the Gap of Dunloe, and Torc Waterfall.
To do in its entirety, the ring takes about 5 hours via car if you don’t dally too long at each place. I did the North half of the ring (mostly in Killarney) back in March, and the South half two weeks ago. Though I’ve hit most of the places on my “to do” list, I’m waiting for the opening of Skellig Michael on May 17th to completely finish the ring (stay tuned for pictures – could not be more excited for this one!)
Though the pictures I’ve captured show just how breathtaking the views from the Ring of Kerry are, nothing will ever compare to the real thing. There were often times we would stop on the side of the road just to breath it all in, trying to take as much of it with us through our pictures, but learning very quickly that you simply cannot capture a vision of such magnitude in a lens. You really do have to see for yourself in order to appreciate the beauty – as with all of the greatest wonders of the world – but hopefully these photos will make your heart yearn for the Emerald Isle just a little bit more.
The Aran Islands are also known for their scenic views and ancient monuments. The Aran Islands are located just off the coast in Galway bay and consist of three islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.
Continuing our adventures with a slight delay, Rachel and I finally made it to Inishmore. With a small population of less than a thousand people, it is the largest of the Aran Islands. It’s famous for its strong Irish culture, the primary use of Irish language, as well as its ancient sites including Dún Aengus. There are two ways to get to the island: by boat (about 45 minutes) and plane (about 10 minutes).
The most recommended way to see the island is via bicycle, and following suit upon arrival, we rented some bikes (with three shops to choose from right off the docks). Having five hours on the island, we were able to see most of the sites cycling as fast as our little legs would take us. It was exhausting work, but well worth it. Having such incredible weather and even picking up a travel buddy on the way (a gorgeous little pup which we named Inish – he cycled alongside us for at least 5 km), our trip here was absolutely wonderful. The views are spectacular, and the coasts unbelievable. Despite the many tourists on the journey with us, there isn’t much going on around the island (which we loved!) Keep in mind that the island is very secluded, with only a few shops and bars in the area (which are located closest to the docks and Dun Aonghasa). Nevertheless, it was a lovely, scenic bike ride, and I would highly recommend a visit for anyone traveling the west coast of Ireland.