Hi! I am trying to decide if I should stay 1 night in Kenmare and 1 night in Killarney or 2 nights in one or the other. We will be driving the day before from Kinsale and will stay the night in either Kenmare or Killareny then wake up the next morning, do the Ring of Kerry and stay in either Kenmare or Killarney. The next day we will be driving to Dingle. I am not sure if I should stay 1 night in each of the towns (Kenmare/Killarney) or two nights in one of them. Do you have suggestions on where to stay in either of these towns? Which way should we drive the Ring of Kerry? Any suggestions would be great!
We have stayed twice in Kenmare. It's easier to navigate than Killarney and puts you in a better position to visit both the Ring of Beara and the Ring of Kerry. Kenmare has lots of restaurants, music pubs, and shops but doesn't feel as touristy and crowded as Killarney.....Suggestions for how to use your time. Drive Kinsale to Kenmare, drive the north side of the Ring of Beara both ways (south side not as interesting IMHO), overnight in Kenmare. Next day, drive the south side of the Ring of Kerry, including the loop out to Portmagee. The Skellig Island museum near there is excellent! Overnight again in Kenmare. Next day, drive to Killarney ( beautiful view road), stop briefly to see Muckrose ABBEY (evocative ruin), consider taking the jaunting car / return by boat trip through the lakes, then drive to Dingle....(We did all of this last April.)
I was surprised how much I liked Killarney, but I was there in early May - probably before the big rush of tourists. In addition to finding traditional music sessions at the Grand Hotel's pub, we enjoyed hiking through the national park adjacent to the town. All else being equal, I would pick one or the other town and stay two nights. That saves checking out/in and packing/unpacking and makes life seem a little less frantic. I personally wouldn't recommend driving both rings. They are scenic but unless you really want to stop and see unique sights on both routes, they are essentially the same experience. Dingle IMO has the better choice of sights. Kerry has Ft. Stague, which isn't duplicated on the Dingle circle.
Do you mean the town of Killarney? I think Killarney has a bit of a reputation as really overrun by tourists, factory tourism if you will. I think it is where all the big bus tours stop for its proximity to Killarney National Park. Lots of big hotels in the sprawl around town according to Rick. (If you mean a place out in the country in the proximity to the park, that's different.) We stayed in Kenmare and thought it was extremely well located for the Ring of Kerry. The town is a little too cute for its own good, but it's still in Rick's book and is a very small town so very appealing. Exactly the kind of place that goes well with a rental car. It may have been built up more since we visited in 2002 based upon what I have seen on the web. We will probably stay there again during our return visit to Ireland in 2014. I strongly recommend going to the National Park, very beautiful scenery and Muckross House is a nice stop. So in summary, my vote would be for two nights in Kenmare and skip the town of Killarney entirely.
Jennifer, Having two, one night stays back to back will be hectic and would not allow you to settle in. I would recommend staying 2 nights in Kenmare. I drove from Kinsale to Kenmare, making stops at the Blarney Castle and Killarney while visiting Muckross House. Killarney was nice as well, but I liked Kenmare a bit better. It is a charming and beautiful little town. I enjoyed the shops and coziness of it's pubs with musicians playing music local to this area. It definitely gave me a comfortable small town experience. It also makes a great launch point for a Ring of Kerry drive.
I just stayed at Virginia's in Kenmare. I loved it. The town is small but has some great pubs with great authentic Celtic music. The town oozed Ireland in the streets. Everyone was friendly, food was great and was a great jumping off point for the Ring of Kerry. Kenmare is very small, two nights and you might run out of streets to explore. Definetly do the Ring of Kerry from the South to the North. We started at 8:00 and didn't see a bus until noon.