Introducing Beara Peninsula (Ring of Beara)
The Beara Peninsula is the third major 'ring' (circular road around a peninsula) in the west. Dingle and Kerry are comfortably in the number one and two spots respectively, leaving Beara in third place, which is just about right. A small part of the peninsula lies in Kerry, but is covered here for the convenience of people travelling the Ring of Beara. Castletownbere in Cork and Kenmare in Kerry make good bases for exploring the area.
You can easily drive the 137km around the coast in one day, but you would miss the spectacular Healy Pass Road (R574), which cuts across the peninsula from Cork to Kerry. In fact, if pressed for time, skip the rest and do the pass.
The south side, along Bantry Bay, is a series of interesting working fishing villages and scenery that's mild on the eyes. The north side, in contrast, is often a stunner, with craggy drives in and out of the nooks and crannies of the peninsula. A plus is that many of these roads are off the tourist trail.
Other highlights include a thrillingly wobbly cable car at the tip of the peninsula, which takes you and the sheep out to tiny Dursey Island and exhilarating hill walking requiring some skill and commitment, as well as proper clothing and navigational experience.
The 196km Beara Way is a signposted walk linking Glengarriff with Kenmare (in Kerry) via Castletownbere, Bere Island, Dursey Island and the north side of the peninsula. The 138km Beara Way Cycle Route takes a similar direction, passing through all the villages on Beara via small lanes.
The following towns are described in a route that assumes you're starting from Glengarriff and working your way clockwise to Kenmare.