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Views from the high traverse that parallels the Kerry Way road
Views from the high traverse that parallels the Kerry Way road

Kerry Way or Dingle Way? What’s the Better Hike?

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One year I walked the Kerry Way and the Dingle Way, two long distance walks in western Ireland, back to back. So what’s the better hike? Is one necessarily better than the other? What’s to compare? Are either of them worth the time and effort?

Here’s my take on the Kerry Way versus the Dingle Way.

The Kerry Way in Ireland

The Kerry Way is the more famous walk of the two. It starts in Killarney and wanders through a variety of terrain for 203 km (122 miles). It is primarily an inland route. Most people allow 8-10 days and the 10 day venture would allow the chance to visit the Skellig Islands – a must do side trip in my opinion.

Map of the Kerry Way in Ireland
Map of the Kerry Way

Highlights on the Kerry Way include the following

  • Walking through beautiful Killarney Park and Muckross House
  • Gorgeous mountain landscapes between Black Valley and Glencar
  • A high traverse that parallels the Kerry Way Road with spectacular views to the Dingle Peninsula
  • Good signage on the trail
  • Beautiful Beara Peninsula views
  • Pretty small towns like Kenmare, Sneem and Cahirciveen
  • Very friendly Irish B&B hosts (on both walks)
Muckross House in Killarney Park
Walking the grounds of beautiful Muckross House in Killarney Park
Beautiful scenery in Killarney Park
Beautiful scenery in Killarney Park on the Kerry Way
Mountain scenery between Black Valley and Glencar
Mountain scenery between Black Valley and Glencar on the second day of the Kerry Way
Beautiful lakes on the Kerry Way
Beautiful lakes on the Kerry Way
Views from the high traverse that parallels the Kerry Way road
Views from the high traverse that parallels the Kerry Way Road
Signage is generally excellent on the Kerry Way
Signage is generally excellent on the Kerry Way
The pretty Beara Peninsula
The pretty Beara Peninsula
Keeping feet dry with these boardwalks
Keeping feet dry with these boardwalks on the Kerry Way

The Dingle Way in Ireland

The Dingle Way combines some of Ireland’s best scenery with a rich archaeological history. Look for peaceful countryside with wild ocean vistas, cliff tops and beautiful countryside on a 179 km (112 mile) walk.

Almost half this walk is on tarmac! The only serious elevation gain is on the day when you need to get up and over Brandon Mountain. This walk is best done over 7 – 8 days. Mileages range from 17 km to 29 km per day.

 

Map of the Dingle Way
Map of the Dingle Way

Highlights on the Dingle Way include

  • The low slopes of the Slieve Mish Mountains overlooking Tralee Bay
  • Picturesque towns of Anascaul and Dingle
  • The walk heading towards Inch Strand (a long beach)
  • Views across to the Iveragh Peninsula from Inch Strand
  • The beach walk near Ventry all the way through to a fabulous hike near Slea Head
  • World class views around Slea Head and over to the Blasket Islands
  • Cliff top stretches of hiking outside of Ballydavid
  • Hiking over Brandon Mountain and the views on a clear day
  • Beach walking near Cloghane
Views over Tralee Bay on the first day of walking on the Dingle Way
Views over Tralee Bay on the first day of walking on the Dingle Way
Pleasant walking towards Inch Strand
Pleasant walking towards Inch Strand
Some good birding on the Dingle Way
Some good birding on the Dingle Way (this is the European goldfinch)
Some lovely coastal walking on the Dingle Way
Some lovely coastal walking on the Dingle Way
Cliff top stretches of hiking near Ballydavid
Cliff top stretches of hiking near Ballydavid
Some wild sections of coast along the Dingle Way
Some wild sections of coast along the Dingle Way

Both walks are well sign posted and both have sections with bus service so you can skip a section if need be.

Now that I’ve listed the highlights I think I would take the Dingle Way over the Kerry Way because of the proximity to the sea. But I would still want to head to the Skellig Islands and hike through Killarney Park.

I can guarantee sore feet and tired shoulders but also a fine sense of accomplishment. Both walks are worth doing and in the end it’s hard to pick one over another. On both walks you’ll see one heck of a lot of sheep too.

Lots of sheep on both the Kerry Way & Dingle Way
Lots of sheep on both the Kerry Way & Dingle Way
Location map for the Dingle Way
Location map for the Dingle Way

Further reading on hiking in Ireland

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Kerry Way versus the Dingle Way in Ireland - what's the better hike?

 

 

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