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.
Highlights on the Kerry Way in Ireland 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)
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.
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
Both the Kerry Way and the Dingle Way 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 the hike through Killarney Park is memorable.
I can guarantee sore feet and tired shoulders but also a fine sense of accomplishment. Both walks in Ireland are worth doing and in the end it’s hard to pick one over another. It doesn’t matter if you’re hiking the Kerry Way or the Dingle Way – you’ll see one heck of a lot of sheep.