A trip around Dingle Peninsula
Feel the sea air billowing through your hair, trek through cliff-side walks, discover the distinctive flavours of County Kerry, and enjoy the warm welcomes, live music and craic (fun) in the local pubs. It’s all yours to experience on the Dingle Peninsula
From crashing waves to cosy cottages, and medieval monasteries to music festivals, the Dingle Peninsula on the southwest coast is the perfect place to immerse yourself in rural Ireland life. Trains run from Dublin and County Cork to County Kerry, and regular bus services are available from around the island. You can also hire a car at any of Ireland’s airports. Now all you have to do is embrace the Dingle way of life on this three-day trip.
Nestled in a calm bay among the peninsula’s mountains, Dingle town is the perfect base for your next adventure.Explore Day 1
The heart of the peninsula
The gorgeous, bohemian town of Dingle has charm in spades, from its stunning location on the water's edge to its old hilly streets. No wonder it’s an inspirational haven for creatives.
Browse the boutique fashion and jewellery shops on Green Street, drop into Brian De Staic Jewellers' workshop or take a look at the cosy jumpers at the Dingle Woollen Company. Famous for its great seafood, the town has also got a bustling food and drink scene, so get the inside track on what’s tasty with the Dingle Food Tour, or learn the recipes yourself with a masterclass at Dingle Cookery School.
Raise a toast at the Dingle Distillery, and see how the award-winning Dingle Gin is brewed. And the perfect way to end your evening? It’s got to be with a scoop or two of the famous Murphy’s Ice Cream, with its distinctive flavours, including Irish Coffee, Dingle Sea Salt and Irish Brown Bread.
Explore Dingle’s natural beauty
Venture out on a Dingle Sea Safari to meet some of the wonderful marine wildlife, including whales, seals and a variety of sea birds. Explore more of County Kerry’s natural beauty with Dingle Horseriding, and gallop through the hills above Dingle for spectacular views of the bay.
The school has trails suitable for all experience levels and runs all year round. Prefer exploring on foot? Then grab your hiking boots and take part in Walk the Dingle Way, an eight-day trail spanning 197km, that will leave you transformed. It traditionally starts in Tralee, passing through Dingle town and around Slea Head, but the trail can be joined at any stage.
Paint the town
The evenings are when the town really comes alive. The pubs dotted throughout the town feature live music and storytelling every night, so wander along the streets and listen to whatever catches your ear. Check out the unique Foxy John’s, which is half bar and half hardware shop, or soak up the atmosphere of Dick Mack’s Pub & Brewery’s cosy beer garden.
When it gets late, settle in at the charming Dingle Benners Hotel on Main Street, pamper yourself at the opulent Dingle Skellig Hotel or take in a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic Ocean at Dingle Bay Hotel. If you want to venture outside the town to a peaceful country estate, Castlewood House, Greenmount House and Pax House offer the perfect getaway.
The Slea Head Drive takes you through ancient sites and quirky villages to the edge of the peninsula, with stunning views of the Blasket Islands.Explore Day 2
Take the scenic route
Setting off from Dingle on the Slea Head Drive, you’ll arrive at the Iron Age Dún Beag Fort and Visitor Centre. The fort’s stone walls were built in 500BC at the cliff’s edge to protect it from being attacked, but over the years, parts of the structure have been lost due to coastal erosion.
Near Dún Beag, you’ll find the Fahan Beehive which boasts a unique collection of clochán, medieval stone houses once inhabited by monks. These cone-shaped structures can be seen along the Slea Head Drive, and if they look familiar there’s a good reason why – the beehive huts on Skellig Michael featured as Luke Skywalker’s hideaway in Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Coumeenoole beckons next. The pale, wind-swept sands of what is arguably County Kerry’s finest beach are backed by jagged black cliffs and offer sweeping views of the distant Blasket Islands. This is the west coast at its finest: vast racing skies, pounding waves, salty winds and dramatic cliffs – no wonder it featured in the David Lean film, Ryan’s Daughter.
More heart-stirring scenery can be found in Dunquin Harbour. Stand at the top of the tightly wound path that leads down to the pier, where a vast Wild Atlantic panorama awaits. Far out in the stony-coloured seas is the most westerly island group in Europe, the Blaskets – the only thing lying between you and America. You can learn about the history and culture of these now-uninhabited islands, as well as the story of their most famous resident Peig Sayers, at the interactive Blasket Centre.
Journey further along the coast to the workshop of renowned Irish potter Louis Mulcahy for beautiful handmade pieces to take home. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop on a boat at Dunquin Harbour and explore the Great Blasket. Spend a night in a restored cottage and feel the modern world melt away.
Step into medieval Ireland
Explore Ireland’s medieval history at Riasc, an abandoned monastery complete with a church, stone crosses, houses, workshops and graveyards. Nearby is the Gallarus Oratory, a five-metre sandstone boat-shaped structure dating from between the 7th and 12th centuries.
The building is wonderfully preserved – almost unchanged from the day it was built. Finally, you’ll come to Kilmalkedar Church, a stop along The Saints Path pilgrimage route. Surrounding the 12th century church you’ll find a series of intricate stone carvings and one of the few surviving medieval sundials on the island of Ireland.
Set in the stunning mountains of the Dingle peninsula, the Conor Pass links Dingle town on the south coast with the villages along the north.Explore Day 3
Take the Conor Pass and explore the peninsula
On your final day, set off from your base in Dingle and head for the Conor Pass, one of the most beautiful routes on the island of Ireland. The single-lane mountain pass twists and turns from Dingle town to Brandon Bay, passing through Cloghane and Brandon Villages.
Once you hit the summit, you are rewarded with the perfect view of the entire peninsula, and its exceptional terrain of rocky mountains, sweeping green valleys and inky corrie lakes. Travel along the road to Tralee and pay a visit to the beautiful beaches of Castlegregory, before heading on to Blennerville, the main port of emigration in County Kerry during the Great Famine in the 19th century.
Tour the Blennerville Windmill and Visitor Centre to see inside a working windmill, and check out the audio-visual displays, gallery and emigration exhibition that tell the history of the region. On your way back to Dingle, make a slight detour to visit the gorgeous Inch Beach, a 5km patch of golden sand that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, backed by a bevy of rolling dunes. Nearby, you’ll find the perfect post-walk refuge at Annascaul’s South Pole Inn, once owned by Ireland’s legendary Antarctic explorer Tom Crean.
Nestled at the foot of Mount Brandon on the north side of the peninsula is Brandon Creek, the spot where St Brendan the Navigator is said to have set sail for America in 535AD, possibly discovering America 900 years before Columbus!