The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Dingle County Kerry, Ireland

by | Jun 23, 2023 | 0 comments

Of all the places to visit, Dingle County Kerry, Ireland should be at the top of your list. This otherworldly peninsula offers views of lush green farmland flanked by turquoise-blue water and some the most fun attractions in Ireland.

The Dingle Peninsula is my favorite place in Ireland. I’ve been on two separate trips and I’m going to give you the inside scoop so you have an absolute killer time in Dingle County Kerry, Ireland.

dingle peninsula county kerry ireland

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How to Get to Dingle County Kerry Ireland

Dingle Peninsula is along the south-west side of Ireland in County Kerry. It’s a 2 hour and 10 minute drive from Shannon Airport and a 4 hour drive from Dublin Airport. The nearest major cities are Killarney (1 hour drive), Limerick (2 hour drive) and Cork (2 hour drive).

The easiest way to see the Dingle Peninsula, and Ireland in general, is by renting a car on and making it a stop on the ultimate Ireland road trip! If you’re not comfortable renting a car or you only have a short time in Ireland, there are tons of day trips to Dingle from major cities nearby and Dingle is a stop on almost all the bus tours of Ireland.

Related Post: 7 Things to Know Before Getting a Rental Car in Dublin, Ireland

slea head drive viewing point

The Weather in Dingle County Kerry, Ireland

Like most of Ireland, Dingle is chilly and wet year round with the warmest months (June-September) having highs in the low 60s. The coldest time of year is November through February with highs in the low 50s and lows in the low 40s. That being said, BOTH times I’ve been to Ireland, once in September and once in February, I happened to catch beautiful sunny weather which made the chilly temps feel absolutely perfect.

Best Time to Visit the Dingle Peninsula

The summer months of June, July and August have the warmest weather and the least rain, but they are the busiest time of year for tourism in Dingle, and hotels have higher rates.

September through November is the cheapest time to visit, though they have a high amount of rain (which isn’t saying much since it rains year round in Ireland). Weather-wise, you truly never know what you’ll get until you see the forecast for the week. My visit over September 24-30 ended up having clear, sunny weather most days.

December through February is the coldest time of year (with plenty of snow throughout Ireland) with very few tourists. But like I said, you never know what you’ll get because I visited February 23-27 and it was cold but there was no snow and it was sunny most days!

So what’s the best time to visit? I would say shoulder season, like May, September and October, and just be prepared for it to be rainy and foggy because that’s most likely going to be the case. Don’t worry though, part of the charm of Ireland is how wet, green and misty it is!

dingle peninsula sheep

Sheep along the coast just past Dunmore Head.

What the Dingle Peninsula Is Known for

First of all, Dingle is known for gasp-inducing views. Other than that, Dingle County Kerry Ireland is known for the famous Slea Head Drive route along the Wild Atlantic Way, ancient archeological sites, like the Fahan Beehive Huts, some of the best traditional Irish music (“trad”) and beautiful beaches (called “strands”). Dingle is also known as being one of the fews places in Ireland where Gaelic is still widely spoken!

baby lambs in grass in dingle ireland

Top Things to Do in Dingle County Kerry, Ireland

Slea Head Drive is the main attraction in Dingle Peninsula, but there’s SO much more to do and see.

Sip Away at Dingle Distillery

The guided tour at Dingle Distillery has something for every drinker with Dingle Whiskey, Dingle Original Gin and Dingle Vodka available to sample. You’ll learn the process of distilling, get to look around the distillery and get to drink! Just be sure to book your tour in advance. Sláinte!

Find Unique Shells on Inch Beach

You must stop at Inch Beach while on the Dingle Peninsula. It’s such a unique site because you’re on a expansive beach with views of green hills surrounding you on both sides. Depending on the weather and waves, you may see swimmers, surfers and kite surfers. It’s perfect for doing any of those activities, or just beach combing for beautiful colorful shells. Plus, it’s four miles long and you can drive your car right on the sand!

Word of Advice: Be mindful when driving on the beach and and don’t drive too far down the beach (or anywhere there aren’t already cars) because tons of cars drive too far and get stuck in the sand. We saw this happen while driving on Inch and turned around just in time. If you get stuck you actually have to have a tractor come down the beach and pull you out. No thanks!

Related Post: How to Avoid All the Tourists at the Cliffs of Moher

dingle county kerry ireland shopping

Wandering & Shopping in the Town of Dingle

Dingle is such a charming town with tons of galleries, bookstores and inviting boutiques. After grabbing breakfast or lunch, you’ll definitely want to wander around.

While I was there, I found the coolest pair of earrings at Kathleen McAuliffe boutique and wanted to buy so many other things in the shop. Aside from shopping, the buildings and tucked away gardens are so enchanting to look at so make sure you’re not in a rush.

Explore Dingle on Horseback

If you’re an experienced horseback rider, book a tour with Dingle Horseriding and explore green mountains and Wild Atlantic beaches on horseback. I haven’t done it in Dingle, but in Killarney, my husband and I went horseback riding through Killarney National Park and it was one of our favorite parts of the trip!

Hike to Eask Tower

Eask Tower sits atop Carhoo Hill above Dingle Harbor. This short hike will give you unforgettable views of the Dingle Harbor and surrounding area. Eask Tower is a solid stone tower that was built in 1847 (more than 170 years ago!) to guide ships into the Dingle Harbor because the harbor has a “blind” mouth.

minke whale off great blasket island ireland

Take the Ferry to Great Blasket Island

Great Blasket Island is the westernmost point of Europe with an interesting history. Before being relocated, resilient island folk lived here on their own fishing and farming, even through all the blustery storms. You’ll definitely want to visit the Blasket Center before heading to the island to learn all about the people and have more appreciation when you’re there. This literally deserted island will be your own slice of peace, quiet and nature while you’re there. You may even see grey seals, dolphins, whales or puffins!

To get to Great Blasket Island, you can take the ferry that leaves from Dun Chaoin Pier (it’s just a 20 minute jaunt) or book a speedboat tour to Great Blasket Island.

Eat Your Way Through Dingle on a Food Tour

Dingle Tasting Tour offers an amazing half-day tour where you’ll learn all about Irish food culture while eating the best seafood and authentic Irish food (and of course having some locally-crafted beer).

Minard Castle in county kerry ireland

Visit a 16th Century Castle

The view at Minard Castle couldn’t be any more picturesque. This 16th century castle steeped in Irish history (and Hollywood with the film Ryan’s Daughter) sits atop a hill overlooking the ocean and a small beach with thousands of smooth boulders. Just know that you’ll have to drive a very narrow road with minimal room for passing to get there.

Immerse Yourself in Nature at Glanteenassig Wood

If you want to wander through quiet woods of spruce, pine and native trees and see mountains, waterfalls and peaceful streams, don’t miss Glanteenassig Wood. Take the hiking trails to Lough Caum and Tralee Bay for sweeping views that are out of this world!

dingle peninsula Ceann Sibéal Viewing Point

Beautiful view of Dunmore Head on Slea Head Drive.

Slea Head Drive

Slea Head Drive is part of the Wild Atlantic Way on R559. It’s easily one of the most fun scenic loop drives in Ireland because there’s so much to see in such a short distance. I absolutely LOVE it! It was the most fun part of my Ireland road trip with my mom in 2018 and it was equally as fun when I brought my husband in 2023.

The drive itself is short (takes about 55 minutes straight through), but you should plan to spend around 3.5 hours because you’ll be stopping frequently and want plenty of time to enjoy the views (and the baby sheep, duh!). It’s also recommended you drive clockwise around the loop to avoid getting stuck behind tour buses.

fahan beehive huts dingle county kerry ireland

My husband, Ryan, at the Fahan Beehive Huts on Slea Head Drive.

Most Popular Slea Head Drive Stops (in order)

  1. Fairie Lios (Fairy Ringfort) – Remains of a circular settlement from ~1000AD with a history of superstition and magic.
  2. Fahan Beehive Huts – 12th century settlement that is an architectural marvel!
  3. Hold a Baby Lamb Stop – Speaks for itself. (Located right after the Beehive Huts.)
  4. Cross at Slea Head – A white statue of Jesus, Mary and other figures on a hairpin bend.
  5. Coumeenoule Beach – A dreamy stretch of beach perfect for a surf, swim or picnic!
  6. Dunmore Head – Get views of the most westerly point in Ireland.
  7. Dun Chaoin (Dunquin Pier) – A very unique (and narrow!) path down to the Dunquin Pier surrounded by craggy cliffs. You should NOT drive on the path.
  8. The Blasket Center – Learn all about the islanders who lived on Great Blasket Island before your speedboat tour to the island.
  9. Ceann Sibéal Viewing Point – Where Star Wars: The Force Awakens ending scene was filmed.
  10. Clogher Strand – Yet another dream-like stretch of beach.
  11. Gallarus Oratory – A thousand-year old church in excellent condition!
conor pass dingle county kerry ireland

Me at the lookout point at Conor Pass. Look at that sky!

Conor Pass

Conor Pas is located on R560 and it’s one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland. There’s a pull off on the side of the road where you can get out and explore. Aside from taking in the insane views of the lakes and valley below, you’ll see a small waterfall and big rocks you can climb (safely!) for a higher vantage point.

Depending on where in Ireland you’re coming from, it may make sense to drive through Conor Pass on your way into the Dingle Peninsula or out. Make sure to plan it on your route if you’re driving in Ireland so you don’t miss it!

best hotels in dingle county kerry ireland

Best Dingle, Ireland Hotels & Places to Stay

Dingle County Kerry, Ireland is a spread out area with accommodations all over the place. You can stay on a hillside with amazing views, right in the town of Dingle or even on the beach.

Best Hotel in Town in Dingle, Ireland: Dingle Bay Hotel

The family-owned Dingle Bay Hotel is located right by the pier in the heart of Dingle with an on-site bar and restaurant. You’ll love included breakfast, free parking and, of course, proximity to everything in town!

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Best Budget Hotel in Dingle: Rainbow Hostel

Rainbow Hostel is just a mile from town and offers the best rates for hotels with a similar location. It’s peaceful, clean and totally charming with multiple room options including family rooms, double rooms and a dormitory.

Best Authentic Hotel in Dingle: Old Irish Farmhouse

The Old Irish Farmhouse is 100% where I will be staying next time I visit Dingle. This working farm has broad ocean views, excellent breakfast included and an on-site coffee shop. The rooms are super cozy with shared bathroom and ensuite options, and many rooms have a sea view.

Location-wise, it’s outside town but it’s walking distance from Slea Head and less than two miles from Coumeenoole Beach. Since it’s a working farm, you may even get to hold a baby lamb or goat here—need I say more? If you aren’t convinced, check out their stellar reviews!

Most Unique Place to Stay in Dingle: Dingle Way Glamping

If you love tiny houses, this is the spot for you! Dingle Way Glamping is on the Dingle Peninsula, but it’s in the town of Annascaul, close to Inch Beach. This adorable blue wagon tiny house has excellent reviews and just looks like the coziest spot ever. There’s a wild garden and fire pit on the property and the small town nearby has plenty of pubs and cafes. And to top it all off, the hosts are amazing!

best restaurants and pubs in dingle

Best Dingle Restaurants & Pubs

Dingle is a small town but there are a lot of great restaurants and pubs packed in. Be sure to checkout the Dingle pubs and restaurants below or do the Dingle Tasting Tour to get a taste of everything.

The Boatyard Restaurant & Bar $$$

At the Boatyard, you’ll enjoy the most amazing fresh-caught fish and seafood with views of the bay. My mom and I ate here on our Ireland road trip and I’ll never forget it. The restaurant was pretty empty and we enjoyed the best food and wine with Harvest Moon by Neil Young playing in the background.

Fish Box / Flannery’s Seafood Bar $$

Perfectly crisped fried calamari, fish & chips and chowder of the highest order are all available to you at the Fish Box. This spot has some of the best seafood and most variety with huge portions and outstanding service.

Chart House $$$

Whether you want Kerry lamb, chicken, steak or fresh Dingle seafood, the Chart House has it all in a lovely atmosphere. Top it off with the quality wine list and homemade desserts and you have the gourmet meal of your trip right there!

Out of the Blue $$

This cozy little blue hut on Dingle Harbor was made for seafood lovers (and seafood is all they sell). Their menu changes daily based on the catch for that day. You can get anything from fresh steamed mussels and chargrilled sea bass to panfried black sole on the bone. Nothing here is ever deep fried and they’ve been featured in the Michelin Guide for the past 15 years!

pint of guinness in a pub

O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub

Come for the amazing selection of craft beer. Stay for the traditional Irish music playing 7 days per week, starting around 9pm. Just make sure to bring cash because it’s cash-only!

Foxy John’s Pub

Foxy John’s is a more local pub that doubles as a hardware store. They have music some nights and very friendly, welcoming bartenders. You’ll have a great time chatting with locals and just taking it all in!

Dick Mack’s

Whiskey lovers, head to Dick Mack’s! Here you’ll find hundreds of whiskeys to sample and locally brewed beers in a bar with authentic Irish charm. There’s also a small courtyard area if you’d like to sit outside.

And that’s it, folks! Are you convinced on visiting Dingle County Kerry, Ireland now? Did I leave anything amazing to do in Dingle out of this guide? Let me know in the comments below!

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