Dingle

There are many interesting attractions you can do in dingle & it is only a stone throw away from where I live in Tralee. My wife and I go there many times during the year.

Dingle is a quaint town located to the southwest of the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry. Mountains with glaciated valleys cover the 30-mile peninsula, and the coastline on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way features steep sea cliffs and sandy beaches.

The Dingle Peninsula is considered one of the most beautiful places on earth, and justly so. Dingle, the town, looks over Dingle Bay, which separates the Dingle and Iveragh peninsulas.

Hussey’s Folly Dingle
Hussey’s Folly

Dingle is a colourful and bustling fishing town that offers tourists a slice of the rich Irish tradition and culture – eclectic shops, art and crafts, archaeology, pubs with traditional music, and friendly locals make the town a must-visit destination when in Ireland.

Dingle is teeming with tourists on weekends and during summers; June, July, and August are the busiest months. Unless you’re one to love the crowds, we suggest you visit just before or after the summer, when it’s just as beautiful but not as crowded.

But then again, the crowds add a buzz to the town and make it livelier, so it’s more a matter of what kind of holiday you prefer. If people from Kerry want a short trip, most of them go to Dingle, not Killarney or Tralee.

Blasket Islands: A Slice of Irish Heritage and History

What a bedroom was like in the Blasket Islands, Kerry
What a kitchen was like in the Blasket Islands

The Blasket Islands are a group of six islands off west of the Dingle Peninsula. They are a must-visit if you’re keen on Irish heritage. The islands are largely state-owned now, and residents were evacuated to the mainland after the population declined to 22.

Today, the Blasket Islands are a ghost town overrun with seals, sheep, and rabbits. Tourists frequent the islands for a glimpse of history and the breathtaking scenery.

As a visitor to the Great Blasket Island, you can visit several ruins, a cottage, and a small cafe. The hike up and down the hills can be a tad strenuous for some.

Boat Tours to the Blasket Island and Dolphin Booking

If you plan to visit, opt for the Dingle Bay Speed Boat Tours & Great Blasket Island Experience, which includes a two-way ferry, and other sea life sighting, and a 4-hour excursion at The Great Blasket Island that includes a guided tour, all for €65 per person.

You can even choose to stay over for a night for a unique experience. There’s no electricity, so don’t expect hot water, but the tea light setting after dark certainly makes for a never-before experience. Don’t forget to carry a strong insect repellent as midges can prove to be a nightmare.

Slea Head Drive

Swell at Clogher Bay
Swell at Clogher Bay

Slea Head Drive (see my web page here), also known as the Dingle Loop, is a 30-mile route in the western part of the Dingle Peninsula. The drive is often referred to as the most scenic one in Ireland.

Journey through historic sites and local villages on this route that offers some of the most spectacular views in the country, or in fact anywhere in the world if you ask me.

The drive should take about 3 hours or so but we recommend you give yourself time to stop at some of the attractions and take it all in. You want to travel clockwise to avoid the tourist buses along the way, especially during the busy summer.

After Ventry for 15km, the road gets narrow. You can even hire a bicycle at Dingle to enjoy the route.

The beauty of the drive is undoubtedly the diversity in the views – you’ve got beaches, hills, islands, and cliffs, alongside historical sites. The restaurants and pubs along the way provide great stopping points in the form of delicious food, traditional Irish music, and warm Irish hospitality.

Famine Cottages, Beehive Huts, Gallarus Oratory, and Dunmore Head are some popular attractions on Slea Head Drive. If you’re stopping at Bee-Hive Huts, don’t forget to visit The Stone House for a hearty meal.

Sciuird Archaeological Tours

The Dingle Peninsula has 2,500 archaeological sites of importance, dating from 6000 BC to 1700 AD. While Dingle town and a lot of the attractions around are interesting for many, history enthusiasts could opt for a tour dedicated solely to archaeological sites.

Several tour operators offer tours that cover these sites, along with a knowledgeable guide. These guides are an invaluable source of local knowledge and will provide an entertaining dimension to your experience. Plus, small group tours also give you an opportunity to interact with new people of similar interests.

Cross slab at Riasc
Cross slab at Riasc

I recommend Sciuird Archaeological Tours, a small family-run business managed by a father-son duo that conducts tours for small groups of up to 16 people.

These tours start from (and end at) Dingle town, from where you can sit back and relax in a bus as they undertake the Slea Head Drive. Each tour takes about 3 hours and many archaeological sites, and at €30 per person (including entry charges at said sites), I can attest that it’s a stellar deal.

Beehive hut near Slea Head in the Dingle Peninsula
Beehive hut near Slea Head

Money aside, Sciuird Archaeological Tours guarantees a thoroughly educational and insightful experience with a qualified archaeologist. Also, unlike most group tours, it’s not extremely commercial.

Apart from the time you spend with the group, you also have sufficient time to explore places and take pictures. It would be a good idea to make a reservation beforehand as they take only a set number of groups per day.

Some of the sites Sciuird Archaeological Tours covers include the Beehive at Fahan, the 15th-century tower house of the Fitzgerald family, Ogham stones, St. Brendan’s Oratory, and Armada Commemorative Monument at Dún Chaoin. Give them a try; I assure you, that you won’t be disappointed.

Where to Eat and Drink in Dingle

Fentons Restaurant in Dingle
Fentons Restaurant in Dingle

Knowing the right restaurants and pubs are a big part of any vacation. Fenton’s of Dingle is a lovely restaurant. Visit there for the delicious food (and generous portions too!), great presentation, warm ambiance, and excellent service.

They even offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, albeit limited. In terms of what to order, steak, lamb, beef, and oysters are excellent options. They can get quite busy, so making a reservation a day or two in advance is a good idea.

If you’re a seafood lover, we recommend Out of the Blue. The harbour-side, moderately expensive restaurant has an unassuming front and serves fresh seafood and local beer – the menu changes as per the catch of the day.

Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant is another great option. They’re expensive but offer an elegant and stylish dining experience, unbelievably delicious food options, and an excellent wine selection.

Lord Baker’s is a good option if you’re looking for a pub with great food. They even have a ‘special value menu’ that features dishes for €18. Lord Baker’s also offers vegetarian and vegan options. The place is pretty popular, so book in advance.

The Chart House is another great cozy restaurant in Dingle. Simple yet creative food, generous portions, reasonable price, and welcoming staff make this place a hit all round.

The Fish Box and Solas Tapas & Wine Bar are some other amazing, reasonably priced options in Dingle. Reel Dingle Fish and Novecento offer some pretty good food as well and are much friendlier on the pocket.

Now, a long time ago, one side of the premises was a pub and the other side was a shop. Sadly this has died away except for a few pubs in Ireland. One of the pubs is in Dingle. It is well worth a visit to Foxy John’s which is a pub and hardware store combined.

Many people when they get drunk have been known to buy a pair of wellingtons etc. Another great place to have a drink is Dick Mack’s, they also have their own brewery which you can tour (see below).

Dick Mack’s Brewhouse

Dick Mack’s Brewhouse offers a holistic experience – you’ve got a brewhouse, taproom, and an outdoor area with food trucks, which make it a great option to spend some time here. You can either opt for a brewery tour or simply enjoy their beer alongside the daily specials at the artisan food trucks.

As an added advantage, they’re pet-friendly, and you can bring your four-legged buddy. One of the great things about this place is the live, traditional Irish music provided by local bands, which ties the whole experience together. You can even buy little knick-knacks as souvenirs.

From March through October, Dick Mack’s Brewhouse offers two daily tours at 3 pm and 5 pm. Other times, you’ll need to call and make arrangements for a private or group tour. The tour costs €12 per person and includes a tour of the brewhouse and beer tasting.

We definitely recommend Dick Mack’s Brewhouse for good food, a great experience, amazing beer (especially the stout), and an authentic Irish feel.

Dingle Distillery

When in or around Dingle, a great activity can be touring a brewhouse or distillery. The Dingle Whiskey Distillery offers artisanal whiskey, gin, or vodka. They use three distinctive, hand-crafted copper pot stills to create the ultimate Irish whiskey, which is remarkably smooth.

The independent family-owned business’s single malt is excellent and available for about €70. Their Irish vodka and gin average at about €35, and they even offer gift packs starting from €50.

You can go for two tours at The Dingle Whiskey Distillery – the Distillery Tour and the Dingle Whiskey Experience. The first is informative and enjoyable; learn more about the history of the Irish whiskey industry and the distillation process and tour their production facility.

The tour costs €15 per person and lasts about 45 minutes. The Dingle Whiskey Experience tour offers a comprehensive understanding of the whole process from the grain to glass.

Walk along with the casks and taste one of their new spirits and four mature whiskeys from the maturing stock. The tour costs €30 per person, and each group has no more than six people. It lasts for about one and a half hours.

The timings for both tours are 10 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 3:00 pm, and 4:30 pm, and an advance booking is a must – they don’t allow walk-ins at present. Children under 12 are not permitted inside the facility, and the premises are not wheelchair accessible.

Dingle Oceanworld

Dingle Aquarium
Dingle Aquarium

Oceanworld, one of Ireland’s largest aquariums, is a must-visit if marine life fascinates you. It houses many countless species, from Sand Tiger Sharks and Asian Short-Clawed Otters to Gentoo Penguins and loggerhead turtles. Have a look at the red-bellied Piranhas with their razor-sharp bottom and top teeth.

They have reptiles as well. Try and book a time when they are feeding them. It is possible to hold 1 or 2 of the snakes. I did and they are cold to touch and scaly. They gave a little talk about their maintenance and habitat while they were feeding them.

Entry charges are €15.50 per adult, €10.75 per child, and family is €53 (2 adults & 4 children). They are open each day of the week between 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. While Oceanworld can be an excellent experience for anyone, it’s a must-visit for kids.

You’re even allowed to touch some fish and stingrays. While you can get a ticket at the venue, having a pre-booked ticket (available on their website) can help skip the queue.

The gift shop inside is quite reasonably priced, so you might want to check if something catches your eye. While the overall experience at Oceanworld is fabulous, some find it a tad expensive, considering the whole walk is done in about 25-30 minutes. We still recommend the place, especially if you’re with children.

Mount Brandon: A Hike to Remember

At 951.7 meters, Mount Brandon is one of the ten highest peaks in Ireland. It’s at the centre of the Brandon Group mountain range, which spans 6.2 miles across the Dingle Peninsula. The summit offers an unmatched view of the southwest Irish coast.

Scaling Mount Brandon and climbing down take about 5-7 hours and can be physically strenuous for some. The climb is beautiful, and the views are spectacular, which more than make up for the time and effort. I wouldn’t recommend going by yourself, it’s a better idea to hire a guide considering one may wander off track.

There are two routes to scaling Mount Brandon – the Baille Breac (Ballybrack) route and the Faha Ridge route. The Baille Breac route is about 6 miles from Dingle Town. This route follows the western pilgrim’s path (originally from Ventry) taking in the 14 Stations of the Cross.

The Faha Ridge route is about 5 miles and takes about 6 hours. If you plan on climbing Mount Brandon, we recommend a guided ascent by Kerry Climbing. You also want to carry wet weather gear or a windbreaker since the flat grassy terrain offers no protection from the ferocious winds.

Fishing in Dingle

Boats dock at the Dingle harbour

If you’re an avid fisher, deep, game, shore, and sea angling are all great options at the Dingle Peninsula. There’s plenty of fish for everyone’s preference all year-round. You can go fishing for mackerel, pollack, and bass. Mackerel especially is fairly common during late spring to autumn, while the bass is common all year-round.

Deep-sea fishing will require licensed and equipped boats, and you can hire one for 2, 4, or 8 hours starting from €35 per adult. You can even hire a private boat for as low as €250. Some providers offer you the option of serving you your catch as dinner at a local restaurant for around €12.

Gallarus Oratory

Drone footage of Gallarus Oratoty
Gallarus Oratoty

Gallarus Oratory is an ancient chapel that has stood the test of time. Located on the Dingle Peninsula, along the Slea Head Drive, Gallarus Oratory is a Romanesque stone church reportedly built from the date of 11th/12th centuries AD.

It is a famous landmark located close to Gallarus Castle and entirely made of stone. The inside of the church measures only 4.8m by 3m and is lit by a single window on the east wall.

A local tradition is that anyone who climbs through this tiny window is guaranteed access to heaven. The window is only big enough for children to be passed through.

The grounds contain several archaeological artifacts. Visiting is convenient; the place has a coach and car park, cafe, and toilets. Entry to Gallarus Oratory is free, but they charge you €3-4 per person for a video show, which most find to be well worth it.

Eask Tower

A solid stone tower at the top of the Carhoo Hill at 600 feet above sea level, Eask Tower overlooks the Dingle Harbor. The structure was built in 1847 and guided ships and boats to the harbour with a wooden hand pointing from the tower.

At the Eask Tower, one can enjoy 360-degree views of the Dingle Peninsula and more, including the Blasket Islands, the Iveragh Peninsula, Mount Brandon, and Carrauntoohill.

The access fee for Eask Tower is a nominal €2, which is used for the maintenance of the trail. It’s a 30-minute climb and can be strenuous for some. Sheep droppings are everywhere, so wear washable shoes, which you can later clean with a hose.

The serenity and beauty of Eask Tower and the surrounding views make it a perfect spot for a picnic. Some carry a bagged lunch and a bottle of wine to relax and enjoy the views.

Irish Famine Cottages and Sheep Dog Trials

Get an experience of what it was like to live during the Great Irish Famine with the Irish Famine Cottages. The cottages were built in the mid-nineteenth century and are as haunting as they are interesting.

Reportedly, one of the families who lived in the house lost six children who were buried in the property as they were not baptized and hence, not allowed to be laid to rest in the church graveyard.

The largest cottage was inhabited till the 1950s and has been left as is. Thus, visitors get a real feel of what living in those times was like. The Irish Famine Cottages of Slea Head Drive also offer sheepdog performances, where you can see sheepdogs gathering the sheep. Visitors also gain knowledge about sheep farmers and how they worked back in the day.

We recommend the Irish Famine Cottages for a very authentic glimpse into history. With the whole story, visiting is sorrowful and moving; the whole experience is raw and authentic. It’s a self-guided trip, and the signboards around are quite informative. The entry fee is €3, in which you also get a bowl feed for the animals.

Kerry Camino

Kerry Camino is an initiative to promote walking in Kerry. It is a guided 3-day walk that follows the route from Tralee to Dingle. If you can manage the 3-day walk, you shouldn’t miss this one – spectacular scenery of the beautiful countryside and dramatic coastline it makes the effort so worthwhile.

You need a decent fitness level for this one and the right gear, some patches can get rough. The walk is supported, so you have cars if needed, and the guides lend you a hand when the going gets rough.

The three days comprise a walk from Tralee to Camp (Day 1), Camp to Annascaul (Day 2), and Annascaul to Dingle (Day 3). Many visitors opt for bus transfers and stay the nights at Tralee in the Grand Hotel. Kerry Camino is especially great for solo travelers.

Don’t forget to book in advance as the activity is popular and often overbooked. Hiking gear is a must for this activity.

Where to Stay and For How Many Nights

Accommodation options are plentiful in Dingle Town, suitable for all preferences and budgets. Some of the highly recommended options include Dingle Skellig Hotel, Dingle Bay Hotel, and Dingle Benners Hotel.

Other more reasonably priced options include Greenmount House, Tower View B&B, The Waterfront Dingle, and O’Neills B&B.

Airbnb also has some stellar accommodation options, and some of these are a steal at unbelievably low prices. The platform also has unique accommodation listings for stays that are so much more, such as Glamping Pods and EcoPod Camping.

While many opt to stay at Dingle for two nights, I recommend you plan a trip for at least three nights or preferably four. That way, you’ll get sufficient time to explore all the exciting attractions in and around the place.

The main challenge for most is deciding the itinerary and working out the number of nights at other destinations, such as Killarney, Tralee, and Cahersiveen Town.

Conclusion

Dingle is a fabulous vacation getaway that has much to offer for travellers of all kinds. With history, art, culture, heritage, and warm, welcoming faces, Dingle has something for everyone. From boat tours and guided walks to fun activities, such as visiting the Dingle Distillery, and interesting experiences, such as Gallarus Oratory, the options are countless.

What makes Dingle especially great is the diversity of experiences. One can easily enjoy an afternoon with craft beer at a local brewery, delicious fresh seafood at many restaurants, hiking up a picturesque mountain, or exploring an abandoned island.

Not many places can boast of such rich experiences. One of the understated yet important aspects of visiting Dingle, or very many other places in Ireland, is their warm hospitality. The locals are super friendly, welcoming, and helpful.

Locals and visitors are often seen mingling at pubs and bonding over a Guinness. While this seems like a minor detail, the hospitality of the locals plays a big role in any holiday.

The Dingle Peninsula is a must-visit for nature lovers, especially. Even if you don’t hike up any of the hills or wade into the pristine aquamarine waters, the backdrop around is gorgeous.

A simple drive offers the most awe-inspiring views of sandy beaches, sparkling waters, dramatic cliffs, and lush green grasslands. Visit Dingle to experience nature like never before, one panoramic view at a time.

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.

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