Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Dingle Peninsula, situated in the south-west of County Kerry, is known for its spectacular scenery and its most famous local – the dolphin, Fungie. The mountainous peninsula runs 40 miles from Tralee to Slea Head. Ireland's second highest mountain, Mount Brandon , is located to the north of the peninsula, reaching a height of 3,123 feet.
The Dingle Peninsula offers a pleasant mix of scenic drives, isolated walks and bike rides, plenty of ancient ruins, and charming little villages with excellent seafood restaurants, pubs, and art galleries. The gorgeous beaches on the peninsula are perfect for surfers, wind surfers, and other water sports.
From colorful fishing villages with narrow streets to seaside resorts with sandy beaches, the Dingle Peninsula offers a wide variety of things to see and do. Exploring the peninsula is very pleasant if you don’t mind renting a car. The peninsula is also a paradise for walkers. Starting at Tralee, the Dingle Way takes you on a 95 miles walk around Dingle Peninsula.
The peninsula boasts an impressive number of archaeological sites, Bronze and Iron Age as well as early Christian. You can visit Dingle Peninsula Museum in Ballyferriter and learn more about the archaeology and heritage of the peninsula. You might also like to take a trip to Blasket Islands , which are now uninhabited.
What to See & Do
Dingle TownDingle, located in a natural harbor, is one of the Ireland's more charming towns. Its narrow streets are dotted with colorful pubs, fish restaurants, art galleries, craft shops selling local pottery, and clothing made from handwoven cloth. The laid-back town is the home of Ireland's famous dolphin, Fungie, who has been swimming with boats and tourists in the Dingle Harbor since 1984. There are several boat tours of the harbor, especially for meetings with the famous Fungi. The Dingle Tourist Office located on Main Street offers useful tourist information.
Inch BeachThe Inch Beach, jutting into the sea between Dingle Harbor and Castlemaine Harbor, is one of the most popular beaches on the peninsula. An extensive sandy beach is perfect for swimming, surfing, and very long walks. There is a pleasant café overlooking the beach as well as a surf hire facility. Being one of Ireland’s Blue Flag beaches, it is lifeguarded during the summer.
Conor PassThe picturesque Conor Pass is a narrow, twisting road between Dingle and Kilmore Cross. 410 m above the sea level, it is the highest mountain pass in Ireland. Stop at the top of the Conor Pass and enjoy the impressive views of Brandon Bay, the North Kerry coastline, and Loop Head to the north and Dingle Bay to the south. There are a couple of nice information boards to read your way through. Halfway down the other side of the pass you’ll also find a small waterfall. The road is, at its narrowest point, single lane only, so beware of oncoming traffic. Also note that, due to the nature of the road, there are length and weight restrictions, and vehicles such as caravans and camper vans cannot use the pass.
Gallarus Oratory & CastleGallarus Oratory , located on Slea Head Drive overlooking Smerwick Harbor, is the best-preserved early Christian church in Ireland. It was built in the 7th century and is a classic example of dry-stone corbeling. There’s a curse on anyone taking a stone from the Oratory - it’s said that you won’t be able to sleep until the stone is returned. Nearby is the Gallarus Castle. It was probably built in 15th century and has four stories.
Slea Head DriveThe Slea Head Drive from Dingle town is the most famous and breathtaking circular drive in the area and definitely should not be missed. The scenic route follows the southern coast of the peninsula out to Slea Head, then heads north through Dunquin and Ballyferriter before winding its way back to Dingle. The views are superb, and there are a few fabulous places to stop along the way. The traffic goes in both directions, but at times the road is only wide enough for a single car, so drive carefully.
Dunbeg FortPerched on the very edge of the cliffs, Dunbeg Fort, is a small but an impressive Iron Age promontory fort. The round fort with its dramatic views is a popular visitor attraction on the Slea Head Drive. Note that much of the fort has fallen into the sea, due to eruption of the cliff and during coastal storms in late January 2014. The adjacent Visitor Center is also worth a visit.
Blasket IslandsThe Blasket Islands are a group of 7 islands just off the Slea Head. They were inhabited for centuries by a small Irish speaking population who followed a traditional way of life. The largest of the island, Great Blasket Island, remains uninhabited since 1953. Explore the picturesque island by foot and discover the old village, unspoiled beaches, as well as the group of seals who have made the island their home. Boats run from Dunquin and Dingle harbor to the island. Be sure to visit the Blasket Island Heritage Center on the mainland, which gives a fascinating insight into what life was like on the islands before the last inhabitants left.
AccommodationsThe Dingle Peninsula and Dingle town offer a wide array of accommodations ranging from budget to luxury, but the most delightful accommodations are local bed-and-breakfasts. Try to book far in advance, especially during the summer months as Dingle is very crowded in July and August.
By Public TransportIn order to reach the Dingle Peninsula by public transport it is necessary to travel to Tralee, which is about 31 miles from Dingle town. From there, a local bus service provided by Bus Éireann runs to Dingle.
By CarThere are two main roads into the peninsula. The N86 runs from Tralee, along the south coast of Tralee Bay, through Camp village, then over the mountains to Annascaul, Lispole, and Dingle. And the R561, which runs from Castlemaine, where it connects to roads from Kerry Airport, Killarney, and the Ring of Kerry. The road runs along the north side of Castlemaine Harbor, to Inch and then via a cliff-top road to join the N86 just west of Annascaul. The roads, although scenic, are often narrower than what some drivers may be accustomed to. Note that there are a limited number of petrol stations on the peninsula and there are no fuel stations west of Dingle.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Jun 20, 2015