There are so many things to do on Dingle Peninsula! It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited in Ireland. Here is some itinerary inspiration:
- Top Things to Do on Dingle Peninsula
- 1. Drive Slea Head Loop.
- 2. Hear Irish Trad Music on a Pub Crawl.
- 3. Walk Dunquin Pier.
- 4. Drive Conor Pass
- 5. Visit the Gallarus Oratory.
- 6. See Star Wars Filming Locations.
- 7. Explore Inch Beach.
- 8. Check out the Beehive Huts.
- 9. Go sea kayaking in Dingle Harbor.
- 10. Look for Fungie on a boat tour.
- 11. Raise a glass at Dingle Distillery. Sláinte!
- 12. Visit Dunbeg Fort.
- 13. Hike in the Blasket Islands.
- 14. Wander Rahinnane Castle.
Top Things to Do on Dingle Peninsula
1. Drive Slea Head Loop.
This gorgeous drive takes several hours with frequent stops to fully appreciate the views and history. It’s simply stunning and not to be missed so think of it as a major focus of your day in Dingle. It was one of our favorite things we included on our 10 day Ireland itinerary.
In mid-summer, I’d recommend the drive on a long evening to miss the crowds (rather than mid-day). But honestly, during our late May visit, I found the crowds all over Ireland to be far fewer than other areas of Europe.
And if you’re trying to decide between Slea Head Loop or the famous Ring of Kerry, I vote for Slea Head Loop! So often, I find that there are excellent alternatives to famous sites that are just as incredible—or even more so—as the more well-trod sites. Fewer people to share it with makes for a far more enjoyable experience.
Here’s what to expect: Gorgeous windswept views of the sea on narrow winding roads…Irish speaking villages…and mysterious islands in the misty distance. The drive is a loop so it’s easy to start and end in Dingle.
Along the way, plan to visit the famous “fairy huts” (Beehive Huts), walk Dunquin Pier, and see the Gallaurs Oratory…all described in detail below!
Just remember to watch for cyclists, horses, and school children as you meander along on one of the world’s most epic drives.
Be aware that there are some narrow one-lane roads on this epic drive! It’s all part of the charm. All over Ireland, you’ll find these tiny roads with only enough space to accommodate a single car for two way traffic.
The good news: You’ll find Irish drivers generally very accommodating about pulling over so you can pass. Just watch for oncoming traffic.
Don’t want to drive? Check out prices and availability on a group tour of Slea Hea and the Dingle Peninsula here.
2. Hear Irish Trad Music on a Pub Crawl.
Of all the music we heard from Dublin to the west coast of Ireland, Dingle was where we felt the magic most. Perhaps that’s because it is an epicenter of the traditional music scene here.
In fact, instrumentalists and ballad singers from across the country congregate here in Dingle town. You’ll see impromptu gatherings in pubs, where musicians introduce themselves and then join in a few songs together. It’s the very embodiment of “Craic”, that uniquely Irish mix of fun, community, and entertainment that you’ll feel everywhere you go.
Consider a pub crawl that includes: Dick Macks, Foxy Johns, Kennedy’s, Hannie Agnes, and my favorite: O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub. These were the pubs recommended to me personally as the “best of the best” by a local musician!
On our visit to Dingle, we went in search of O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub after meeting Tommy O’Sullivan and Saundra, his lovely Texan wife, back in San Diego, California when they played a friend’s Valentine’s Day house concert. So it was only natural we headed directly there while in Dingle.
And it definitely lived up to our expectations…with a mournful accordion and guitar performance on one night and a talented Uileann pipe player (an Irish version of a Scottish bagpipe) the next.
3. Walk Dunquin Pier.
Located on the far west end of the Dingle Peninsula, tucked into a quiet corner of Slea Head Drive, sits Dunquin Pier (in Irish, Dún Chaoin), which boasts one of the most famous postcard-worthy views of the Dingle Peninsula, and even all of Ireland.
The small pier, accessible only on foot (you’ll need to leave your car parked at the top), is surrounded by bright, clear sea and jagged rocks, making for a stunning view that has captured the hearts of many people visiting Ireland. Be sure to check out the view looking down from the top before strolling down the pier yourself!
Dunquin Pier is not visible from the road, so be sure that you plug it into your GPS as you approach the western part of Slea Head Drive–you won’t want to miss this postcard view, and you could easily drive right by if you don’t know what you’re looking for!
The easiest way to visit Dunquin Pier is as part of an independent road trip in Ireland that covers Slea Head Drive, but if you’d rather take a tour, you can also sign up for one in Dingle that will stop at Dunquin Pier.
Kate | Our Escape Clause
4. Drive Conor Pass
Conor Pass takes travelers between the north and south of the Dingle Peninsula via the highest mountain road in the country. The allure of Conor Pass—like many of the best places to visit in Ireland—is unquestionably the scenery. It’s one of the most interesting areas to drive on Dingle Peninsula.
Road trippers, venturing through the pass, are treated to striking views, still lakes, cascading waterfalls, and verdant Irish countryside as far as the eye can see.
This jagged mountain pass takes you over 1500 feet high, as you slowly bob and weave around the tight turns. At the road’s peak, you’re making it up and over Brandon Mountain, the second-highest peak in Ireland.
Here, on the pass, you’re enveloped by nature. You get pristine views of the coast and seaside. But there are also roadside lookout points to stop and admire the dramatic views of the lush landscape we all travel to Ireland to see.
Conor Pass isn’t a massive road trip either. Starting from Dingle Town, the road only stretches for 12km. So you can combine it with other things to do on the Dingle Peninsula. But I would recommend setting aside at least an hour.
In short, Conor Pass presents travelers with an unforgettable drive. Not only does the pass cut through some of the most remarkable scenery in the country, but it gifts you with panoramic views of it.
Lastly, the ideal time to road trip Conor Pass is on a clear day. Occasionally, the pass is shrouded in a layer of fog, which can obstruct the views and make the mountain road a little treacherous.
Stephen | A Backpackers Tale
Where to Stay in Dingle
Lovely Bed and Breakfast: We loved our rural stay at Ocean View B&B just outside of Dingle. Our stay came with a beautiful spacious room, views of sheep galore, delicious hot breakfast, and friendly advice on favorite local hikes from our host.
Luxury and city center: If you’d prefer a beautiful hotel in town, reserve at Milltown House Dingle. Guests rave about the 5-star Irish breakfast, jacuzzi, and excellent hospitality.
You can find the best deals for Dingle accommodation here.
5. Visit the Gallarus Oratory.
The Gallarus Oratory is an ancient church which dates back over 1,000 years and is one of the most popular sights on the Dingle Peninsula. Despite its age, the church has remained intact and in immaculate condition throughout the centuries. It is currently the oldest untouched church in Ireland.
The oratory itself resembles an upturned boat and despite its simple exterior, the building is surprisingly complex. The church was built using a technique known as corballing, a Neolithic process where the stones are laid over each other to form a intricate and very strong structure.
This technique was used on numerous structures which include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange and the monastery on Skellig Michael. These also both remain in excellent condition despite their age.
The oratory consists of a small, single room with a narrow entrance at the front and a small window to the rear. Legend has it that anyone who is successful at climbing through the small window will have their soul purified. The views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular and, on a clear day, stretch as far as the Atlantic Ocean.
The oratory is most easily accessed via car and is a perfect stop after driving the scenic Slea Head loop.
David | Your Ireland Vacation
6. See Star Wars Filming Locations.
The Dingle Peninsula is particularly known for its stunning rugged coastline. That is one of the reasons why Disney location scouts chose the area to be a Star Wars Ireland filming location in Episode VIII “The Last Jedi” and Episode IX “The Rise of Skywalker”.
There are two spots in Dingle where filming took place, on Sybil Head near Ballyferriter, and on Dunmore Head close to the beautiful Coumeenoole Beach. The filming crew deemed the impressive 206 meter high cliffs of Sybil Head to be fitting to recreate the wild landscape of Skellig Michael, where the initial filming took place (for Episode VII “The Force Awakens”).
If you ever manage to be near Sybil Head (the filming, unfortunately, took place on private property), do explore the coastal hills, the area known as the Three Sisters. It’s absolutely stunning to hike along the coast there.
The scene where Luke Skywalker milks one of the space sea cows was filmed on Dunmore Head. In fact, the puppet of the sea cow weighed almost 900 pounds and had to be placed onto the cliffs by helicopter!
Here is also the scene where Luke’s X-Wing fighter can be seen on the bottom of the ocean. By the way, if you want to check out the location of the Star Wars wrap party for the filming on the Dingle Peninsula, then check out Foxy John’s Pub in Dingle Town.
Maybe the staff might tell you a story or two about the time about when Dingle became one of the best filming locations in the galaxy.
Emer and Nils | Let’s Go Ireland
7. Explore Inch Beach.
Inch Beach makes a great stop if you’re headed onto the Dingle Peninsula from points east, as we were after our hike in Killarney National Park (which is also highly recommended…particularly when the Rhododendrons are in bloom in May!).
Inch Beach is a long, wild stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean—5 km long, actually—that is essentially a sandspit between the outer Dingle Bay and inner Castlemaine Harbor. Like so much of Ireland, Inch Beach has been a setting for famous movies throughout the years, including Ryan’s Daughter (1970), Excalibur (1981), and Far & Away (1992).
Inch Beach is popular with surfers, fishermen, and swimmers. When the wind’s up, you’ll also find kite surfers, windsurfers, and hang gliders catching a draft here. (Tip: When you’re packing for Ireland, don’t forget a windbreaker!)
Sammy’s on the Beach, located directly on—surprise!—the beach makes a great spot to sip a pint of Guinness or grab a quick lunch to watch the waves roll by. For a truly novel experience, drive your car directly onto the beach. It’s perfectly legal! (Just don’t get stuck in the sand!)
With more time, consider exploring a few nearby sites. Minard Castle is just a few minute’s drive away. (Despite a siege in 1641, there are still plenty of remains to explore.) Also, check out Caherconree, the 26th highest peak in Ireland.
8. Check out the Beehive Huts.
The Dingle peninsula holds more than 2,000 archaeological sites and has been referred to as an open-air museum. On my visit to Dingle Town, we allowed one full day to drive the Ring of Dingle, also known as Slea Head Drive, which holds many of the most famous sites.
The day was wet and windy, so we wound up doing the drive in about half a day, or four hours. It was just too unpleasant to get out of the car to visit outdoor sites. We much preferred spending some time in a cozy tea room instead.
On our way, one of the first sites we came to was the beehive huts, also known as “ring forts” and “fairy forts”. They are the most widespread field monuments in Ireland.
Several groups are found near the beginning of the drive. The first cluster we came to sported a homemade sign and an E2 per person fee. After a muddy walk up a steep hill, we found the stone huts.
It was amazing to realize they were made without mortar by monks in the seventh century. I had heard these ancient structures kept out the water well, and indeed they gave us a dry (but dank) reprieve from the rain.
I was suspicious that we were scammed with the entrance fee at first, but later I learned that farmers do display homemade signs and sometimes charge a fee to visit sites on their property. I also found out that the second group of beehive huts that you come to are apparently always free.
Carole| Travels with Carole
9. Go sea kayaking in Dingle Harbor.
For an active experience outdoors in Dingle, take a guided kayak tour into the Dingle Harbor. This adventurous tour will take you around the harbor, into caves, and through coves, as you explore the surrounding area. You may even get a sight of Fungi, Dingle’s resident dolphin.
Arriving for your tour with Irish Adventures, you will first be outfitted with wet suits, booties, and jackets to keep you warm during the trip.
After a quick overview of how to kayak, you will head out into the harbor. What you encounter after that depends on weather conditions and the experience level of your group.
From the kayak, you can see Micheal Skellig, where scenes were filmed for the most recent Star Wars films. Your guide will then take you along the cliffs and rocks nearby.
You may be in Ireland, but going through the small caves and dark passageways into secluded coves surrounded by steep cliffs gives you a feeling of exploring an island in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Kayaking also gives you a unique vantage point to see Fungi the dolphin. Your guide will have a radio to listen to the boats communicate about his location so you can get a glimpse before returning back to Dingle after a three-hour trip.
Dan | Honeymoon Always
10. Look for Fungie on a boat tour.
Another way to see Fungi the dolphin—if you don’t fancy kayaking—is by boat tour. Fungie has been living in the bay since 1983, and tours go out to find him almost every hour of the day.
They guarantee you will get your money back if the dolphin isn’t found, so what do you have to lose?
The boat trip is a beautiful journey in and of itself. The area around Dingle is just gorgeous and offers beautiful views of the surrounding nature and the colorful houses in the town.
The hunt for Fungie is lively and fun. Boats typically find him, and he is playful and full of tricks. He often comes up to greet the boats and play, though he doesn’t usually directly interact with the boats at all.
You should also stop and get a photo of the statue of Fungie that’s in town.
If you’re still trying to decide whether to drive the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle peninsula, just keep in mind that only Dingle has its very own dolphin!
You can check out prices and availability on a Dingle boat tour here.
Stephanie | History Fangirl
11. Raise a glass at Dingle Distillery. Sláinte!
Dingle Distillery was created by the same trio behind Porterhouse Brewing Company, one of the first craft breweries in Ireland. Once they had mastered craft brewing, they turned their creative talents to distilling whiskey.
Being in Ireland, where the whiskey market had long been cornered by three big brands, this probably seemed like a crazy idea. However, they plowed ahead and released their first cask of artisan whiskey in 2012. Their passion and focus on quality over quantity has paid off and they have now added award-winning gin and vodka to the family.
If you’re visiting Dingle in County Kerry, a tasting and tour of the distillery is a unique and fun way to spend some time. Tours last one hour and include an introduction to the Irish whiskey industry and distilling process, a tour of the distiller,y and a tasting of their delicious products.
We’ve been on lots of winery, brewery and distillery tours all over the world and have to say that Dingle Distillery was one of the most interesting and hospitable tours we’ve experienced.
Sarah | Live, Dream, Discover
12. Visit Dunbeg Fort.
When you are traveling in Dingle, you cannot afford to miss Dunbeg Fort if you are a history buff. This iconic Irish promontory fort is located at the southern part of Slea Head on Dingle Peninsula looking over Dingle Bay to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The castle was built in the Iron Age. During its construction, some parts of this fort collapsed into the sea. The remaining part is what you can see now.
The wall of this remarkable castle cut off access to a triangular promontory which was later occupied by a single large building. There are plenty of earth walls as well as a massive stone wall that were built towards the mainland to be protected from any kind of attack.
The entrance of this fort is also very unique. There are small spaces on each side of the entrance and the access has small holes where a wooden bridge is inserted to support the door.
Opening hours of the Dunbeg Fort are daily from 9:30 am to 6 pm. Ireland is not a cheap European country, but the entrance fee of Dunbeg Fort is quite reasonable. For just €3, visitors can explore this historical monument, traces of several dry stone masonry, its information center, handicrafts, and restaurants.
You can visit Dunbeg Fort as part of a group tour of the Dingle Peninsula as well. Check out prices and availability here.
Trijit | Budget Travel Buff
13. Hike in the Blasket Islands.
Located just off the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland’s scenic Blasket Islands make a great day trip from Dingle for nature lovers.
Up until 1954, the six principal islands here—Great Blasket Island, Beginish, Inishabro, Inishvickillane, Inishtooskert, and Tearaght Island—were inhabited by completely Irish speaking residents. In fact, the island has a rich Irish literary heritage as home to poets and storyteller.
Unfortunately, due to a declining population, the government relocated remaining Islanders to Dingle in the 1950’s. Today, they make up part of Gaeltacht (regions of Ireland where Irish is the first language).
As long as the seas aren’t too rough, it’s easy to ferry over from Dunquin Pier to Great Basket Island (and costs just 35€.) Look for bottlenose and common dolphins in the water during your journey. On warm summer months, basking sharks cruise the shallows here, too.
Hikers will thrill to the opportunity to explore this wild and beautiful place, complete with donkeys and seal colonies. Birders will find an incredibly rich and diverse group of breeding sea birds on the island, too. Look for puffins, terns, swallows, gannets, and more.
You can tour the island and even spend the night on Blasket Island! Expect a magical view of the Milky Way in the night sky here.
14. Wander Rahinnane Castle.
When we explored Dingle as part of our Ireland road trip, one of the more unusual places we visited was Rahinnane Castle.
The castle was built in the 15th century and was ruined around 200 years later. Now, it stands rather uniquely in a farmer’s field, surrounded by rock walls, fencing, and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.
We almost didn’t bother going in to see the ruins up close, but decided a walk and a stretch of the legs was a good idea, so we paid 2€ each to the lady at the gate and walked on.
I’d recommend wearing sensible shoes, as you will be walking over farmland, but it’s a pretty easy walk.
The ruins themselves are fairly well-preserved, but what we really enjoyed was being able to get right in, on, and up them. Yep, you can climb all over the ruins as much as you like.
What’s also nice is how ‘under-the-radar’ this place is. We were the only people there when we visited, and that was in June!
You don’t need to visit the castle for long—I think our visit lasted less than an hour—but don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the incredible views across the Dingle Peninsula.
Kat | Wandering Bird
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