Driving Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula
Leah Walker July 5, 2013

Everyone who’s even considered a trip to Ireland has heard of the Ring of Kerry. It’s probably one of the most famous, if not the most famous, drives in Ireland. Unfortunately, fame goes hand in hand with crowds, and that’s just not my pint of Guinness. Thus, on my trip to Ireland, I passed on the tour bus saturated Ring of Kerry and instead, explored the Dingle Peninsula.

Irish Countryside

Close in proximity to the Ring of Kerry and equally as beautiful, the Dingle Peninsula is far less crowded, which allows a more leisurely drive. Don’t underestimate the importance of an uncrowded road when driving in Ireland. The country is notorious for its treacherous thoroughfare. In fact, when I rented a car at the Dublin airport, I was required to buy the insurance.

Dingle Irealnd Map

The Dingle Peninsula is 40 miles in length from Tralee to Slea Head and 10 miles wide. It has a line of mountains, which includes Mt. Brandon, the second tallest mountain in Ireland.  The area is sparsely populated with people, but sheep are another story. They look like a white blanket across the lush, green landscape.

Lambs in Irealnd Coast

This area is known to hold tight to its Gaelic traditions; I heard more Gaelic than English on my visit. The town of Dingle is the only place of any real size on the peninsula, but still only has about 1,500 people. Comprised of a few streets, shops, and pubs, it’s a fun place to stop for a beer and some good Irish craic.

 Irish Cemetery Dingle

When starting the drive west from the town of Dingle, there are centuries of history to discover and plenty to see other than the untouched landscape. At an easy pace, the drive will take about three hours or longer if stopping at every notable landmark. After all, there are over 2,000 monuments dating as far back as 4000 B.C.

Dingle Peninsula Drive

Some of my favorite stops include a Stone Age ring fort from around 500 B.C. Though the fort was a Celtic chief’s headquarters, legend believed it to be fairy forts. Several beehive huts, known as clochans, were built by 7th century monks and line the road; crawl inside of one—it’s so surreal.

Leah Dingle Ireland

Look for the white marble crucifix placed near the mountain and pull over. This is known as Slea Head and gives a great view of the Basket Islands. Just down the road from Slea Head is a parking lot where the Basket Islands can be viewed again, as well as Dunmore Head, the western most point of Europe. See if you can spot Sleeping Giant Island, apply named for is resemblance to a giant resting on his back with arms resting on his big belly.

Irish Cross

Craving a bite to eat or a beer, stop at the pub in Ballyferriter, a tiny town established in the 12th century. Built around 800 A.D., the Gallarus Oratory is one of the best-preserved churches in Ireland and one of the best stops on the Dingle Peninsula. In contrast to the Gallarus Oratory, Kilmalkedar is a ruined church where Normans worshiped. One of the oldest medieval tombs can be found here.

Dingle Peninsula Ireland

Countless worthwhile stops are found on the Dingle Peninsula drive, and a full day could easily be devoted to it. Before setting off, I’d suggest a great guidebook, an empty memory card, and full tank of gas. Oh! Make sure to wave at the multitude of tour buses on their way to the Ring of Kerry and smile knowing that you’re headed to Dingle.

Ring of Kerry from Dingle Peninsula

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

23 Comments

  1. Absolutely gorgeous, Leah. We love such drives and Dingle Peninsula is so close to where we are (well a short flight anyways ;)). Antrim county in Northern Ireland offers similar drives.

    Such a pretty drive and such a quirky name to top it all – “Dingle” Looks like we need to bruise our passports a bit more with a new Visa 😉

    Love the second picture the most – would be so difficult to drive away from such a place

    1. Y’all are so lucky to live so close to such a beautiful place. Thanks for the tip on Antrim. I really want to visit Northern Ireland.

  2. Love this story! We actually did the same hint a couple years ago on our visit to Ireland. The Ring if Kerry is far too crowded, so we opted for Dingle. Such a gorgeous drive and lots of amazing photo stops along the way, besides a few scary portions in the road. Loved every moment of it.

    Miss the Guinness!

    1. Oh, some of that road is nuts! You certainly don’t want to be throwing back the Guinness and then hop in the car and drive the Dingle Peninsula, that’s for sure.

  3. Love this post! I also love how Ireland has small towns that date back way into BC period…very much like Italy/Greece in that aspect. Lonely drives are pretty awesome 🙂

    1. Ireland is filled with great natural beauty and those that just stay in Dublin miss out on that. I still have much more to see on the Emerald Isle.

  4. Heading to Ireland this fall….and I am thinking a driving holiday may be part of the picture! The Dingle Peninsula looks amazing! As always, your photos inspire me Leah!

    1. Yes, go to the Dingle Peninsula. You can also do the Ring of Kerry if you’re so inclined. They’re neighbors.

  5. Ireland offers such beautiful sightseeings with its green hills and narrow cliffs. National Geographic once stated that the Dingle Peninsula was ‘the most beautiful place on earth’; definitely a place I would want to go visit! Thanks for sharing Leah

  6. Gorgeous! I did this drive with a friend back in September. I’m glad that we stayed for two days. On the first day it was so grey and cloudy that you couldn’t see anything. We repeated the drive the second day.

  7. Hi Leah,
    Love this post. Looking for a good place to spend a week in May in Dingle. Can you recommend any sites to find good B&Bs or cottages to let? Thanks, Maryann

  8. Hope you can help. I am leaving for Ireland on May 17. After 2 days in Dublin my daughter an I will join an O’Shaughessy Rally in County Gort, Galway for a few days. Then we planned (should have a driver by then) to drive us to a hotel in Killarney – stopping on the way (Cliff of Moher, Ring of Kerry?. One more day there and then on to Dingle – have to be driven back to Dublin for 4pm flight back to US – Problem driver thinks we should do Dingle first then Killarney -as Dingle is fair from Dublin. Opinion please? My son is paying for me to fly business class as I have osteoporosis with couple compression fractures.
    Thank you.

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