You’ve heard of the Ring of Kerry, but what about the Dingle Peninsula to the immediate north? For those looking to avoid the more crowded highways or to simply add to the splendor of the Ring of Kerry, the stunning loop drive on the Dingle Peninsula will more than satisfy.
You’ll want to carve out a full day for this trip, as there is much to see along the way. You could probably make it happen in about 4 hours, but you would be simply driving past a lot of beautiful sights! There are restaurants scattered about the land, but you’ll have to check to see if they’re open before your trip. Or bring a picnic lunch! Anywhere you stop along the way will be more perfect than the last.
Driving the Dingle Peninsula
The Dingle Peninsula (or Corca Dhuibhne) stretches 30 miles (48 kilometres) into the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland’s southwest coast. The peninsula is dominated by a range of mountains that run from the Slieve Mish range out to Mount Brandon, Ireland’s second highest peak.
You can take an RV on the drive, but we wouldn’t recommend it! Much of the journey is a one-lane highway, with only small turnouts to use when you meet oncoming traffic. We saw some larger buses successfully pull it off, but we wouldn’t want the added stress! It’s tough enough to drive a manual transmission on the “wrong” side of the road.
Before we began the drive, we printed out a downloadable self-guided tour which provided great information on the many historic landmarks we visited.
Many of the sites are little more than ruins, but all it takes is some imagination to transport you back in time!
No front door? No memory-foam mattress? How did they survive?!
Though, if we had a view like THIS to wake up to every morning, I guess we could sleep on straw. Maybe.
There was no shortage of sheep on the peninsula. Every time we stopped, they were waiting to disregard us for their favorite anytime meal: grass!
If this one gets any poofier, the breeze will carry him out to sea like a balloon.
The coastline consists of steep sea-cliffs, broken by sandy beaches, with two large sand spits at Inch in the south and the Maharees to the north.
The water is crystal clear everywhere you look.
Some parts of the peninsula even have sandy beaches for those brave enough to dip their toes in the frigid water!
There are a few walking routes on the peninsula, with small designated parking areas close to most trailheads.
We decided to take a hint from the sheep and climb up to the top of a particularly inviting hill.
We were rewarded with a majestic 365° view. The Blasket Islands lie to the west.
From a distance, these ancient land divisions look like a maze for sheep.
The Gallarus Oratory is thought to be an early Christian church, built entirely of native cut stone. The structure’s age is difficult to pinpoint. Most estimates put the construction between the 6th and 9th centuries, with some estimates going as high as the 12th!
There is a vine-lined pathway that leads to the Oratory from the free parking lot. There is also a paid lot (it’s not expensive). During our visit, there was only one other family, so it was easy to go inside the old building and explore.
Along with the Beara Peninsula to the south, the Dingle loop drive is a must for anyone who loves the beauty of coastal Ireland. You will see countless unforgettable sights, so be sure to get an early start!
For our road-trip adventure around the Emerald Isle, we rented a car from Dooley Car Rental at the Dublin Airport.