Dingle Peninsula Drive
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 drive along Slea Head will more than satisfy.
You’ll want to carve out a full day for a drive along the Dingle coast, 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 a handful of 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! It is important to note that there are very few gas (petrol) stations on the peninsula. In fact, there are no gas stations west of the town of Dingle, so be sure to fill up before heading out on Slea Head Drive.
You can download this Dingle Peninsula Map by clicking HERE.
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.
Things To See Along the Dingle Peninsula Loop
Before we began the Dingle Peninsula drive, we printed out a downloadable self-guided tour which provided great information on the many historic landmarks we visited. (We’ve received numerous requests for the guide we printed out and while I’m not sure if this is the exact one we used, here is a detailed guide to things to see along the Dingle Peninsula Loop drive.)
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!
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. TIP: Watch your step for sheep droppings; they’re everywhere!
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 was built without mortar, using a corbel vaulting technique developed by Neolithic tomb makers. Stones are laid at a slight angle, lower on the outside than on the inside allowing rainwater to run off. It has withstood the elements for over 1200 years! 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. Along the path, stop to admire the colorful fuchsia plants. 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 Peninsula Loop drive is a must for anyone who loves the beauty of coastal Ireland. So, you may still be asking yourself… Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry? We personally preferred the Dingle Peninsula over the Ring of Kerry, but you just may have to do both to see which one you prefer. Or you can just take our word and enjoy the super scenic Dingle Peninsula Drive! The Ring of Kerry is stunning in its own right. We certainly don’t want to discourage you from driving the ROK. It’s just that we preferred the views and lack of traffic along the Dingle Peninsula. Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong!
Things to Do on Slea Head Drive
Admission Cost: Tour – €15 per adult | (Under 10 years old not permitted)
Open: Mar 1 – May 31 & Sept 1 – 30: 12, 2, and 4 pm | Oct 1 – Feb 28: 2 and 4 pm | June 1 – Aug 31: 12, 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm
To Book a Tour: Phone: +353 66 4029011 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rahinnane Castle – Admission Cost: €2 per person
Open: The castle is located on private land. Opening hours are at the discretion of the land owners.
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9151188
Celtic Pre-Historic Museum – Admission Cost: €4 per person (Family/group rates available)
Open: March-October 10 am – 6 pm (Closed during winter)
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9159191 | E-mail: email@example.com
Dunbeg Fort – Admission Cost: €3 per person (Currently Closed to the Public)
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9159070 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Famine Cottages & Sheep Dog Demonstration – Admission Cost: €3 per person | €10 per family
Open: May – September (Closed during winter)
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9156241 | E-mail: email@example.com
Beehive Huts (1st set of huts) – Admission Cost: €2 per person | Open: TBA
For More Information: TA
Cashel Murphy – Admission Cost: €2 per person | Open: Year-round
For More Information: Phone: +353 87 6829392
Beehive Huts & Sheep Dog Demonstration – Admission Cost: Beehive Huts: €3 per person
Sheep Dog Demonstration: €60 or €7 per person for larger groups | Requires at least a 1-day notice (Call Aedán to book)
Open: March 1 – October 31 9 am – 7 pm (Closed during winter)
For More Information: Phone: +353 87 9745977 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Blasket Centre – Admission Cost: €5 adult | €3 child/student | €4 senior/groups | €13 family
Open: Daily March – Early November 10 am – 6 pm | Last admission 45 min before closing (Closed during winter)
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9156444 or +353 66 9156371 | E-mail: email@example.com
Louis Mulcahy Pottery – Admission Cost: Store: Free | Pottery Experience: €9.90-€19.90 (plus S&H, if applicable) | Workshop Tour: (4 person minimum) €7.50 per person
Open: Shop – Open 7 Days a Week All Year Mon-Fri 9-5:30 & Sat-Sun 10-5:30 | Cafe – Also Open Every Day 10.30am-4.30pm | Workshop – Hours Vary by Season | Check the website for more information
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9156229 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ballyferriter Museum – Admission Cost: €2.50 per person | Open: Open May – Sept 10-5:30 pm (Oct-April: By Appt)
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9156333 | E-mail: email@example.com
Gallarus Oratory – Admission Cost: Oratory – FREE | Visitor Center –
Open: Oratory – Open year-round | Visitor Center – Closed during winter
For More Information: Phone: +353 66 9155333 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cathair Deargain Ring Fort – Admission Cost: € TBA
For More Information: TBA
Cathair na BhFionńúrach Promontory Fort – Admission Cost: € TBA
For More Information: TBA
And if you’d rather someone else do the driving… you have options!!
Where to Stay on Dingle Peninsula
We enjoyed our visit to the Dingle Peninsula so much, we returned 4 years later and decided to spend an ample amount of time exploring the region. (Stay tuned for an updated post!) During our visit, we stayed at Inch Beach Cottages overlooking the absolutely stunning Inch Beach. The self-catering cottages are great for traveling families. Their location on the south side at the start of the peninsula could not be beat! Just a short 30 minute drive into Dingle town and you’re at the start of Slea Head Drive.
Inch Beach Cottages manages 9 detached self-catering cottages nestled between the Slieve Mish Mountains and the MacGillicuddy Reeks. Each cottage has a master bedroom with en-suite bathroom along with two additional bedrooms with twins beds and a guest bathroom complete with bath and shower. Also included is a fully equipped kitchen with oven and stove-top, microwave, dishwasher, fridge. Other amenities include washer and dryer and a fire place in the cozy living room.
After a day of exploring the peninsula, it was lovely to come home to sunset views over Inch Beach and Dingle Bay.
Planning a visit to Ireland and want to know about even more scenic drives?!
Check out our massive Ireland Destination Guide!
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