Ireland’s Breathtaking Dingle Peninsula

My #1 goal when planning our 7-day Ireland roadtrip was to not spend it stuck behind tour buses and dodging masses of selfie sticks.  I’d heard horror stories about this, and was determined it wouldn’t happen to us.

So as I did my research, obviously tons of people said that the Ring of Kerry was a must-visit, so I decided to find a good, less touristy alternative…which led us to the Dingle Peninsula, ultimately.  And boy, was that a great call.  We took off from our B&B in Kenmare one morning in the middle of our trip, stoked to see the wonders of the Dingle Peninsula.

Breathtaking, right???

Ha, j/k.

Our drive started off somewhat inauspiciously as you can see above, with heavy rain.  It rained a good portion of the morning as we traversed the mountain roads and passes to get to the main peninsula.

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The Dingle Peninsula is 30-40 miles around (depending on your route), and only about 10 miles across—though they can be a harrowing 10 miles.  Don’t be fooled by the short distance, however, because the drive will take you a long time (between narrow roads, traffic, stopping 927 times to take pictures).

This peninsula is also one of the areas known for holding tight to the old Gaelic language and ways, so the signs and a lot of what you’ll hear spoken is in the old Gaelic.

Inch Beach

The sky started to clear up as we reached Inch Beach, which had an awesome moody vibe going on.

Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?? Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is one of the most breathtaking drives on the island--which is saying something. Tips for your route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

Dingle itself

After all the rainy driving we were feeling peckish, so we stopped in the town of Dingle for lunch before really getting to the main drive.  I had some of the best fish & chips of our entire trip in a little pub there called Deirdre’s!

Dingle is the main town around there (there are a few others, just smaller) so it’s a good place to make sure you have fuel—both of the car and belly kind.

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Slea Head Loop

I couldn’t tell you exactly where the Slea Head Loop starts, but it’s somewhere outside of Dingle (if you’re going clockwise) and is definitely the star attraction.  We literally had to stop every five minutes to take pictures…the emerald and azure and turquoise were so stunning that every bend we came around gave us a new vista.

Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?? Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is one of the most breathtaking drives on the island--which is saying something. Tips for your route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?? Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is one of the most breathtaking drives on the island--which is saying something. Tips for your route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

We could barely remember the morning’s gloom in the face of this sunshine!

The azure water & green craggy coastline of Ireland's Dingle Peninsula...consider Dingle over the Ring of Kerry, particularly during peak tourist season. It's a must on any Irish roadtrip itinerary, you won't regret it! Tips for the drive, where to stop, and what to see!

I wasn’t joking when I said we stopped off every five minutes for a photo (or seven).  You could see the Blasket Islands out in the distance, and the photo below is one of my absolute favorites from this entire trip—a large version of it has been hanging on my kitchen wall for years.

Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is one of the most breathtaking drives on the island--which is saying something. Tips for your route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

Tips for visiting the Dingle Peninsula...the route, where to stop, where to eat, what to see. A must-visit in Ireland!

Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?? Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is one of the most breathtaking drives on the island--which is saying something. Tips for your route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

I cannot for the life of me figure out what the little cave peninsula below is, and it’s driving me nuts.  There’s nothing in my journal and nothing on the Google machine that will tell me what it is.  If you know please put me out of my misery and shoot me a comment below!

Tips for driving Ireland's Dingle Peninsula, one of the most breathtaking route on the island--which is saying something. See the best route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

Tips for driving Ireland's Dingle Peninsula, one of the most breathtaking route on the island--which is saying something. See the best route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

Tips for driving Ireland's Dingle Peninsula, one of the most breathtaking route on the island--which is saying something. See the best route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!

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Gallarus Oratory

There are gobs of interesting ruins you can stop at all throughout the peninsula.  Some are little more than scattered stones, but others are quite impressive.  We chose to stop at the Gallarus Oratory, which dates back to somewhere between the 6th and 9th centuries AD (Dun Beag is another of the more famous ones).

There’s both a free and a paid parking lot, and tickets should be 3 euros per person (maybe 4 now).

The Dingle Peninsula has more than stunning coastlines--there are tons of ruins all over the island, including the Gallarus Oratory and Dun Beag. Don't miss this on your Ireland trip!

The Dingle Peninsula has more than stunning coastlines--there are tons of ruins all over the island, including the Gallarus Oratory and Dun Beag. Don't miss this on your Ireland trip!

Conor Pass

The Conor Pass is the highest in Ireland, and well worth a drive if it’s a clear day (I honestly wouldn’t bother if it isn’t).  You’ll wind your way around narrow passes and beside steep drop-offs, ultimately rising 410 meters (roughly 1,300 feet) to see a lake-strewn valley at your feet.

Driving over the Conor Pass on the Dingle Peninsula...if you have a clear day you absolutely have to drive the pass when visiting the Dingle Peninsula. A must for any Ireland roadtrip itinerary, completely breathtaking.

Those lakes are like mirrors on a still day.

Driving over the Conor Pass on the Dingle Peninsula...if you have a clear day you absolutely have to drive the pass when visiting the Dingle Peninsula. A must for any Ireland roadtrip itinerary, completely breathtaking.

The drive is definitely no joke, so make sure to really take your time and take your cues from the other drivers in terms of which direction is yielding to whom.  We saw lines of cars pulled over to the side where they could find a bit of shoulder to let the other side pass—one of the things that really struck us about driving in Ireland was that people were considerate and largely patient, giving way and taking turns.

Our day on the Dingle Peninsula was one of the best parts of our entire Ireland trip.  I tell every person I know who’s planning a trip that they’d be nuts to miss it!

Driving the Dingle Peninsula

  • Plan an entire day to drive the peninsula—you’ll want to stop constantly and take pictures, and a lot of the roads are narrow one- or two-lane ones
  • Drive carefully
  • Dingle is the best place to stop for lunch, a few restaurants to choose from
  • Getting to the islands?
  • If the weather isn’t clear, don’t bother driving the Conor Pass; you won’t be able to see anything and the drive can be challenging even in clear conditions

Have you done both the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula?  I’d love to know how they stack up!  What other tips from Dingle would you share??  Let me know in the comments!

Other roadtrip adventures you might like:

Roadtripping the Sea-to-Sky Highway: Whistler and Joffre Lakes

Driving the Negev Desert: Tel Aviv to the Red Sea

Exploring the Hill Towns of Northern Croatia

Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry?? Ireland's Dingle Peninsula is one of the most breathtaking drives on the island--which is saying something. Tips for your route, what to see, & why this absolutely must be on your Ireland roadtrip itinerary!