When visiting Ireland, renting a car and taking a road trip to explore the countryside is one of the most popular ways to see the landscape. When planning a trip to Ireland you’ll find that there are many famous drives to take, in particular, the Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular. However, with popularity comes crowds and lots of traffic! Not wanting to spend our peaceful Ireland drive in traffic, we opted to explore the lesser known and just as scenic Peninsula of Dingle Ireland.
Dingle Ireland – More than 6000 Years of History
The Dingle Peninsula is on the south west side of Ireland, just north of the popular tourist town of Killarney. During our road trip around Ireland, we spent a few days exploring Killarney and the surrounding area before heading up to Dingle Ireland.
Immediately we were struck by the landscape. It’s easy to see that this lushly green, yet barren landscape was a difficult place to live. And yet, it’s been inhabited for 6000 years. From the Stone Ages through Vikings and beyond, there are a lot of stories to be told.
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Stop at One of the Many Archaeological Sites Around Dingle Ireland
It is said that there are more than 2000 archaeological points of interest around the Dingle peninsula. So a visit to Dingle Ireland wouldn’t be complete without at least one stop at one of these sites.
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We made our first stop not long after beginning our journey, at Dún Beag Fort. Dating back to 500 BC, it’s said to be one of the most dramatic sites on the peninsula. We were in awe at the construction of this old stone fort, and couldn’t imagine building such a thing so long ago — especially on this difficult landscape.
The panoramic views of the sea are impressive, and the information center was really interesting. After a big more exploring, and goofing around, we headed further down the road.
Careful on the Narrow Dingle Roads
While you should always be careful while driving in Ireland, the roads of Dingle Ireland are especially worthy of care. Some areas are so narrow that they are basically one lane. There is just enough room for two cars to pass if necessary, but only in some spots. This means you should be exceptionally careful around corners.
Beware of cyclists and people walking too. Biking and hiking are popular around the Dingle peninsula, and you may occasionally see them on the roadways.
As if that wasn’t enough, always be on the lookout for sheep! We had a few close encounters while driving the Dingle peninsula. The sheep seemed to own the roads, or surprise you from the hillside!
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Stopping to Explore the Quiet Beaches Around the Dingle Peninsula
One of our favorite stops while driving around the Dingle peninsula was at a little beach. We could see it ahead as we rounded a corner, and we were determined to find the road that led down to it.
Lucky for us, it wasn’t hard to find the side road…but it was a steep and narrow one! After making it to the bottom, we had time to wander around on the sand. We watched the waves of the cold Atlantic crash violently, certainly a daily occurrence given the often harsh weather in these parts.
We sipped our coffee, wrote our names in the sand, and enjoyed the crisp air.
The Harsh Weather of Dingle Ireland
Speaking of weather, the Dingle peninsula is known for having some of the roughest natural elements in all of Ireland. From the stark green and rocky landscapes, to the crashing ocean waves, and the seemingly never-ending rain. Dingle can get up to 100 inches of rain a year, but it’s the wind that really gets you — blowing that rain sideways!
If you plan to do any outdoor activities, including a short hike, you should always be prepared for inclement weather when visiting the Dingle peninsula.
Stopping for a Short Hike to Admire the Views
One of the great things about driving in Ireland and especially on the Dingle peninsula is that there are so many things to stop and see. You will often find little parking lots off to the side of the road and hiking trails that go off into the countryside.
We enjoyed making some stops and taking a walk on a few of these trails. One in particular gave us some pretty impressive views of the landscape of the peninsula, as well as the coastline. Unfortunately during our visit, the weather was quite brutal (end of May). The blustery wind, rain, and cold made it less than enjoyable for long hikes. But we did our best to enjoy short hikes, then warm back up in the car.
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The Town of Dingle Ireland
The quiet town of Dingle Ireland is a nice place to stop for lunch, or even spend a night. This old fishing village is home to a few galleries, restaurants, and quite a number of pubs. As with any town in Ireland, you will certainly find a tasty pint of Guinness and some traditional Irish music playing somewhere on any given evening.
** A Word of Warning – Petrol stations are limited on the Dingle peninsula, and none west of Dingle town. Be sure that you always have plenty of fuel in the car before setting out, especially on a longer drive, such as Slea Head Drive.
Spend a Couple Days Around Dingle Ireland
During our trip, we only had 1 day to drive around Dingle Ireland. We wish we would have had more, but our itinerary just couldn’t budge. However, we would recommend spending a couple days exploring the Dingle peninsula even more than we did.
There are really so many great historical sites to see, and areas to hike and explore. Visiting in the summer months will definitely give you some better weather too.
Editors Note: This post was originally published in February 2016, but has been revamped and updated.
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