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The Dingle Peninsula Drive is One of Ireland’s Most Scenic

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Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula drive is so beautiful that it makes the list of top things to do when visiting the country. The peninsula is located in the southwest corner of Ireland and is home to some of the islands best scenery.

Nestled in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Dingle Peninsula boasts a rugged beauty that will leave you mesmerized at every turn.

As you navigate the winding coastal roads, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and emerald rolling hills dotted with ancient ruins and charming villages.

Given the reputation this area has for incredible beauty, it was only natural that we incorporated it into our Ireland roadtrip itinerary.

Brothers posing for a photo at Dunquin Pier near cliffs
The cliffs at Dunquin Pier along the Dingle Peninsula are a must see

In this post I’m going to cover a number of useful things to know before heading out to the Dingle Peninsula. I’ll cover tons of useful information like can’t miss stops, the best time to visit to minimize crowds and where to stay during your trip!

You’ll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I’m still happy you’re here!

Where is the Dingle Peninsula located?

The Dingle Peninsula is located in County Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland. The peninsula is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Tralee Bay to the north, with the town of Dingle being the largest settlement on the peninsula.

From the Irish capital city of Dublin it will take around 4.5 hours to reach the town of Dingle by car. During my trip we had stayed in the village of Liscannor the prior evening which is near the Cliffs of Moher. Our plan for the day was to drive from Liscannor to Dingle, see several stops along the way, before reaching our hotel that evening located in Portmagee.

Dingle Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary
Here’s the route we took moving from Liscannor to Portmagee, while exploring the Dingle Peninsula on the way

Portmagee serves as the primary jumping off point for exploring Skelling Michael Island and is a must see if you have room left during your travel plans.

If you just plan to road trip through the Dingle Peninsula while checking out some of the best stops along the way, this is a great route to follow and is a great way to connect The Cliffs of Moher and Skellig Michael Island activities together.

The best way to see Ireland is by road tripping the island which means you’re gonna need a rental car for much of your trip.

Avoid waiting until the last minute and be sure to use a tool that can compare prices across different rental car agencies when doing your research.

Where is the best place to stay for visiting the Dingle Peninsula?

The town of Dingle is an excellent base for exploring the peninsula, as it offers plenty of bed & breakfast and hotel options. Staying in Dingle also gives you easy access to a variety of shops, restaurants, and pubs, as well as local attractions such as the Dingle Aquarium and the Eask Tower.

If this aligns with your travel plans then I’d suggest browsing for deals on hotels in Dingle here. Alternatively, many travelers will explore the Dingle Peninsula by passing through and stay elsewhere on their road trip across Ireland.

Streets of Dingle, Ireland
The town of Dingle is a picturesque Irish coastal village with plenty going on

During my trip we used the Dingle Peninsula to connect our stays in Liscannor (to see the Cliffs of Moher) and Portmagee (for visiting Skellig Michael). We stayed at The Cliffs of Moher Hotel in Liscannor and The Moorings Hotel in Portmagee.

Both hotels were reasonably priced and we really enjoyed our stays, I’d definitely stay at either hotel again on a future trip!

What to expect when visiting the Dingle Peninsula?

Visiting the Dingle Peninsula is all about taking in breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural history and friendly Irish locals. The peninsula is home to some of Ireland’s most stunning scenery, including dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, and rolling green hills. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the peninsula handily ranked on my list of the most beautiful Irish landscapes we encountered during our travels.

There are two popular ways to experience the Dingle Peninsula. The first is to spend a few days in the town of Dingle, using that as your home base, to leisurely explore some of the sites I’ll cover in this post, and then some.

Alternatively, you can see many of the main peninsula sites passing through the area in a day as part of an Irish road trip. This is the route we went for my adventure, and makes a little bit more sense if you’re visiting Ireland from far away and are hoping to see as much of the Emerald Isle as possible.

If time wasn’t an issue, I would love to spend more time going back and taking in this area at a more leisurely pace!

As I alluded to earlier, if you go the road trip route, I’d suggest nestling the Dingle Peninsula in between your visit to the Cliffs of Moher and a visit to Skellig Michael Island. It will make for a full day of driving and sight seeing, but logistically makes a lot of sense.

We left Liscannor (a town near Cliffs of Moher) in the morning and drove pretty much straight through to Conor Pass which was our first point of interest upon reaching the peninsula. You’ll pass through the city of Limerick along the way which could make for a good breakfast or coffee stop if you need it.

Conor Pass, Dingle Peninsula
Views from atop Conor Pass looking out towards Dingle

Conor Pass is one of the highest mountain roads you’ll encounter in Ireland and the drive through is exhilarating to say the least. The windy mountain road is extremely narrow in certain stretches, to the point where two cars cannot pass simultaneously. You’ll need to keep your eyes down the road and manage the occasional pull off to avoid getting into a pickle!

Although steep and narrow, there’s a section of stone wall shielding you from the massive cliff drops making the drive a bit easier to stomach. You’ll encounter two pull offs along the way that are worth stopping at.

The first pull off will show off a small waterfall fed by Pedlar’s Lake. A short hike up the rocks will afford you a view of this beautiful mountain lake and the countryside below. Well worth the pit stop and climb up!

Pedlar's Lake at Conor Pass Ireland
You can inspect Pedlar’s Lake, shown here, up close near Conor Pass

The second pull off is the official Conor Pass car park. From here you can take in other worldly views of the dramatic Wild Atlantic Way. The views in every direction are stunning, and if you’re up for another short (but steep) hike then there’s an even better view point just up the hill.

Once you’ve had your fill of views at Conor Pass it’s time to work your way back down the mountain and into the town of Dingle. The drive into town from here is short and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes or so.

Upon arriving at Dingle I’d recommend grabbing lunch and a coffee before continuing your adventure. We stopped at a restaurant in town called The Boatyard which had really good food. It was slightly pricey, and they sadly didn’t have Guinness on tap, but overall we had a great experience there and would recommend it unless you’re on a budget.

Aerial photograph of Dunquin Pier Dingle Peninsula Ireland
The rock formations that dominant Dunquin Pier make this a popular tourist destination

After lunch we grabbed a coffee to go and hopped back into our car, heading west with our eyes set on Dunquin Pier. The 25 minute drive out, per usual, was lined with beautiful Irish landscapes.

Once you reach the Dunquin Pier parking area, you’ll be greeted by some of my favorite Irish coastal cliff faces that we encountered during our 10 day trip around the island.

The car park for this area drops visitors off near the cliff edge and you can grab some awesome photos from up here before hiking down to the jagged rock formations that this area is best known for.

Dunquin Pier, Dingle Peninsula Ireland
Ireland has no shortage of beautiful scenery, including the Dingle Peninsula

If you plan to hike down to the water and rock formations you could spend upwards of 45 minutes to an hour at this stop. If you plan to skip the walk down, you could be in and out of here in 15 to 30 minutes.

Given our itinerary, our stop here occurred in the early afternoon. But if we were staying in the town of Dingle, or time allowed, this would make for an incredible sunset viewing spot since it faces the west and the horizon is dotted with islands.

The next stop we made was traveling east, back through the town of Dingle, on our way to Inch Beach. This is one of Ireland’s best beaches and one of the coolest features is that you can drive your car right out onto the densely packed sand to park!

Drone photo of Inch Beach, Ireland
Aerial photograph of Inch Beach during our late afternoon visit

If you’re feeling unsure about taking your rental car out onto the beach, there’s also a more traditional car park just before you commit to driving out onto the sand. And there’s a restroom here if you need it!

Cars parked on Inch Beach, Dingle Peninsula
We were a little unsure of taking our car out onto Inch Beach, but it was well worth it!

We spent about an hour walking the beach, treading out into the chilly North Atlantic water and enjoying the late afternoon sun. The pit stop at Inch Beach was the perfect opportunity to stretch our legs and cool off our feet in the water after a long day of driving.

For another great beach stop to incorporate into your Ireland road trip, be sure to check out my post covering a visit to Dog’s Bay Beach which is best reached from either Westport or Galway. Westport also serves as the best jumping off point for climbing Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick.

After enjoying our visit at Inch Beach it was time to hop back in the car and make the 90 minute drive to our accommodations that evening in Portmagee.

If you follow this itinerary you should arrive in Portmagee with enough time to grab dinner (this is a really small town and most of the restaurants stop serving food by 8pm). Boat departures for Skellig Michael Island leave early in the morning so you’ll need to stay in Portmagee the night before attempting this activity.

Skellig Islands of Ireland
Views from atop Skellig Michael looking back towards Little Skellig Island

For anyone unfamiliar with Skellig Michael Island, it’s an awesome experience, not for the feint of heart, and only about 60% of planned tours ever make it to the island. So what are you waiting for? Be sure to check out my post covering what to expect during an island adventure at Skellig Michael!

What is Dingle Peninsula known for?

The Dingle Peninsula is known for its density of beautiful natural landscapes, incredible beaches and a number of ancient ruins.

Dunquin Pier rock formations along the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland
Looking down at Dunquin Pier’s prominent rock formations from the cliffs above

In this post and during my trip through the peninsula we hit a lot of the highlights including the town of Dingle, Slea Head Drive, Conor Pass, Dunquin Pier and Inch Beach.

If you’re staying in the area longer and are looking for more activity ideas, consider spending some time checking out the Gallarus Oratory, Great Blanket Island, Eask Tower, Kilmalkedar Church and Coumeenoole Beach.

How long does it take to drive the Dingle Peninsula Loop?

The Dingle Peninsula Loop, also known as the Slea Head Drive, is approximately 47 kilometers (29 miles) long and will take most travelers at least three hours to complete given the number of scenic points of interest you’ll want to hit along the way.

The Slea Head Drive is considered a loop that starts and finishes in Dingle town, but is largely the same ground we covered during my custom road trip through the Dingle Peninsula, so don’t feel like you have to complete the exact loop route.

Including a lunch stop in the town of Dingle, we spent nearly six hours of our day driving through and seeing sites within the Dingle Peninsula. I’d budget upwards of 6 hours if you’re trying to see the bulk of the peninsula in one day before moving on to your next destination.

Is there a guided tour option for seeing the Dingle Peninsula?

Yes, there are guided tour options available for exploring the Dingle Peninsula if that’s the route you prefer. Several tour operators offer full-day or half-day guided tours, which typically include transportation and an experienced local guide who can provide valuable insights into the region’s history, culture, and natural beauty.

You can find a number of options (with different lengths and departure cities, including Dingle) for exploring the Dingle Peninsula here.

Alternatively there are tour options available related to specific points of interest within the Dingle Peninsula. If you’re interested in hiring a guide to explore Irish ruins or go out on a boat tour, these tour options would be more suitable.

What is the best time of year to visit the Dingle Peninsula?

The best time of year to visit the Dingle Peninsula is during the late spring, summer, and early autumn months, from May to September. During this period, the weather is generally milder and drier, with longer daylight hours, providing more favorable conditions for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

However, it’s worth noting that the summer months, particularly July and August, can be busier with tourists, which may result in higher accommodation prices and more crowded attractions. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of late spring (May) or early autumn (September).

Regardless of when you visit – be sure to book your Dingle town hotel well in advance! Availability in the small coastal towns of Ireland is limited and popular hotels book up far in advance.

We visited Ireland during the last week of May, into the first few days of June and had exceptionally great weather. I think we got lucky, but over the course of 10 days we didn’t see a single rain drop and had mostly sunny skies!

I booked our hotels about 6 months in advance and it felt like availability was already quite limited in many areas of the country. If you aren’t an experienced travel planner, be sure to check out my list of tips for planning a trip abroad as you work through your itinerary. It will help you avoid tons of common travel pitfalls.

Once you’re up to speed with those tips, I also have a guide covering my favorite hacks for booking cheap airfare. I’ve used every trick in the book and you should too!

What is the best time of day to visit the Dingle Peninsula?

To make the most of a road trip exploring the Dingle Peninsula you’ll want to start early in the morning. This will ensure you can hit multiple points of interest, have time to explore the town of Dingle and still make it on to your accommodations for the evening.

Views of the cliffs above Dunquin Pier, Ireland
I could spend weeks exploring the Irish coastline and never get tired of the views!

If you’re planning to stay in the town of Dingle you’ll have greater flexibility on how you spend your time in this area. Dunquin Pier faces the west and would make for a great spot to take in a sunset. Also, if you plan on getting in the water, I’d recommend visiting Inch Beach during midday to take advantage of warmer temperatures and daylight.

Check out these activities available in the area

Looking for more ways to fill out your trip itinerary? Be sure to check out the list of activities below from GetYourGuide.

Is driving the Dingle Peninsula worth it?

Absolutely, driving the Dingle Peninsula is worth it for the opportunity to explore its stunning landscapes and picturesque villages at your own pace. While I touched on several of the more popular stops along the way, there are plenty more cultural sites and towns to discover.

Not only that, but the drive between points of interest is memorable in its own right with stunning natural beauty everywhere you turn.

Many of the Irish landscapes we encountered during our trip across the Dingle Peninsula found there way into my Ireland Landscapes 4k Scenic Relaxation drone video. If you’re looking for some great background scenery with relaxing music be sure to check that out. It includes footage from many other beautiful areas of Ireland like Benbulben in County Sligo.

For anyone also heading to Northern Ireland during their travels, be sure to read my posts covering a visit to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, exploring the Dark Hedges and what to expect when visiting the Giant’s Causeway. The Giant’s Causeway resides along the Causeway Coastal Route and that area reminded me a lot of the coastal cliffs along the Dingle Peninsula.

If you’re still looking for more things to do in Ireland be sure to check out my post covering the massive Slieve League Cliffs. They stand at nearly three times the height of the more popular Cliff of Moher but are far less crowded. If you’re heading there be sure to read about Assaranca which is a roadside waterfall located in Donegal.

Thanks for reading and good luck on your Dingle Peninsula drive and Ireland trip planning!

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