How to spend a day in Dingle, Ireland
Dingle Peninsula Coastal Loop Tour
- 1). First, decide if you'll be making the loop trip by car, bike or minibus. Being behind the wheel of a car or bike will afford you the opportunity to stop and take in the sights wherever you--and the very narrow road will allow. But for those without a rental car, Sciuird Archaeological Tours (Holy Ground, Dingle, Co. Kerry, 066/915-1606, email@example.com) offers a historical tour of the archaeological sites of the Dingle Peninsula, while Moran's Slea Head Tours (Dingle, Co. Kerry, 066/915-1155, firstname.lastname@example.org ) will drive you along the coast. Also, Diarmuid and Dolores Begley Taxi Service (Ashmount, Dingle, Co. Kerry, 087/250-4767, email@example.com) will offers private tours of the area for a fixed fee. Bikes can be rented at Fios Feasa Rent a Bike (Holy Ground, Dingle, Co. Kerry, 066/915-1606), Paddy's Bicycle Hire (Dykegate Lane, Dingle, Co. Kerry, 066/915-2311), and at Foxy John Moriarty (Main Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry, 066/915-1316).
- 2). Begin the tour in Dingle town and leave west on R559. Follow the Slea Head Drive signs during your route.
- 3). Your first views of the Dingle Peninsula will be of Ventry Bay. In the distance you’ll notice Skellig Michael (Irish for Michael’s rock), which contains the remnants of an Irish Celtic monastery dating back to the year 588. Monks lived here in beehive-like huts made of rock. You’ll have the opportunity to tour some like it on your travels along Slea Head Road.
- 4). About four miles after Ventry Bay is Dunbeg Fort. An impressive relic from the Iron Age built on a cliff; Dunbeg (Irish for “small fort”) is open to tourists and offers some incredible views of the sea.
- 5). At mile eight are a group of clochan or beehive-like huts much like those on Skellig Michael. Park and walk up the hill to view these archaeological wonders. Climb inside and get a glimpse into life in the Middle Ages.
- 6). At the Dunchaoin sign, park at the small lot. Here you'll get a clear view of the Blaskets and Dunmore Head, the farthest western point of Europe. Until 1953, the Blaskets were inhabited, of which, the entire population spoke Irish. Visitors can tour the islands teeming with wildlife via a ferry.
- 7). Mile 15 provides an absolutely stunning view. The island in the distance is an island that's been nicknamed "Sleeping Giant." Notice how it looks like he's asleep on his back with his hands resting on his stomach.
- 8). The next village, Ballyferriter is the largest village you'll pass through after leaving Dingle. Consider stopping for a lunch or having a pint at pub. You'll need your strength for the breathtaking view of Clogher Strand two miles down the road.
- 9). Continue on Slea Head Drive and follow the signs for Gallarus Oratory. Dating back to 800 A.D., this stone structure was built using skills that were originated by Neolithic tomb makers. Local legend is that if someone climbs through the window of the Gallarus Oratory, their soul will have been cleaned. But being that the window is only seven inches long and five inches wide, such a cleansing would have been quite a challenge.
Return to the main road from the Gallarus Oratory and follow the signs back to Dingle Town. You’ll have worked up quite an appetite, so sit and have a pint and a traditional Irish meal at The Old Smokehouse (Lower Main Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry, open Tuesday-Sunday, 6 p.m.-10 p.m., closed Monday, 066/915-1061) or have a glass of wine and a pizza at The Blue Zone (Green Street, 066/915-0303, open 6 p.m.-1 a.m. daily) or if craving seafood after your day along the sea, try Out of the Blue (Waterside, Dingle, Co. Kerry, open Thursday-Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. and again from 6:30-9.30 p.m., Sun 6 p.m.-8.30 p.m., 066/915-0811, http://www.outoftheblue.ie/).