Dingle is one of my all-time favourite places in Ireland. Not only does it have an awesome name (c’mon, how fun is it to say you visited a place called Dingle?), but it’s absolutely adorable with plenty to see to keep you busy. Most people choose to visit Dingle as a day trip from Killarney or even Cork, but if you have the time I recommend staying over. Even if it’s just for one night. The are several great Dingle bed and breakfasts, awesome seafood restaurants, great pubs and shops. Not to mention a local dolphin, the stunning Slea Head Drive, and of course Star Wars filming locations. Not convinced? Read on because I’m sharing my favourite picks and the best things to do in Dingle.
A Little Bit About Dingle
Dingle is the only town located on the Dingle Peninsula; a region that I (and many others) consider to be one of the most beautiful areas of Ireland. Dingle is also a part of Ireland’s famous and scenic Wild Atlantic Way and although it’s not a big town (only about 2000 people actually call this Irish city home), it has a ton of charm.
Travellers should note that Dingle is more of a seasonal destination; best visited during the months of spring, summer, and fall.
Getting Around in Dingle
The easiest way to get to Dingle is by renting a car, but it’s also accessible by bus as well from Tralee or Killarney. While Dingle town itself is easily walkable, the best way to really explore the area is by car. The whole peninsula has a ton to explore and having a car gives you the most freedom to stop at points of interest and photo stops. It also allows you to get an early start, so you can miss the tour groups.
Of course, if you don’t have a car you can still experience the Dingle Peninsula. There are local drivers and tour companies that will take you around and show you the highlights.
Accommodation in Dingle
As mentioned previously, it’s possible to do Dingle as a day trip, and if you are short on time a day trip is definitely better than nothing. But if you can fit it into your schedule I absolutely recommending staying at least one night. For such a small town, there really is a ton to see and do in the area.
When it comes to accommodation, I suggest booking a Dingle bed and breakfast. Irish B&Bs are friendly, homey, and affordable and Dingle has a ton of choices. I recommend:
If you would prefer a hotel, check out my list for the top Dingle Hotels.
The Best Things to do in Dingle
The Dingle peninsula has quite a few beautiful beaches, but Inch Beach just might be the best. This 5km scenic stretch is beautiful for exploring by foot or, if you are feeling adventurous, it’s also a great spot to try surfing. You can spend as much or as little time here as possible; just to stretch your legs and take a few photos, or spend the day exploring.
Slea Head Drive
When it comes to driving routes in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry tends to get the most attention. However, I’d argue that Slea Head drive, also known as the Dingle Peninsula route, is better. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best things to do in Dingle (actually, one of the best things to do in Ireland!) Slea Head Drive is 46km long, but expect to spend at least three hours with stops for sites and viewing points along the way. Not only is it a beautiful drive, but it’s filled with historic sites and attractions as well. A few highlights include Dunmore Head, which is the westernmost point in Europe, the Beehive huts, and the Sleeping Giant. If you are taking a tour, your guide will stop at the main highlights. However, if you are doing a self-drive tour, ask a local to point out the main stops on your map.
Star Wars Filming Locations
If you love Star Wars then you probably already know that Episode VIII, The Last Jedi, was partly filmed in Ireland. There are a few filming locations in the Emerald Isle but one of the most prominent ones was at Ceann Sibéal (Sybil Head), which is located on the Slea Head Drive. While the set has since been taken down, the scenery here is recognizable and still stunning.
The Dingle Distillery
For a country who has plenty of historic distilleries and breweries, the Dingle Distillery is new to the game, but they know what they are doing. The Dingle Distillery calls themselves an artisan distiller and creates whisky, gin, and vodka. Tours are available but should be booked ahead of time. While I haven’t personally visited the distillery, I have tried the gin at an event. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not normally my drink of choice, but my G&T went down smooth and easy.
Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
Dingle’s most famous resident isn’t a person, but rather a dolphin. Fungie, as he is known, is a common bottlenose dolphin that was first seen in Dingle Bay in 1983. In the years since he’s been seen jumping in the bay and playfully interacting with swimmers, kayakers, and surfers. Nobody knows whether he was an outcast, became separated from his family, or lost his mate, but today he happily calls Dingle Bay his home and is considered to be the town’s ‘resident dolphin’. If you’re lucky, you may see him jumping and playing from shore. However, if you want to get closer, you can take one of the Dingle dolphin boat tours out into the bay to see him up close. If you are an animal lover, going out on a boat to see Fungie is definitely one of the best things to do in Dingle.
Check out Dingle’s Shops and Artisans
One of the reasons why I find Dingle to be so charming is all the artisan shops that can be found throughout town. From cute bookshops selling Irish folklore stories to jewellers creating Celtic designs, clothing, hat shops, and more; there’s something for everyone. My personal favourites include:
- Brian de Staic: For beautiful Celtic-inspired jewellery
- Kathleen McAuliffe: A girly store with cute accessories
- Dingle Crystal: Beautiful craftsmanship, fun to look even if you don’t intend to buy.
Dingle Food and Drink
Dingle may be small, but the food scene here is massive. From fresh seafood and Irish lamb to delicious homemade ice-cream. In Dingle you can find farmers markets, cooking classes, restaurants, and more. Here are my must tries:
- Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant: I’m convinced they have the best fish & chips in Ireland.
- Murphy’s Ice Cream: Artisan ice cream that originated in Dingle. Getting a cone or cup here is a must!
- The Little Cheese Shop: Because cheese- that says it all.
Along with some great food finds, Dingle also has some awesome pubs.
- Murphys Pub: Known for great trad music, and in my opinion, for the hospitality. They served me up a toastie and pint at the bar even though they were booked up for a private event- which I later found out was a funeral. Only in Ireland.
- Dick Mack’s: Probably the best-known pub in town, take a look for famous names of people who have visited in the slabs outside.
- Foxy John’s: One of the most unique pubs as it’s also a hardware store.
Tip: If you happen to be visiting in early October, check the dates for the Dingle food festival. There are 50+ vendors, cooking demos, workshops, tastings, and other fun activities.
Dingle may be small, but this colourful town has a vibrant food scene, is surrounded by beautiful nature, and has tons of history. There are plenty of things to do in Dingle, so take the time to visit and spend a while. I promise you’ll leave loving it as much as I do.