10 Simple Tips for Driving the Dingle Peninsula

Driving the Dingle Peninsula in Southwest Ireland is an adventure like no other. With breathtaking views of the Atlantic and plenty of hidden gems to explore, it’s no surprise why so many travelers flock to this part of Ireland. Whether it’s admiring the breathtaking Atlantic coast or immersing yourself in the rich Gaelic culture, the Dingle Peninsula offers an unforgettable experience for all travelers. Driving around the Dingle Peninsula is an epic journey that will take you on a thrilling adventure along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. After a fun one-day road trip, I am sharing 10 Simple tips for driving the Dingle Peninsula.

Sal and I drove the Dingle Peninsula on the fifth day of our Irish adventure! After spending the previous day at Killarney National Park, we set off to explore the Dingle Peninsula before watching the sunset at the Cliffs of Moher and spending the night in a boat in Galway! It was a fun (and busy!) day of travel.

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Conor Pass

Dingle Peninsula: The Details

Corca Dhuibhne or the Dingle Peninsula is a peninsula in Southwest Ireland in County Kerry that is famous for the scenic Slí Cheann Sléibhe or Slea Head Drive. The drive itself is a 30 mile or 48.2-kilometer circular loop around the Dingle Peninsula. Slea Head Drive, which begins and ends in Dingle town, is part of Ireland’s famous Wild Atlantic Way.

Fast Fact! Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula can only be driven in a clockwise direction.

This epic journey is full of historical sites like the Gallarus Oratory and the incredible natural beauty of Dunmore Head and Coumeenoole Beach. Driving the Dingle Peninsula is a unique road trip experience for the whole family. There are a variety of charming and cozy places to stay located throughout the peninsula.

Dingle Peninsula Fast FAQs

Can you drive the Dingle Peninsula in a day?

Yes, you can. But if you truly want to take in the experience of the Dingle Peninsula, plan on spending more than one day. The minimum amount of time to see and experience all the sites is half a day.

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

That depends on how many stops you make and how long you spend at each location. If you do the 30-mile drive straight through, you will complete the drive in under an hour. But, if you do plan on stopping to see the sites it will take an average of half a day, or approximately 4 hours to drive the loop.

Is the Dingle Peninsula hard to drive?

The Dingle Peninsula drive is not for the faint of heart. The roads are narrow and windy and, depending on what country you are visiting from, you may be driving on the opposite side of the road. If you are nervous about driving, consider a tour.

Is the Dingle Peninsula worth the drive?

Yes! The unique historical sites and gorgeous views make every mile worth it.

Which is better, Dingle Peninsula or the Ring of Kerry?

It is hard to compare both drives as they are both unique. Each drive is special in its own way. It really depends on what you want to see and do on both drives and what your interests are. All those things will determine which drive is better for you. On our trip, we drove the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula. And I am glad that we got to experience both.  

Why the Dingle Peninsula in one day?

Unlike the Ring of Kerry, Slea Head Drive is shorter and more do-able in one day. Also, as we were following Buddy’s choir who was on tour in Ireland, and we wanted to meet up with him for his birthday, we were pressed for time.

Our drive around the Dingle Peninsula

However, even if we had had more time in Southwest Ireland, I think we would have still done the Dingle Peninsula in one day, given how short it is. The only thing we may have done differently is complete the loop. Wanting to experience Conor Pass, we did not drive the last part of Slea Head Drive. Rather we went from Gallarus Oratory back to Dingle and then to Conor Pass.

We did this because we had time tickets to visit the Cliffs of Moher at 4:30pm that day and did not want to be late! After that we drove to Galway for the evening.

Slea Head Drive

Our Dingle Peninsula Drive

Although we rented and car and road tripped around the Dingle Peninsula on our own, I realize that this isn’t for everyone. Luckily, there are a lot of tours that will take you around the Dingle Peninsula. Some are listed below.

 

Where’s Buddy?

While Sal and I road tripped around the Dingle Peninsula, Buddy spent the morning visiting Adare and Limerick before his 2pm visit to the Cliffs of Moher and an evening exploring Galway. So unfortunately, this post will not include a teenager’s perspective

A rock wall and circular structure includes a rock with a cross on the right and purple flowers on the left. The sea is in the distance. Tóchar Maothaithe or the Beehive Hut. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Flowers grow at Tóchar Maothaithe or the Beehive Hut

10 Simple Tips for Driving the Dingle Peninsula

1. Plan your stops ahead of your drive

Before setting out on your drive, it’s a good idea to plan which sights you’d like to see and map out your route accordingly. This way, you know exactly where you want to go and visit everything on your list. With so many beautiful views and sites to see, it is easy to get sidetracked. So take some time to do some research on a paper map or download an offline map. You do not want to miss something because given the one-way nature of Slea Head Drive, you cannot back track. The only way to catch something you miss is to do the drive again!

A rock wall with an entrance encloses three rock buildings. beehive huts. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Beehive Huts

When we drove Slea Head Drive, we missed Cé Dhún Chaoin or Dunquin Pier! When I input all the sites that we wanted to see in the GPS before downloading the map, I forgot to plug in that site! Although Sal saw the sign for the turn off for the pier, he did not take it because he trusted my navigation – oops! To loop back and see it again meant we would have to drive an additional 40 minutes. Given how much driving we were doing that day, we opted to keep going. And I was very disappointed because I really wanted to see that view! Which comes to the next tip.

2. When in doubt, follow the signs

On Slea Head Drive, the sites on the map look farther apart than they are on the drive. Stops come up quicker on the road than you may expect. When in doubt, follow the signs. If it is cloudy and rainy, keep an eagle eye look out for signposts.   

A brown sign with white letters shares the Wild Atlantic Way and Slea Head Drive. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Slea Head Drive Sign Post

If Sal had turned at the sign for Dunquin Pier, we would not have missed the site! So, learn from our mistake and even if the GPS doesn’t say anything (due to a co navigator’s error – oops!), follow the signs. Also, there are a lot of clear signs for Slea Head Drive and the Wild Atlantic Way.

Fast fact! Go Mall means slow. You will see this sign on the roads and streets. Slow down when you see these signs.

3. Start early!

If you want to beat the crowds and start your drive early in the morning. Oftentimes, the roads can get busy during peak tourist season, and it’s much easier to enjoy the beauty of the Dingle Peninsula on a wide-open road with little traffic. Plus experiencing sites like Dunmore Head and Coumeenoole Beach without any other travelers there is a sublime experience!

A white and green sign post with
Dunmore Head sign post

When we drove the Dingle Peninsula, Sal and I got an early start. We left our Airbnb near Killorgen at 8am and drove directly to Tóchar Maothaithe or the Beehive Huts. While there was one other small family at the Beehive Huts, we were the only visitors at Coumeenoole Beach and Dunmorehead, Reask Láthair Mhainistreach an Riasic or the Reask Monastic Site and Séipéilín Ghallarais or Gallarus Oratory. This was on a Sunday morning in July.

4. Get snacks and gas up before your trip

Make sure you fill up your tank and get snacks and drinks before you set out.  On the Dingle Peninsula, the incredible sites will tempt you to stay longer than you anticipated. It is best to be prepared before embarking on your drive.

a long line of rocks leads towards a circle of rocks in the distance. Green grass surrounds the rocks. Reask Monastic Site.  Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
View of the Reask Monastic site

Before embarking on our Dingle Peninsula adventure, we gassed up in Castlemaine. We also had some snacks left over from our trip to the local grocery store in Blarney a few days before. That combined with refilling our water bottles, we were ready for the adventures!

5. Bring change

Some sites on the Dingle Peninsula are on private property and require visitors to pay a trespassing fee. For example, both the Reask Monastic Site and Dunmore Head have collection boxes for a €1 trespassing fee. And other sites, like the Beehive Huts, have someone there collecting the fee. Make sure you travel with change for easy access to these sites.

A silver gate sits next to a silver donation box. Dunmore Head.  Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
The gate to Dunmore Head with a donation box and other important signs.

After experiencing the trespassing fees on the Ring of Kerry, Sal and I were prepared with our €1 coins for the Dingle Peninsula.

6. Use the facilities before driving the Dingle Peninsula

Before embarking on your road trip around the Dingle Peninsula, it’s best to take care of a necessary task first: using the facilities. There is nothing worse than being out on the road and having to “hold it” until the next stop. Plus, not all stops on the Dingle Peninsula have facilities! So, take a few moments to use the restroom facilities before hitting the open road. And if you do have to go on the road, practice leave no trace and pack out your waste.

A stone building stands surrounded by green rolling hills. Gallarus Oratory. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Gallarus Oratory

When we road tripped on the Dingle Peninsula, there were no facilities at the Beehives, Dunmore Head or Coumeenoole Beach. While visiting Coumeenoole Beach Sal and I stumbled on a nook that people were using as a makeshift toilet and none of the waste or paper was packed out. It was not a pretty sight. Plan ahead and use the restroom before you go!

7. Check the rules of the beaches before visiting

If you plan on visiting any of the beaches along the Dingle Peninsula, make sure to check the local rules and regulations beforehand. Some beaches have restrictions on swimming. Others have restrictions on pets. It is important to be aware of any potential hazards before diving in or bringing your dog along for the ride.

a man in black pants and black shoes with a gray jacket and blue shirt walks along a beach of turquoise water with green rolling hills in the background.
Sal walking Coumeenoole Beach

For example, Coumeenoole Beach, a famous site on the Dingle Peninsula, has restrictions on swimming and pets. Clogher Strand also does not allow swimming, but Ceann Trá Beach does. So, make sure you research which beach you are visiting before heading out.

Sal and I did not even thing about getting in the water at any beach in Ireland. It was too cold for us desert dwellers!

8. Be careful around the cliffs near Dunmore Head

The Dingle Peninsula, especially at Dunmore Head, boasts jaw dropping, breathtaking views. But this also requires caution, particularly around the cliffs. As tempting as it may be to get close to the edge for the perfect photo op, it is important to stay back from the edges. Also keep a close eye on children as the land near the edge of the cliffs can be unpredictable and unstable.

A photos of sea cliffs with islands in the distance under a cloudy sky. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Sea cliffs at Dunmore Head

I loved the cliffs near Dunmore Head. Much more so than the views of Dunmore Head itself (which is why I did not get the quintessential Dunmore Head photo; I was too busy photographing the cliffs!). I did not get close to the edge. Sal always gets a bit closer than I do, but nowhere near the edge.

A man in black pants and a gray jacket looks out over a sea cliff onto turquoise water and the rocks below.
Sal near the cliffs by Dunmore Head.

9. Some sites on the Dingle Peninsula are tricky to find

Some of the sites on the Dingle Peninsula can be tricky to find or look like they are in residential areas. Consider doing some research before you embark on your adventure, so that you have a good idea of where you’re going and what the surrounding area looks like. For example, if you think you are on a residential rural road on the way to the Reask Monastic site, chances are you are in the right place!

A rock wall stand behind a pile of rocks and a stone with rock art. Reask Monastic Site. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Reask Monastic Site

When we visited the Reask Monastic site, we were the only people there. The site is located off a tiny road in a residential rural area which led me to second guess the directions that I was giving Sal!

Pro Tip: Check out the satellite images of the areas you plan on visiting on Google Maps prior to your trip to get a sense of the surroundings.

10. Hike Conor Pass

Last but not least, Conor Pass should definitely be on your list! Although not on Slea Head Drive, this scenic route is on the Wild Atlantic Way. In fact, Conor Pass is the highest mountain passes in Ireland! The Conor Pass Car Park offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including the stunning Dingle Bay, Mount Brandon, and Brandon Bay. But, if you are looking to stretch your legs before getting back in the car for the rest of your journey, consider hiking one of the trails at Conor Pass.

A green sign post with white letters. Sign post for An Chonair or Conor Pass. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
An Chonair or Conor Pass sign post

Sal and I decided to hike two trails at Conor Pass. From the Conor Pass car park, we took the Conor Pass trail to An Bhinn Dubh. It was quite the climb. And there were lots of other visitors in the car park and on the trail. In fact, Conor Pass was the place where we saw the most fellow travelers on the Dingle Peninsula.

After hiking back down to the car park, Sal and I crossed the road and hiked another 1.4 miles round trip out and back up a hill. There were less hikers on this trail, we only passed a few families. The second trail was extremely boggy. I was extremely grateful for my waterproof hiking boots, waterproof pants, and rain jacket! I was also grateful I wore layers because it was cloudy, cold, foggy, and rainy while we hiked.

All in all, we hiked about 3 miles before grabbing an ice cream, getting back into the car, and driving off to the Cliffs of Moher. In case you are interested in taking a short hike at Conor Pass, our hikes are above.

A man all in black walks up a grassy hikk into the distance. Conor Pass. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Sal in the distance hiking near Conor Pass

What we saw while driving the Dingle Peninsula

  • Tóchar Maothaithe or the Beehive Huts
  • The White Cross
  • Coumeenoole Beach
  • Dunmore Head
  • Reask Monastic Site (Láthair Mhainistreach an Riasic)
  • Gallarus Oratory (Séipéilín Ghallarais)
  • An Chonair/ Conor Pass – Cloghane and Brandon (An Leith Triúch)
 

What we missed on the Dingle Peninsula

  • Dingle town
  • Ventry Beach
  • Radharc nam Blascaoidí viewpoint
  • Cé Dhún Chaoin or Dunquin Pier
  • Ceann Sibeal viewpoint
  • The Blasket Centre
  • Clogher Strand
  • Baile nan Gall or Ballydavid
A narrow single lane road next to rocky mountains covered in green foliage.  Conor Pass. Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Conor Pass

What to bring for a drive on the Dingle Peninsula

These are a few things that we brought with us on our drive around the Dingle Peninsula that were helpful.

And it did rain a bit that day. To stay nice and dry, this is what I wore.

A view of a green valley carved by glaciers with the sea in the distance.  Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
View from Conor Pass

A note for any Star Wars fans driving the Dingle Peninsula

Star Wars fans have another reason to love the Dingle Peninsula, the last Jedi was filmed here! And for that reason, you can find hints of fandom all over Slea Head Drive. A visit to the Dingle Peninsula is an adventure for both fans of the galaxy far, far away and those who simply love to travel. We are both, so we had a great time exploring on this trip. May the Force be with you on your journey to the Dingle Peninsula.

Yvonne and Sal taking a selfie at Connor Pass.  Dingle Peninsula. MPA Project Travels.
Yvonne & Sal at Conor Pass

We loved the Dingle Peninsula! It was gorgeous with beautiful views everywhere! We had so much fun driving, hiking, and eating ice cream that we did not film a Movement Postcard. We definitely think the Dingle Peninsula is definitely worth the visit!

Have you visited driven the Dingle Peninsula? If so, what are your tips and recommendations? Are you planning an Irish road trip? Let us know in the comments below!

Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.

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Hello! We are Yvonne & Buddy and we create family travel blogs based on firsthand knowledge and experiences of a destination. Our goal is to inspire teens, parents, and families to share time together engaging in new experiences whether the destination is near or far from home. Come join us on our travels!

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12 thoughts on “10 Simple Tips for Driving the Dingle Peninsula

  1. Gorgeous! I love Ireland and I know I would really enjoy hiking near Dingle – the hike to Conor Pass looks amazing and it’s even better when you add in historical stop-offs as well as ice-cream! What a fabulous area.

  2. We will definitely plan to drive the Dingle Peninsula when we finally get to Ireland. While it is only 30 miles we can only imagine how long our drive will be with all those great stops. We would certainly plan for a long day trip. Good to know that portions can only be driven in one direction and we should bring some coins. Keeping this for when we get our trip to Ireland planned.

  3. I loved driving the Dingle Peninsula although it was quite rainy the day I went (skipped the beach). The ocean. views and historic areas are quite impressive.

  4. I’ve heard such great things about the Dingle Peninsula and that is is a great alternative to the Ring of Kerry. Your photos are gorgeous – I can’t believe how blue that water is!

  5. Fantastic post, great tip about bringing change! Love the way you included the maps as well. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I drove around the Dingle Peninsula many years ago. I remember the roads being very narrow and the other drivers a little crazy. However, the views were amazing. I hiked a few days on the Dingle Way and loved it.

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