Dingle, in Ireland, is a place where time is said to slow down. This mysterious port has so many breath-taking views that everyone cannot help but take it all in. If you’re living in a fast-paced city and need to slow things down, Dingle should be on the top of your bucket list. The tranquility and scenic views here make the perfect combination for a relaxing experience. Start your vacation on the Slea Head Drive with its twisting roads. It guarantees to be a fun drive. End on the Dingle Harbor while facing the sunset. Satisfy your hunger for seafood here at Dingle, but don’t worry if you prefer meat; all other meat dishes are also made to the finest quality. Hike up a hill to get breathtaking views, or try your luck at surfing. Go to places where a few movies were shot, or play with a 48-year old dolphin. All this can be enjoyed right here in Dingle. Go alone or go with family and friends, it’s always interesting in Dingle! Here are some of the top things to do in Dingle:
1. Drive Till you Drop
Slea Head Drive, or The Dingle Peninsula Loop, is about 30 miles (47 kilometres) long, and it is a memorable drive. It’s also a great experience for cyclists. The lanes are narrow, but filled with twists and turns, making it a whole lot of fun to drive, and, to top it all off, every turn has unique and beautiful scenery waiting. This drive connects nearly all popular attractions, like the Gallarus Oratory, The Great Blasket Center, and a lot more. Bee-lover or not, don’t miss out the beehive huts along the route.
Around each twist and turn there’s another vista that’s just as beautiful.
2. Relax on the beaches
The Dingle Peninsula has some of Europe’s best beaches. From the activity-filled Brandon Bay to secluded sandy coves, this peninsula has a vast variety of beaches. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, it wouldn’t be hard to find a deserted beach with sandy coves and the sound of seagulls. Take an ice cream and walk along the sands for a peaceful evening. In the mood for surfing? Head down to Ventry Beach, they give surfing lessons (if you want any). If you’re looking for other activities, horse racing festivals are held at Béal Bán Beach every June. For people on the Slea Head Drive, Coumeenole Beach is a great spot to stop. The astonishing views of the Blasket Islands make it hard to take a bad photo. Brandon Bay, which is on the northern side of the Dingle Peninsula, is a compilation of a number of strands.
Kicummin, Stradbally, and Gowlane Strands are about 12 miles (19.3 kilometres) of sand beaches. This area is popular among surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers alike. Feymole Strand offers a variety of watersports too. Trá Bán Beach is ideal for island lovers, as it’s located on Blasket Island.
3. See Fungie the dolphin
Don’t leave Dingle without seeing Europe’s most famous 48-year-old dolphin, Fungie. Take a boat tour of the bay, and hope you see this all-famous bottle-nose dolphin. First seen in 1983 (as reported by locals), Fungie has been seeking out human contact ever since. Fungie is known to play around with swimmers, kayakers, and divers underwater. If you’re worried that this 48-year-old dolphin might be dangerous, there is not a single event where Fungie has been aggressive. Despite the fact that dolphins are sociable animals, Fungie is the first dolphin to interact playfully and positively with humans in the big blue. This friendly dolphin has entertained nearly all people who have been to the coast of Dingle. If you don’t see Fungie on your first boat tour, do not panic, just go another day.
4. Experience history at the lighthouse of the 1800s
A solid stone tower, called the Eask Tower and built on the summit of the Carhoo Hill, overlooks the entire Dingle Harbour. Built in 1847, it was used to help navigate boats to Dingle Harbor. The mouth of the Dingle Harbor is what one would call a ‘Blind Mouth”. To reach the top of the hill, you must hike for nearly a mile (1.6 kilometres). The main attraction here isn’t the tower itself, but is the view from the tower. The views from the top of this tower are stunning enough for you to forget the 1-mile-long (1.6-kilometre-long) walk. For those on the Slea Head Drive, if you plan to visit the tower, it’s a small diversion from the actual drive (about 2 miles / 3.2 kilometres).
5. Be impressed at the Gallarus Oratory
Admire the magnificent architecture and learn more about Irish history or spend some quiet time at the Gallarus Oratory to clear your mind. It is an early Christian church. Follow the tour guide for an insight to the buildings history. Having been in existence for about 1,300 years, it is one of the few oratories on this planet that still has a roof. The architecture is exceptional. Kids are free to run around while the adults can look around. It is the perfect spot for architecture lovers and solace seekers alike, and is also a great stop if you’re on the Slea Head Drive.
6. Spend time at the Blasket Centre
Located at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive, it’s hard to miss the Blasket Centre, a unique and fascinating museum meant to honour the community who lived on the Blasket Islands.
One of the few signature points on the Wild Atlantic Way, watch the ‘Blasket Heritage’, an audio-visual introduction to the Blasket community. The exhibits portray the daily life activities of the Blasket communities, including their traditional fishing and farming methods. The interactive features activate all of your 5 senses, making the experience fun-filled and interesting.
7. Tour the Dingle Brewing Company
Located in a 19th-century building, the Dingle Brewing Company was launched in 2011. Admission includes a self-guided tour or a guided brewery tour. The rugged surroundings provide the perfect inspiration for brewing, especially with the finest ingredients. You can have all the Tom Crean’s Lager you want, but if you want to see where this golden lager comes from, this is the place you want to go to. This best-seller is named after an Irish explorer, to honour his memory.
8. See ‘Nemo and friends’ at Dingle Oceanworld
Submerge yourself in Dingle Oceanworld, a great attraction for all ages. The shark tank is the largest tank in the aquarium, here you can come face-to-face with one of the most fearsome creatures in the big blue sea: the sand tiger shark. The aqua tunnel is a wonderful experience, where you can get a panoramic view of the ocean life around you. Among the tropical displays there, the ‘Nemo and Friends’ display is one of the more attractive. It is a tank filled with species from the blockbuster movie, ‘Finding Nemo’. See penguins in their state-of-the-art sub-zero-temperature enclosure. The gentoo penguins found there are the third-largest species of penguin, distinctive because of their bright orange beak. Also, get up close and personal with reptiles during the reptile handling sessions. Feel the wings of a sting ray at the touch pool, where you can also hold a starfish. Last but not least, visit Molly the loggerhead turtle, an endangered species.
9. Dine in Dingle
With award-winning restaurants and cafes all over Dingle, dining in Dingle is a delight. Seafood is an all-round delicacy in Dingle, due to easy access to the Atlantic Ocean.
Fresh fish at your fingertips, and being in Ireland, don’t worry about the portions. Reel Dingle Fish Co. serves the best fish and chips in town.
Nevertheless, Dingle serves excellent meats and fine quality fruits too. Beef, lamb, and pork are all reared locally, and the fruits are locally grown. Even beer is manufactured locally! The Chart House is one of the best restaurants in town. Also, visit An Canteen for a taste of Irish spirits coupled with tasty food.
The quality of food in Dingle is unforgettably mouth-watering.
10. Hike Mount Brandon
Hike the highest peak in the unnamed mountain range of the Dingle Peninsula, and climb Mount Brandon. Brandon is also the second-highest mountain in Ireland. The Faha Route is the most scenic route to the peak. It is approximately 9 kilometres (5.6 miles / 4-hour hike). Relish the spectacular views across the west coast from the summit. There are 14 passes to cross to reach the top. This is an experience no hiker should miss out when in Dingle.