Dingle was by far my favourite stop on my recent roadtrip in Ireland. Although it’s a small town, there was so much to do and see, plus I found it incredibly representative of what you’d expect from a small Irish town that you see in the movies. Located on the Dingle Peninsula, you can enjoy being by the water and the gorgeous views along a peninsula drive. Since Dingle is small, you can see a lot of the town in one or two days, so I put together a sample itinerary of how to make the most of your time while there.
Dingle is a sleepy town and most things won’t open until later in the morning. Take some time to relax in the morning and have breakfast before heading out to explore. Walk around the town of Dingle and pop in and out of the little shops. Dingle has so many cute boutiques and you definitely won’t find chain or big box stores here. Get lost on the side streets visiting all the little shops until you’re ready for a cold beer (it’s Ireland after all). Head to the Dingle Brewing Company located on the outskirts of town (don’t worry Dingle is very walkable). The brewery opens at 11am daily and costs €7 to do a self-guided tour where you’ll get a pint of Crean’s (their beer) at the end or to carry with you. The building this brewery sits in is the old Dingle creamery which opened in 1889 and was once the social centre of the area.
After the brewery head for lunch at Paudie’s Restaurant & Pub where you can get some traditional Irish pub food and of course, beer (do you sense a trend?). After lunch, head nearby to visit the statue of the local celebrity, Fungie. Fungie is a bottlenose dolphin who has lived in very close contact to humans since he was first seen in the harbour in 1983 and has continued to seek out human attention since. Fungie is known to be playful with swimmers, surfers, kayakers and divers in the area which is pretty rare for dolphins given they don’t normally seek out human contact. Visit the statue right at the harbour or go out on a tour to see the real life Fungie with Dingle Dolphin Tours (€16 for adults, €8 for children).
Moving on, head to the Dingle Distillery while you’re near the harbour and only about a 15 minute walk away. This distillery was founded by three men who were behind Porterhouse Brewing Company, a craft brewery in Ireland in 1996. However, craft beer in the 90s was not appealing to the masses and that’s what made them turn to whiskey, and the distillery came to be in 2012. The distillery today not only makes whiskey but also gin and vodka. Take a tour for €15 to learn their process and taste their beverages. Tours run hourly between 12pm-4pm during the summer (June-August), every two hours in September and from March to May (12pm, 2pm & 4pm), and only at 2pm and 4pm in October to February.
Next, stop for some snacks at the Little Cheese Shop located down a little side street (Grey’s Lane) off the main road. This little shop serves the best local cheeses. All cheeses are stored and matured in a natural environment and you can truly taste the difference. Ask them what they’d recommend and buy some for the road to enjoy with a nice bottle of wine or a quick snack later on in the day.
Last but not least, end your day with a delicious fresh seafood dinner. Out of the Blue is by far one of the most popular restaurants in town and it is ideal that you pop in at some point during the day to make a reservation. This restaurant serves seafood only and won’t even open its doors if fishing wasn’t successful in the morning because they want to serve the freshest seafood. The menu changes daily and is absolutely worth the little extra money you’ll pay. Also, if you go between 5-6:30pm on a weekday, they have more inexpensive fish specials available.
Tip: If you’re looking for a place to stay, I’d highly recommend Dingle Town Centre Apartments, especially if you’re traveling with a group or family. These apartments are spacious, clean and incredibly central. Plus, it’s always nice to have a full kitchen to make meals in when you don’t want to eat out or are on a budget.
Start your morning off early and head out to drive the Dingle Peninsula. There are two popular route options you can take. The first is Conors Pass and the second is Slea Head Drive. Alternatively, you can drive the whole peninsula which will take around a day. The other routes take about half a day or longer dependent on how much you decide to stop. Since the views are beautiful and there are lots of historical points of interest along the routes, you’ll not want to be rushed. One thing to note is that if you wake up to fog, you won’t be able to see anything on your drive in terms of the famous shoreline and cliffs so you may want to watch the weather and swap day two with one.
There are a few things to keep in mind for your journey:
- There are few gas stations along the route so fill up before you leave town.
- Travel on the route clockwise in order to avoid the large tour buses. Since the roads are very narrow, they can be hard to pass. Plus you’ll mess with traffic if you go the other way.
Once you head back to Dingle, get yourself ready for a pub crawl. Dingle’s population is small (under 2,000) but the town has over 50 pubs to enjoy and many of them are filled with history. We were even in one that was over 150 years old, that’s older than Canada! Here is the pub crawl route I’d recommend you do and make sure to start early because bars don’t stay open incredibly late here (usually close around 11-11:30pm).
- John Benny’s
- Dick Mack’s
- Foxy John’s
- The Dingle Pub
- An Droichead Beag
For more information on this route, you can check out my blog post here.
Even though Dingle is small, it’s a town that’s hard not to fall in love with. The colourful and historical buildings that line the streets, the soft breeze from the harbour, the yummy (and fresh) seafood, and of course, all the things there is to do! Any Ireland roadtrip should include at least a day or two in Dingle.