Found on the rugged and remote Dingle Peninsula, the small town of Dingle has a population of just over 2000 people, but it has a lot to offer tourists and travelers visiting Ireland’s southwest coast.
Dingle looks over the wild shores of the Atlantic Way and the peninsula offers opportunities to hike along isolated cliffs, to explore long sandy beaches, and to spot whales and dolphins out on the ocean.
In the surrounding region, you can find ancient castles and churches, alongside spectacular scenery, while fans of Star Wars will find that they recognize much of that scenery from the latest movies!
There are many things to do in Dingle itself and after a hard day of exploring you can relax in one of the town’s many pubs, to enjoy hearty Irish food and some lively loud music. There are ice cream parlors, whiskey distilleries and loads of great cafes and restaurants to try too.
To inspire your trip, here are our favorite things to do in Dingle!
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Ireland (Travel Guide)
15 Crazy Cool Things to do in Dingle, Ireland
Slea Head Loop
The best reason to visit Dingle is to see the beautiful scenery of the Dingle Peninsula, and one of the best routes to take to explore this exceptional part of Ireland is the Slea Head Loop.
This is part of the wider Atlantic Way, which covers hundreds of miles of rugged coastline all along the west coast, but this is perhaps one of the most stunning and least visited parts of the trail.
You’re best taking on the Slea Head Loop as a road trip, although if you have the time and energy, many people cycle it too. From Dingle, the Slea Head Loop takes you in a circuitous route of 30 miles, in a clockwise direction.
You’ll follow the coastline of the peninsula, passing in the shadow of Mount Brandon, the tallest mountain in the region, and there will be rural villages and plenty of history to discover through the day.
Our top recommended tours of Slea Head Loop:
- Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head Day Tour
- Full-Day Tour of the Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head, and Inch Beach
Just a few kilometers outside of town, you can find a national monument and one of the best things to do in Dingle. Gallaunmore is an enormous standing stone that reaches over 4 meters in height and towers over anyone beneath it.
The stone was thought to have been raised here several thousands of years ago by early inhabitants of the Dingle region, as it’s thought the peninsula had particular religious importance to the early tribes that called the peninsula home.
A visit to Inch Beach is one of the best things to do in Dingle, as this stretch of sand is one of the longest in Ireland. The 8 kilometers of beach is the perfect place to unwind, to enjoy strolls along the sand and to take in the peaceful scenery.
Inch Beach is famous amongst the Irish surfing community, as the swells of the Atlantic Ocean offer different waves for all abilities. You’ll find beginners learning the sport at the local surf schools while seasoned pros tackle the big waves on the ocean.
Our top recommended tours of Inch Beach:
- Full-Day Tour of the Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head, and Inch Beach
- Dingle and Inch Beach Day Tour
- Dingle, Inch Beach and Slea Head Drive Private Tour
Fungie the Dolphin
By the harbor in Dingle, you’ll find a more modern statue, built in recognition of Fungie the Dolphin. Fungie is a bottlenose dolphin who lives in the bay, and who since 1983 has been entertaining the people of Dingle with his antics and tricks.
Fungie is renowned for his longevity, as he’s still seen in the waters frequently, 35 years after his first sighting. If you’re out exploring the harbor you might see him performing acrobatics, while if you’re out on the water – kayaking or swimming – he might even come over to say hello.
Our top recommended tour of Fungie the Dolphin:
Conor Pass, found close to Dingle, has the distinction of being the highest mountain pass in Ireland. It rises to a height of 456 meters, and it makes for a spectacular place to road trip – or, if you like hills and lots of climbing, it can even be great for cycling!
The winding road leads from Dingle, through the beautiful mountains of County Kerry, and you’ll enjoy stunning vistas over the coastline and over the peaks. You’ll pass lakes, rivers and endless viewpoints on what could be the best drive in Ireland.
Dunbeg Fort is an ancient fortification that was built thousands of years ago, and it’s found just along the coast from Dingle. The fort was built atop a cliff, overlooking the Dingle Bay and is thought to date to around 500 BC.
The rough seas and harsh weather have seen the fort deteriorate more in recent years, so you’ll want to see the ruins quickly before they are lost forever.
The highest peak on the peninsula is Mount Brandon, which at 951 meters in height rises high above the surrounding coastline. One of the most adventurous things to do in Dingle is to hike the ancient walking trails to the summit.
You will only really want to try this in summer when the weather is at its best.
For centuries, pilgrims have been walking the Saint’s Route, the final stages of which lead to the summit. The trail is marked by white crosses, and atop the highest point, is a large white cross.
The trail is by no means easy, but it is a great way to experience the beauty of Dingle first hand.
Our top recommended tour including Mount Brandon:
The Dingle Peninsula can be a place of intrigue and mystery at times, and nothing has proven as enigmatic as the Gallarus Oratory. This is an unusual stone building, and the only one of this design to ever have been discovered.
It’s a large stone house, that’s almost triangular in shape, and there are many different theories as to its age and what it was used for. It could have been an early Christian church, it could have been a family home, or it could have been a shelter for pilgrims walking the trails.
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Off the far western tip of the Dingle Peninsula, you can find the even remoter Blasket Islands, which lie out in the Atlantic Ocean, uninhabited, but full of history.
The six main islands of the small archipelago were inhabited for centuries, however, the last settlement was abandoned in 1953, when the isolation and the hardships of life became too much for the last locals.
You can visit on boat tours from the mainland, and you’ll find old ruins, abandoned stone cottages and spectacular, windswept scenery. It’s beautiful, but you’ll soon realize how hard it would be to actually live here!
Dolphin and Whale Watching
Aside from the town’s most famous aquatic resident, the bay is teeming with marine life, and one of the best things to do in Dingle is to join a dolphin and whale watching trip.
Boat tours will take you along the coastline, giving you a chance to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the peninsula from the water.
You’ll have the chance to see bottlenose dolphins, minke whale and many more different species depending on the time of year you are visiting Dingle.
Our top recommended tours for Dolphin and Whale Watching:
Another piece of local heritage to see, are the fascinating Beehive Huts. Found in Fahan, close to Dunbeg Fort, you may recognize these stone huts from Star Wars.
These distinctive, conical huts are shaped like beehives and have been here for hundreds of years, although like much of the history in Dingle, exact dates are hard to come by!
Murphy’s Ice Cream
Another of the best things to do in Dingle is to try calling in at Murphy’s Ice Cream. Here you can try some delicious, handcrafted ice cream at one of the town’s most well-known institutions.
Since 2000, Murphy’s have been producing homemade ice cream using fresh, organic products that are sourced locally whenever possible. They have a wonderful array of flavors on offer, and you might keep returning during your trip until you’ve tried the whole range!
One stone structure that can be dated, is Eask Tower, which was built in 1847 to guide ships into Dingle Harbour. The dramatic stone structure looks more ancient than it actually is, but it’s still a great piece of local heritage.
Eask Tower was built atop a tall hill on the coast, and a visit here today offers outstanding vistas of the bay and out across the Atlantic Ocean.
Hang Out in the Pubs
Dingle has a lively nightlife for a small town, and when you are visiting, be sure to pop into the local pubs for an authentic piece of Irish life. Many of the pubs in town are beautifully ramshackle and full of character.
You can enjoy great meals and great drinks, while in the evenings, local bands are often found playing live music to the crowds.
There’s an endless number of places in Ireland where you should get on a horse but the little town of Dingle offers some of the best horseback riding adventures offered in Ireland.
Dingle has rolling coastal hills, tall mountains, great beaches and old castle grounds that you can explore on horseback. The views from the back of horseback are beyond beautiful and it will give you a chance to see a different side of this popular village.
Read about our Horseback Riding in Dingle, Ireland adventure.
Irish whiskey has a long history and is beloved by many across the world, with many famous brands produced in the country being household names. The Dingle Distillery though, is fairly new to the game, having only opened in 2012, but already they are proving to be incredibly popular.
One of the best things to do in Dingle is to visit the distillery, where you can see first hand the modern production methods while learning about the history of the process.
You’ll have the chance to try their unique blends and to see how they are reviving the Irish whiskey industry with unique ideas, flavors and tastes!
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