Dingle, County Kerry

The Dingle Peninsula is without doubt one of the best destinations in Ireland if you’re looking for great food, breathtaking scenery and incredible hikes.

Contents

Where we stayed

There’s no doubt about it, quality Dingle accommodation is expensive and elusive if you don’t book long in advance. We were fortunate to find a beautiful two bedroom converted famine cottage in the village of Annascaul, just 20 minutes drive outside Dingle town. It was one of the most beautiful Airbnbs we have ever stayed in and our host had a wealth of local knowledge. Annascaul is also close to the famous Inch Beach and the much quieter Bunaneer Beach.

Things to do

1. Rent a bike and cycle Slea Head (or drive!)

This was one of my favourite activities, made all the more enjoyable by the great weather and electric bike doing the work for me. It’s very manageable on a regular bike (46km) but we wanted to save energy for hiking. The bikes are €50 per person and the owners have plenty of local tips and advice. We used Dingle Bikes and booked online.

Eat: Stop off at Tig Aine or Caifé Na Trá for a filling lunch and amazing homemade cake coupled with spectacular views. It’s not too far past Dunquin Pier. Prepare to queue unless you book in advance.

Stops

Dunmore Head: This is Ireland’s westernmost point with spectacular views and unforgettable sunsets.

Coumeenole beach: Our AirBnB host warned us not to swim here but it’s a gorgeous beach to visit.

The Blasket Centre & viewing platform offering spectacular views of the Blasket Island and information about life on the Great Blasket Island. The Lúb na Cille walk starts from here. This is an easy 5km loop which offers stunning views Blaskets and surrounding areas. The walk is straightforward with just 136m elevation (and you get it all over with at the start).

Dunquin Pier: You will recognise this pier as it’s an iconic view. Ferries go from here to the Great Blasket Island.

2. Meelin Hill Hike

  • Distance: 7.5km
  • Elevation: 266m
  • Time: 1hour 45 mins
  • Difficulty: Moderate due to footing/terrain
  • Start: Walking Information Board: Annascaul village
  • Hiking boots essential & no dogs allowed

This is the best hike I have done in Ireland. It’s 7.5km and can be easily done in under two hours. We did this hike later in the day and got some incredible sunset views.

The first 2km are on the road. Then you’ll then reach a sign for Meelin Hill on the right and enter a sheep field. There is a stile in the left corner of the field which will bring you to the toughest uphill part of the hike (but still very manageable!). When you reach the top you’re at the first of three peaks! Keep a keen eye on the trail markers and the ocean on your left as it’s easy to step off the trail. You will be walking along the top of the three peaks and the views are incredible.

When you reach the descent, watch your footing as it’s quite steep. Then you’re back on the main road briefly before taking a right which will take you back to the village.

Eat: Grab a homemade pizza from The Old Anchor Inn (they are fantastic and excellent value!). You can call ahead to order when you’re on the way back up the road meaning you even have to wait. The South Pole Inn (Tom Crean) is a famous pub in Annascaul but the locals recommended pizza instead!

3. Great Blasket Islands & Whale Watching

You can’t visit Dingle without a trip to the Great Blasket Island! We coupled our trip with a whale watching experience though MarineTours.ie. It cost €75 per person.

We departed Ventry Pier at 10am had a one hour journey to the Great Blasket Island. The island is stunning and there are free tours every day by experienced guides. There is a gorgeous beach so bring your swimwear but we were told that you can’t go in far due to undercurrents. The cafe was closed (devastated) meaning there were no toilets either. There a couple of friendly donkeys wandering around the island who will want to steal your lunch!

Our tour collected us at 2pm and we went in search of whales. We saw plenty of dolphins who swam and jumped alongside the boat and we managed to see an enormous humpback whale in the distance.

Note: If you just want to go to The Great Blasket Island, I recommend departing from Dunquin Pier as the journey is just 20 minutes (rather than an hour!). Costs approximately €40 per person.

4. Spend time in Dingle Town

Dingle Town is an oasis of great food, cute shops and even better ice cream. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours wandering around and sampling all of the great food on offer. We got an ice-cream from Murphy’s every single day.

Food recommendations in Dingle Town (vegetarian)

  • Bean in Dingle: Great coffee & pastries, ideal before a long day/hike.
  • Solas Tapas: Incredible food in a charming setting.
  • Forge Wood Fired Pizza
  • Seed & Soul
  • Mex West Taco Truck – get there early because they run out of food!

5. Mt Brandon Hike (from Baile Breac)

  • Distance: 9km
  • Elevation: 747m
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Hard due to footing/terrain
  • Start Point: Brandon Car Park
  • Hiking boots essential

There are a couple of routes up Mt Brandon but we didn’t want to spend too much time in the car so we did the more straightforward hike from Baile Breac (this is part of the Saint’s Road. The route is mainly along grass and marked by 14 large stone crosses the whole way up making it easy to navigate. It is basically uphill the whole way but it only gets very steep and rocky towards the end. The views up high are great but the first 50% of the hike is a little boring. Next time we’ll take the more strenuous but more beautiful Faha route.

Disclaimer: We did this hike on an incredibly hot day and we eaten alive by insects the whole way up making it very unpleasant. The views were nice but we couldn’t really stop to enjoy them. We were then greeted by a wasp’s nest at the summit!

Thanks for reading

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