Dingle is one of the most magical places in Ireland. This cosy little village on the Dingle peninsula has a lot to offer. Every year thousands of tourists make their way to this colourful Irish village. But what to do in Dingle? In this little guide I have listed the 11 best things you NEED to do in Dingle!
Table of Contents
1. Visit Dingle Distillery
Be ready to be transported to the heart of the Dingle Distillery where you’ll tour the entire process of all their products. The distillery was conceived by three individuals who were also behind the Porterhouse Brewing Company which was one of the pioneers of craft brewing in Ireland in 1996. Beer brewing eventually led them to whiskey, and with a concept about quality over quantity and with a very unique state of mind, the Dingle Distillery will offer plenty of stories to accompany the tour. The journey will take you to the start of this Irish whiskey production with samples of vodka and gin awaiting its visitors. This new generation artisan distiller offers whiskey with a side of Dingle worthy friendliness and charm. You can embark on a tour of unique whiskeys, some bottles especially unique, being named and kept until their specific owner decides to open them or release them to the market.
2. Meet Fungie the Dingle Dolphin
Fungie is a wild dolphin living in his natural habitat. The friendly neighbourhood of Dingle has adopted him to give visitors a unique experience. Visiting him will happen through a boat tour, which can also be organized as private tours of up to 12 passengers, according to your preference. These will take you as close to a dolphin as you could dream to be. Fungie, very much comfortable with the company of the boats, eagerly awaits visitors. These boat tours will also allow you to explore Dingle from a different perspective, see all the magnificent green cliffs and Dingle’s serene landscapes. Fungie usually brings along a few friends, which will specially entertain the littler ones who can appreciate each being’s behaviour in their natural habitat. It is best to book tours beforehand as they sell out quickly.
3. Have fun at the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
Dingle is host to Ireland’s largest aquarium, hosting a variety of unique ocean beings such as Sand Tiger Sharks, Gentoo Penguins, and Asian Short-Clawed Otters and a large collection of different fish species and other aquatic animals. The aquarium is assured to leave you enchanted and mystified as you explore one of the most mysterious parts of our planet. The Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium has been a symbol of the community’s love for the ocean since 1996, very much visible through the work of it’s staff and directors to keep it’s inhabitants safe and happy. The aquarium also hosts a range of educational tours specifically catered to different age groups and also participates in a range of conservation projects and rehabilitation of endangered species.
4. Go Craft shopping in Dingle
Dingle is brimming of authentic crafts, from weaving to pottery, to jewelry making to leather goods and music stores. Shopping here will be like taking an educational walk through very diverse productions and historical crafts which have been passed on through the generations. Some of the famous names in the industry are Louis Mulcahy Pottery, some of the best Irish craft pottery in exquisite fine porcelain and robust stoneware. The studio is found in Clogher, County Kerry. His wife produces unique pieces of tapestries, woven scarves, throws and table linens, all woven at the shop itself, or just above in the showroom. Another famous craftsman is Conor Holden, famous for making luxury leather goods on the shore of the Dingle Harbour since 1989. A visit to his shop also ensures a ride along a scenic route. All these craft shops invite visitors to tour their workshops for a unique experience which goes beyond shopping. Dingle also offers a range of inviting markets and local produce which you should not forget to get a taste of.
5. Take a ride down Slae Head Drive
Known as one of the most beautiful coastal roads in the world, the Slea Head Drive is a circular route, beginning and ending in Dingle, 30 miles (47 km) of road officially called R559, showing off a collection of attractions and breathtaking views of the western end of the peninsula. You can choose to venture on this route via car or bike, but a clockwise direction is advised to avoid large tour busses during the summer. For biking enthusiasts, bike rentals can be found around Dingle for a good, challenging ride. National Geographic ones called this peninsular “the most beautiful place on earth”, so be ready to snap pictures of every twist and turn on this magical ride. Be ready to be mesmerized by diverse flora and fauna, caused by the warm Gulf Stream that reaches the peninsula. Intense allure, with a plethora of green landscapes, rocky hills, long sandy beaches and staggering cliff edges await a three to four hour journey, or more, depending on the number of stops you choose to make. You can go by car or you can book a tour online.
6. Sail to the Blasket Islands
The Blasket Islands are an archipelago of seven islands, which have been completely evacuated since 1953 due to extreme weather conditions which was causing the inhabitants to be stranded and cut off from any emergency services. This collection of uninhabited group of islands holds a rich culture of Irish history. Its inhabitants, which at its peak have been a mere 175, have been subject to much anthropological and linguistic study due to their completely Irish speaking nature. The islanders have written several books after much encouragement, documenting their traditions and way of life. The islands are so remote that even ferries cannot approach it, and visitors have to transfer to a rigid inflatable boat in order to reach them, making the experience in itself adventurous and thrilling. Overnight camping is arranged for those who prefer to extend their visit. Some tours include Eco experiences and self catering island accommodations.
7. Go on a Sea Safari
The Sea Safaris around Dingle are sure to offer you breath-taking views of the majestic coastline of Dingle Bay, comprising of hidden caves and the cliffs all the way to the Great Blasket Islands. You can view unique rock formations and a number of aquatic animals in their natural habitats such as seals, caves, puffins and more. One of the famous personalities you’ll encounter is Fungie the bottlenose dolphin who has been inhabiting these waters for the past three decades, and is now more the familiar with visitors, so cosy, personal meetings are guaranteed. The sea safari is bound to last around 2.5 hours, allowing you to soak in the myriad of mesmerizing cliffs and landscapes. Your captain is also sure to share a wealth of knowledge and guide you through the history of these areas.
Josh and I took this tour and I cannot recommend it more! It was one of the best experiences we had in Dingle!
8. Gorge on Seafood
Being on the coast ensures a myriad of luscious, mouthwatering seafood options, a great way to spend the evening, beginning with tantalizing appetizers followed by juicy mains. You’ll be spoilt for choice in this little seafood village, from mussels to lobsters. This is a place in which instead of bar hopping, you could easily be tempted to hop between restaurants to savour all their dishes. These charming places will be casual, warm and welcoming, letting you relax in their cosy settings to offer you the freshest catch. Some of the famous names you’ll come across are: The Fish Box/ Flannery’s Seafood Bar, Out of the Blue, Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant, Reel Dingle Fish and Ashes Bar. The options are endless and all delicious.
9. Head out to Minard Castle
Overlooking a gorgeous little bay with views across the Irish Sea to the Iveragh Peninsula, the Minard castle sits majestically atop a hill. It is one of three of the mid-16th century Fitzgerald castles built on the Dingle Peninsula with substantial remains. The castle is surrounded by a sandy beach during low tide, and a bounder beach visible even during high tide. The strength of this castle was challenged in 1650 by Cromwell’s Army who detonated charges at each of it’s corners, which still did not bring the castle down. The castle is famous for its picturesque location, which makes for a perfect day trip or drive, which will also bring you to one of Irenland;s most beautiful beaches.
10. Have a picnic by Eask Tower
The Eask Tower is a solid stone tower on the top of Carhoo Hill, overlooking Dingle harbour. It was originally built to be twenty seven feet tall but was later increased by another thirteen feet. This is known to be one of Ireland’s most scenic corners. It was built in 1847 in order to guide the ships and boats into the mouth of the blind harbour. One of it’s fascinating features is a wooden hand, constructed to guide boats to their destination. Pack a picnic and immerse yourself in the panoramic views from Carhoo Hill. You’ll be able to look over the famous Blasket Islands, Slea Head, Dingle Harbour, the Iveragh Peninsula, Skellig Rocks, and Ireland’s two highest mountains – Carrauntoohil and Mount Brandon. You’ll have views for days and you will also get a very pleasant drive out of it, since the drive to this spot is equally scenic.
11. Have a Guinness at Dick Mack’s Pub
Dick Mack’s Pub & Brewery is probably one of the best and most famous pubs in Dingle. When in Ireland you cannot leave without tasting a Guinness or a real Irish Cidre. Trust me when I tell you that the Guinness in Ireland is actually nicer than the beers they export. When in Dingle I would say getting a beer at Dick Mack’s should be high on your to-do list.
This traditional Irish pub is dog-friendly and has free wi-fi so you can look up what to do next while enjoying a fresh pint. They also have a brew house you can tour. You can try their home brewed craft beers in the tap room. Just ask for them!
Lieze Neven is a globetrotting travel writer and expat currently based in Nepal. With a passion for exploration, she has lived in Dubai, the UK, and Belgium, alongside her international teacher husband. Her parents live in France and she tries to visit Paris at least once a year. Together, they travel the world looking for the best hotels, experiences and food locations have to offer!