• Dingle Harbor, Ireland

Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula, the westernmost tip of Ireland (and Europe, for that matter), offers just the right mix of far-and-away beauty, isolated walks and bike rides, and ancient archaeological wonders — all within convenient reach of its main town. Dingle town is just large enough to have all the necessary tourist services and the steady nocturnal beat of Ireland's best traditional music scene. A half-dozen fishing boats sail from here, tractors leave tracks down the main drag, and a faint whiff of peat fills the nighttime streets.

At a Glance

▲▲▲ Slea Head Loop Drive Scenic 30-mile loop from Dingle town (easy by car, demanding five hours by bike) featuring the Gallarus Oratory (impressive early-Christian church), Iron Age huts and "fairy forts," Norman ruins, and spectacular coastal views.

▲▲▲ Sciúird Archaeology Tours Fascinating 3-hour minibus tours helmed by a father-son team who offer an up-close look into the peninsula's ancient history.

▲▲▲ Traditional music Best enjoyed at one of Dingle's many pubs; early birds can take in early-evening folk concerts at St. James' Church or the Siopa Ceoil music shop.

▲▲ Harry Clark Windows Imaginative stained-glass Bible scenes inside a lovely Neo-Gothic chapel in the middle of Dingle town.

▲▲ Great Blasket Island Until quite recently home to one of Ireland's most traditional communities; best appreciated after visit to the excellent Great Blasket Centre in Dunquin, on the mainland.

▲ Fungie Dingle Harbor's resident dolphin (and town mascot), who makes regular appearances in the bay (hop a boat tour for a chance at a personal encounter).

▲ Oceanworld Aquarium with penguin exhibit, petting pools, and no shortage of Fungie lore.

▲ Short hikes Bikeride-plus-hike to nearby Eask Tower for great town and peninsula views, or mellow waterside stroll out to the town's lighthouse.

▲ Minard Castle Dramatically situated medieval pilgrimage site and region's biggest fortress (near town of Annascaul); worthwhile nearby stops include a "wedge" tomb with stunning faraway views, Antarctic explorer Tom Crean's pub, and a four-mile sandy beach.