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 a steady nocturnal beat of Irish traditional music. 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
▲▲▲ Dingle Peninsula Loop Trip Scenic 30-mile loop (easy by car, demanding four hours by bike) featuring the Gallarus Oratory (impressive early-Christian church), Iron Age huts and "fairy forts," Norman ruins, and spectacular coastal views.
▲▲ Sciuird Archaeology Tours Fascinating 2.5-hour minibus tours helmed by a father-son team who offer an up-close look into the peninsula's ancient history.
▲▲ Harry Clark Windows of Díseart Imaginative stained-glass Bible scenes inside a lovely Neo-Gothic chapel in the middle of Dingle Town.
▲▲ Traditional Music Best enjoyed at one of Dingle's many pubs, most of which charge no cover (arrive early for a seat near the music); non-night owls can take in early-evening folk concerts at St. James' Church or the Siopa Ceoil music shop.
▲▲ Blasket Islands Six islands just off the peninsula and home, until quite recently, to one of the modern Ireland's most traditional communities. Best appreciated after visit to the mainland's excellent Great Blasket Centre.
▲ Dingle Town Walk Either follow my guidebook's self-guided tour, or hire a recommended local guide.
▲ 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 Consider a bike ride then hike to nearby Eask Tower for great town and peninsula views, or take a more 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.
Charter-boat cruises Options include one-hour harbor cruises, three-hour nature tours, and fishing tours of varying length.
More outdoor activities Options include horseback riding, golf, and a harborside pitch-and-putt course.