Last Updated on: 5th August 2021, 12:28 pm
Wondering what to do in Dingle Town or on the Dingle Peninsula on your trip? This small, colorful Irish town is located in southwestern Ireland, on the Dingle Peninsula, and it’s one of my favorite places in the country. Here are my recommendations for the best things to do in Dingle, Ireland, plus a bonus travel guide to help you plan your trip!
Where to Stay in Dingle
There are lots of cute hotels and B&Bs here, so choosing where to stay in Dingle depends on your budget and travel style. I’m including a recommendation for Dingle hotels and hostels for each of the following budget categories:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $25-35 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $70 for a double.
- Mid-range: Around $75-125 USD per night
- Luxury: Around $150 per night or more
Budget: Ireland is no budget destination, but the hostel dorms at Rainbow Hostel are cozy and affordable compared to the rest of the town. Complete with free wifi, Rainbow Hostel is about a kilometer from the center of town. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.
Mid-Range: For a uniquely Irish experience, stay at Nellie Fred’s, a pub with rooms to rent upstairs. You’ll be right in the heart of Dingle, and you can stay out and enjoy Dingle at night without worrying about how you’ll get home (because all you have to do is go upstairs)! The rooms are bright and modern yet cozy. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.
Luxury: For a more luxurious Dingle hotel experience, stay at the four-star Dingle Skellig Hotel and Peninsula Spa. With three pools and a spa, the hotel is a great place to come back to and relax when you’re done sightseeing for the day. Located a bit outside of town right on the bay, the views are stunning. The hotel is especially good for families traveling with children since there is a children’s pool with a waterfall. Check the pricing, reviews, and availability here.
The Best Things to Do in Dingle
Here are my favorite Dingle activities and sights, in no particular order…
Explore the Colorful Town Streets & Houses
Ireland is full of colorful towns, but Dingle really shines. There are so many streets and pockets to explore, with brightly painted traditional Irish buildings everywhere you look. If you love photography, I’ve listed Dingle as one of the most Instagrammable places in Ireland for a reason, because you can spend hours just wandering the streets snapping pics wherever you go.
Drive Slea Head Loop
Slea Head Drive (also known as the Slea Head Loop and Dingle Peninsula Drive) is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Ireland. There are many important interest points you can stop and see along the way, but the most important thing is to give yourself a few hours simply to drive the Dingle Peninsula and enjoy the spectacular scenery. I’ve driven many of the best Irish drives, and the Dingle Peninsula is a true gem.
Spot the Dingle Dolphin
Fungi, the Dingle Dolphin, has lived in Dingle Harbor since the 1980s. He likes to put on a show for the tour boats that come out to see him. Worried he might not show up during your trip? You can generally get a full refund if Fungi doesn’t come out during your tour.
Besides seeing the dolphin, the boat ride offers amazing views of some of the area’s cliffs and rock formations, so even if he hadn’t shown up I still would have been glad we went on the tour.
Tour Dingle Distillery
If you love Irish Whiskey (or even just vodka or gin) then you have to go on a Dingle Distillery Tour! It was one of my favorite Dingle activities from our trip. We sat in a field and learned about the history of Irish whiskey (all the way back to Henry VIII)!
Of course, after the history lesson and walking through the facilities, you get to taste the goods! You can buy a bottle or two of Dingle Whiskey to bring back with you if you’re looking for a good idea for an Irish souvenir.
For information about tour times and prices, check the Dingle Distillery website.
Enjoy Murphy’s Ice Cream
Sadly, I missed out on Murphy’s Ice Cream while I was in Dingle, but that was a huge mistake! People simply flip for the stuff. They have a few franchises across the country, but the original was here and is an important place to see in Dingle (and taste, of course).
Have a Pint at John Benny’s Pub
I love getting my Guinness on while in Ireland, and that’s especially true in Dingle. Going back through my photos, I counted pics from eight pubs in four days. But I’ve limited the pubs on here to just the ones that are important Dingle landmarks or historic spots in the city. Just know that I give the pubs of Dingle my approval across the board.
John Benny’s Pub, though, is hard to miss and a must-see while in Dingle. It’s a great pub with an excellent atmosphere and live music every night. If you’re looking for something to do in Dingle at night, you can always start here.
Look for Signs of Star Wars
While I was there, they were actually wrapping up filming on one of the movies, and we were able to drive out to see the set. While they’re no longer actually filming the movies here, you can still find tons of cool Star Wars tourism in Dingle. You just have to know where to look for them.
Of course, if you don’t want to go on a Dingle sightseeing expedition to see where Mark Hamil once stood (or something, I’m not a Star Wars fan), you can still see signs of the movies everywhere from tee-shirt shops to souvenir stands.
Shop For Local Cheese
I. WILL. TRAVEL. FOR. CHEESE. This is not the last time I’ve expressed this sentiment on this website, and it certainly won’t be the last. Irish cheese is awesome (and surprisingly underrated). While in Bulgaria, I always pick up Irish cheddar and butter from the grocery store.
If you’re a fellow cheese lover, while in Dingle, you have to stop by The Little Cheese Shop. Whether you choose to purchase or just have a sample or two, you’ll love your time in this cheese heaven.
If you want a great local meal to take with you on your drive around the peninsula, you can pick up some salami and cheese here and have a picnic on the road!
Watch a Performance of Traditional Irish Music
When in Ireland, you have to go see live Irish music. I don’t even think they let you leave the island if you can’t prove you heard at least one song performed about Brian Boru while you were there.
In Dingle, there are several great venues to pick from. John Benny’s has performances every night, but it is not the only place to get your fix. You can also check out the Dingle Pub, McCarthy’s Bar, O’Sullivan’s Courthouse Pub, among others.
Search for Vinyl & Shop for Irish Music
If you fall in love with any of the music you hear, why not go search for recordings at one of the town’s great music shops? You can find vinyl, CDs, or even traditional Irish instruments to take back with you. If you’d rather stream your music, you can always find a cool poster or other pieces of musical memorabilia.
See the Beehives Huts of Southwest Kerry
If you love history, then you’ll be excited to see the Beehive Huts on the Dingle Peninsula. These dry-stone huts, or clochán, are Celtic in original and most likely date to the twelfth century. Many of these were homes to Irish monks, but there is still a lot not known about them.
Explore the Local Books Shops
You can learn a lot about a place by what’s for sale on their bookshelves. In Dingle, we found many books about the famine, especially some designed to help children understand it. There are also great books about Irish and Dingle history available that are hard to get back home.
Marvel at Irish Handicrafts
All the sheep in Ireland means there’s tons of wool in the country, and the Irish know how to spin it into beautifully handcrafted sweaters, scarves, and cloaks. You might get a bit of sticker shock at the price tag on some of these, but handmade sweaters do cost more than ones made in factories because so much more work goes into each one.
Go Kayaking in the Bay
Dingle Bay is a great place to go kayaking since the scenery is just spectacular. You can get out and explore the sites along the bay or just enjoy being out on the open water.
Get a Kitschy Pic with the Dolphin Statue
I sat in this square for about thirty minutes, watching family after family come up and take kitsch pics of themselves “riding” the statue of Fungi the Dolphin near the harbor. While I didn’t do it myself (just waited patiently for everyone to leave to get a pic of the statue without tourists in it) it really did look like fun!
Have Another Pint at Dick Mack’s
Half brewpub, half leather shop, Dick Mack’s is one-hundred percent a good time. Opened in 1899, it’s been owned and operated by the same family for over a hundred and twenty years. While here, get a pint of Guinness and relax, soaking in the history as quickly as you down your Guinness.
Spot Skellig Michael
Though this pic is not the actual view from the peninsula of Skellig Michael (I can’t find mine), you can see this island UNESCO World Heritage Site from the Dingle Peninsula. If you want to tour it, you need to book early and the boats leave from Portmagee on the Ring of Kerry. But if you just want a glimpse, you can spot it from here.
Visit Hussy’s Folly
Standing in ruins, Hussy’s Folly is a square tower located along Dingle Bay. You can see it from the bay, so you’ll be able to spot it if you go on the dolphin tour or go out by kayak. However, you can also come and visit the ruins if you want to see them (or photograph them) up close.
Dine on Local Seafood
A fishing town, Dingle prides itself on serving up excellent seafood. You can find it all over town, fresh and delicious. If you’d prefer an Irish stew to fish and chips, you can get a seafood chowder that’s to die for.
Visit Some Baby Lambs
Is there anything more precious than a baby Irish animal? I’m normally a bit squeamish about animal tourism, but cuddling some lambs at a local farm was pretty awesome. The one I’m holding on the left is baby Charlotte, while the lamb on the right is baby Charlie. Pretty freaking adorable.
Have Dinner and a Pint at Lord Baker’s, Dingle’s Oldest Pub
Lord Baker’s is a tasty restaurant and pub, so you can stop here for dinner and a pint (or just a pint, if you prefer). Family run since it opened in 1890, they love to boast that they’re the oldest pub in Dingle (beating out some of the competition by just a few years).
While Dingle has three pubs, I think the three on this list stand out for history, location, and deliciousness. Yet, feel free to list others in the comments. As I indicated earlier, I never met a pub in Dingle I didn’t like.
Be on the Lookout for an Irish Wedding
One thing that I love about Ireland is the outfits that guests wear to weddings. In America, many women basically only wear hats when attending the Kentucky Derby or taking an Instagram picture. But across the entire British Isles, hats are an actual thing. And they are glorious.
If you’re in town and you see a group of posh-looking men and women milling about, and the women happen to be wearing stunning hats, you’re most likely looking at wedding guests.
Watch Leap Year for the Inaccuracies (But Secretly Love it Anyway)
The movie Leap Year theoretically takes place (at least partly) in Dingle. But the Dingle of the movie is about as different from the real Dingle Town as you can get.
If I’m being perfectly honest, yes, this movie is totally the reason I wanted to put Dingle on my Wild Atlantic Way itinerary. I don’t care that it’s bad. It’s so bad it is good again. It’s a perfect Irish romantic comedy starring amazing actors (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, and Adam Scott). So yes, it’s totally hokey and the town of Dingle is wrong (as is the movie’s entire conception of Irish geography). But I DO. NOT. CARE.
Dingle Travel Guide
Dingle is a small town, and it’s easy to get around. Here’s what you need to know to travel Dingle with ease.
Which Airport to Fly Into?
The nearest airport is Kerry Airport, which is only about 30 miles away (about 50 kilometers). However, I’ve found that the prices to fly into the Shannon Airport outside of Galway or the airport in Killarney tend to have much better international deals.
For my trip to Dingle, I spent a few days here after driving parts of the Wild Atlantic Way, and then we drove back to Galway to return our car and left from the Shannon Airport. You can also take a bus from Galway or Killarney to get here if you fly into either airport.
How to Get to Dingle
If you’re comfortable driving in Ireland, I personally prefer to drive myself while here. I have spent almost a month driving myself around Ireland and Northern Ireland, and it is my favorite way to get around the island.
However, for those who don’t want to drive themselves, you can use the buses if you want to come for a few days.
Another option is to go on a guided tour of Dingle and Slea Head Drive from Killarney. This way you can enjoy the sites without worrying about driving.
Dingle is a very walkable city, but many of the best things to do in Dingle are located outside of the city. If you have a car, you’ll be able to do everything independently. Otherwise, we used taxis in Dingle whenever we needed to go somewhere and we didn’t want to drive (mostly when we were out in Dingle at night).
To get a taxi in Dingle, we had to call ahead of time. There aren’t a ton of taxis that operate in the area, so you may have to wait for a bit. Uber works in Ireland (we didn’t try it in Dingle though, just in Dublin and Killarney), but it orders you a regular taxi instead of a private car. I would double-check with your accommodations for up-to-date taxi information when you get to town. Your hosts may even offer to drive you themselves one of the ways (which happened to us a couple of times).
5 Things to Pack for Dingle
- The Lonely Planet Ireland guidebook or the Rick Steves Ireland guidebook for your trip. It can be kind of a pain to find the major guidebooks once you land, or you’ll find them overpriced. I always like to pick mine up ahead of time.
- An Unlocked Cell Phone so that you can use an Irish sim card while here.
- Melatonin if you’ll be traveling transatlantic and your sleep schedule will be disrupted.
- Universal Outlet Adapters if your appliances are from North America or Continental Europe or any part of the world that uses outlets different than Ireland & the UK.
- Leap Year so you can watch it while you’re actually in Dingle!
Don’t Forget to Get Travel Insurance
Never travel without a valid travel insurance policy, because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance when you’ll be doing any outdoor activities or hanging out in traditional tourists spots (since tourists are easy targets, unfortunately).
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for three years, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance when participating in outdoor activities or driving in foreign countries. Even in the cities, though, you’ll be happy when you’re able to replace your stuff if it’s lost or stolen.
More Ireland Travel Resources
Next, if you’re still hammering out your itinerary, I have some posts designed to help you pick where to go:
- 10 Spectacular Scenic Drives in Ireland
- Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula
- Dublin or Belfast: Which Emerald Isle City is Right for You?
- 30 of the Most Instagrammable Places in Ireland
If you love listening to podcasts to help you plan your trip, I have several Ireland episodes you can dive into. Check out my podcast episodes about Ireland and Northern Ireland:
- The Literary Pubs of Dublin
- The Storied History of the Guinness Storehouse
- Rick Steves Over Brunch (Dublin episode coming soon!)
- Belfast and the Troubles
- Rick Steves Over Brunch: Belfast and the Best of Northern Ireland