Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula: Which Irish Drive is Right for You?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Last Updated on: 19th June 2023, 06:41 pm

Ireland is a gorgeous country, and it lends itself particularly well to those who want to go on a road trip.

There are so many beautiful places to explore here that I actually put together my top ten favorite scenic drives in Ireland. 

However, there are two drives that people continually try to decide between. They want to know which is better, the Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula?

In reality, it’s not the Ring of Kerry versus the Dingle Peninsula, because both are fantastic.

However, if you’re short on time and you can only go on one, then you do have to make a choice.

Here are twelve points to consider to help you choose whether the Dingle Peninsula or Ring of Kerry is right for your vacation.

My Favorite Travel Booking Sites for 2024

These are my favorite companies that I use on my own travels.

Protect Your Trip via Safety Wing

Find the best city tours, day tours, bus tours, & skip-the-line tickets on GetYourGuide and Viator.

Find the best deals on hotels & vacation rentals on Booking.com.

For English-speaking private airport transfers, book through Welcome Pickups.

For road trips and independent travel, rent a car through Discover Cars.

Find information and cruise reviews on Cruise Critic.

For packing and travel essentials order via Amazon.

Book an affordable family or romantic photography session on your trip through Flytographer (Use the code HISTORYFANGIRL for 10% off your first photoshoot).

For travel guidebooks to have with you during your trip, I always pick one or two from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet.

Choose the Ring of Kerry if…

Here are four reasons why you should choose the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula.

…You Want Lake Views

Ireland - Ring of Kerry - Ladies View

If you want to stare at pretty lakes (or play on them) then you need to pick the Ring of Kerry.

See also
How to Visit a Traditional Irish Farm

There are three lakes in Killarney National Park (known coincidentally, as The Lakes of Killarney).

You can see them from the famous Ladies View, a view made famous for being admired by Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting.

…You’re a Seal Lover

Ireland - Kenmare - Seals at Kenmare Bay shutterstock_672628873 copy

Going on a Seafari to see the seals on the Bay of Kenmare was one of my favorite activities I did on the entire Ring of Kerry.

I especially loved seeing the baby seals and their mothers basking in the sunlight on the bay. You can read more about how to go on a Seafari in my post on things to do in Kenmare.

…You Love Historic Places

Ireland - Kenmare - Muckross House - Canva

While there are historic sites on both routes, I far preferred the ones on the Ring of Kerry.

Here you can see Muckross House, a Victorian-era mansion, and Molly Gallivan’s Traditional Irish Farm, including famine ruins and a historic moonshine still.

…You Want to Visit Skellig Michael

Ireland - Skellig Michael - Pixabay

Skellig Michael, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located off the coast of southwestern Ireland. While you can see the island from both drives, the tours to actually go to the island leave from Portmagee on the Ring of Kerry.

Pro Tip: Want to do the Ring of Kerry, but you don’t want to drive yourself? You can go on a guided tour of the Ring of Kerry from Killarney. This way you can enjoy the sites without worrying about driving. Check reviews and availability here.

Choose the Dingle Peninsula if…

Here are four reasons that you should pick the Dingle Peninsula over the Ring of Kerry

…You Want to Escape the Crowds

Ireland - Dingle Peninsula - Slea Head Drive

While both are popular drives, the Ring of Kerry gets much more tourists driving it (and larger tour buses).

This means the sites, stops, and roadways of the Dingle Peninsula are far more likely to be wide open if you choose to go a bit off-season.

See also
13 Magical Things to Do in Kenmare & Bonus Travel Guide

When we drove Slea Head Drive around the Dingle Peninsula in May we had open roads for much of the drive.

…You’re a Dolphin Lover

Ireland - Dingle - Fungi the Dolphin

If you want to go on a boat tour to see the famous Dingle Dolphin, Fungi, well then you need to go to the Dingle Peninsula.

Boat tours leave from the harbor frequently. While seeing the dolphin isn’t guaranteed (though we did!), you usually get your money back if you don’t see him.

…You Want to Explore the Town of Dingle

Ireland - Dingle - Colorful Buildings

While both drives have tons of cute towns (more on that below), Dingle was my favorite of all of them.

I spent four days here, and I absolutely fell in love with the vibrant atmosphere and the general chill town vibe. If I could only pick one town on either drive to go back to for a couple of days, it would be Dingle.

Read next: 23 Spectacular Things to Do in Dingle & Bonus Travel Guide

…This is Your First Time Driving on the Left Side of the Road

Ireland - Dingle Peninsula - Slea Head Drive - Motorcycle

If you aren’t used to driving on the left side of the road, you might find driving Slea Head on the Dingle Peninsula to be less stressful.

There are fewer crowds and the buses that come here are the smaller kind, so the roads you don’t have to worry as much about traffic.

This way you can slow down and enjoy what might be one of the most beautiful countries you’ll ever see.

Pro Tip: Want to see the Dingle Peninsula but you don’t want to drive yourself? You can go on a guided tour of Dingle and Slea Head Drive from Killarney. This way you can enjoy the sites without worrying about driving. Check reviews and availability here.

Choose Both for…

Both drives are wonderful.

While I’ve mentioned what separates the two, you can choose either the Ring of Kerry or Slea Head Drive and the Dingle Peninsula if you’re looking for the following:

See also
10 Spectacular Scenic Drives in Ireland that Belong on Your Itinerary

…Great Scenery

Ireland - Dingle Peninsula - Slea Head Drive

Whether you choose Dingle or the Ring of Kerry, you’re in for some stunning scenery! If you love beautiful coastal views, you can’t go wrong with either choice!

…Colorful Towns

Ireland - Kenmare - Colorful Houses - Canva

Ireland has many beautiful towns with colorful, traditional architecture. If you want to explore vibrant streets, both drives offer these throughout.

…Traditional Irish Pubs

Ireland - Dingle - Traditional Irish Pub

Did you know that there are nearly 7,000 pubs in Ireland?

Wherever you go in the country, you’re never far from a pub, and most of these are traditional Irish pubs. So if you’re looking for a Guinness and some Craic, either route has plenty.

…Adorable Sheep

Ireland - Dingle Peninsula - Sheep and Lamb

Another thing Ireland has plenty of? Adorable sheep.

You can’t drive far in the country before coming across a farm, and that means you’re more than likely going to encounter dozens (hundreds?) of sheep on an Irish road trip.

Either the Ring of Kerry or the Dingle Peninsula will be great for those who want to see (and photograph) these wonderful creatures.

5 Things to Pack for Your Trip to Ireland

I have an entire Ireland packing list, but here are five essentials:

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.

Backup Charging Bank to keep your phone charged while you’re out sightseeing.

Want more info? Read: What to Pack for Ireland: the Ultimate Northern Ireland & Ireland Packing List

See also
The Best Quotes about Galway, Ireland for Galway Instagram Captions

Ireland Travel Resources

Ireland - Dublin - Stephanie - Failte Ireland
Photo Courtesy of Failte Ireland

Start with my Ireland & Northern Ireland Packing List so you know what to bring with you year-round. Next, here are my favorite Instagram spots in Ireland and Northern Ireland from my own trips.

If you choose to drive the Ring of Kerry, here are the best things to Do in Kenmare, one of the cutest towns on the Ring of Kerry.

If you prefer the Dingle Peninsula, here are my favorite things to do in Dingle.

Finally, Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Whichever city you choose, make sure you have 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 if you’ll be hanging out in cities where tourists can be the victims of pickpockets.

I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for two years, and I happily recommend them.  If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.

Pin This Guide to Choosing Between the Ring of Kerry or Dinlge Peninsula for Your Trip

Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula_ Which Irish Drive is Right for You?
Ring of Kerry or Dingle Peninsula_ Which Irish Drive is Right for You?

In this Article:

Leave a Comment