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On Ireland’s windswept southwest coast where craggy rocks meet the deep blue Atlantic ocean, there’s a tiny town that’s small in size yet big on charm. Dingle is nestled into a natural estuary along the Dingle Peninsula, and has everything you’d hope to find in a typical Irish town: think small pubs where the same regulars pull up to the bar top each day for a pint, colourful facades lining the waterfront and pretty streets to meander along.
A token stop along the famous Wild Atlantic Way, the rugged scenery found in Dingle’s backyard has also been featured in blockbuster movies…perhaps you’ve heard of Star Wars? The fishing port also has a proud maritime heritage that continues to this day, and visitors can watch the day’s fresh catch being pulled into the harbour or wander along the wooden boardwalk which has the feel of a quaint, seaside village.
From dolphin spotting to quirky bars to epic road trip routes, here are some of the most fun things to do in Dingle, Ireland.
Search for Fungie the dolphin
It doesn’t take long to get acquainted with the town mascot, a friendly dolphin named Fungie who lives in Dingle Bay. The bottlenose dolphin has been in the area for at least three decades, and loves to playfully swim alongside the boats.
It’s not known why he chose to live a solitary life instead of in a pod; regardless, he’s captured so many hearts that there’s even a statue erected in honour of the dolphin in Dingle harbour. There are also boat tours, designed to give visitors a chance at getting a glimpse of the charismatic creature. Click to book
Tour the Dingle Distillery
We all know how much the Irish love to drink, so it’s no wonder the award-winning Dingle Distillery has been a popular spot since opening its doors in 2012. The artisan distillery has won accolades near and far, including capturing the title of World’s Best Gin for their Dingle Original Gin.
Two centuries ago there were more than 100 official distilleries in Ireland, a number that had dwindled to just two in recent years. Thanks to the Dingle Distillery, whiskey making is back on the map. Sign up for a tour to learn more about this small-but-mighty operation, while sipping samples of their gin, vodka and whiskey creations.
Grab a cone at Murphy’s Ice Cream
Cool off with a sweet treat at this tourist-favourite ice cream shop along Strand Street. The store’s vibrant blue facade matches the bright cups the ice cream is scooped into, and Murphy’s has become so well-known they’ve opened a second location nearby.
The desserts are all-natural, and staff keep things simple by using free range eggs, fresh farm milk, sea salt sourced from Dingle sea water and even scraping vanilla beans by hand.
Drink at a hardware store
Imagine if Home Depot served up stout alongside screws, and that’s the idea behind Foxy John’s. This otherwise unassuming spot has been a mainstay in the centre of town for years, and is the kind of place where you can pick up a few random tools for your next reno project while also catching up with the boys over a cold pint at the bar. So basically, every guy’s dream.
Enjoy the scenic Slea Head Drive
If you’ve come to Ireland with dreams of admiring rolling green hills, sandy beaches and dramatic coastlines, then the Slea Head Drive along the Wild Atlantic Way will tick all your boxes.
This stunningly-scenic road trip is one of the best things to do in Dingle, as it winds along a narrow road that hugs the cliffside past tiny villages, farmhouses and rocky lookout points affording views of spots like the Skellig Islands. Driving the Dingle Peninsula is considered one of Ireland’s most epic road tips, and you’ll navigate hairpin twists and turns while making your way to the western end–in fact, the highway is so precarious that traffic only goes in a clockwise direction.
Book a Slea Head Drive tour so you can properly admire the scenery, rent a bike in town to explore on two wheels, or budget at least half a day for this Dingle Peninsula drive.
Globe Guide tip: Visibility on the roadway is better in the mornings when it’s not as cloudy, which makes for better photos.
See the beehive houses
Movie buffs will want to make a pit stop to see the so-called beehive houses near Dingle, made famous in the Star Wars films. Cone shaped clochán are tucked into the hillsides around County Kerry, with some dating back to the eighth century. It’s believed hermit monks once called them home, and today you can walk right up to them and admire how rings of stone were meticulously stacked on top of each other layer by layer without using any mortar.
There are lots of great day trips from Dingle, including this sea safari that navigates the surrounding coast and Blasket islands where you can spot sea birds and puffins, and a two-day adventure highlighting the best of the Wild Atlantic Way. Here are a few more options:
Best places to stay in Dingle
- Dingle Skellig Hotel: Thanks to its waterfront perch, this hotel has sweeping views of the bay and is a great place to unwind with a luxurious on-site spa. The beautiful, modern rooms are spacious and some include private balconies. There are also restaurants and a kids club, making this property a great pick for families. Click to book
- Milltown House: This intimate, boutique B&B in Dingle is one of the top-ranked spots in town, winning awards for its hospitality. Guests rave about the comfortable rooms, fantastic dining and bar. Click to book
- Dingle Benners Hotel: The Benners Hotel is in the heart of town, making it a great base for exploring Dingle. The property has a historic feel with thick carpeting and cozy couches to curl up on while sipping afternoon tea, and rooms are quite large. Click here to book
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