Best Killarney Day Trips: Dingle Slea Head Drive

dingle sybil headOne of the best things about staying at Killarney’s Holiday Village is the access it gives you to so many scenic attractions. Apart from Killarney itself, which could fill a dozen holidays and still reveal surprises, Dingle is a spectacular location you cannot miss. Just 65km from Killarney, Dingle is an unforgettable place on the edge of the Atlantic. Here’s how you should see it:

Dingle Town

Make sure to leave time to explore Dingle town, either before or after you embark on your tour of Slea Head. Once a sleepy fishing village, Dingle town (an Daingean in Irish) is small but perfect. Amble along the winding streets to discover quirky shops, international cafes, fine restaurants, and authentically Irish pubs. You will stumble across memorable characters, unadvertised music sessions, and unforgettable moments across the town.

Slea Head Tour

Justifiably celebrated by the team from Top Gear, the Slea Head drive is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. A clockwise 46km route around the wild western tip of the Dingle peninsula, the drive starts from Dingle town and heads out along the coast to the most westerly point in Europe (Slea Head), before turning back to reach Dingle via an inland route. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the stunning beaches and historical attractions along the way.

dingle boatsBlasket Islands

When you reach the village of Dun Chaoin, 15 km from Dingle town, you can leave the main road to take the 20-minute ferry ride to the captivating Blasket Islands. Abandoned in 1953, the island has a timeless feel, with its pristine white beach (Tra Ban) populated only by seals. The island’s Irish-speaking population developed a unique culture that continues to be celebrated in literature and music today.

Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory is so perfectly intact you would be forgiven for thinking it was a modern construction created for tourists’ benefit. It is, however, one of the oldest churches in Ireland. Resembling an upturned boat, the tiny building was built using a system called corbelling, which involves overlapping stones so precisely that the structure remains watertight without any need for mortar. It is worth taking a minor detour from the Slea Head drive to visit this tiny reminder of the ingenuity and tenacity of its architects.

Mount Brandon

The Dingle Peninsula is beloved not just by devotees of good music, food, and literature, but also by the outdoors fraternity. Surfing, horse riding, cycling, and running are all popular in this area, but hill walking is probably the biggest outdoor pursuit. You could walk the peninsula for a lifetime and still discover new gems. One peak you are sure to enjoy is Mount Brandon, the highest mountain in Ireland after Carrauntoohil. This 952 m peak is named after Saint Brendan and still attracts pilgrims, who follow the Stations of the Cross via the Saint’s Road from An Baile Breac. Inspiring panoramas of the Atlantic open up on the ascent and from the summit (if there is no mist!). You can also approach Mount Brandon via the Pilgrim’s Path in Cloghane. This is more dramatic but also more challenging.

What is your favourite place on the Dingle Peninsula?

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