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Ireland Travel Guide:

Best Places to Visit in  Southwestern Ireland

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Best Places to Visit in Ireland's Southwest

Dingle Peninsula    
Blarney Castle     Cork     Drombeg Stone Circle    Gougane Barra  
Killarney National Park     Kinsale    Ring of Kerry   Skellig Michael  


Dingle Peninsula 

The Dingle Peninsula, Ireland's most westerly point, combines a scenic coastline with impressive mountains to create beautiful scenery. Less crowded than the Ring of Kerry, a drive including the Town of Dingle and its peninsula offers similar landscapes with less gaudy tourist shops.  The Dingle Peninsula is less developed than other areas in Southwest Ireland and many travelers find its simplicity appealing.

Start your drive  either in Castlemaine (R561 to N86) if you are approaching from the south (e.g. Killarney), or the larger town of Tralee  (on N86) if you are approaching from the north and continue to the town of Dingle.

If your tour of the Dingle Peninsula starts at Tralee you can choose to stay on N86 to the Town of Dingle or take the northern route along Brandon Bay and across the Conor Pass (Conair or Connor on some maps), the highest pass in Ireland.  The route through the mountains and Conor Pass is along a narrow, curvy road that can be difficult to drive, especially in the fog.  Conversely, it offers some beautiful scenery. 

You might want to consider crossing the Conor Pass on any itinerary that involves driving the Dingle Peninsula, but do so only if you are a good driver, comfortable with driving on the left and confident in your abilities.  We provide a simple road map below to give you the general idea of the drive around the Dingle Peninsula, but urge you to click on our map symbols to explore specific locations to see them shown on our detailed, annotated, highway map of this spectacular area.

      Simplified map of the Dingle Peninsula

Once you arrive inDingle , take some time to tour the town (either when you first pass through or when you return later.

Dingle, also called An Daingean, is focused on its harbor as the town has long history as a fishing center.  As might be expected, tourism now plays an important part in Dingle's economy.  You will find plenty of good pubs here, as well as a number of restaurants featuring excellent seafood and good quality food in general.  Best of all, Dingle is known for its music. We recommend Dingle as a great place to spend a night or two if you plan on exploring the Dingle Peninsula in depth. Dingle also offers the Dingle Ocean World Aquarium.  Check out its official website to determine your interest in visiting.


In any case,  to explore the western edge of the peninsula you need to pass through Dingle and  take R559 (marked as Slea Head Drive) towards Ventry.  Continue in a clockwise direction on R 599 until you return to the town of Dingle.   As an alternative, Slea Head Drive continues north at Bally David and you can continue the drive north for more exploration, or return to Dingle on R559 if you have seen enough.

There are numerous sights scattered along Slea Head Drive. 

Near Ventry you will findAn Dúnbeag , a fort also known as Dunbeg Fort that dates from the 9th century BC. There is some archaeological evidence that the fort was used until the 10th century, but site's historic record has been difficult to untangle.  There are a number of stone beehive huts (clocháns) nearby, although there is some problem determining which are recreations and which are actual historic monuments.  Dunbeg has a visitor center; drinks and sandwiches are usually available in high season. The Visitor Centre for the Fort has a modest website with contact information.

Slea Head itself is a particularly beautiful section of the Dingle Peninsula and off the coast you can see the Blasket Islands, which were inhabited until the mid-1950s.  If interested, you can travel to the islands by ferry for an afternoon's exploration.    The ferry leaves from Dun Chaoin (Dunguin) about 15 miles north and west of dingle on the R559.  See this site  for more information about the ferry.  If interested in the Blasket's, but not in visiting, there is a Blasket Island Centre in Dunquin.


The Gallarus Oratory is a 1200 year old stone worship chapel that was designed for individual or small-group prayer.  Although its roof has begun to sag, the Oratory is in near-perfect condition, a state made all the more interesting by the fact that it was constructed without mortar of any type. There is also a modest Gallarus Castle (a small tower) nearby.  Both are managed by Heritage Ireland  and access is by guided tour only.  The car parks for these attractions are on private property and there is a charge for using these facilities.

For more information on the Dingle Peninsula and its other attractions, as well as excellent descriptions of its towns, see the official website of Dingle Peninsula Tourism.

More Places to Visit In Southwestern Ireland

Click here for page 4 on the Southwest, featuring Blarney Castle, Cork, Gougane Barra and the Drombeg Stone Circle.

Or, click the Jump Bar at the bottom of the page to access the descriptions of a specific location in Ireland's Southwest.

Or, click the link menu on the right-edge of this page to explore another section of Ireland.

If you need information about another travel destination, try our Destination Guide Index or Googling ThereArePlaces.

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Dublin and Vicinity

The Southwest
Cork, Killarney, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Blarney Castle and more.

The West
Galway, Connemara, Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Aran islands and more.

The Southeast
Waterford, Rock of Cashel, Jerpoint Abbey and more.

The North and Northern Ireland
Donegal, Sligo, Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Belfast and more.

Introduction to Ireland










3-Day Cork, Blarney Castle, Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula Rail Tour

From Viator Tours
















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