While many tourists may flock to Dublin and Galway, Dingle has a charm that’s all its own. It’s one of the country’s prettiest areas, in my opinion (which is saying a lot considering how scenic the country already is!). You’ll have no problem finding what to do in Dingle during your trip.
I’ve made a list of the 18 best Dingle attractions to check out while you’re in town. From scenic drives to exploring the city itself, you’ll want to make this part of your Ireland road trip.
The area of Dingle is pretty spread out, so I do recommend renting a car for visiting. You can read my article on how to drive in Ireland if you have any hesitations! That said, here are the best things to do in Dingle when you visit the area.
Table of Contents
1. Check Out Gallarus Oratory
The Gallarus Oratory is Ireland’s best-preserved church. This ancient building was built from locally sourced stone thousands of years ago – some estimate that it was built during the 12th Century. Besides being a place of worship, it was also used as a shelter for those traveling through the Dingle Peninsula.
Surrounded by lush green fields, this church is an incredible Dingle attraction that should certainly be included on your Irish bucket list.
2. Pop Into Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
If the weather’s taken a turn for the worst and you find yourself wondering what to do in Dingle, this is just the attraction for you. Since 1996, the aquarium has been working to promote eco-awareness through research, conservation, and education. It’s also the biggest aquarium in Ireland, making it popular amongst locals and tourists alike.
Inside, you’ll find a ton of amazing animal species such as the sand tiger shark, gentoo penguins, and Asian small-clawed otters. There’s also a butterfly garden, which is home to 14 different species. Kids will also be delighted by reptiles like the Green Iguana and an interactive touch tank, making it one of the best things to do in Dingle for families.
Tickets cost between 10 – 15 euros depending on whether you’re an adult, child, student, or senior. There are also special family tickets available, and children under the age of three can accompany an adult free of charge.
While the admission cost may seem steep, you’ll be pleased to know that most ticket funds are put into conservation and rehabilitation. So you’ll be actively contributing to the aquarium’s good work.
3. Take a Walk to Dingle Lighthouse
This Dingle attraction has stood atop the cliffs of Crow Rock since 1885 and should be added to your list of things to do near Dingle. While no lighthouse keeper resides in the picturesque building today, it still protects boats entering Dingle Harbor from capsizing.
To see this lighthouse for yourself, you can take a scenic 45-minute walk along the shoreline – the trail starts in town at Moran’s Service Station on Mail Road. Along the way, you’ll have panoramic views of the ocean to your right and rolling green fields to the left.
There’s also abundant flora and fauna to spot along the walk, as well as the ruins of Hussey’s Folly. This tower was constructed during the late 1800s, mainly to provide work to the unemployed during the Great Famine.
Once you’ve reached this whitewashed building, you’ll have spectacular sweeping views of the bay. You’ll see the Ring of Kerry and Iveragh Peninsula to the south, and at the very tip of the peninsula, you’ll spot the Skellig Islands.
4. See Eask Tower
Just on the other side of Dingle Bay, you’ll find Eask Tower sitting on Carhoo Hill when looking for things to do in Dingle. This 40ft (12m) tall stone column was built in 1847 as a part of the famine relief project. Its construction was also promoted by Reverend Charles Gayer, a Protestant who hopes to convert locals of the Catholic faith.
Eask Tower serves a practical purpose – it safely guides sailors into the Dingle harbor. Once they saw the stone tower, they knew to lower their sails so that they could slowly enter the harbor.
To reach one of the best Dingle attractions, you’ll drive the 5 miles (8 km) from Dingle to a small parking area with a stone hut. From here, you’ll walk for 30 minutes across farmers’ fields and pastures to the summit. Here, you’ll find Eask Tower and a stunning view of the Iveragh Peninsula and the Blasket Islands.
5. Head to St. James Church
Along Dingle Town’s main street sits the charming St. James Church and you’ll want to add this to your list of what to do in Dingle, Ireland. It’s been there for over 200 years, so you can expect to learn some interesting history while visiting. On a sunny day, sitting in the cute little garden is an absolute treat.
While churchgoers congregate here every Sunday, tourists typically visit St. James Church to experience its excellent acoustics. This church is one of the best places to hear traditional Irish folk music without the buzz of pub noise in your ear. These concerts are typically held on Monday nights, so be sure to pop past the town’s visitor center to grab tickets.
6. Wander Around Greenlane Gallery
Located in a historic house on Holyground road, this gallery is a treasure trove of unique art when looking for what to do in Dingle. Throughout the three-story building, you’ll find all sorts of pieces ranging from paintings and sculptures to jewelry. Greenlane Gallery features the works of both Irish and international artists, so you’ll undoubtedly find something that catches your eye.
7. Visit Dingle Harbour and Its Resident Dolphin
This quaint port is a must-see in Dingle and one of the more popular things to see in Dingle. You can stroll amongst the bobbing boats; you’ll see everything from old fishing vessels to sleek yachts. Walkout along the harbor wall for stunning views of the surrounding green hills; hopefully, you’ll get to spot Dingle’s resident dolphin, Fungie.
This bottlenose dolphin has resided in the harbor for the last 30 years. He’s very fond of visitors, especially those who take a dip with him – he often becomes quite playful. Fungie is so well known amongst locals that they’ve actually created Fungie trinkets, a statue, and a festival in its honor.
You can hop on a boat for a dolphin and whale tour around the bay and out to the Blasket Islands from the harbor. Make sure to bring a raincoat from your Ireland packing list to stay dry during this tour. After all the fun, you can stroll to any of the great pubs, restaurants, and cafes located along the road across from the harbor.
While the town of Dingle has its own attractions waiting to be visited, there are many intriguing sights to be seen in the surrounding area. Whether you enjoy Ireland’s rugged coastlines, stunning scenery, or astounding history and legends, you’ll find something fun to do below.
8. Stop by the Famine Cottage
Anyone interested in Ireland’s rich history will be intrigued by this cluster of stone cottages. Once you step through the door of this 19th-century house, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. On cold, windy days, you’ll gain an understanding of how difficult life was for natives, especially during the Irish Potato Famine.
You can watch one of the local farmers get their sheepdogs to round up the herds for a unique Irish experience when looking for what to do in Dingle.
9. See the Magical Fairy Forts
For some magic and intrigue, head about 12km out along Slea Head Drive to the fairy forts site. Set a little back from the Kilvickadownig area’s road, this ring of overgrown earthen mounds looks out over the ocean.
These fairy forts may seem to have been forgotten, but they are the remains of circular medieval dwellings shrouded in history and legend. Also known as Rath or Lios, it’s estimated that there are over 60 000 of these ringforts across Ireland. Many locals still believe that fairies reside here.
This particular Dingle attraction is situated on a farm, so it will cost a small fee to visit. This small payment will also allow you to pet and feed the horses, goats, and sheep on the property.
10. Visit Inch Beach
Soak up some scarce Irish sunshine on this gorgeous 2.5 mile-long beach. It’s only 25 minutes east of Dingle, making it an ideal spot for a full day on the beach or even a morning walk.
Inch Beach is a popular destination for swimming, surfing, kayaking, and windsurfing, so it can get a little busy during the summer season. During winter, you’re almost guaranteed to have the sandy expanses to yourself when looking for things to do on Dingle Peninsula.
11. Discover the Fahan Beehive Huts
The Fahan Beehive Huts are another interesting thing to see in Dingle, Ireland. They’re located just a short drive west along Slea Head Road, making it a great activity to combine with a Fairy Forts visit.
Historians have been unable to pinpoint their construction’s exact date, with estimates ranging from 8 – 12 AD. It’s also believed that over 400 of these beehive huts, or clochán, were once scattered across the steep slopes of Mount Eagle.
Interestingly, these cone-shaped houses were built without mortar. Builders stacked the stone rings carefully, slowly positioning the rocks a little further inwards as they piled each new layer. This is known as a corbelling method which is one of the main reasons historians found it so difficult to determine when they were built. You won’t want to miss one of the more unique things to do in Dingle Peninsula.
12. Explore The Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry truly is a must-see Ireland landmark, so you’ll want to add it to your list of what to see in Dingle. The 120-mile route hugs the coastline of the Iveragh Peninsula, so be prepared for spectacular natural scenery. Dingle is situated to the north of the ring, so it’s best to drive one hour down to Killorglin as it’s the very first stop.
Along the way, you’ll see waves crashing against jagged cliffs, green forests, and stunning waterfalls, not to mention some amazing attractions listed below.
Killarney National Park
If you happen to find yourself in Ireland without a car, but still want to experience this natural wonder, don’t worry. There are plenty of guided tours that will take you along the route in its entirety, and you’ll certainly learn a lot. Make sure to put it on your list of things to see in Dingle, Ireland.
13. Drive the Scenic Conor Pass
Driving through Conor Pass is one of the top things to do in Dingle, but you should know this road gets pretty high. This drive will take you through the highest mountain pass in the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland. Starting in Dingle, the road weaves its way to the south of Kilmore Cross. From here, you can choose whether you’d like to fork left to Cloghane or right to Castlegregory.
Along the 7.5 mile drive, you’ll encounter breathtaking scenery ranging from looming mountains to glistening lakes to rolling valleys. You’ll drive past two viewing spots on Conor’s Pass – one is located on the northern side of Peddlar’s Lake, where you can find the Conor Pass waterfall.
There’s another small parking lot situated at the top of the pass. From here, you can take sweeping views of Dingle Bay. One can often see as far as the Iveragh peninsula and Skellig Rocks.
Travel Tip: Towards the steepest part of Conor’s Pass, the road hugs sharp cliffs. This means that some areas of the road are very narrow, allowing only one car to pass at a time. So if you happen to find yourself in the driver’s seat, do keep your eyes on the road.
14. Hike Mt. Brandon
Hiking across Ireland is an amazing way to experience the rugged landscape. Standing at 3000 feet, Mt. Brandon is the highest point in the Dingle Peninsula and the second tallest mountain in Ireland. The Mt. Brandon hike is considered moderately strenuous but can be completed within 5-6 hours (return), depending on your fitness level.
Despite the difficulty, the rewards are so worth it. You’ll have panoramic views of the rolling green countryside, lakes, distant mountains, and the Wild Atlantic Way coastline from the summit. The hike starts along a trail near Miss O’Connor’s House, just beyond the village of Cloghane.
Mt. Brandon is also connected to Irish history. It’s known as Barr a Turas by locals, which means “the top of the journey.” During Pagan times, the peak was also a place where these people celebrated the harvest festival of Lughnasa.
15. Take a Ferry to the Blasket Islands
The Blasket archipelago represents the westernmost point of Europe and boasts an abundant collection of flora and fauna. This stretch of rugged land and its abandoned settlements have left many fascinated.
The Great Blasket Island was inhabited for over 300 years until the early 1950s. By then, only 30 residents were remaining who left due to a lack of infrastructures such as schools, shops, and doctors.
You can easily visit by catching a ferry or taking a sea safari from Dingle Harbor to the Blasket Islands. It really does take a real-life experience to understand the beauty of isolated living on these islands.
16. Photograph Dunquin Pier
This is one of the more famous places to stop on the Dingle Peninsula. You’ve probably seen pictures of sheep going down this road, or more recently a car that got years ago. Don’t make the same mistake, as this is a walking path only!
This goes to a pier that people can take their boat out to go fishing or go to the islands nearby. I loved the look of the walkway down to the pier and it’s a must when looking for what to do in Dingle.
17. Explore Dingle Town
I loved walking through this colorful town. As in most places in Ireland, people are extremely friendly wherever you go. I’d recommend having a hotel here as your base while you do day trips out of Dingle. The Dingle Pub is a hotel and pub located on the main street of the town, so it’s convenient to stay here.
Among the more unique places in Dingle is Foxy John’s, which is one of the best things to do in Dingle in the rain. As the sign says, you can buy your hardware and then go to the other side to have a few pints. I wonder how many home projects have gotten delayed by people forgetting their original reason for going to this store!
Of course, what would a visit to an Irish town be without going to the pub? There are plenty to choose from just on the main street. At night, many can be found with live music.
18. Take a Drive on Slea Head Drive
I highly recommend renting a car when going to Ireland, but especially when staying on the Dingle Peninsula. Slea Head Drive is a beautiful drive that’s best done when you have plenty of time to stop at places along the way.
It gets really cold and windy here, even in the summer. It was actually starting to get hard to take pictures since my hands were so cold! Make sure you layer up when visiting.
There are houses sprinkled along the way, and I can’t imagine being lucky enough to live with this view. Since it’s on the coast, you look out and see the ocean for miles and miles. That’s a good way to start your day and one of the things to do in Dingle you won’t want to miss!
By now you should have plenty of ideas of what to do in Dingle for your visit! This is a beautiful area of Ireland, so make sure to take time to see some of these beautiful Dingle attractions.