How we ended up visiting Dingle, Ireland and learning so much about this area is sort of a funny story....
Years ago we decided we wanted to say yes more often. Yes for making that workout happen each morning. Yes to trying that extra spicy taco in Mexico. Yes to taking up strangers on their offer to stay in their home in Ireland.
One night we were working in a coffee shop in Florida when we got an email from a member in our Youtube community. Like with most emails from strangers, we assumed it was spam at first until we gave it another read and decided to reply back just in case it wasn't spam. Turns out it wasn't.
An incredibly gracious Irishman had been watching our videos and offered to let us stay at his place in the off season whenever we were ready to hop the pond to Ireland. Well, we assumed since he had take the time to email us that he was serious. After a bit more investigating and talking to him, we took him up on his offer and purchased tickets to Ireland.
The gentleman was originally from Ireland but had settled just down the street from us in Georgia with his incredibly kind family. Before we took off for Ireland, we actually passed through their town and went to dinner with them to say thank you and to take in all of their best recommendations. They remain some of the kindest people we've ever met through Youtube and we so enjoyed their company and the wealth of local insight we received. He was born and raised in Dingle and we even had a chance to meet some of his family while in Ireland.
Moral of the story: yes, always be careful with strangers, but do say yes when opportunities present themself. Thanks to a kind family in Georgia, we had the opportunity to stay in the most adorable Irish Airbnb located in the quaintest small town on the island. It was perfect.
If you've never heard of Dingle before, you need to keep reading. Dingle is the quintessential Irish town: mountains, rolling green hills, sheep a plenty, fishing boats with fresh catches, Irish music and lots of pubs.
We spent a 10 days in Ireland focusing entirely on the southwestern region of the country. Dingle was our home base as we toured the peninsula and nearby Killarney and the Ring of Kerry. This little corner of the world is overflowing with beauty and culture and it’s easy to see why so many people return to Ireland year after year.
If you're planning a trip to Dingle, Ireland, keep reading to learn everything you need to know before your own trip to Dingle.
There’s truly so much to see in this area of the country! Perhaps another trip to Ireland is in our future? While our trip was relatively brief, we were able to experience a lot and we’re sharing our top things to see, do, and eat on the Dingle Peninsula with you today.
Rather than giving you itinerary suggestions, we’re going to list a lot of options and you can mix and match whatever activities most strike your fancy.
If you have any questions about planning your trip, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Alright, let’s get going!
Weather in Dingle, Ireland
The first thing to know about weather in Ireland is that it can be unpredictable. It's sunny one minute and rainy the next. Ireland as a whole receives lots of wet weather (it’s what makes the Emerald Isle emerald). Don’t let the wet weather slow you down though. Visiting Ireland in late February/early March reminded me of our winters living in Seattle: the weather changes quickly and the locals don't slow down when it rains. In a place like Ireland that gets lots of rainy days, you learn to keep moving even when a shower moves in. Don't worry, it'll probably pass again in a few minutes.
The rain is less of a threat to enjoying your time in Dingle than the wind. Dingle is located on the western coast of Ireland and the winds coming off the Atlantic Ocean can be crazy. Combine the winds with the rain and it can be brutal. The wind can also make the temperatures feel several degrees colder, and if you don't go prepared with the right clothes and gear, you could be soaked through and wet for the rest of the day. (Note: we have our full packing list later in this blogpost.)
Because of Ireland's location as an island in the Atlantic Ocean the temperatures stay moderate year round. There's about a 15 degree (fahrenheit) difference between the warmest month of the year (August) and the coldest month of the year (January). No matter what season you visit Ireland, you'll want to pack layers and be prepared for all sorts of temperatures.
Best time of year to visit Ireland
There are three seasons we always break down weather in: peak season, off season, and shoulder season. Each comes with its advantages and disadvantages, it really depends on your schedule, budget, and what you're hoping to see and do on your Ireland vacation. Typically we prefer traveling during the shoulder seasons because it offers a few of the perks of both peak and off-seasons. We'll break down the perks of each below.
Peak season (May, June, July, and August)
While every month in Dingle, Ireland regularly receives lots of rain, the summer months as a whole have less days of precipitation. With summer comes much longer days giving you more hours to explore after the rain has passed. Weather aside, peak season is the busiest and most expensive time of year to travel, except for St. Patricks's Day.
One of the biggest perks of visiting Dingle during peak season is that the Emerald Isle is at its full, green emerald color in summer. There's always a bit of green in the grass, but during summer it turns bright and full of life again.
Off season (November, December, January, and February)
The winter months are certainly the off season for Ireland. The days are short, the temperatures are colder, and there's certainly more rain. The off season in Dingle has far fewer crowds and the rates of hotels are much more affordable. If you're on a tight budget and are willing to brave the elements, this is a great time of year to visit.
Shoulder season (March & April and September & October)
Shoulder season is typically our favorite season to travel. Crowds are moderate, prices are still relatively low, and the weather can be absolutely beautiful (and sometimes horrible). For many places, shoulder season is a gamble because you could get any sort of weather. Thankfully, Dingle, Ireland is more predictable in shoulder season than many places, so there's less risk involved.
We visited the last week of February and first few days of March and overall had nice weather. With the exception of a couple of days of downpour in Galway, our time in western Ireland was really nice. The days almost always featured a quick rain shower that within a few minutes would give way to sunny skies again. When I look back at our time in Dingle, I remember it being mostly sunny!
The biggest thing to note about shoulder season in Dingle is that St. Patrick's Day (March 17) is by far the busiest time of the year for Ireland tourism. The few days before and after the holiday are crowded, expensive, and a bit noisy. Our friends Colin and Meg visited with their two kids during St. Patrick's Day and had a lot of fun. If you're looking for a family friendly guide to St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, check their videos and blog out.
Bonus tip: Lamb season (when all their sheep have their babies) begins around early March. If you want to see little sheep jumping and lounging in all the green pastures, consider visiting in March. There were already lots of lambs when we visited the last week of February, and seeing their little soft, fuzzy selves lying in the pastures was such a highlight.
Money and Currency in Ireland
The Republic of Ireland (or Southern Ireland) left the United Kingdom in 1922 and now uses the Euro, unlike Northern Ireland which is still a part of the United Kingdom and uses the Pound. We always recommend converting a bit of money through your home back before traveling to a new country to get the best exchange rate. Most places take credit cards or Apple Pay, but you'll always want to carry a bit of cash in Ireland. We did come across a couple of roadside stops in Ireland that did not take card, so be sure to have a few Euros on hand.
English is spoken by 99% of Irish. However, if you’re traveling to Dingle and surrounding areas you’re definitely going to see signs written in Irish (also known as Gaelic), and you’re likely to hear locals speaking it as well. This part of the country is proud and keeps the traditional Irish language alive by passing it on to future generations. That being said, if you speak English you won’t have any problem getting around Ireland.
Best way to get around Ireland
Unless you’re in Dublin, you’re going to want to rent a car in Ireland. It’s not a secret that driving in Ireland can be a bit intimidating due to their very narrow roads that twist and turn over mountains and hills, but that doesn’t mean you can't or shouldn't! You’re very capable of handling the roads. Give yourself some time to get the hang of it and go slow. I can’t emphasize the slow part enough.
Before prepping for Ireland I did a lot of research on car rentals in Ireland. Ireland was the first place we had ever rented a car where they drive on the opposite side of the road than we do in America. We had been to other places that drive on the left side of the road, but doing it ourselves was a bit nerve-racking the first half hour or so. Then you get the hang of it!
A few things I’ll briefly include here about renting a car though:
Ireland drives on the left side of the road.
Purchase all the possible insurance. While we didn’t have any damages on our car, about 90% of the rental cars returned in Ireland do so statistically you’re going to want that insurance just in case.
Drive slow until you get the hang of it. The Ireland locals are pretty patient and won’t honk the horn at you but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be considerate and move over for drivers who want to go faster than you. Ireland has lots of pull offs so utilize those as often as possible to help the locals get to where they need to go.
Most of the cars in Ireland are manual transmissions (stick shifts). If you’ve never driven a stick shift and/or have never driven on the left side of the road, splurge the extra and get the automatic transmission.
Check your credit card to see if you're covered for car rental companies. Most travel cards will cover you except in Ireland. If your credit card does cover you, you'll need a letter to take to show the rental car agent at the time of pickup. Make sure you know the difference between primary and secondary car insurance and know for certain which one your card covers. You'll definitely want at least the primary insurance.
Rent the smallest car possible. I know larger cars are more comfortable, but the smaller the car you can get away with, the better. Trust me, you'll want to be driving a little hatchback vs. an SUV when you're passing another car one a road that in the USA would be a one lane road.
What to pack for Ireland
I know we've said it several times already, but the weather in Ireland can be unpredictable. The best way to enjoy your trip when the weather is iffy is to go prepared with lots of layers including good jackets and the right footwear. If you're traveling to Dingle from the USA like we were, you'll want to be sure to bring the right voltage converters and money, too. Below is our list of must pack items for your trip to Ireland.
Clothes and shoes
Jackets and coats take up a lot of room in the suitcase, but trust me, you'll be glad you brought a variety. We always start with a jacket that insulates and keeps us warm enough on those windy days in Dingle, Ireland. For those rainy days you'll want to be sure to bring a good raincoat that has enough room to fit your other layers underneath.
For the last six years we've both relied on Patagonia's Nanopuff Jacket. I know it's expensive, but the price tag is worth it if you spend a good chunk of time outdoors and layering for colder destinations. The Patagonia Nanopuff packs small and dries fast due to its synthetic down stuffing, which also keeps it from being too puffy and uncomfortable to layer under a wind breaker or rain coat.
The jacket comes with a hood or without. Chris purchased his with the hood and I wish I had done the same. I didn't because I assumed I'd always have a beanie hate with me, but I can't tell you the number of times it's started raining on a hike or walk and I had nothing to cover my head. Get the hood!
Like many pieces of outdoor gear, you get what you pay for with rain jackets. The more expensive the jacket, the drier you'll stay. Both of the rain jackets we took to Dingle more than handled the weather. I'd say that unless you're hiking or doing some other activity that will keep you in the rain for long periods of time, a basic rain jacket like own will be fine for Ireland. An expensive rain jacket will likely be the next piece of gear I purchase because getting soaked through isn't fun.
No matter the price point of the rain jacket, I'd recommend one that goes below your waist to keep as much rain off your legs as possible. The last thing you want is to get soaking wet and be freezing the rest of the day for your Dingle adventures. There aren't many options for longer rain jackets for men, but women will have no problem snagging one.
Chris has used the same basic Patagonia rain jacket for years and it has served its purpose well (I actually have the same jacket, I just chose to take my longer one to Ireland). It comes in a variety of colors and packs small.
The rain jacket I chose to take to Dingle falls below the waist. I snagged the bright yellow jacket at Eddie Bauer years ago and I can't find it on their website anymore. I'll attach similar rain jackets below though.
We didn't pack rain pants for Ireland, but if you're planning to do long hikes or extended periods of time outdoors, you may want to consider bringing some. We never felt like we needed them (until Galway), but then again, our weather was pretty moderate for being shoulder season. Instead of spending more money on rain pants before we left, we both always carried an extra set of pants in our bags in case we got soaked through.
Never underestimate the power of a good pair of shoes. This is probably the item I always overpack, but rarely do I regret it. It's not uncommon for me to travel with four pairs of shoes. Usually I bring running shoes for working out, flip flops for around the hotel/Airbnb/pool, boots to keep my feet warm, and usually either Chacos if we're traveling somewhere warm, or for Ireland, an extra pair of comfy sneakers.
Both Chris and I traveled with the same shoes (matching just sort of happens the longer you're married....). There are the top two shoes I'd recommend bringing with you to Dingle:
Blundstone boots are our go-to everything boots for cold weather. They're perfect for thick socks on cold days, and they perform wonderfully in rainy and snowy conditions. I've walked through puddles, hiked mountains, and more in these boots and have loved them every step of the way. The traction is good on the bottom, perfect for walking in wet conditions and across uneven terrain. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking in Ireland, you'll want to bring a more hiking specific boot than this.
Allbirds have been our favorite travel shoes for a few years now. They're lightweight, comfortable for a long day of walking, and they're washable. They've recently extended their line of shoes to include water resistant styles (the Mizzles) which I wish we had in Ireland. The only downside of the original Allbirds Tree Runner style is that they get soaked in wet conditions.
When packing for Dingle, the main rule is to pack layers. That way you can take on or off clothes throughout the day as the weather changes (and trust me, it will). Pack whatever you're most comfortable in, but for me I like to pack with a neutral color pallets to mix and match as much as possible.
For tops I've found that a few long sleeve shirts that are thing enough to layer under sweaters, a couple of sweaters (one pullover and one cardigan), a couple of tank tops, and a couple of short sleeve tshirts. It's always a good idea to pack a smartwool shirt to keep your core warm on those extra cold Irish days. If you're not familiar with wool, it's not all itchy, I promise! It's natural, doesn't stink like many clothes do when they get sweaty, and they breathe really nicely if you start to warm up. A wool short works great as a base layer under sweaters, vests, and jackets.
Similar to packing shirts, a good variety of pants is best. A couple pairs of jeans and athletic pants that will dry quickly are pretty much all that we packed for Ireland. This kept things simple since everything mixed and matched. If you want to take a pair for rain pants for the trip, you certainly can. We didn't, but it doesn't hurt to take them and then return them when you get home if you never used them. I always carried an extra pair of black legging pants with me so in case I got too wet out exploring. Do keep in mind that denim dries slowly so you won't want to rely on jeans for rainy day adventures if you're walking outside a lot.
Portable phone mount
If you're planning to rent a car in Ireland, you'll likely be using your phone for navigation. While many cars today are equipped with Apple CarPlay, not all are. I'd recommend bringing a small portable phone mount for the car to keep you from looking down at your phone over and over while you're driving. The phone mount we travel with attaches via the vents in the car and won't damage the dashboard.
Europe’s outlets are 110V vs. 220V like in the USA. Because of this you’ll need to travel with a voltage converter. The one we travel with has multiple USB ports + one three prong input. The converted is good for the UK, EU, and most of Asia.
While many cars have USB ports in them not, we still travel with a tiny cigarette lighter USB charges just in case. There have only been a couple instances when we've rented cars and they haven't had a USB, so always travel with one just in case. They're cheap and small, easy to toss into your backpack before taking off for Dingle.
Having a portable battery bank is essential for us. We never leave home for a trip without one. Being able to charge phone and camera batteries on the go is essential for us. Whether it's in airports or on long roadtrips, a battery bank comes in handy all the time!
Before leaving home, make sure that you have plenty of cash and/or cards that will work internationally. Our bank (Bank of America) converts US currency at a 3% rate for bank members. This is much cheaper than the airport or ATMs internationally. Not to mention when you land in Ireland you don't have to worry about standing in line to convert. About 10 days before a trip we order money online and they deliver the cash to our bank for us. Typically we don't carry a lot of cash anymore, but it's always good to have some on hand just in case.
As far as credit cards go, we've had good luck with Capital One Venture card being accepted internationally seeing as it's a Visa card. American Express Platinum is our favorite credit card, but it does come with a heft annual fee and fewer businesses accept Amex. No matter what card you have (if any), make sure you notify your card company of your travels before you leave! This way they won't freeze your card thinking it's fraud.
Where to stay in Dingle, Ireland
We stayed at the cutest Airbnb right in the town of Dingle that we’d highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. While we were personally invited to stay at this home for free, we would absolutely stay here again and the full rate. I'm usually more of a hotel person, but homes like this always make me rethink my stance of hotel > Airbnb.
The apartment was an easy 2-10 minute walk from anywhere in Dingle, and our favorite spots were only a 4 minute walk down the street. Not only was the location perfect, but our Airbnb (which is called Harriet’s Cottage) was hands down the best vacation rental experience we’ve ever had. The hosts provided so much helpful information about what to see, eat, and do in the Dingle, Ireland area, as well as clearly labeling everything around the cottage to ensure an easy, comfortable stay.
The apartment was well furnished and decorated so cute with all the amenities that make a place feel like home including a washer and dryer, dishwasher, and iron, Apple TV, and more. Oh, and did I mention they’re dog friendly?
Reservations can be made via Airbnb, VRBO, or by contacting the owner directly and paying via Paypal. For more information, be sure to visit their website, Harrietscottage.com.
Where to eat and drink in Dingle, Ireland
Dingle is a fishing village so seafood is a must! If fishy foods aren't your thing, no worries. There are still plenty of food and drink options in town for you to try. From coffee and pastries to cheese and wine to fish and chips, there's something for everyone. Personally I'm not much of a fish person either (usually), but I found myself eating fish in Ireland pretty often because it was so fresh and good.
What foods to try while in Ireland
Fish and chips
Shepard's Pie and/or Cottage Pie
Breakfast sausage rolls
Any sort of local dairy (daily is huge in Ireland!)
Guinness (of course)
Dingle Gin and Tonic
Where to eat and drink in Dingle
For being a small town, Dingle has a lot of good food options. Many of this dishes and drinks listed above can be found in these restaurants below.
This family owned and operated serving the catch of the day in a casual and cozy setting. The Fish Box was our favorite spot to each in Dingle, partially because the food was delicious and partially because we really loved the family that owned it. They do everything from catching to cooking making it a full family effort.
This locally sourced ice cream shops serves up original flavors in a cute, small shop. Murphy's Ice Cream has grown in popularity over the years and their Dublin shop has even been featured on Netflix's Somebody Feed Phil.
Wonderful local cheese shop serving delicious, high quality cheeses in a perfectly adorable shop. We highly recommend asking them to pack a picnic lunch for you to go. On the day we left Dingle to head to the Cliffs of Moher, we asked them to pack us a lunch and enjoyed it during the roadtrip.
This was our favorite pub in Dingle! Cozy, candlelit, complete with a fireplace and wood stove. It's exactly the kind of pub you'd imagine when you think of Ireland. It can get lively, but generally this one was more for those wanted to enjoy a conversation and relax.
Foxy John's is unique because it's ½ hardware store ½ bar which gives it a super rustic and authentic feel. This was the first place I ever tried Guinness, and I could have picked a more Irish experience. We spent a while talking with locals at the bar and learning about the area.
What to do in Dingle, Ireland
The Dingle Peninsula is a haven for outdoor adventure. With numerous hiking trails including the second highest peak in Ireland, there’s plenty to keep active visitors busy for days! In fact, the peninsula is best seen on foot so bring your hiking boots if that’s your thing.
There are trails for all skill levels in Dingle, but considering the terrain is primarily rolling, grassy hills, hikers shouldn't worry too much about technical climbing, steep elevation gains, or rocky terrain. Always visit prepared, but generally speaking, hikes in Ireland are the perfect combination of exercise and site seeing.
If you are someone who prefers a bit of a challenge, longer hikes are available in the area. Or if you are looking for something rockier and technical, consider visiting nearby Gap of Dunloe or Carrauntoohill, Ireland's tallest peak.
Slea Head Drive
Typically we do a bit of research and do self-guided tours when we travel. However, Ireland is full of history and there were so many things we wanted to see and learn while visiting so we decided to have a local show us around.
Seamus the Irish Tour Guide came highly recommended by a friend so we decided to book a 3 hour tour around Slea Head Drive with him it was awesome! We saw Beehive Huts, baby lambs, massive cliffs, historic churches and cemeteries, and learned so much about the history and culture of not just the Dingle Peninsula but all of Ireland.
While Seamus was born and raised on the Dingle Peninsula, he does tour all over Ireland so consider him if you’re planning a trip anywhere in the country. We would definitely use him again for a tour!
These Beehive Hut homes are estimated to be around 2,500 years old. While little no documentation remains to indicate what life would have been like for these inhabitants, their homes are very well intact. For €3 you can walk through these homes and admire the engineering marvel that they are.
At the same location as the Beehive Huts you have the opportunity to meet and hold a baby lamb if that's your thing. These baby sheep aren't just any old baby sheep though. They're the lambs who's mothers have died or who's mothers have had too many lambs that they can't properly care for them all. The farmer who owns both sheep herd takes the rejected lambs inside and cares for them rather than leaving them to the elements.
The €3 entrance fee includes visiting the Beehive Huts and meeting the baby lambs and it's a really fun experience for all ages! Located right on Slea Head Drive, this experience is a short 20 minute drive from downtown Dingle
If you rented a car to explore Ireland, you can't leave the Dingle Peninsula without driving Conor Pass. This pass stretches from Dingle north towards Brandon Point (which is also on this list). Do note that the drive leaving Dingle is a narrow drive, but it gets far more technical when you cross the summit and head over the north side of the pass towards Brandon. Just take your time driving, allow the locals to pass, and be sure to utilize the pull offs for others as often as possible.
Dingle is a relatively small town but they have a great little aquarium complete with sharks, penguins, butterflies, otters and more! It’s the perfect activity for all ages on those rainy Ireland days. We'd especially recommend the aquarium if you're traveling to Ireland with kids.
Brandon point is easy to get to from Dingle and offers amazing views of cliffs that look westward over the Atlantic Ocean. If you're up for a bit more adventuring, hop on the Bookeen Trail that connects on the left (western) side of the Brandon Point parking lot. This 2.2 mile loop trail offers even better views of the cliffs and of the surrounding farms the higher you climb. If you time it right you'll be walking in the pasture with the sheep!
Note: Do not disturb the sheep or disrespect the area. This is a functioning farm and their property should be respected as such.
This is an activity we didn’t get to do because it was a bit too cold for me while we were there, but it came highly recommended by lots of people. Ireland is rugged and wild and exploring by horseback would be an amazing way to see those hidden gems that aren’t accessible by road. While we can’t vouch for these companies personally, we heard great things about Dingle Horse Riding and Long’s Riding Stables both of which are less than 10 minutes from downtown Dingle.
Located ~20 minutes from downtown Dingle is Inch Beach. This long and wide sandy beach is the perfect place to take a stroll and enjoy the powerful and impressive waves that hit the shore here. Inch Beach is a popular surfing destination in Ireland so on a fair day you may get to watch locals and tourists alike ride the waves. While the beach is primarily sand, it is also crunchy in sections from all the seashells that have washed up onto shore making it a fun place to sweep the beach for unique finds.
Note: It's polite to leave whatever gems you find on the beach for the the next visitors to enjoy the same delights you stumbled across on your own walk. Remember to always Leave No Trace.
Ireland is incredible and Dingle seems to be the heart of the Irish culture. If you love outdoor activities and a taste of new culture, this place is for you. Take advantage of the small town, slower pace of life that Dingle, Ireland offers and get lost in the adventure for a while.
Eat all the fish and chips you can get your hands on, walk the rocky hiking trails up mountains, and enjoy a sunset looking over the cliffs on Slea Head Drive. Dingle, Ireland offers everything you need for a good vacation: relaxation, good food, and as much fun as you’re willing to have. So what are you waiting for? Book that vacation!
Rather watch than read? Watch our Dingle, Ireland videos on Youtube!
Did you know we're on Youtube? Below you'll find our videos featuring many of the places we've mentioned here in this blogpost so check it out!
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We're Chris and Sara
A creative husband and wife duo from a small-town in Tennessee with passion for all things travel. Checkout the links below to join us on our past, present, and future adventures!