Killarney to Dingle
Heading to Killarney? Hire a Car and explore the Dingle Peninsula
Killarney is one of the top tourist towns in Ireland and while that may induce a shudder - in Killarney’s case, the town embodies all of the Irish charm you can think of. There are authentic Irish pubs with musicians playing traditional music every night (JM Reidys is the best one for the craic!), shops selling Aran wool jumpers and plenty of cute B&Bs or country hotels for you to choose from. Plus its biggest selling point? The Killarney National Park; mountains, lakes and world-class drives including the famed Ring of Kerry and slightly lesser known, Slea Head Drive. If you’re heading to Killarney, hire a car and explore the Dingle Peninsula.
Your route for driving the Dingle Peninsula
I N C H B E A C H
We took the N72 from Killarney west to Killorglin (21.8km)
From there, the N70 north to Castlemaine (10.1km)
Followed by the R561 west to Inch Beach (19.8km)
Our first stop driving from Killarney to Dingle was Inch Beach - a beautiful, wide, sandy stretch framed by the mountains behind. You could walk the 4 mile golden stretch, join a surf lesson or just admire the views.
A N N A S C A U L
Continue on the R561 to Bunaneer where the road heads north to join the N86 (6.7km)
Pull over at Annascaul to breathe in the quintessential Irish panoramas: rolling hills, sheep laden farmlands, shadowing mountains and emerald all around.
V E N T R Y
We drove the N86 to Dingle (15.7km) stopping for a wander in the cute tourist town and enjoying a quality coffee in Bean in Dingle. [I’d like to state now that as a former barista of an independent coffee shop, I am unashamedly quite the coffee snob. If you too, spend your days seeking out light to medium roast speciality coffee from cute independents, 1. we should be friends and meet up for coffee and 2. you can trust my recommendations.]
From Dingle, you join the unbelievably beautiful Slea Head Drive/R559 taking you to Ventry (8.4km)
It was wild and blustery by the time we arrived in Ventry, producing dramatic waves that crashed into Ceann Tra Beach below. We pulled over at the first chance we got before stopping twice more as we edged our way around the crescent inlet.
D U N Q U I N
We continued on Slea Head Drive from Ventry to Dunquin pier (12.8km)
Dunquin pier is a stunning spot. The pier weaves down to the water below, which dances in hues of turquoise and deepest navy as it crashes against the concrete path. Framed by two jagged rocks, you can admire the views in the foreground as well as look out to the uninhabited Blasket Islands (hourly ferry trips to the island are available at the pier). Dunquin is the most westerly point of the Dingle Peninsula and offers perhaps, my favourite view.
K I L C U M M I N
From Dunquin, we followed Slea Head Drive back around to Dingle (20.9km)
We then took the Conor Pass to Kilcummin and along the narrow country lane directly onto Kilcummin Bay Beach (18.2km)
Driving with the coast to our west, we knew we needed to get closer. Suddenly a narrow lane appeared (unmarked) and we decided to take it. The reward? 8km of stunning, deserted beach. County Kerry’s beaches need to be celebrated more! Talcum-soft sands, wide open stretches, relatively tourist-free! I think my smile says it all…
1 day, 5 stops, 196km
We drove from Kilcummin back to Killarney via Tralee (62km). Unfortunately for us, our road trip was marred slightly by the weather. We had to skip some stops due to downpours and some photo opportunities proved too grey and dreary (and lens splattered) to bother with. But luckily for us, the sun shone when we needed it to. The beaches were breathtaking, the spiked coastlines were captivating and the drive itself was thoroughly enjoyable! If you’ve got a day (and a car) at your disposal in Killarney, don’t miss the Dingle Peninsula.