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Dublin to Dingle Peninsula

I am looking to travel from Dublin Ireland to Dingle Peninsula. We would leave Wednesday morning and have to be back Friday night for a flight early Saturday am.

  • Is it worth it to cram in Ring of Kerry during this short period? Or should we just fully explore Dingle? If we were to do both, which one should we go to first? Dingle to Ring then back to Dublin?
  • If we only go to Dingle, recommendations on towns to stay in Wednesday night to break up the travel?

Any and all recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Would love to go explore Dingle via horseback riding and visit a sheep farm. Any recommendations on sheep farms in the Dingle area would be awesome too.

Posted by
5701 posts

Have you looked at a map?

The distance between Dublin and Dingle is nearly 230 miles.

That’s a good 5 hour drive ( one way) if you are used to driving on the opposite side of the road

So yes, leave Dublin VERY early to get to Dingle. Spend Wednesday and Thursday night in Dingle. Drive Slea Head on Thursday and explore.

Then leave early Friday and return to Dublin.

Short trip With a lot of time spent in the car.

Posted by
242 posts

As Claudia says, it will take you nearly the full day to get from Dublin to Dingle and another day to get back. Don't underestimate the time taken to drive in Ireland - it is a lot slower than you might expect. If using google maps you need to add on at least 25% to their drive times and then ADD ON EXTRA TIME FOR STOPS!

Just explore Dingle Peninsula - even then you will be pushing it to try and fit everything in if you are wanting to visit a sheep farm and go horseriding.

There only seems to be one farm offering sheep dog trials and a petting farm. This is down near the tip of the Peninsula. It is also worth visiting the Famine Cottage as well.

Dingle Horseriding just north of Dingle itself offers treks of differing times fron 2hours up to a full day.

Posted by
5011 posts

Some missing details would help with answers to your question...

You say you are "looking to travel" between Dublin and Dingle. Are you planning to drive, take a tour, or use public transit? Each have significant advantages and disadvantages that would impact how realistic this is and what your best choices would be. Sounds like you have 3 days, you will spend 2 of them getting there and back, so one full day there. I'm not sure I'd do that (personally, if I really wanted to go to Dingle, I'd steal another day or two from another part of my trip).

What part of the year? Long or short days, greater/lesser chances of wet/dry weather, more/fewer crowds...all could impact this too.

Dingle gets a lot of tourists (including large crowds of daytrippers during midday in summer). While it is still a cute, often-charming town and a good base for the area, it's not a quiet backwater where people ride horses down the street. I'm not sure that it's reasonable to expect to "explore Dingle via horseback riding". You can certainly explore Dingle (the town itself is best done on foot, the countryside by car) and you can probably find places to go horseback riding nearby, but I'd be surprised if you could do both at the same time (or maybe I just missed the people riding by...).

Posted by
4 posts

To provide more information: I am visiting my sister in Ireland as she studies abroad at Maynooth University. I fly in 0700 on Wednesday, March 11th and will return to the states Thursday the 19th.

The original plan was to explore a part of Ireland Wednesday through Friday evening before leaving for Lisbon on Saturday. Upon initial research, I heard amazing things about Dingle Peninsula and was intrigued about the Cork and Kerry section of Ireland. We had planned to either rent a car or take a bus/train to Killarney but it seems it would be too much in a short amount of time.....

Soooo plan one is to scratch Dingle and find another place to go for 3 days, 2 night closer to Dublin. Suggestions? My sister will have already gone to galway and the cliffs of Moher with school. I could convince her to stop again but not stay for another couple days....

Plan 2, which I’m leaning towards if I can convince her is to:
- rent a car from Dublin Airport on Wednesday. Spend the night relaxing at Maynooth.
- Thursday: leave for Galway. Stay the night there. Maybe spend part or most of Friday at the Aran islands? Or stop in limerick for a meal to break up the 3+ hours to Dingle area
- Other option is to skip the Aran islands to be in Killarney by mid day Friday to have the afternoon there....
- Be in Killarney area Friday night. If we are coming from Galway. Does it make sense to go straight to Dingle and stay there or stay in Killarney? (see further question below)
- Saturday: Dingle peninsula, Slea Head Drive. Dingle horse riding, which is just north of Dingle offers awesome 2 hour treks.
- Sunday: ring of Kerry. Caitins Pub sits around the trek, which offers a sheepdog herding demo.
- Monday: stop in Cork on way back? Be in Dublin Monday evening to return car.
- Will be in Dublin’s Tuesday and Wednesday for st pattys and exploring Dublin before leaving.

So my other question is, if we are traveling from Galway to Dingle to ring of Kerry- should I book accommodations in Dingle and then Killarney or Kerry area? Or just book multiple nights in Killarney, the only issue with that is it is a hour each way. Therefore, we would be going back and forth.

So I could stay in Dingle Friday and Saturday then Killarney or cork on Sunday after ring of Kerry before heading back to Dublin Monday afternoon. Just a question of how much driving I want to do after the ring of Kerry on Sunday...

Posted by
5011 posts

Some individual will have to figure out which (if any) align with your preferences and how to weave them together...

  1. I would not waste time, money and stress driving myself between Dublin and Galway, or returning from the far southwest of Ireland to Dublin. There are better ways. From Dublin to galway, take a bus or train (I took a bus and was glad I did). Easy, convenient, pleasant, not expensive. From the southwest, you can take a bus or a train back to Dublin (I dropped my car in Cork and took the train from there, but that location was chosen because there was both a car agency dropoff point and a train, which worked together for me - your situation might dictate a different place to jump on the train). The train to Dublin is easy and comfy. Doing this both ways will save you at least 2 days of car rental (maybe more) and time and stress.

  2. I thought Galway was OK, not great, but OK. On the other hand, Inish Mor (Arran Islands) was spectacular, a highlight of our trip. We spent one night in Galway (which was enough) and two nights on Inish Mor. Most people do Inish Mor as a day trip, which looked to me to be a big mistake. With 2 nights there, a full day in between, and part of your arrival day, I was blissed out - and so glad I did not do it as a day trip. I'd gladly trade days in Galway for days on the Arran Islands - no contest.

  3. It's a long drive from Galway to Dingle, especially if you stop along the way (you will - you will stop in the Burren, and at the Cliffs of Moher). A lot of driving in one day, but it's possible to do it (I did, though I was ready to kiss the ground when I peeled myself out of the car upon arrival in Dingle).

  4. Killarney? What is the appeal? Would you trade a day in/around Dingle for a day there? (I wouldn't.) Give this some thought.

Overall: you are trying to squeeze a lot in to a too-short trip. You need to prioritize. Dublin, Galway, Arran Islands, Dingle, other places...we stole days from Dublin, Galway and other places to prioritize Arran Islands, Dingle and some other high priority places (Skellig Michael) and I was very glad we did. We spent minimal time in Galway and Dublin, we skipped some places (will get them next time) and it worked out well for us. You will need to make your own trade-offs.

Good luck.

Posted by
4 posts

David, I appreciate your help and advice.

Last questions for you:

  • If my heart is set on the Dingle peninsula, would it be easiest to take a train and then rent a car from the Kerry airport?
  • What did you guys do? What was your road map as it seems you hit the Aran Islands and Dingle in one trip. Or how did you travel between Galway and Dingle if you took a bus to Galway from Dublin. Another bus?

Thanks for your insight

Posted by
5011 posts

We had just barely enough time to do what what did. I knew it would be aggressive, and I knew we would be skipping (or just blowing through) worthwhile places. I made the strategic decision that 1) we were going to focus on the west coast and far southwest, which looked like the "best" parts of Ireland (to me - it's a subjective thing), and 2) we would catch the things we skipped or minimized on another, future trip. Those choices worked for us, others would make different choices and that's OK.

We flew in to Dublin, arrived mid-morning, immediately took a bus from the airport to Galway, arrived early afternoon.
We walked around Galway and took it easy that afternoon, since it was arrival day (=jetlag).
Next morning we took the tiny plane to Inish Mor (catch a cute but slightly funky shuttle bus at a hotel off the Main square in Galway, short ride to the airstrip, 10 minute absolutely THRILLING flight to Inish Mor, dropped at our BnB. We were there by mid-day, leaving us free (and ahead of most day-trippers who took the sloooow ferry). We walked into town, rented E-bikes, and pedaled off. Explored the island. Dinner in a local pub, slept.
Up early, breakfast @ BnB, pedaled off to explore more of Inish Mor. Dinner, sleep. Two really wonderful days
Up early, pickup for airport ride. Flew back to mainland (10 minutes from engine start to shut down). Shuttle to Galway center. Walked to car rental agency. Picked up our car. Drove off towards the south and southwest. Stopped several times (a couple ruined abbeys, castles, the Burren, some neolithic stone tombs, Cliffs of Moher...) drive drive drive, drive some more, eventually arrived in Dingle. That was a long day in the saddle, was very glad to get there. 3 nights at a lovely Dingle B&B.
Up early our first day there, did the loop around Slea head. Stopped many times, lovely dramatic scenery. After seeing the logistics of getting to Great Blasket Island, and seeing the island in the distance, we made a decision on the spot to go there next day.
Up early, out to Slea Head and the impossible little "harbor" (with the "sheep highway") at Dunquin for the Blasket Island ferry. Ferry to Great Blasket island. We hiked up one side of the island, back the other side, all of it unbelievably beautiful, green and unspoilt. I got a sunburn that day. Got back to the ferry just in time to catch last boat off the rock. Drove back to Dingle. Enjoyed a pint and live trad music in a hardware store, with vicegrips and saws stacked up around the musicians (great music!).
Up early, jump ini the car, headed for Portmagee, the jumping off point for Skellig Michael. Took the scenic route via Valentia Island (little ferry), including the western "half" of ROK, drove to our BnB on the outskirts of Portmagee. Slept there.
Up early, meetup with boat for Skellig Michael in Portmagee harbor (booked months in advance, but never a sure thing - boats only go when sea conditions are OK). Captain says weather's OK, we get on the boat and go. Spent a few hours with the birds. Amazing place. Back on the mainland, drove east, finished most of the eastern 1/2 of ROK, headed for Kenmare, checked in to our BnB there. Dinner, sleep.


Posted by
5011 posts

continued from above...

Up early, drove from Kenmare to Cork. Dropped our car at the Cork Airport. Took taxi to Cork rail station. Hopped on train to Dublin. Arrived Dublin early afternoon.
Note: we picked Cork as our car drop-off/switch-to-rail point because it was a sunday; we needed to find a car agency office that was open early enough to catch a train to Dublin. If it had not been a sunday, we could have picked other/better drop-off points. This one worked OK but there was nothing special about it.
Spent our last afternoon and evening walking around Dublin. We did not hit any of the main sights. Slept in Dublin, but can't say we really saw too much of it. We knew this going in and I'm OK with it. It was easy to rationalize that choice for me: there are now nonstop flights from home (Seattle) to Dublin (nice flights, and we loved Aer Lingus), so I figure it's now super easy for us to get to Dublin, we will go back (lots more of Ireland to see) and we will use it as a jumping off point to other places in Europe (see below)...
Up at oh-dark-thirty the next morning, our last in Ireland. Taxi to the airport. Checked in for our outbound flight. Flew to Edinburgh. Long layover there in EDI. Flew onward to Vagar in the Faroe Islands. We were there for a week. If we thought Ireland was amazing and wonderful (and we sure did) the Faroe Islands blew us away. But that's another story...

If my heart is set on the Dingle peninsula, would it be easiest to
take a train and then rent a car from the Kerry airport?

There are countless options. I worked out my route (in part) by looking at places where we could connect a train to a car rental agency (be careful about weekend hours though).

What did you guys do? What was your road map as it seems you hit the
Aran Islands and Dingle in one trip. Or how did you travel between
Galway and Dingle if you took a bus to Galway from Dublin.

See above. :)

There are lots of ways to slice this. You just need to figure out how to connect each piece, where it makes sense to use a rented car, where it makes more sense to take a train or bus. For me, the overall choices became pretty obvious early on: we wanted a car for the freedom to get around places between Galway and Dingle, then from Dingle to Portmagee, then...we needed to find a place to drop the car and train back to Dublin. That was only tricky because of 1) the somewhat limited Irish rail network, and 2) the fact that we wanted to switch to trains on a sunday morning. I just need to find a place where both were possible, and that could be connected easily. I picked Cork because there's an airport with extended-hours car agencies, and a train station. Figuring out that little detail did take some effort, but it worked out very nicely for us.

I will add that I enjoy the challenges of travel planning, and putting together trips like this (you should see my documents for planning the Faroe Islands part of this trip...helicopter routes, ferries, cars, undesea tunnels, hiking over small mountains...made Ireland look easy...). I know that not everyone enjoys that. I do. (shrug)

Hope thats helpful. Ireland is wonderful, you will have a great trip!!!

Posted by
580 posts

I am going to propose a very aggressive itinerary which others will probably shoot down as unrealistic. But it’s what I would consider if I were 35 years younger and had my heart set on Inis Mor and Dingle.

March 11: sister meets me at Dublin airport and we catch the bus to Galway. Spend the afternoon in Galway and then catch the shuttle for the evening ferry to Inis Mor. Spend the night on Inis Mor.

Match 12: rent bikes on Inis Mor and explore, returning bikes in time to catch evening ferry back to Galway. Night in Galway.

March 13: rent car and head south to the cliffs of Moher and the Burren. Spend night in Castlemaine.

March 14: Dingle Peninsula and all that it offers. Night in Castlemaine.

March 15: more Dingle or if you want, Killarney National Park or part of ring of Kerry. Night in Castlemaine or Killarney.
March 16: head back to Dublin. Stop in Cork or Rock of Cashel depending on interests. Return car in Dublin or at airport. Might be a one-way drop fee depending on rental agency.

I think this is doable. I haven’t done it and wouldn’t try it at this stage of my life. But back in the day, I probably would. Enjoy Ireland!

Posted by
10 posts

I agree with David: even though your time in Ireland is short, the Aran Islands are worth cross-country drives from/back to Dublin.

You land early in Dublin. It'll make for a long, jam packed day, but you could drive the 3 hours to Doolin (and likely stop along the way to take in some sights) and then catch the ferry there to spend a night or two on the Aran Islands (I know people do day trips there, but I can't imagine a day trip doing it justice).

We enjoyed our 2 nights in/around Dingle, including a peninsula drive, but if I had to pick one place to spend 2 nights on my next trip to Ireland, I'd return to Inis Mor in a heartbeat.