The dazzling Dingle Way is an exploration of the beautiful Irish county of Kerry. The remote hiking trail covers over 100 miles of the Dingle Peninsula - a sublime section of wilderness in the west of Ireland.
Wild and pristine, the route takes explorers on an eye-opening discovery of the country's untouched beauty, tracing rugged coastal edges, mighty mountain scenery, historic archaeological sites, and some of Ireland's most sensational shorelines along its mainland's farthest western reaches.
There's so much to discover in Ireland, with many folks wondering where to go in order to sample its finest examples of what it has in store. Alas, anyone who adores the great outdoors, has a love affair with Irish culture, history, and beauty, and who desires nothing more than to steer off its beaten path to stumble upon distant villages and some of the most remote, untouched parts of the country's enchanting landscapes, will overall be well served when they walk the Dingle Way.
Hike The Dingle Way in Ireland's Remote Western Peninsula
The County of Kerry is gorgeous and its Dingle Peninsula is just as mesmeric. Remote and wild, the peninsula is much less-visited than the Ring of Kerry to the south - not for the lack of beautiful scenery, but more down to the fact that there are fewer big attractions with minimal linear roads around the peninsula's entirety.
While this may mean less convenience in terms of access and travel, it does open up ample amounts of charm; zero crowds, quaint old villages, old crofts, and ancient archaeological sites of significance peppered across the mountainous, undulating verdant terrain - landscapes that are scarcely populated by locals who still speak the native tongue of Gaelic.
Fortunately, Dingle Way tours the very best parts of the peninsula, venturing through the traditional towns of Dingle and Tralee, the latter from where the trail sets off and ends. The route also covers the peninsula's mountain sections of Slieve Mish Mountains and Mount Brandon and further includes a captivating stretch along one of the region's most breathtaking coastlines - a stunning trek of the trail that goes from Dingle to Slea Head.
However, it's worth noting that Dingle Way does not consist of the Dingle Peninsula's entirety; it skips the south area from Castlemaine to Inch Beach, which hikers will need to add to their itinerary separately should that be a specific stretch of interest.
What To Know About The Dingle Way
A grand total of 111 miles, the Dingle Way hike takes between six and eight days to complete and is usually broken down into eight bite-sized chunks to be fulfilled one at a time on each subsequent day, with a village or town in between marking every stop. Each stage of the hike is between 10 and 18 miles long and takes around six and a half to eight and a half hours to complete, which is a fairly doable feat for most semi-fit adults.
Not too hard, though not too easy either, the entire hike is moderate in difficulty and would suit leisurely saunterers who are comfortable with walking for several hours every day. Indeed there are a handful of sections more taxing than others, some entailing high drops, steep climbs, daring terrain, and cloudy air that can reduce visibility - particularly during the route from Feohanagh to Cloghane.
In terms of facilities and supplies, a number of small villages and towns are passed through along the way, allowing hikers to stock up on goodies, tuck into a meal, and rest their heads for the night in comfortable accommodation. Each town in between every section of the trail is different from the next in terms of what it offers, some providing ample facilities and amenities - like Dingle and Tralee - while others extend more basic charms.
The two principal towns on the route - Tralee, and Dingle - boast shops and outdoor supply stores along with a few food joints and accommodation options. But the other villages and towns outside of these prominent two aren't as generous, instead, welcoming visitors with remote charm, beauty, and local culture, whilst facilities are few and far between.
As for the weather, all that can be said is "welcome to Ireland," where the sun shines once a year and the rain, wet, and wind keep the lands chilly and refreshing. Indeed the climate is for the most part wet and blustery, thus explorers are urged to pack proper attire and hiking gear to match. Think warm garments, thick boots, and waterproof top layers, and all shall be well throughout the trip.
And while some people enjoy partaking in camping and bring such gear, it's not mandatory to do so; accommodation is dotted across the route every two or three hours, although most places get booked up solid in peak season from March to October (so it's advised to make reservations in advance should hiking Dingle Way be on the to-do list during these months).
Hike Dingle Way: A Step By Step Guide
Tralee to Camp - 11 miles
The start and endpoint of Dingle Way are in Kerry's main town of Tralee and are walked in a clockwise direction. Officially, the trek begins near the Kerry County Museum in Ashe Memorial Park and sends walkers north from Tralee to Camp, followed by the section heading southwest in the direction of Annascaul.
First and foremost, the starting path consists of an old canal towing trail that extends to a picturesque suburb called Blennerville, a place where hikers have their first offerings of accommodation. Along this section, hikers ascend into the Slieve Mish Mountains, passing a number of points of interest including Tonavene and the archaeological site of Killeton Oratory before they terminate this stage when they arrive at Camp.
Camp to Annascaul - 10.5 miles
During the second section, explorers hike between the Knockbrack and Corrin mountains, passing an illustrious forest until they arrive at the iconic beach at Inch, which was once featured in the famous WWI movie Ryan's Daughter. After this point, the trail steers slightly inland along small lanes heading into Annascaul - the tiny village where walkers can grab some grub and rest for the night.
Annascaul to Dingle - 13.5 miles
This next stretch sees hikers pass by the ruins of Minard Castle, which is then followed by spectacular seaside views over to the Ring of Kerry. Then, the route heads on past Lispole and continues through Conor's Pass, after which it lowers into the lovely Dingle town - one of the trail's main two towns with lots of accommodation, places to eat, and stores for supplies.
Dingle to Dunquin - 12.5 miles
Showcasing some of Ireland's most striking coastal landscapes, this fourth section passes through several highlights, such as Ventry Harbor and the beauteous Slea Head headland from which hikers can trek the trail towards Dunmore Head at the westernmost point of the country. At this westerly spot that signals the end of the day, explorers are rewarded by remarkable sights of Europe's most westerly extremities - the Blasket Islands, which are reachable by ferry from Dunquin should one wish to visit them in person.
Dunquin to Feohanagh - 13.5 miles
This next journey of the trail rides the coastline, passing through Murreagh where hikers can explore its side path to discover the intriguing archaeological site of Gallarus Oratory. From there, the route heads to Ballydavid before leading trekkers to the day's final point at Feohanagh. Both these places have accommodation, which is handy if one of them happens to be fully booked.
Feohanagh to Cloghane - 13 miles
As the most difficult part of the route, adventurers must be prepared to climb up the treacherous ascents of Brandon Mountain via Masatiompan, after which the path circles around the oh-so-pretty Brandon village. It's in this village where guests can find accommodation if need be lest they choose to continue further, circumventing the lower sloping parts of Mount Brandon on their way to Cloghane.
Cloghane to Castlegregory - 18 miles
Just as the finish line is nigh, the longest stretch of the trail rears its tiresome head - and thankfully for most, the vast majority of it is flat, much to the celebration of fatigued feet. This part of the trail traverses the longest section of beach in all of Ireland - Fermoyle Strand, where numerous lodging options are nestled just a stone's throw from the shore.
It's also along this point that hikers head up towards the top of a peninsula from which sweeping views out towards the Magharee Islands are soaked up in all their glory. Then, the route descends south down the peninsula's east side all the way to Castle Gregory.
Castle Gregory to Tralee - 16.5 miles
Last but not least, the final boss comprises a delightful flat coastal area - the perfect end to the week-long trek, by which point legs may be in need of well-deserved rest. This last bit of the trek sends hikers back to Camp before reconnecting them to the outward path to Tralee.
What To Do In Dingle
A fun place to explore at the trail's third section, the hike's namesake town of Dingle is one of its premier highlights and is a fantastic spot to enjoy some food, culture, and Irish booze for a day or three. Although it is indeed considered a remote town, it doesn't mean it's not worth visiting; there's plenty to do and see in Dingle, where visitors can sample a unique culture and laidback way of life different from that of Ireland's more famed touristy hotspots.
Fun Things to Do in Dingle
A local mascot of Dingle, Fungie the dolphin is a known resident of the waters around the town and is said to enjoy the company of humans. Visitors can hop on a boat trip that heads out to watch Fungie in the bay, or for even more aquatic fun they can check out the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, which hosts the nation's biggest collection of sharks. On the completely opposite end - fancy a drink or 10? Then a tour and tasting at the Dingle Distillery with its fine gins, vodka, and whiskey has that craving covered.
As for growling stomachs, those hungry bellies fear not, for Foxy John's shall feed fussy guts in need of a hearty Irish meal after all that walking. It's a town favorite consisting of a bizarre mix of a bar and hardware store, but it works incredibly well boasting a characterful atmosphere to match. If live music, drinks, and grub are in order, then McCarthy's Bar is another great spot, as is The Boat Yard Restaurant & Bar with its sumptuous seafood and beautiful views.
Where To Stay In Dingle
Dingle boasts plentiful accommodation in the form of guesthouses, pubs, and B&Bs, and is also one of the only parts of the trail where one can stay in the luxury of a hotel. The town hosts a quaint old nineteenth-century stone Quayside B&B right in the heart of the town, while another particularly iconic guesthouse is Greenmount House, which sits overlooking the town center in front of enviable bay vistas.
Undeniably, with its diverse terrains, breathtaking scenery, and samplings of food, booze, and small-town Irish culture, the Dingle Trail is the most perfect way to experience not only County Kerry, but also an authentic sense of what remote Ireland is really like. It's a journey that cannot compare to the rest of the country, a trek that is miles - no, worlds apart from the bustle of the tourist tracks in Dublin and other popular parts peppered across the country. If seeing and experiencing Ireland's raw, rugged and wild side strikes a chord, then grab a pen and add this extraordinary adventure to that burning bucket list.