While I’m not saying you shouldn’t check out Dublin and see what all the hype is about, there are many other worthwhile destinations in Ireland that many backpackers seem to skip over. One of these places is Dingle, Ireland.
Located in County Kerry, Dingle is like another world from Dublin. Nothing like a city, it is full of nature and ecotourism opportunities. The town itself features a few small shops, art galleries, churches and pubs and is more slow paced than lively. That being said, it is beautiful, especially if you want to see unique landscapes, relax on the beach, or interact with marine wildlife.
One must-do activity on your trip to Dingle is to take a guided tour of Slea Head (you won’t be able to walk it, and the narrow, curving cliff roads can make it dangerous to bike). Either visit the local tourism office or check out Sean O’Connor Tours. Sean is very knowledgable and will spend the day taking you around Slea Head to show you sites, some of which include:
- Burnham House- the former home of the late Lord Ventry
- Esk Tower
- Ventry Harbour and Village- traditional Irish speaking village
- Dunbeg Fort- prehistoric stone forts with great views of Dingle bay and the surrounding landscape
- Beehive Huts- okay, so not going to lie, I was completely expecting real beehives, but these are actually stone huts that are shaped like beehives. It’s cool to go inside and see inscriptions people wrote on the walls from long ago
- Various historic beaches
I would also recommend taking a boat tour or two while in Dingle. Take a boat out to the Blasket Islands, which were inhabited by Irish speaking natives until 1953 when the islands were evacuated. It is interesting to spend the day exploring the mountains, checking out the beaches, and seeing the abandoned villages. It is worth it to do a guided tour as these islands hold a lot of history.
You can also opt for an eco-tour out of Dingle (sometimes you can’t go to Blasket Islands because of the weather). On this tour you will still get to see the islands but not explore them on foot. You will also learn about wildlife and marine life- I got to see whales and dolphins on the tour!
Hopefully, if you take one of these boat tours, you will be able to spot Fungie, Dingle’s very own dolphin (he is literally the most famous living being in the town. I got to see him on the eco-tour and everyone loves him!).
If you love adventure and the outdoors, there are myriad activities to experience here. Horseback riding on the beach, scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, windsurfing. I would recommend a sea kayaking trip at sunset, both for the active fun and the unique atmosphere you will get (how often do you go kayaking at sunset?).