Many of us living in Ireland (myself included) still tend to think of a holiday as a lovely little event that occurs during the months of June – September that whisks you away to a warm, foreign land for a week or two.
Yes, there’s plenty of cheap flights, blistering sunshine and holiday deals for summer breaks these days. And no, you’re definitely not guaranteed a load of sun in Ireland (although the weather looks decent for 2019).
That being said, a staycation in Ireland… actually, let me correct that a little; the right staycation in Ireland, can pack an almighty punch.
Take, for example, a few days well spent on the picturesque Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.
Staycation for 2019: Dingle… eh, why?
- Living in/leaving from Dublin? It’s a handy four and a half hour spin
- It’s even closer if you fly directly into a nearby airport
- It’s, obviously, closer again if you’re visiting from Cork or one of the other surrounding counties
When you arrive to the Dingle Peninsula it’ll become immediately evident why National Geographic Traveller once ranked it as the most beautiful place on Earth.
In a nutshell, the Dingle Peninsula is one of the most spectacularly scenic corners of Ireland, and it’s home to an endless number of adventure opportunities.
OK. I’m sold. Help me plan my Dingle summer buzz!
Dive into it below!
Day 1 – Chilling in Dingle Town
The first day on your itinerary involves first either;
- Entering Ireland (if you’re flying in or arriving by ferry from overseas) and then making your way out to the gorgeous and buzzy little town of Dingle.
- Leaving from wherever you are in Ireland and spinning out to Dingle
Once you arrive in Dingle (or the Irish Gaelic ‘An Daingean’ if you’ve been following the controversy over naming issues in the papers recently), you’ll check into your accommodation for the night and chill for the evening.
Head off for a stroll around the town, sample a pint in one of the many pubs (Foxy John’s is well worth a shout!) and then head back and hit the sack for a bit of R&R – you’ve a busy day ahead on day 2.
Day 2 – Ventry to Slea Head
On the morning of your second day, get up early and hit ‘Bean in Dingle’, a lovely little cafe where you can grab a caffeine fix to kick-start the day.
You’ll be starting your walk from the Gaeltacht (rish Gaelic-speaking region) village of Ventry, a little under ten kilometres west of Dingle Town (if you take the Hillwalk Tour, you’ll be given a complementary transfer).
As you make your way westwards, you’ll pass along the sweeping golden shores of Ceann Tra (‘Tra’ meaning beach in Irish).
You’ll also encounter many a forts with a history dating back more than 2,500 years while being treated to unrivalled views of the Blasket Islands from atop towering sea cliffs.
Day 3 – Slea Head to Ballyferriter
Day Three sees you journeying yet deeper into the Gaeltacht region as you trace the path of the Wild Atlantic Way up and around the westernmost tip of the Dingle Peninsula.
For photographers, this is likely to be on of the highlights of your journey as you’ll pass by the stunning Dun Chaoin Pier, made famous by to a million Irish postcards and probably a billion (OK, definitely an exaggeration) Instagram posts.
The pier features a winding road and steps pouring straight down towards the raging Atlantic below.
You’ll also have the chance to take a quick dip at some secluded beaches that you’ll most likely have all to yourself. Again, yet another reason to skip the tourist crowds in Tenerife and Southern Spain!
Day 4 – Ballyferriter to Cuas
Your final full day of walking will have you trekking along some of the country’s best cliff-tops for walkers, providing excellent views of Mount Brandon looming over the bay below.
At the head of the bay is the picturesque wine strand – a glistening stretch of sand more than one mile long.
For those that fancy a short detour, it’s only around one extra kilometre inland to head up and check out the famous Gallarus Oratory with its distinct curved peak.
Legend has it that visitors to the oratory who manage to exit via the window will have their souls cleansed. And when I say manage, what I mean is that you’d have to be pretty damn small to do so as the opening is only a few inches across and jut over half a foot tall!
Day 5 – Departure from Cuas
On Day Five you’ll awake at your accommodation in Cuas and after a hearty Irish breakfast, you can head back to Dingle Town where it all began (if you are on a Hillwalk Tour, you’ll have a free transfer back to Dingle Town).
The last days gives you some more time to stroll around the town and check out the harbour.
From here you’ll then have the freedom to make your own way back home or continue spinning around the western counties of Ireland if you’re lucky enough to have a bit more time up your sleeve.
That’s a wrap
Don’t forget, there’s plenty more of the Dingle Peninsula to explore, either on your own or as part of a longer self-guided hike with Hillwalk Tours.
Further east along the peninsula there are beautiful beach hiking spots such as the well-known Inch Beach, a five-kilometre long spit of sand stretching out into the ocean. There’s also the lovely bay behind Mount Brandon if you want to continue on a longer walking journey.
The folks at Hillwalk Tours offer plenty of brilliant self-guided hiking experiences, with the Dingle walk starting as low as only €359 per person – not bad at all for an affordable staycation in Ireland this summer!
Explore Ireland by foot during the day and rest your head in a carefully chosen B&B at night.
If you have any questions about hiking in Ireland or any Irish walks in general, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you shortly