The Best guide to Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

Ireland has been given the name “The Emerald Isle” for a reason. Narrow windy roads, stone fences, sheep and the most gorgeous rolling green hills.

The only way to travel around Ireland is by renting a car and hitting the narrow roads. Some of those narrow roads and oncoming traffic may make you realise you know more colourful words than you thought!!

Ireland is full of friendly story tellers (and yes, you will hear many stories!), beautiful pubs and the cutest towns!! Oh and don’t forget the music, you can’t help but get up a dance when you hear traditional Irish Music.

One of the most beautiful roads in Ireland is the Wild Atlantic Way. The Wild Atlantic Way follows Ireland’s rugged and stunning coastline for 2,500km from the South of Ireland up to the North of Ireland. One of the most stunning sections on the Wild Atlantic Way, is Slea Head drive on the Dingle Peninsula.

Slea Head Drive Pinterest Graphic

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The Dingle Peninsula

The Dingle Peninsula is located on the southwest Atlantic coast of Ireland, in County Kerry. The Peninsula is surrounded by sandy beaches, craggy cliffs, green rolling hills and mountains.

Not only does the Dingle Peninsula have picturesque coastline but it is also a hub for Irish Culture. Along the peninsula there are view of the Blasket Islands which are famous for memoirs that document rural life in Ireland in the 1800s and the 1900s. Along the Slea Head drive you can discover what life was like during the potato famine.

How Long is the Dingle Peninsula?

Unlike many other famous road trips around Europe, the Dingle Peninsula is quite short. Slea Head Drive is 30 miles or 47km long and if you were to drive straight through without stopping it would take roughly three hours.

However, as you will find out below, there is plenty to see along Slea Head Drive that you will want to take longer than 3 hours.

Stops to make along Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

1. Dingle

The bright coloured shops in Dingle

Dingle is a colourful, bustling and adorable port town on the Dingle Peninsula. Dingle has the most restaurants, pubs, shops and accommodation along Slea Head Drive.

Dingle is a fantastic base for exploring the Dingle Peninsula. There is nothing like coming back to a cosy traditional Irish pub and listening to some Irish music with a pint after a long day of exploring the Dingle Peninsula.

2. Eask Tower

Eask tower, a stone tower on the top of a hill over looking Dingle Bay

Eask tower is a 19th century mariners Beacon located on Carhoo Hill. The tower was constructed during the famine and provided much needed income to the population at the time.

Eask tower is located on private farm, however, the owners of the farm allow tourists to climb Carhoo Hill to visit the tower. It costs 2€ per person to access the tower. The views of the Dingle harbour from the top of Carhoo Hill are beautiful and well worth the slight climb.

Views of Dingle Harbour across green grass from Carhoo Hill

Be mindful when visiting that you are on someone’s property, so close gates and don’t leave any rubbish behind.

A sign reading

The path to the tower was quite muddy, but the owners of the farm are a gorgeous couple (I wanted to be their adopted grand daughter) and if they are around, you can use their hose and bucket to clean your shoes.

3. Famine Cottages

The stone famine cottages along the Slea Head Drive

The Famine Cottages along Slea Head Drive demonstrate what life was like on a rural farm during the potato famine in Ireland. The cottages were built in the mid 19th century using stone and mud, and are typical of accommodations during the famine time.

You can go inside the cottages and view the displays. The cottages were typically made of two rooms and a loft. This would have housed a number of people and conditions wold have been quite bleak for the families who lived here.

Examples of the famine Cottages on Slea head Drive

Look out for the beehive like structure behind the cottages, this was built 800 years ago. The land around the cottages are also used for working sheep dog performances.

4. Dun Chaoin

Rugged grass covered cliffs lining the ocean

Pull into the car park and admire the views of the stunning coast line. If you would like to take a break from the drive, pull off Slea Head Drive and hike the Siuloid na Cille Walking Trail. Along the way you will get fantastic views of Clogher Beach, Ceann Sibeal, the headlands of Ceann Sratha, An Dun Mor, Mount Brandon, Eagle Mountain and the Blasket islands.

On minor roads, sandy paths and coastal tracks it is uphill initially then downhill or on the flat and includes a cliff top stretch.

5. Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole Beach on the dingle peninsula

Coumeenoole Beach, also known as Slea head beach, is a must on your Slea Head Drive adventure. Whilst the freezing cold and powerful waters do not make for the best swimming waters, the views more than make up for the lack of swimming.

On a busy day the car park can be a tight squeeze, so I suggest parking up the top and walking down to the beach. As you make your way to the beach from the car park you will take in some of the most beautiful views of the beach, the aqua waters and the gorgeous cliffs.

If you that feeling that it the beach seems familiar, even though you haven’t been here before, it probably is familar. Parts of Star Wars were filmed at this beach, yes Luke Skywalker as walked right you’re walking!

6. The Beehive Huts

Located in many places along Slea Head Drive, are The Beehive huts, or as the locals call them , clochán. There are hundreds of Beehive huts which demonstrate the long history of the Dingle Peninsula, some of these huts date back to the 12th Century.

There are many places along Slea Head Drive to visit The Beehive huts but the most popular spot is Fahan. Fahan is the best place to see The Beehive huts as they are the best-persevered.

How much time do you need for Slea Head Drive?

Whilst the drive from Dingle along Slea Drive is only 30 miles, it will take you the best part of the day. You will find yourself driving on the edge of the cliffside, navigating hairpin turns that reveal even more beautiful views of the green hills and white sandy beaches.

I suggest aiming to spend the night some where, either in Dingle or near the Cliffs of Moher, if you are in heading in that direction.

Where to stay when visiting Slea Head Drive

If you would like to stop off on the way to or from the Dingle Peninsula I suggest stopping in Dingle. It is an absolutely gorgeous town with more pubs than one could possibly need and the cutest shops and houses.

There are two options that I highly recommend in Dingle. The first option is The Hideout Hostel Dingle, and yes, this is a hostel but it felt more like a hotel. It is on the budget side but is super comfortable. You can sleep in small dorms if you like the backpacker hostel feel, or if that’s not your style, you can book a private room with a ensuite. The Hideout Hostel is located walking distance from everything you could need in Dingle, has street parking right out front and has the cutest cinema I have ever been to just across the road.

If you would like to stay away from the hostel then I recommend the Milltown House, the beautiful B&B overlooks the Dingle Harbour. The Milltown house is a little over 1km away from the town of Dingle, however, if you would like to drive into town there is plenty of parking available.

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Fiona xoxo


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