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Ring of Beara: Ultimate Guide (2020)

Ring of Beara: Ultimate Guide (2020)

Ring of Beara: Ultimate Guide (2020)

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Almost every visitor to Ireland has the Ring of Kerry on their itinerary but, its lesser visited neighbor, the Ring of Beara is equally as stunning. In fact, it is one of the true remaining hidden gems in Ireland. The drive, located on the Kerry/Cork border, winds around the wild and untamed Beara Peninsula, and is one of our favorite areas to explore in Ireland. We’ve put together our guide to visiting the Beara Peninsula, including where to stay, what to see and some hidden gems along the way.

Driving the Beara Peninsula

 

Ring of Beara Route

The best way to explore the Beara Pensinsula is via the Ring of Beara Route. The Ring of Beara is a circular driving route from Kenmare which is best driven in a clockwise direction around the loop. We’ve put together the below map which includes all the best stops and our recommended route around the Beara Peninsula. Click on the map to view the details of the stops and make sure to save this to your phone before you leave Kenmare as phone reception can be patchy on the peninsula!

Map of Ring of Beara Peninsula

 Click here for the Google map

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

 

Driving the Ring of Beara

Kenmare is our favorite place to base ourselves for exploring the Ring of Beara. From here you can easily reach everywhere in the Beara Peninsula and it works great if you have more than one day to explore the Ring of Beara. Staying in Kenmare also makes it easy to explore the Ring of Kerry without moving hotels.

Ring of Beara Tip: the driving route around the Ring of Beara includes some very narrow and winding Irish roads so care should be taken as you drive the route. It’s worth taking your time on the route, especially on the narrower road sections near Eyeries and Lamb;s Head where you’ll probably have to pull in and allow others to pass.

Ring of Beara

The roads get narrow on the Ring of Beara!

 

1 | Kenmare

The route starts in the beautiful coastal town of Kenmare in County Kerry. Kenmare is a truly beautiful place with incredible scenery and is located between the Ring of Beara and the Ring of Kerry peninsulas. It’s the perfect place from which to explore the Beara Peninsula and is home to many great restaurants to enjoy after a day on the ring.

Kenmare Ring of Beara

The Kenmare double-span bridge that leads out of Kenmore to the Ring of Beara

 

Where to Stay in Kenmare

  • Sheen Falls Lodge: This is one of the best hotels in Co. Kerry and one of the leading 5-star hotels in Ireland. We chose to stay when we explored the Beara Peninsula. The hotel is located beside the Sheen Falls waterfall and, although expensive, is a true luxury experience – check prices now!
  • Brook Lane Hotel: Brook Lane is a welcoming 4 star luxury boutique hotel and is one of the best rated hotels in Kenmare. Located in the town itself, there is also great food on offer on site in Casey’s Bar –  check prices now!

Click here for the best Kenmare Hotel Prices

 

Sheen Falls Kenmare

Sheen Falls at Sheen Falls Lodge

 

2 | Uragh Stone Circle

The first stop on the Beara ring is the impressive Uragh Stone Circle. This beautiful stone circle is a quick 10-minute detour from the Beara Ring route. After following the sign from the main road, the road narrows as it makes its way up the hills to a small car park located close to the stone circle. What makes this stone circle so beautiful is the backdrop against Lough Inchiquin and the mountains.

Uragh Stone Circle

Uragh Stone Circle

 

3 | Gleninchaquin Park

If you have an an extra hour to spare we highly recommend following the road from the stone circle a little further to the picturesque Gleninchaquin Park. This family-owned park located in a narrow valley is one of the true hidden gems on the Beara Peninsula. It is packed with beautiful trails and a gorgeous waterfall that visitors can hike across. For more information check the park’s website here.

Gleninchaquin Park

The waterfall at Gleninchaquin Park

 

4 | Lauragh

The first village you will come across after Kenmare on the Ring of Beara is the quiet seaside village of Lauragh. The coast along this stretch of the Beara Peninsula is exceptional and full of hidden coves and beautiful coastline. Make sure to follow to the coastal road as you leave Kenmare. There is also beautiful wild Atlantic way discovery point, Kilmakilloge Harbour, around 10 minutes from Lauragh. This small remote harbor offers incredible views of Kenmare Bay and the Ring of Kerry in the distance. After Lauragh the Beara Ring route leaves County Kerry and into West Cork.

Lauragh Co. Kerry

Lauragh on sunny summer morning

 

Kilmakilloge Harbour

The view from Kilmakilloge Harbor

 

Ring of Beara

The incredible scenery around this area of the Beara Peninsula

 

5 | Ardgroom

The quaint and colorful village of Ardgroom is the first stop on the Cork side of the Beara Peninsula. The village itself is worth a stop for a snack in Harrington’s Post Office, a Post Office that doubles as a Cafe and deli. The Ardgroom Stone Circle, with its epic views over the Kenmare estuary and the Kerry mountains, is located just outside the village.

Ardgroom Stone Circle

Ardgroom Stone Circle

 

6 | Eyeries

Eyeries is easily the most colorful town on the Beara Peninsula. The houses in the village are painted in vivid colors which will bring a smile as you approach in your car. The best way to explore is to park up your car and just take a stroll through this beautiful seaside village. A great place for a break is O’Sheas pub on the main street.

Eyeries Co. Cork

Eyeries

 

Eyeries Co. Cork

Eyeries

 

7 | Road from Eyeries to Allihies

The winding drive from Eyeries to Allihies is breathtaking. For us, t’s one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the country. The narrow coastal road winds along the headland before crossing Cod’s head and along the coast to Allihies. Almost every inch of this drive is picture perfect. We were lucky enough to experience the Ring of Beara on a beautiufl summer weekend and this was our favorite part of the drive.

The raw beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way is showcased along this short drive and, while there are no sandy beaches, there are plenty of places to stop and take in the views.

Ring of Beara tip: Don’t miss the remains of the old copper mines which are dotted along the side of the road on this part of the route.

Road from Eyeries to Allihies

The Road from Eyeries to Allihies is breathtaking

Road from Eyeries to Allihies

The views on this road are spectacular

 

8 | Allihies

The small town of Allihies was home to a vibrant copper mining community during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is is still possible to see some of the remaining engine towers that were used in the mining process. There is a stop on the road from Eyeries to Allihies at one of these mines.

Many who left the area after the mining industry collapsed moved to Montana in the USA which today still has strong ties to the area. There is a small museum in Allihies dedicated to the copper mines which gives visitors an insight into the area at that time.

Allihies Copper Mine Co. Cork

Allihies Copper Mine Co. Cork (image courtesy of Tourism Ireland)

 

9 | Lamb’s Head and Dursey Island

After Allihies the road narrows as it makes its way towards the bottom of the Beara Peninsula. Make sure to stop at the gorgeous Allihies Beach just south of the village. The views from the road to Dursey island and the Slieve Miskish mountains is stunning.

Allihies Beach and the Slieve Miskish mountains (image courtesy of Tourism Ireland)

 

The southernmost tip of the Beara Peninsula is known as Lambs head and is home to one of Ireland’s most unique modes of transport – Ireland’s only working cable car.

Allihies coast

Views as the road winds to Dursey Island

 

The Dursey island cable care takes visitors across the sound to the small island. There are no shops or cars on the island but a trip to Dursey Island is a must if you have time. It is believed that monks from the Skellig Islands founded the now ruined church of Kilmichael on Dursey Island.

If you don’t have time to visit Dursey Island it’s worth taking a short walk along the headland from the cable car parking lot towards Jessi‘s Point. The views across to Co. Kerry and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range are epic.

Dursey Island Co. Cork

The Dursey Island Cable Car

Dursey Island Co. Cork

Next stop Moscow!

 

10 | Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Meditation Centre\ 

After Dursey the Ring of Beara continues back up the eastern side of the Peninsula. For something a little different, and relaxing, check out the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Meditation Center. It is on the road from the Dursey Island Cable car to Castletown-Bearhaven. The center offers meditation retreats and welcomes everyone from one hour meditations to multi-day retreats. The center is open year-round. Check their website for more information.

 

11 | Castletown-Bearhaven

The fishing town of Castletown-Bearhaven is one of the best options for food on the Beara Pensinsula. The town’s main industry is fishing so it’s no surprise that you’ll find some delicious seafood here. If you want a meal then check out Murphy’s Restaurant or Breen’s Lobster Bar. If you prefer a quick stop on the go look no further than Lynch’s on the Pier. We stopped here for some quick bites and it was really tasty.

For visitors looking for a  traditional Irish Pub pop into McCarthy’s bar where you can get everything from a great pint of Guinness to a pot of local jam. If you’re in Castletown-Bearhaven make sure not to miss this pub!

Castletown-Bearhaven

When in Cork Murphys must be consumed!

Castletown-Bearhaven

Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point in Castletown-Bearhaven

 

12 | Bere Island

Set against the backdrop of the Miskish and Caha Mountains, Bere Island sits at the entrance to Bantry Bay and is accessible by ferry. The tranquil island has great seafood and a rich history with sites dating from the Bronze Age to Medieval time.

Bere Island (image courtesy of Tourism Ireland)

Bere Island

 

13 | Adrigole

Nestled in the foothills of the Caha mountains and the far side of the Healy pass is the small village of Adrigole. There are lots of hiking options in the area with trails leading to hidden lakes including Coomadavallig Lake high in the Caha mountains. The highest waterfall in Ireland, Mares Tail Waterfall is a short drive inland from Adrigole.

 

14 | Whiddy Island Discovery Point

The Beara Peninsula is dotted with Wild Atlantic Way Discovery points and the Whiddy Island Discovery Point is a nice stop before reaching Glengariff. Whiddy Island is visible from here and the stop offers panoramic views over Bantry Bay.

Whiddy Island

Whiddy Island

 

Glengarriff

There a few stops around the village of Glengarriff.

Glengarriff Co. Cork

One of the many colorful houses in Glengarriff

 

15 | Garnish Island

Due to the Glengariff’s unique micro climate Garnish Island is home to an incredible sub-tropical garden and is should be on every visitors list to the Bear Peninsula. There is a ferry which runs daily from the main pier in Glengarriff. Visitors can check the ferry times here.

Garnish Island

Garnish Island

 

16 | Caha Pass

The Caha Pass, which links Glengarriff with Kenmare, is the final stretch of the Ring of Beara and it’s safe to say the best is saved to last. This epic road is one of the most picturesque in Ireland. What makes the Caha Pass truly unique is the combination of the winding mountaintop road, the panoramic views of the countryside and the incredible stone tunnels that the road carves through.

There are too many stunning viewing spots to list for this road so just allow lots of time for stopping! The tunnels start at the Cork-Kerry border and continue for a few kilometres.

Caha Pass

Views from above the Caha Pass tunnels

Caha Pass

The Views from here are spectacular

 

Caha Pass

The Caha Pass Tunnels

 

17 | Molly Gallivans Visitor Centre

Before making the final stretch of the drive back to Kenmare make sure to stop at Molly Gallivans. The cottage and farm at Molly Gallivans is over 200 years old and remains a family run visitors center. A visit can range from a quick stop to see the old cottage and gift shop to a full guided tour which includes traditional Irish baking, turf cutting and tours of the old Irish relics in the area. Definitely don’t pass Molly Gavins without making a stop!

Molly Gallivans Visitor Centre

Molly Gallivans Visitor Center

 

Molly Gallivans Visitor Centre

An old Irish house on show at Molly Gallivans

 

18 | Kenmare

After the last stop it’s a relaxing drive back to Kenmare to relax, unwind and enjoy the memories of the Ring of Beara over a some great food and some tasty pints! We hope you have as much fun on this drive as we had – it’s one of the few hidden gems remaining in Ireland.

Ring of Beara

The Beara Peninsula!

 

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

The Slea Head Drive (a locals guide) 2020

The Slea Head Drive (a locals guide) 2020

The Slea Head Drive (a locals guide) 2020

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

The Slea Head Drive, a magnificent coastal drive which starts and ends in Dingle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kerry. We’ve visited Dingle countless times and have been lucky to have experienced the Slea Head drive many times and it’s one of our favorite drives in Ireland. We’ve put together this guide to the Slea Head Drive for anyone planning a trip to Kerry. It includes all our favorite stops, the best viewpoints and some hidden gems.

Dunquin Pier Dingle

Dunquin Pier on Slea Head

 

Slea Head Drive

The Slea Head Drive is a 50 km ( approx. 30 miles) looped drive that covers the western tip of the stunning Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry Ireland. Slea Head Drive is part of the Wild Atlantic Way and is one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland with some of the most picturesque views in the country. The loop comprises magnificent scenery, historic sites, island views and fantastic food and is a Kerry must do.

Slea Head Drive Sign Dingle

Slea Head Drive

 

 

How long does it take to drive the Slea Head Drive?

In terms of drive time it is possible to drive the entire loop in around 3 to 4 hours. However we recommend allowing much more time, roughly a full day if you can spare it as there is so much to see and so many places to stop. There are epic views points, untouched beaches and delicious places to eat that the Slea Head Drive deserves a full day to explore fully.

 

When to visit the Slea Head Drive?

We highly recommend exploring Slea Head Drive early in the morning or in the late afternoon/evening. Weekdays are usually much quieter on the Slea Head Drive. There have been times when we drove the Slea Head Drive on a summers evening mid-week and met almost no other traffic.

Slea Head Drive tip: One of the most unique aspects of the coastal parts of the drive is that there is only enough room for one car so you get the incredible views as you wind around the coast. However Slea Head Drive is open to two way traffic so you can expect some traffic jams on the road! A lot of the viewing areas are also small with limited parking, so if it’s busy these may be full and you’ll need to skip them!

Clogher Head Dingle

Epic Views on the Slea Head Drive

 

What direction to drive the Slea Head Drive?

While the Slea Head drive can be driven in either direction we highly recommend driving in a clockwise direction from Dingle. The views are a,azomg and a lot of the pull-ins are easier to access this way!

Slea Head Drive tip: Larger tour buses also travel the loop clockwise so driving this way avoids meeting them on the drive.

 

The Slea Head Drive Route

The loop starts and ends in the iconic seaside town of Dingle and takes in the small villages of Ventry, Fahan, Dunquin, BallyFerriter and Ballydavid as well as Slea Head itself.

 

Slea Head Drive Route Dingle Kerry

The Slea Head Drive Route – click here for the map

 

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

Tips for Driving the Slea Head Drive

  • Drive in a clockwise direction from Dingle.
  • Slea Head Drive is very narrow in places so be careful when pulling in to make way for other traffic.
  • During wet weather the road surface can accumulate a lot of water and in some places rivers will start to flow across the road in coastal places. Take care driving during these times!
  • Only stop at designated stops and viewing areas. This might seem obvious but don’t try to stop in residents driveways or other non-designated areas – its not fair for the locals or other tourists!
  • If there is no parking at a viewing area when you arrive try not to block the road. Continue on to the next stop and you can always circle back afterwards if you really want to see it.
  • The Slea Head Drive is very popular with cyclists and walkers so be aware that there may be cyclists or pedestrians on the road, especially on blind corners.

 

Slea Head Drive Crucifix

The Slead Head Drive is a single lane 2 way road in places!

 

Driving the Slea Head Drive Loop

We’ve included all the main stops and sights that we love on Slea Head Drive. This itinerary assumes visitors have a full day to explore the drive. You can adjust the stops based on the amount of time you have

 

1 | Dingle

The Slea Head Drive starts in one of Kerry’s most popular towns, Dingle. The fishing town of Dingle is one of our favourite places in the country and is the best base for exploring the Slea Head Drive. There are plenty of places to stay and countless delicious restaurants and pubs to enjoy in this gem of a seaside town.

Slea Head Drive tip: The Slea Head Drive is signposted on most of the roads in Dingle. However if you miss them simply follow signs for Ventry as it’s the first stop on the loop.

 

 2 | Ceann Trá (Ventry)

A short drive from Dingle, the first stop on the Slea Head drive is the beautiful Gaeltacht village of Ceann Trá, also known as Ventry.

Slea Head Drive tip: a Gaeltacht area is one where the primary language spoke is Irish. There are lots of Gaeltacht areas dotted around Ireland with many of them located in County Kerry. Almost everyone speaks English so you won’t have a problem chatting with the locals!

Ventry is a very popular tourist destination due to the beautiful blue flag beach that curves along the coast from the Village. Ventry Beach, also called Ceann Trá Beach, is a really popular beach and can geadt very busy at peak times.

One of the popular things to do in Ventry is a horse ride along the beach. It’s a bucket list activity for lots of visitors to Ireland and Ventry Beach is one of the most beautiful places do experience it! Longs Riding Centre offers treks to all levels of experience, with their beach and mountain ride being one of the most popular. Horse treks can include a beach ride or a mountain trek.

Ceann Trá Ventry Beach

The beautiful strand at Ventry Beach

 

Fahan

Fahan is the next area on the Slea Head Drive as the road snakes along the stunning Atlantic Coast of Dingle. There are lots of cool things to see along this section all located close to each other so be ready for lots of stops!

 

3 | Dunbeg Fort

Fahan has several unique stops, the first if which is Dunbeg Fort and Visitors Centre. Dunbeg Fort is a small clifftop fort that dates back to around 500BC and is well known due to its precarious cliff top location and incredible views for the Dingle coastline. Tickets include access to a short film in the visitors center which includes information on the fort itself as well as helpful information of other things to see on the Slea Head Drive.

Slea Head Drive tip: due to deterioration of the cliffs around Dunbeg Fort the area immediately around the fort is now closed so it’s not possible to enter the fort itself. The views from the area near the fort are spectacular – you can see the Skellig Island Rocks from here – and together with the visitors centre, we think it’s still worth a stop.

Beehive Huts Slea Head Drive Dingle

The Beehive Huts

 

 

4 | Slea Head Famine Cottages (Teachíní an Ghorta Mhóir)

In the mid-19th century the Great Famine had a devastating impact on Ireland. The effect was significantly more profound on the rural communities of the west and south of Ireland. The Slea Head Famine Cottages give visitors a glimpse of what life was like during this time. The cottages here are the original ones that were inhabited during this incredibly difficult time in Irish history and are definitely worth taking the time to visit.

 

5 | Fahan Beehive Huts

Just a few minutes past Dunbeg Fort and the Famine cottages it is possible to visit a small collection of beehive huts, similar to those found on Skellig Michael. The Fahan Beehive huts is a collection of 19 souterrain and 18 beehive huts (known as standing clochans).

The huts are a short walk up the hill from the parking lot along the Slea Head Drive and are worth taking the time to visit. The views from the huts are spectacular.

Beehive Huts Slea Head Drive Dingle

Fahan Beehive Huts

 

Beehive Huts Slea Head Drive Dingle

The Beehive Huts from the sky

 

6 | Pet a baby lamb

One of the most fun and heartwarming things to do in Dingle is located on the Slea Head Drive. Visitors can hold and pet baby lambs. Everyone, from kids to adults, will enjoy this one and it’s worth a quick stop.

The farm is located just across from the next pull-in after the beehive huts at a viewpoint known as ‘Ceann Sleibhe’. There are also some beehive huts at this stop if you don’t have time for the previous ones.

 

7 | Viewing Point and Little Cliff

This viewing area doesn’t have a name but it’s the last pull-in before the sharp turn at the cross at Slea Head. This nondescript pull-in has epic views back along the Dingle coast towards Ventry.

Slea Head Dingle

An amazing viewpoint on Slea Head Drive

 

8 | Cross At Slea Head

Just a short distance along the coast road from the viewing point is the cross at Slea Head. This viewpoint offers some of the most impressive views of the Blasket Islands. The Blasket Islands are a group of uninhabited islands just off the coast of the Slea Head Drive. The Blasket Islands are accessible only by local ferry from Dunquin Pier.

The views are amazing

What also makes this viewpoint so unique is the large white cross located just across the road which overlooks the ocean.

 

Slea Head Drive Crucifix

The cross opposite the viewpoint

 

 

9 | Slea Head Viewpoint

This is probably the best-known viewpoint on the Slea Head Drive. It’s a larger pull-in so expect it to be busier than the rest. There are great views of the Blasket Islands and Coumeenoole Beach.  While the views here are awesome we think the views at the previous stop (the cross on Slea Head) are better!

Another stunning viewpoint on Slea Head Drive

 

10 | Coumeenoole Beach

If you are driving the Slea Head Drive make sure to allow time for a stop at Coumeenoole Beach. Accessed via a steep road, this secluded beach has beautiful white sands and epic views of the Blasket Islands. There is a free car park located at the top of the road that leads down to the beach. The beach is popular with visitors and locals on sunny days it is usually quite busy.

Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole Beach

 

11 | Dunmore Head and Devil Horns

If time allows, make the hike across Dunmore Head to the Devil Horns. The trail head begins close to the Coumeenoole Beach parking lot.  The Coumeenoole Ogham Stone is located at the highest point of the trail. At the end of Dunmore head lies the Devil Horns, a rock formation that juts out into the ocean towards the Blasket Islands.

 

11 | Dunquin Pier (Dún Chaoin)

Dunquin Pier is, without doubt, our favourite place on the Slea Head Drive. This beautiful pier provides ferry access to the Blasket Islands and is famous for the winding path that leads down to the pier.

There is a small parking lot on the ocean side of the road at Dunquin Pier where all visitors should park. From here it is a short walk down to the pier. The best view of the pier is from the grassy cliff located directly above the pier and to the left of the access road to the pier.

Slea Head Drive tip: The grassy cliffs around Dunquin are uneven, unmarked and extremely dangerous. Don’t let kids approach the cliffs without supervision and all visitors should take extreme care.

Watching the sunset from the cliff above Dunquin Pier is one of our favourite experiences in the world and on a sunny evening there is nowhere else we’d rather be!

Dunquin Pier Dingle

Dunquin Pier from above

 

Slea Head Drive tip: Please do not attempt to drive your car down Dunquin Pier! Almost every year there is a story in the news about visitors who try to drive down the narrow road, only to get stuck. One tourist even spent the night in their car after they got stuck and burnt out their clutch trying to reverse. Park in the parking lot at the top and walk to the pier!

The area around Dunquin is steeped in history and it was in Blasket Sound that several ships in the Spanish Armada sank in the 16th century.

Dunquin Pier

 

 

13 | The Blasket Centre

While many people won’t have the time to visit the Blasket Islands it is still possible to visit the Great Blasket Centre. The centre is located a short drive along the Slea Head Drive loop from Dunquin Pier.

The Blasket Islands hold a rich heritage in Ireland as it was once home to many families. Sadly the island was abandoned in 1953 after a sharp decline in its population. The Blasket Centre is a perfect stop for anyone interested in learning about the experience of people who lived there and their culture and customs. One of Ireland’s most famous storytellers, Peig Sayers, spent most of her life on Great Blasket Island and vividly documented island life in her eponymous book, ‘Peig’.

 

14 | Blasket Sound and Islands

It is possible to visit the beautiful Blasket Islands that are visible for most of the Slea Head Drive. There are daily ferry crossings from Dunquin Pier to Great Blasket Island from April through September. There are only two ferries which allow visitors to walk around the island itself. Visiting Great Blasket island is like stepping back in time and visitors will feel truly serene out here! Check the Blasket Island Ferry times here!

 

15 | Clogher Head 

Clogher Head is a great short hike on the Slea Head Drive. From the roadside car park it is a short but beautiful hike across the headland to Clogher Head itself. Movie fans might recognize the area as it was here that some scenes of the new Star Wars movies were shot. The Star Wars production team also replicated the beehive huts of Skellig Michael at the nearby Sybil Head.

Clogher Head Dingle

Clogher Head

 

16 | Tig Áine (Aine’s House) – Food Stop

After all the sightseeing, swimming and hiking you’re bound to be hungry! We chanced upon Tig Áine’s incredible café a few years ago and make sure to visit every time we are in Dingle. Tig Áine’s is a beautiful roadside café with outdoor seating that serves delicious food against the backdrop of Clogher Strand. After working up an appetite on the Clogher Head hike nothing beats a seafood chowder at Tig Aine’s.

n addition to delicious food there are lots of unique locals arts and crafts for sale inside.

Tigh Aine Slea Head Drive

Dreaming about the chowder at Tig Áine

 

17 | Clogher Strand

This small beach is visible from Clogher Head and is a perfect spot for a swim to cool off on hot summer days. The views from here are spectacular and has some of the best views of Inishtooskert Island or “Dead Mans” island. Known in Gaelic as “An Fear Marbh” it only takes one looks at Inishtooskert island to see why it’s called the dead man and the sleeping giant.

Clogher Strand Dingle

Clogher Strand

 

18 | Ferriters Cove

A worthwhile short detour off the Slea Head Drive is to Ferriters Cove. While Ferriters Cover is similar to Clogher Strand, it’s a great option on  busier days as it tends to be quieter than the other Slea Head Drive beaches.

 

19 | Wine Strand

The final beach on the Slea Head drive is Wine Strand. Wine Strand is a tiny stretch of secluded beach that is like a slice of paradise on a nice day. The  beach is a short detour off the slea head drive and only has a small signpost on the main road so it’s easy to miss.

Wine Strand

Ballydavid

The final portion of the SLea Head drives turns north towards the Ballydavid area of Dingle. Many visitors may decide to head back to Dingle after visiting the Gallarus Oratory but we do recommend taking some extra time to drive the extra portion of the loop to Ballydavid.

 

20 | Gallarus Oratory

This simple stone church is one of the most popular places to visit on the Slea Head Drive. The Gallarus Oratory is an early Christian stone church that dates back over 1000 years. Although the exact origin of the church is unknown, the church is built using an advanced stone technique known as corballing. This technique leads to a very strong structure that has remained intact to this day. The church is currently the oldest untouched church in Ireland

There is a small visitors centre on site that provides information on visiting the church and a small gift shop.

Gallarus Oratory Dingle

Gallarus Oratory

 

21 | Ballydavid and Mount Brandon

By now most visitors will be exhausted and looking forward to some well-earned seafood and drinks in Dingle. However, the drive through Ballydavid and around the foothills of Mount Brandon is worth it on the way back to Dingle.

This route passes Brandon Creek, the legendary starting point for St Brendan on his voyage to America which is documented long before Christopher Columbus!

The final stretch of the Slea Head drive hugs the foothills of Mount Brandon, the second-highest mountain in Ireland, before finishing back in Dingle.

 

The Slea Head Drive

That’s it for our complete guide to the Slea Head Drive. There a reason why the area attracts so many visitors each year – it is a truly spectacular and special place with so much to see and do!

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Crohy Head Sea Arch, Donegal

Crohy Head Sea Arch, Donegal

Crohy Head Sea Arch, Donegal

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Crohy Head Sea Arch is just one of many hidden gems that dot the Donegal coastline. Located of the Mullaghmullan Peninsula, the Crohy Head Sea Arch is a magnificent sight on the rugged West Donegal coastline.

Crohy Head Sea Arch

Crohy Head Sea Arches just after sunrise

 

Crohy Head Sea Arch

Crohy Head Sea Arch is a spectacular sea arch located on the coast of the Mullaghmullan Peninsula in Donegal. Sometimes called ‘The Breeches’, the arch is one of the most beautiful in Ireland. The sea arch, and its dramatic coastal landscape, are popular with photographers and making the short hike to the arch is one of our favorite things to do in Donegal.

The arch is relatively easy to visit and is a perfect stop while en route to or from a day trip to Arranmore Island.

There are three sea arches at Crohy Head but only the most prominent arch, the Bristi Sea Stack, is fully visible from the cliff side viewpoint. It rises around 150 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and the rocky coastline below. The other two arches can be seen from the rocky beach surrounding the arches.

It is possible to hike down to the beach but only at low tide.. At high tide and times of wet weather it is not possible, or safe, to access the beach at the arches so viewing the other two is difficult from the cliff.

Crohy Head Sea Arch

View from the cliff at Crohy Head

 

How to get to the Crohy Head Sea Arch?

The arch itself is located just off the sea road that hugs the coast on the Mullaghmullan Peninsula near the small village of Maghery. Due to its location and the narrow roads that lead there the arch is most easily reached by car.

The shortest route to the arches is via the coast road from the small town of Dungloe, from which Crohy Head Sea Arch is 8km west. After a short drive west from Dungloe, the road passes through the small seaside village of Maghery where it turns south along the Mullaghmullan Peninsula towards the arch. The road narrows considerably and only has space for one vehicle in either direction.

There is no official car park or access for the arch, only a short pull-in on the roadside for passing traffic. The cliffs where the arch is located are accessed via an unmarked grassy lane (see the map for its location) down to the arch. It’s worth knowing in advance to know where exactly where the arch is and where to access it.

I’ve linked what the small access lane to the arch looks like on this map link.

It’s a 10 minute walk and you just need to keep walking towards the sea, obviously minding your footing as you get towards the edge of the cliff. Depending on which way you walk you may have to climb over a low barbed wire fence but it is relatively easy. You should be able to spot the access path down to the beach. As with any hike, be cautious on cliff edges and, when it is possible to at low tide, descending to the beach below.

Crohy Head Sea Arch tip: do not try to access the beach at Crohy Head Sea Arch when the tide is in or in wet weather as it can be very dangerous. The descent to the beach is very steep and even on a good day even experienced hikers will need to take care and wear proper foot wear.

 

Map of Route to Great Pollet Sea Arch

We’ve put together a map showing exactly where the Crohy Head Sea Arch is and how to get to it:

Click here for the map

 

Things to Do Near to Crohy Head Sea Arch

We visited Crohy Head Sea Arch as part of the day trip when we were en route to Arranmore Island. It is around a 20 minute drive from Crohy Head Sea Arch to Burtonport where the ferry for Arranmore departs from. Arranmore Island is one of the best day trips in Donegal and the island is wild, rugged and beautiful.

Old Lighthouse Steps Arranmore Island

The Old Lighthouse steps on Arranmore are stunning

Arranmore Island

Amazing views on Arramore

 

Another unique place to visit nearby is the island fort of Doon Fort, an ancient ring fort located on a small island in the middle of Lough Doon in the west of Donegal..The nearby village of Maghery has a beautiful beach that it worth a stop if you have time. It is around a 40 minute drive from Crohy Head Sea Arch to Doon Fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

If you want to discover more Donegal sea arches then Great Pollet Sea Arch is located 90 minutes north east of Crohy Head. It’s a magnificent sea arch and you can incorporate a visit to the beautiful Fanad Lighthouse while there. Access to Great Pollet Sea Arch has been difficult due to a landowner dispute – we were able to access it from beach level on our last visit but it is challenging to find and you will likely need the help of a friendly local to point you in the right direction.

Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

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Great Pollet Sea Arch, Donegal

Great Pollet Sea Arch, Donegal

Great Pollet Sea Arch, Donegal

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

The Great Pollet Sea Arch is one of the most stunning sights on the rugged Donegal coastline. Located on the eastern side of the Fanad Peninsula the Great Pollet Sea Arch is one of the largest and most impressive sea arches in Ireland and is an awesome detour off the Fanad Head stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way.

In recent years the Great Pollet Sea Arch has become notoriously difficult to access but the magnificent sea arch is more than worth the effort!

Great Pollet Sea Arch

The incredible Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

 

Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch is Ireland’s largest sea arch and was formed as a result of thousands of years of erosion from the wild Atlantic Ocean.

The arch is located a short distance from the headland just north of the small village of Doagh Beg on the east side of the Fanad Peninsula. It’s only short detour from the popular Wild Atlantic Way road trip route and the arch attracts lots of visitors each year due to its beauty and east of access.

It is possible to view the arch from the low cliff on the headland or from sea level on the rocky shoreline below.

Drone photo Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch shot on our drone

 

 

How to get to the Great Pollet Sea Arch?

There are two ways to check out the Great Pollet Sea Arch and both are challenging!

Great Pollet Sea Arch Viewpoint (currently inaccessible)

Great Pollet Sea Arch: this route is the subject of a dispute with access blocked. It was considered a public right of way but access has been prohibited for the last couple of years.

The official viewpoint for Great Pollet Arch Sea is a 1km drive north of the town of Doagh Beg and the sea arch is signposted along the route. There is a small parking lot at the end of the road where visitors can park. It’s a residential area so make sure not to block the road or any local houses driveways. From here it’s a short walk to a gate with a turnstile. The access route then crosses farmland before reaching a low cliff that overlooks the arch.

However, this access route has proved contentious in recent years and the turnstile has been blocked along with signs indicating access has been prohibited. You can still give it a try but we haven’t heard of any recent success stories!

 

Via Headland at Doagh Beg Beach at low tide

At low tide, it may be possible to approach Great Pollet from the south of the sea arch but you will need to find a friendly local to direct you through the maze of farmland which surrounds the headland leading to the arch. This route is only accessible at low tide and, as with any coastal hike, extreme care must be taken when approaching the exposed cliff side over the headland.

Note: We accessed the arch via the traditional route and have not attempted hiking from the south of the arch. Either way, take extreme care as the entire headland features exposed cliffs: watch your footing and stay away from the cliff side.

Great Pollet Sea Arch

Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

Fanad Lighthouse

If you’re making a trip to see the Great Pollet Sea Arch you should also take the time to stop at Fanad Lighthouse. It’s one of the most rugged and beautiful places in Donegal and worthy of  a stop on any Donegal trip.

Fanad Head Lighthouse

Fanad Head Lighthouse

 

 

Crohy Head Sea Arch

Located 90 minutes south west of the Great Pollet Sea Arch, the Crohy Head Sea Arch is another magnificent sea arch on the Donegal coast. It is located is 8 kilometres west of Dungloe on the Wild Atlantic Way. Like the Great Pollet Sea Arch it can be difficult to locate the Crohy Head Sea Arch.

 

 

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The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)

The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)

The Best Beaches in Donegal (a locals guide)

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The beaches in Donegal are truly breathtaking and there are some incredible gems dotted along its rugged coast. It’s no surprise that its beaches are considered among the most beautiful in Ireland. We’ve spent months exploring every corner of Donegal and have put together this list of our best beaches in Donegal. We’ve personally visited each one of these beaches and had a lot of fun exploring them all!

Best beaches in Donegal

Silver Strand, Donegal

 

Map of the Best Beaches in Donegal

To make it easier to find all these beaches we’ve put this map together which lists each of the best beaches.

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

The Best Beaches in Donegal

From the remote ruggedness of Murder Hole Beach to the endless stretches of white sands at Five Finger Strand, there are so many amazing beaches in Donegal to choose from. These are our 14 best beaches in Donegal:

 

 1 | Kinnagoe Bay

We stumbled across the secluded Kinnagoe Bay while exploring the Inishowen Peninsula a few years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite beaches in Donegal.

The beach itself is relatively small and, at high tide, the strand is split in two by a rocky headland. With its exposure to the thrashing Atlantic waves Kinnagoe Bay is beautifully rugged.

Best beaches in Donegal tip: Kinnagoe Bay is the final resting place of one of the more famous Spanish Armada shipwrecks, La Trinidad Valencera which ran aground off the coast in 1588. There is a small plaque at the beach to commemorate it.

Kinnagoe Bay Donegal

Kinnagoe Bay

 

2 | Bád Eddie Shipwreck – Magheraclogher Beach

The beautiful white sand beach at Magheraclogher is beautiful in itself. However, what really makes it unique is the shipwreck known as Bád Eddie (or Eddie’s Boat) that lies on the strand. In 1977 a boat called Cara na Mara was towed to the beach for some routine repair work. Since then the boat has lain on the beach where the daily tide partially submerges it.

Due to its oak construction, the wreck has remained largely intact over the years despite the constant tides weathering it. There is a local movement to try to preserve this unique boat that is now part of the Donegal landscape. Bad Eddie has become relatively well know international over the years.  The wreck featured in a music video In a Lifetime by Clannad and Bono and has been a big draw for visitors to Gweedore over the years.

Best beaches in Donegal tip: At lower tides it possible to walk out the wreck itself and it’s a great location for photos.

Bad Eddie

The wreck of Bad Eddie

 

3 | Stroove Beach

Located a few kilometres north of the small village of Greencastle on the Inishowen Peninsula, Stroove Beach is one of Donegal’s most underrated beaches.

Protected on both sides by headlands, including the Stroove Lighthouse, this small beach is a real hidden gem in Donegal. The water is perfect for swimming for both young and old and it is popular with families. There is parking right by the beach so you don’t need to walk very far. On a nice day in Donegal there is no other beach we’d rather be on!

Best beaches in Donegal tip: Make sure to check out the Inishowen Head Loop walk. It starts atop the Inishowen head and you can join at Stroove Lighthouse. It is a moderate 8km looped walk that takes around 3 hours to complete. It’s one of our favourite walks in Ireland due to the stunning coastal views (on a clear day you can see the west of Scotland) and the rugged landscape.

Best beaches in Donegal

The entrance to Stroove Beach

Best beaches in Donegal

Stroove Beach

 

4 | Murder Hole Beach (Boyeeghter Bay)

The ominously named Murder Hole Beach, real name Boyeeghter Bay, is a small isolated beach on the north coast of Donegal. Located on Melmore Head on the Rosguill Peninsula, Murder Hole is one of the most ruggedly beautiful beaches in Donegal, if not the whole of Ireland. The raw beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way can be witnessed he

The secluded beach is dotted with small caves and surrounded by stunning cliffs. While swimming is not advised due to the rip currents in the water, Murder Hole is beautiful to explore on foot. Aim to visit at low tide so you can access the sea cave near the south end of the beach. Despite it’s ominous name, Murder Hole beach is one of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever visited!

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: the best views of the beach are from the cliffs on the north end of the strand.

Best beaches in Donegal

The stunning Murder Hole Beach

 

 

5 | Silver Strand Beach

One of the more remote beaches on this list is the epic Silver Strand Beach in the Gaeltacht village of Malin Beg. While many visitors to Donegal will travel to the Slieve League Cliffs nearby, only a few make the extra 30km journey to picturesque Malin Beg.

Silver Strand Beach is a secluded crescent-shaped cove accessed via a winding stairway path from the car park above. You’ll likely see sheep grazing the hillside as you descend to the white sand beach.

Best beaches in Donegal tip: Silver Strand is our favourite beach for swimming in Donegal. On a good day, the water is quite a pleasant temperature and the views are spectacular.

Silver Strand Beach

Silver Strand Beach

 

6 | Ballymastocker Beach

Ballymastocker Beach, also known as Portsalon beach, is one of the best blue flag beaches in Ireland. This beautiful strand of pure white sand stretches over 2km from the seaside town of Portsalon to the southern headland.

Best beaches in Donegal

Ballymastocker Bay

Don’t miss the epic viewpoint of Ballymastocker Beach located just off the road to the south of the beach. The pull-in is a Wild Atlantic Way viewpoint and the view from here is incredible.

Best beaches in Donegal

The Wild Atlantic Way Viewpoint of Ballymastocker Bay

 

Best beaches in Ireland tip: If you’re in the area make sure to try and visit the Great Pollet Sea Arch which is around 20 minutes by car from Ballymastocker Beach. It’s one of the great sea arches in Ireland and is a short walk from the car park.

Great Pollet Sea Arch Donegal

The Great Pollet Sea Arch

 

7 | Rosbeg Beach

The charm of Rosbeg Beach lies in its relatively small size and the views across the bay to the Glencolmcille Peninsula. The beach also looks onto a small rocky bay with an old fishing pier.

At low tide the small rocky islands are exposed and visitors can walk among them. The small uninhabited island of Inishbarnog is the larger of the rock outcrops which you can reach at low tide.

Best beaches in Donegal

Rosbeg Beach

 

 

8 | Narin/Portnoo Beach

The blue flag Narin/Portnoo beach is a great beach for swimming and the long strand is perfect for a relaxing stroll – the beach is well protected from the forces of the Atlantic by the nearby Dunmore head.

At low tide, it is possible to walk to the small island of Inishkeel. The island is home to an old church and stone slabs and is definitely worth a visit. Allowing for the tides lets visitors explore the small island for around 30 minutes before returning to the mainland across the beach

It’s also possible to see the inhabited island of Aranmore from Narin/Portnoo beach.

Best beaches in Donegal

The beautiful strand at Narin/Portnoo

 

 

9 | St Johns Point Beach

St Johns Point is a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic on the southern end of Donegal and is home to one of the county’s most beautiful beaches. The beach at St. Johns Point is a quiet strand around 300 metres long and is perfect for a few hours of relaxation. Due to its easterly facing view, the beach is well sheltered from the waves and wind of the Atlantic.

The views across Donegal Bay are stunning and Mayo and Sligo are visible. A short distance from the beach is one of Ireland most unique places to stay – the St Johns Point Lighthouse. Visitors can actually stay in one of the two light keepers cottages at the lighthouse, aptly named the Clipper and the Schooner, and the lighthouse which is still in operation.

St Johns Point beach

St Johns Point beach

 

 

10 | Culdaff Beach

The popular Blue Flag Culdaff Beach is around a 30 minute drive north of Stroove on the Inishowen Peninsula. The beach is comprised of two parts with a large and small beach separated by a rocky headland. We prefer the smaller of the two beaches as it’s less exposed to the wind, however both beaches can get quite busy on nice days.

Culdaff is very popular for watersports and swimming and usually attracts large crowds on pleasant days.

Culdaff Beach Donegal

Culdaff Beach

 

11 | Maghera Beach and Caves

The beautiful Maghera strand is just one kilometre from the popular Assaranca Waterfall . We loved Maghera as it’s a less well-known beach and doesn’t attract as many people as the other popular Donegal beaches.

There are over 20 caves dotted along the cliffs to the west of Maghera Beach, some of which can be accessed on foot at low tide. It recommended to explore the caves by kayak due to the tides and rising waters and a number of tours operate to the caves.

Best beaches in Donegal

Maghera Beach

 

12 | Five Finger Strand

Nestled behind some of the highest sand dunes in Europe is the beautiful Blue Flag beach of Five Finger Strand. With its rolling sand dunes and beautiful scenery it’s easy to see why Five Finder Strand is considered one the best beaches in Donegal. A stroll along Five Finger strand is likely to be one of the most memorable moments of visiting Donegal.

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: On busy days the narrow road down to Five Finger Strand gets busy and it can be tricky to turn your car. It’s easier to park up the road close to the church and walk down to the beach.

Five Finger Strand Donegal

Five Finger Strand

 

13 | Tullan Strand

Tullan Strand is one of the most popular beaches in Donegal and for good reason. This incredible stretch of white sandy beach is located at the mouth of the Erne River Estuary. There is parking for around 50 cars so, on busy days, it is worth arriving at the beach early to avoid having to walk from Bundoran town.

Tullan strand is a popular surfing location and visitors can take a surf lesson or rent boards from the local surf school.

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: Make sure to check out the cliffs to the south of Tullan Strand which are famous for their stone arch known as the Fairy Bridge.

Tullan Strand Donegal

Tullan Strand

 

14 | Carrickfinn Beach

The pristine Carrickfinn Beach is located parallel to the runway of Donegal Airport. On a good day, the white sands and the pristine turquoise waters of Carrcikfinn Beach could easily be mistaken for somewhere on the Mediterranean. The views across Gweedore Bay make Carrickfinn perfect for a refreshing walk on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s no surprise that Carrickfinn Beach is a regular recipient of the Blue Flag award

Best Beaches in Donegal tip: Donegal Airport was voted the second most scenic in the world. The views from take off and landing of Gweedore Bay and Carrickfinn beach are breathtaking.

 

Carrickfinn Beach

Carrickfinn Beach

 

 

 

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Your Ireland Vacation

 

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Doon Fort, Donegal: Ireland’s Most Unique Fort!

Doon Fort, Donegal: Ireland’s Most Unique Fort!

Doon Fort, Donegal: Ireland’s Most Unique Fort!

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy.

Located on a small island in the middle of a lough Doon Fort is one of the most remarkable sights in County Donegal. The ancient ring fort is believed to be over 1,500 years old and is thought to have been occupied by some of the most prominent families in early medieval Donegal.

We’ve stopped by Doon Fort during our Ireland travels and wanted to share our love for one of Donegal’s hidden gems!

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

Doon Fort

Doon Fort is an ancient ring fort located on a small island in the middle of Lough Doon in the west of Donegal. Its construction is believed to date back over 1,500 years as far back as the 5th Century. The fort is constructed of dry stone and has thick walls which are 15 feet high.

The fort itself is accessed via private land belonging to a local family. In previous years they have provided small boats for rent during the summer months to allow visitors access to the fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

Visiting Doon Fort

Doon Fort is located on private land and is not visible from the road. Boats are sometimes available to rent from the adjacent McHugh Farm and this allows visitors to reach the island and explore the fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

Given the fort’s spectacular location in the middle of Lough Doon the aerial views are magnificent.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

How to get to Doon Fort

Doon Fort is located close to the village of Adara in the West of Donegal. It is less than 15 minutes from the seaside towns of Rossbeg and Portnoo while Donegal Town is 45 minutes drive and Letterkenny just over an hour.

Map of Doon Fort

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

 

 

 

History of Doon Fort

Although the exact date of construction has not been verified Doon Fort is believed to date back as far as the 5th Century. The fort is thought to have been occupied by both the Breslin and O’Boyle clans, some of the most prominent families in early medieval Donegal.

Doon Fort has been designated a National Monument which means its preservation is a matter of national importance and the GAP Heritage and History Group is responsible for its conservation.

Doon Fort Donegal

Doon Fort

 

Other sights to check out near Doon Fort

Rossbeg Strand and Portnoo/Narin Beach are both less than 15 minutes away from Doon Fort.

Doon Fort Donegal

Rossbeg

Doon Fort Donegal

Portnoo/Narin

Doon Fort Donegal

Portnoo/Narin

Another historical site, the Kilcooney Dolmen, is located a few minutes drive from Doon Fort.  It is one of the most spectacular Dolmens in Ireland and is believed to date back as far as 3,000 BC.

Doon Fort Donegal

Kilcooney Dolmen

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland