driving the dingle peninsula loop & other misadventures

the-romantic-the-winoWhen an ocean suddenly separates you from your best friend, you don’t ask questions. You pick a week, book a flight, and meet up on the Emerald Isle for a vacation full of absurdity. Bonus points if that week includes one of your birthdays, an epic roadtrip around the Dingle Peninsula, AND St. Paddy’s Day.

There’s no question that we experienced a lifetime’s worth of unexpected adventures (…and misadventures) during our self-planned road trip across Ireland and around the Slea Head Loop on the Dingle Peninsula.

Should you plan your own trek across the homeland of our ancestors, we, as always, have a few pointers.

Always stop for castles.

When you’re driving across a country as beautiful as Ireland, it’s not your typical “no stops til we reach our destination!” sort of road trip. There are three things you should always stop for: a pint, sheep, and castles. On our way from Dublin to Dingle, we stopped to enjoy bagels outside Ballaghmore Castle. Though we didn’t get to explore the interior, we sat outside, eating breakfast and using our pitstop as a serious photo op. AKA perfection.

Bring along a responsible co-pilot.

For Americans, driving on the opposite side of the road in a foreign country can be terrifying. This terror magnifies when the one passenger who holds a valid driver’s license wants to sit in the backseat, snapping photographs and enjoying the scenery. We recommend bringing along at least one reliable, even-tempered friend. Ideally, pick someone who can sit upfront alongside you and calm you down when you veer too close to the road’s edge. Or, you know, when a stray sheep runs out in front of your car.

Don’t discriminate.

Our intention was to drive straight through from Dublin to Dingle, but naturally, our lack of knowledge concerning traffic circles lead us to more than a few wrong turns. Thankfully, this meant we added some unforeseen destinations to our itinerary, including Inch Strand, and later, the beautiful town of Killarney. When it comes to choosing road trip  destinations, don’t be picky. Every Irish town is as beautiful as the next.

It’s ok if you park like an idiot.

Chances are, you won’t bother anyone in the Irish countryside. Plus, you’ll get closer to the spectacular views.


the romantic & the wino




  1. the Hubs
    July 6, 2012 / 10:34

    Well, we’ve rented an SUV for 6 days while we’re in Costa Rica, so I’m sure there will be some unexpected adventures to share following that experience…

      • Francesca
        July 6, 2012 / 20:20

        Not to freak you out or anything, but my “the hubs” and I had quite the (mis)adventure in Costa Rica with our rented 4×4 SUV. It involved lots of mud, ropes, and flailing Ticos.

  2. July 6, 2012 / 13:30

    There were 3 of us in a campervan when we did the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle Peninsula and there wasn’t a placid one among us, but the scenery surely was beautiful.

    • July 6, 2012 / 14:04

      oh, i can’t even imagine if we were in a CAMPERVAN. it would have been… comical? horrifying? i’m not sure which is the right word.

  3. July 6, 2012 / 20:34

    My home away from home! I love Ireland, and your pictures made me completely miss it!

  4. July 6, 2012 / 21:28

    Ireland is on my definite list and I WILL stop at every castle and park HOWEVER I want.

  5. July 7, 2012 / 09:06

    @francesca – you need to elaborate! i’m already nervous that we’ll be there during the rainy season!

  6. July 7, 2012 / 13:14

    Yes, you must always stop for castles! The pictures are beautiful, as always! 🙂

  7. July 7, 2012 / 21:32

    I just did this exact trip in April. The Dingle Peninsula is where it’s at…forget the Ring of Kerry. I took my best friend and was the driver at all times. I figured my recent driving in New Zealand made me the most qualified. I didn’t hit one thing, just in case you were wondering.

    • Lazy Travelers
      July 9, 2012 / 16:15

      between the backseat driver refusing to get behind the wheel and the fact that the romantic hadn’t driven in almost a year, the wino was the safest bet, even with her expired license… but she didn’t hit anything, either!

  8. July 9, 2012 / 20:44

    i had an unexpected adventure in April of 2010. it really didn’t have to do with driving though. i got stuck over in Budapest when the Icelandic volcano erupted. i could have still used some navigation though. it was mighty fun to get “lost” in Europe for an extended period of time! 🙂

    • Lazy Travelers
      July 9, 2012 / 22:08

      ahh so many people we knew were stuck because of the volcano! we have to admit, we were a little jealous.

  9. July 9, 2012 / 22:05

    Great post and photos – have always said Kerry is Ireland’s most beautiful county, this post brings back happy memories of childhood holidays- love the beach pic at the end:)

    • Lazy Travelers
      July 9, 2012 / 22:08

      it was gorgeous–cannot wait to go back!

  10. July 10, 2012 / 05:39

    Hahaha, driving on the left might me”somewhat” of an issue for me, but don’t even get me started on traffic circles or roundabouts!! I remember them from Poland and they were nightmarish even with people driving on the right.

    Sounds like a great trip. 😛 😀
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Melodies and Travel MemoriesMy Profile

    • Lazy Travelers
      July 10, 2012 / 10:54

      i really think we need to start filming our misadventures. we DO have video of a group of irishmen we coerced into serenading us on st. paddy’s while we yell at them for being flat. maybe that will get posted here someday?

  11. July 10, 2012 / 20:17

    I have yet to rent a car in a foreign country. I must try it sometime. I have always done buses or trains. Must give it a shot. I am inspired by your misadventures.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Puebla Historic Center photo essayMy Profile

    • Lazy Travelers
      July 10, 2012 / 21:47

      we definitely recommend it! aside from leading to absurd adventures, it makes for a new way to see the country.

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