On our recent trip to Ireland, one of the favorite things we did was the Slea Head Drive. The country itself is just so beautiful, but this area, in particular, was one of the best of the best! Let me share all you will need to know to make your drive just as enjoyable as our ride was.
This isn't the only post I have written about Ireland. I also wrote how to hit Northern Ireland and Ireland in 10 days. Or how about visiting Giant's Causeway information. I loved that area as well! I also posted about 4 day trips we took from Galway. If you are spending time in Dublin, how about my 24-hour guide.
Information On Slea Head
Slea Head (Slí Cheann Sléibhe) is a circular drive that is part of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is littered with many beautiful vistas and plenty of pull-offs and parking lots to enjoy them.
It is easily one of the best coastal routes I have ever been on. Trust me, you will be in awe!
The drive is 47 kilometers, so it is not a difficult drive to make.
It is located on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. It starts and stops in the Dingle, the cutest coastal town we saw. You can easily navigate onto the Slea Head from town. Let me suggest checking out the town as part of the trip too. There was great shopping, restaurants, and views. If you can, stay a few days in Dingle. On our next trip, we will definitely stay more time in Dingle.
When you are ready to begin, simply look for the signs for Slea Head Drive R559. From here, you will be able to see exactly where to go and follow the signs.
Driving clockwise will give you the best views, otherwise, you are driving on the side away from the coast.
While you can easily make this drive in about an hour, or less judging by how fast the locals drove, take your time. We did the drive in about 2 hours and for us, that was enough time to see what we wanted to see.
In warmer weather, we would have certainly taken more time to get out and enjoy the beaches and hikes.
Tips For The Drive
- It is best enjoyed at an easy pace. I know you might be tempted to rush through this area to get to the next site, but I promise this is worth the time.
- I know there are tours that run this road, but self-driving will give you the freedom of exploring how and when you want to.
- It might feel intimidating driving on the left-hand side of the road and with narrow roads, but it might not be as bad as you imagine. We drove the 10 days we were in the country. While it was scary, and there was a learning curve, it actually was pretty manageable. This is a road you will need to drive on the left-hand side.
- You might need to pull over to let other bigger vehicles pass you by.
- The drive is well marked. We never worried we were on the wrong road, it was simple to follow.
- There are pedestrians, cyclists, and animals on the roadway. This is another great reason to take your time on this drive.
- If you are traveling in the busy summer months at the height of tourist season, know the road will be extra busy. We went in the shoulder season and earlier in the morning, it was perfect. There were a few others on the road, but not many.
- Be respectful of the area. Whatever you bring in, take it out with you.
- Driving clockwise will give you the best views.
Shopping And Eating In Dingle
Dingle is the cutest town! I cannot recommend you take some time here strongly enough.
Listen to me here- go eat ice cream at Murphy's Ice Cream. We first tried it in Galway, not expecting much, but I was blown away. It was so good. Want to know what flavor I liked the best? Brown bread. I know, I know, it sounds weird, but it is really good! If you are an adventurous eater, try it! If not, stick with something safe.
There are a lot of little boutiques in Dingle for shopping. We hit plenty of them and this is where we bought most of the things we bought home from Ireland. The prices are good and they have a great selection.
The town is close and easy to make your way around. Park the car, if you rented one, and walk around town.
There are so many great restaurants and if you arrive later in the evening you can enjoy some awesome Trad music.
What To See
There is plenty to see on the drive, but let me name a few of our favorites. For one, the sheep. They are everywhere and feel like they were made for the rugged coast and scenery.
The drive is made with designated pull-offs all along the way. Take advantage of these. Park and take in the view. I was using my DSLR and the drone. I recommend a good wide-angle lens to be able to capture it all.
Stop at the Beehive huts. It is a short hike and costs a few euros, but it is well worth it. The history is fascinating and the scenery is second to none. It is up on a hill that overlooks the coast. It is the first stop we came to on the drive.
Dunbeg Fort. We opted out of this one as we had seen several forts on the trip already. I think in nice weather this is a must. We were there in March and it was a little cold and blustery.
Blasket Islands. These are uninhabited islands, but there were habited up until the 1950s. They are beautiful and easily viewed on one of the pull-offs.
Dunmore Head. This is a stop along that way that is rumored to be a filming scene of several scenes in The Last Jedi. It was a really cool area. You will hike up a small hill to get the best views. My boys and husband hiked up, and I hiked down to the beach. Both sides of the view were incredible.
Gallarus Oratory. We did not stop here, we actually missed this and Dunquin Pier. Don't blink or they will be gone! We were back in Dingle before we knew it.
Make sure to spend plenty of time in the town as well. We enjoyed it so much!