The picturesque Slea Head Drive goes from Dingle around the Dingle Peninsula and returns back to Dingle. On the way you’ll pass through several small towns, including Ventry, Dunquin, and Ballyferriter. The views around Ventry and Dunquin are the most spectacular, but do benefit significantly with some good weather.
Heading north out of Dingle, continue on the roundabout following the signs to Slea Head. Take your time and drive slowly. The roads are very narrow and winding, and often walkers and bikers are around the next corner. There are sites to see along the way, including the Fahan Beehive huts, Dunbeg Stone fort and the Famine Cottage.
Near Ventry, keep an eye out for boats in the harbor. The last time we passed through there was a large three-masted sailing ship at anchor. You can park down by the water in a car park halfway through town. The bathrooms were terrifying, so don’t stop for that purpose.
Outside of Ventry, the road begins to climb, and you rise higher away from the water. Take advantage of turnouts to stop and take pictures. Late afternoon towards sunset is a nice time to be on Slea Head for pictures. Slea Head itself is marked by a statue of the Crucifixion. At this point, the road is barely one lane and can be scary if you meet a tour bus or another car. A short distance down the road is a small parking area just above Dunquin. This is the best spot to park for viewing the scenery and pictures. To the Northwest are the Blasket Islands. Directly ahead the water crashes into the bay below. Near sunset, the light is fantastic and falls across the islands and hills.
Down the road a short distance is a large gift shop with some interesting items and decent prices. At this point you’re probably ready for a pint or cup of tea and a scone. There are several small cafes, gift shops, and pubs in and around Dunquin that will serve those needs. Kruger’s, in Dunquin, pours a good pint, or you could wait and try one of the pubs in Ballyferriter. We had some of the best food we’d eaten in Ireland in Ballyferriter in 2002. Sadly, that pub is closed, replaced by a hotel where I ate some bad beef and kidney pie. All along the way from Dunquin to Ballyferriter there are wonderful photo opportunities, including the Ryan’s Daughter cove, the Dunquin pier, and Clougher Head.
Take side roads if the mood strikes you. You can’t really get lost as all roads, head back towards Dingle or a main road.
Continue on through Ballyferriter by Tigh Bhric pub and towards the Gallarus Oratory. Follow the signs back towards Dingle that take you up and over the hills. Watch for Rahinnane Castle to the West after you start your descent.
This is a route you can take many times while you are in the area and always see or discover something new.