The Irish Times Best Place to Holiday in Ireland competition attracted more than 1,400 nominations.
In all the places I have been in the world, Dingle and it's glorious peninsula, is the best. Picturesque describes it well although it is more beautiful than one can explain.
As you enter through the precarious winding road over Brandon Mountain range, and make your descent, you see one of the most beautiful scenes you will ever behold. Sparkling seas dotted with islands, green rolling hills with stone fencing and a little town nestled beside the sea in a magnificently quaint little harbour.
Approaching the town, with its narrow little streets and colourful housing, it is just as you imagine Ireland to be. It's local community does not disappoint - oozing friendliness and a sense of fun from it's people, shops and local eating and drinking places (of which there are many!!!).
It is a place you will never forget and one that you will pine to return to. Once experiencing it's history, culture and beauty and charm - there is just no comparison.
Driving around Slea Head Drive where you can view the Blasket Islands, and see places that were filmed on location in 'Ryan's Daughter', visit little towns like Ballydavid and sit and have a beer beside the sea at it's quaint little pub.
There are heritage sites galore and fabulous mountain and hiking trails to take throughout the ranges. Taking a trip out in the Dingle Harbour you will always get a visit from the local icon, 'Fungi' the Dolphin. He has been living and entertaining in the area for twenty years or more.
The township itself is filled with fabulous shops of every description and enough Irish pubs, most with music, to go to one every week of the year!!! The streets are divine, weaving up and down and in and out of the town in every direction, mostly walking pace.
There is something for everyone and many fabulous restaurants to please any traveller. Loads of B&B accommodation, not to mention hotels, motels, self-contained rooms and holiday housing. Definitely something for everyone.
Dingle's natural environment is something to behold. It's green rolling hills dotted with sheep, stone hand-made fencing, leading you directly down to the seashore is breathtakingly beautiful.
The township is gloriously Irish with it's colourful housing, narrow winding streets and fabulous shopping with eating/drinking places to keep you busy for hours at a time - often into the wee hours of the morning!
The beautiful harbour is home to many a regatta and local fishing boats set out early each morning, bringing in large catches of fresh seafood daily.
The activities that are available are in all shapes and sizes; ranging from hiking and climbing, to swimming in the beach and snorkeling. You can also go fishing and out on a boat, either chartered or on a cruise around the Blasket Islands. There is a wonderful golf course and many heritage walks to follow on foot or by car.
Dingle is very culturally diverse with it's own theatre society and a local cinema. Many of the local shops have local pieces of artwork, craft work, wood work, knitted items, jewellery, tourist memorabilia and clothing.
The township celebrates all Irish traditional festivals, such as: St Patrick's Day and Halloween; but it also celebrates an annual Film Festival and has many local cultural events, including art exhibitions and music festivals. They celebrate all of these in true style and with many tourists and locals enjoying the festivities.
There are many local pubs that have music every night of the week, and others every weekend - drawing many visitors and locals alike. Local horse racing takes place as well with a fabulous cross-country style race course in a local farmers paddock, with a grandstand and all - a treat to behold!
Families are more than well catered for with a local swimming pool, great playgrounds and beautiful areas to run and discover the natural environment. The local cinema is popular, especially in holiday times.
There are quite a number of ways to enter the peninsula. the easiest being by car. You enter by car via the Brandon Mountain Range from Tralee or you can come from County Clare via Ferry from Talbot.
There are a number of 'local' roads, although they are quite narrow and windy, something that can be a bit dangerous when you are not familiar with the road. You can fly, although you would still need to drive the last part of the journey.
When travelling through Dingle, I did see many people riding bikes over the mountains to Dingle and buses do come and go on a daily basis quite regularly. There are local car and bike rental places in both Dingle and Tralee for those wishing to use this service.
Once in Dingle township, it is easiest to park your car on the way into the township, nearest to the harbour, due to the narrow streets and limited car spaces within the township itself. There are a number of large car parks that are clearly signposted for convenience.
The town is not very large and the streets wind and cross one another in a small area - very pretty and accessible easily on foot - the easiest way to get around for sure!
Eating and drinking
Dingle has a plethora of local food and produce that is on constant display in it's many restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, hotels and bars. Many of the local shops pose as both a 'shop' and a 'pub' - a very clever way to earn a living all day long and into the night. There are about 52 drinking spots in Dingle of all shapes and sizes, with most having 'jam sessions' from local musicians nightly, as well a fabulous array of Irish singers and musicians constantly 'gigging' for all to enjoy.
The restaurants and eating places are a-plenty too. From the highly acclaimed, award winning 'Doyles' Restaurant to a vast array of seafood, Indian, Asian, Mexican style restaurants as well as plenty of café and coffee shops to sit and enjoy for the majority of the day.
You never walk far to find any of these food eateries, with many on the High Street, but also along side streets and even on the Marina and Harbour frontage. Late at night - 'Chippers' - are plentiful around the township - for those late night 'munchies'.
All options of accommodation are plentiful in Dingle. Simple one night hotel/motel accommodation, to long stay housing and a plethora of B&B style accommodation as well as a number of different style Hostels, found both in the township and on the outskirts of town.
Due to the many 'hamlets' and 'villages' on the Dingle Peninsula, there are also many of all these types of accommodation in each of the smaller townships in the area - making for a vast array of travelers and local Irish to visit and holiday for as little or as long as they like.
There are a vast array of shopping experiences to be had in Dingle and it's surrounding area, including the beautiful 'Slea Head Drive'. A large local supermarket is available and open seven days a week. There are also many local shops selling local produce - fruit, vegetables, jams,, chutneys.
Retail wise there is everything imaginable from clothing for both men and women, surf shops, shoes, chemists, newsagency, hairdressers, shoe repairs, hardware, building supplies, tourist memorabilia, celtic, local artists, arts and crafts, wool and angora products, local jewelers, outdoor clothing and sports items. Due to
Dingle being very touristy, there are some amazing gift shops and local galleries of Dingle Peninsula scenery and paintings - as well as an array of local crafts on display.
There are also a number of independent clothing shops - but not many, if any, big chains of clothing shops. This is a feature of Dingle - quaint, local and unique.
Mrs Kylie L Smith