In the 2006 census, more than 15 percent of Canadians claimed to be of full or partial Irish descent. (Full disclosure: I am one of those!). Except on St. Patrick’s Day—when that number seemingly rises to 99 percent—and pubs and fast food joints churn out everything from green beer to green milkshakes.
It’s no surprise then that Ireland is one of the most popular European countries for Canadian travellers to visit. With its warm and friendly people and local lore filled with tales of leprechauns and Blarney stones, what’s not to like?
If you yearn to get to know the real Ireland—the history, the people, the iconic rolling landscapes—then heading to some of its picture-perfect villages is the way to go. And one great way of doing that is to hike one of the country’s finest long-distance walking trails: the 179-kilometre Dingle Way.
Looping around the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry in the country’s southwest corner, the trail begins and ends in the quaint town of Tralee. Staying in B&Bs and local guesthouses, this tour weaves beneath and across the area’s highest mountains, and passes by castle ruins, archaeological monuments and golden sandy beaches. There are quaint villages along route as well as cool crashing Atlantic surf, towering cliffs and endless carpets of wildflowers (in season!).
A hearty full Irish breakfast starts each day, with lunch often taken in a country pub and a long list of recommended restaurants and local pubs for dinner.
At the mid-point of your eight-day trek there’s a scheduled day of rest in the town of Dingle. Although it only has a population of 1,965 (and one extremely friendly wild bottlenose dolphin named Fungie, who has hung around the town’s bay since 1983), the ancient town offers no fewer than 52 pubs, many with live traditional Irish music—all of which means you may need another day of rest just to recover from rest day!
- Phone: 800.597.5594
- Length/Departs: 8 days/Mar. to Oct.
- Accommodation: B&Bs, guesthouses
- Starting Price: US$1,595
- Difficulty: Moderate