Things to do in West Cork
Oriental beauty at GARNISH ISLAND
Expect the unexpected at these oriental gardens just off the West Cork coast! Check out a horticultural oasis on an island within Glengarriff Harbour and see the Gulf Stream in full effect. Garinish Island blooms with astounding oriental and southern hemisphere plant life in these beautifully-designed and uniquely-placed gardens.
Stretching for miles of picture perfect white sands, secluded dunes and the rhythm of lapping waves, Inchydoney is on just about every beach-lover’s to-do list. Only a few miles from Clonakilty, you can indulge in great grub after your day by Blue Flag the sea shore. Even the twisty road to get there is an adventure!
With a vertiginous suspension bridge to give you the wobbles, a historic signal station, wildlife on tap and lighthouse views to boot, Mizen Head is Ireland’s most south-westerly point and a fine way to experience the county’s exceptional windswept scenery.
OLD HEAD OF KINSALE
Yes, it’s home to a world-class golf course and an eye-catching lighthouse but the Old Head of Kinsale also offers an incredible vantage point over the crashing Atlantic that is an Instagram-lover’s dream. A headland that juts some 3km out to sea, you can even take a boat cruise around it and be wowed by its majesty from below.
BANTRY HOUSE & GARDENS
This 17th Century residence gives an amazing glimpse into the life and travels of the 2nd Earl of Bantry, Richard White. Having collected art and treasures from all over the world, today’s visitors can view his vast collection in his stunning ancestral mansion. With seven leafy Italian-style terraces, the gardens are just as impressive as the house.
Accessible by Ireland’s only cable car, a breezy 250m above the sea, Dursey Island is the most westerly of Cork’s inhabited. Ideal for a real off-grid day trip, you’ll find three small villages, a beautiful walking trail, ancient church ruins and not a pub, or shop, in sight.
Between the West Cork towns of Skibbereen and Baltimore sits Ireland’s very first designated Marine Nature Reserve, its only salt water lake and arguably the world’s most studied body of water, mesmerising Lough Hyne. Investigated by marine biologists for centuries, its unique eco-system runs on warm oxygenated seawater, making this marine marvel home to over 70 fish species.
One of the largest military forts in the country and probably one of the most picturesque with its elevation above the sea, Kinsale’s Charles Fort has seen its share of history from the 17th century right up to the Irish Civil War in 1922. Stroll its lush green star-shaped fortifications and get a real feel for its place in the history books. Don’t forget to stop off at the tea rooms!
Following this weather-beaten stretch of land you’ll take in scenic towns and villages like Glengarriff, Adrigole, Castletownbere, Allihies and more, all while drinking in Atlantic views, mountain vistas and endless photographic pit-stops. At some stage, you’ll return to reality but just…not yet!
A great coastal area for spotting our fin and flippered friends, enjoy your pick of whale watching tours and cruises in County Cork. Get your splash-proof cameras ready as you’ve good chances of seeing Humpback, Fin, Minke and Killer Whales in all their majesty, not to mention dolphins, porpoises and seals too.