Top places to explore in County Cork, Ireland

Within the confines of the 2020 lockdown, I found myself exploring a lot more of my local area so I have compiled a list of top places to explore in the rebel county of Cork.

Ballycotton Cliff Walk

Located in East Cork, about a 40 minute drive from Cork city lies the small seaside village of Ballycotton, here you will find a cliff walk that extends approximately 7 km along the coastline where you will be able to take in the stunning views of the Ballycotton lighthouse and make your way down to the pebble beaches along the route.

Difficulty: Easy

Time to complete: 2 hours

Nearby towns: Ballycotton, Midleton, Youghal

Gougane Barra

Located just west of the Cork town of Macroom, on the Cork and Kerry border, Gougane Barra is a stunning national park and wooded area. With many loop walks and viewpoints, it is an ideal place for a picnic and a hike. You could really spend hours wandering around here!

Difficulty: Loop walks and hikes for all levels

Nearby towns: Macroom

The Old Head of Kinsale

Located just 15 minutes from the town of Kinsale, the old head is home to one of Ireland’s most famous golf courses. Walk around this area for gorgeous views of the Altantic coastline.

Difficulty: Easy

Nearby towns: Kinsale, Ballinspittle

Garrettstown Beach and Cliff Walk

Garrettstown beach is one of Ireland’s best surfing beaches in the country, located just 15 to 20 minutes from Kinsale town. Take a walk from Garrettstown beach to its sister beach ‘Garry Lucas’ or head for a walk along the Garrettstown cliff to find hidden beaches, arches and coastal views.

Difficulty: Easy

Nearby towns: Kinsale, Ballinspittle

Barleycove Beach

Barleycove is one of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches. Located in West Cork approximately 1.5 hours from Cork city lies this peaceful haven. Its unique sand dunes and estuaries set it apart from other beaches in the country. It is a popular area for camping with the local caravan park and campsite less than 5 minutes drive from the beach.

Nearby towns: Schull, Crookhaven

Mizen Head

Located 20 minutes from the seaside town of Schull lies Ireland’s most Southwesterly point, Mizen head. Here you can take a walk across the bridge connecting the mainland with the lighthouse, the perfect place for wildlife spotting.

Nearby towns: Schull, Crookhaven

The Beara Peninsula (Allihies, Eyeries & Ardgroom)
Eyeries, Co. Cork

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Cork city – head for the Beara Peninsula, aka the Beara Way where you will likely find a larger population of sheep than people. Located approximately a two hour drive from Cork city, the coastal drive will take along the narrow roads with amazing views, you will pass through the colourful and sleepy villages of Eyeries, Ardgroom and Allihies. You will pass the copper mines which helped to form the beach of Allihies and from there you can take an hour long loop walk along the coast with views of the Beara Way. There are a lot of other sign posted loop walks that you can take along the Peninsula.

Sheep of Eyeries

Difficulty: Loop walks for all levels

The Glenbeg Lough of Ardgroom is not to be missed. You can walk the narrow road along the lake or climb the surrounding mountain for beautiful views which extend from the Beara way to Kenmare bay and views overlooking the lake.

Glenbeg Lough, Ardgoom

Difficulty: Intermediate

Time to hike: 1 hour

Baltimore Beacon
Baltimore beacon

Located in West Cork about an hour and a half drive from the city, Baltimore is a small coastal village. From the village you can take a walk up to the beacon for gorgeous coastal views.

Difficulty: easy

Nearby towns: Glandore, Skibbereeen, Clonakilty

Other activities: Baltimore is also home to West Cork Whale Watch during the summer season. Book your spot on one of their boats which will bring you about an hour out into sea to find humpback whales and dolphins.

Nohoval Cove
Novohal Cove sea stacks

A hidden gem nestled along the coast of the tiny village of Nohoval about 15 minutes drive from Kinsale town. At this cove you will find a pebble beach and coastal climb which exposes beautiful views of the sea stacks and the Irish coastline.

Published by What Lorna Saw Next - Travel

Hello, I'm Lorna! I enjoy backpacking around the world and writing about it. I hope to share my experiences and inspire you with travel recommendations and tips.

10 thoughts on “Top places to explore in County Cork, Ireland

  1. Having spent most of our visit in the northern two-thirds of the island, we hopped down to Cork just to see where Alie’s grandfather embarked for the US around 1903. We shall have to go back to see some of these beautiful places.

    Liked by 1 person

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