Hidden along Cork’s south coast, the picturesque town of Kinsale is the start or end (depending on what direction you are travelling) of the famous Wild Atlantic Way coastal drive, and one of the most popular holiday destinations in Cork. The ‘Gourmet Food Capital of Ireland’, Kinsale has built up a reputation for great food and boasts several fine pubs and restaurants. With a stunning harbour and so many historic sites to explore, a weekend break to Kinsale could be just what you need this Easter. To whet your appetite, here’s a 48-hour guide to this beautiful town.
Day One – Start With a Walking Tour of the Town
Begin your 48-hour stay in Kinsale by getting out and exploring the town on foot. There are several walking tours available in the area, including the Kinsale Ghost Tour, but the most popular walk of them all is the Heritage Town Walk with Dermot Ryan. Kinsale is a town with huge historic significance in Cork and was the first port of call for many settlers arriving in Ireland in days gone by.
Visit the town’s tourist office and book yourself into one of the hugely entertaining and informative tours from Dermot Ryan. The tour is an illustrated tour showcasing the history of the area and sharing stories of some of its most famous sites including the 800-year-old Church of Saint Multose and Desmond Castle & the International Museum of Wine. On the tour, you will also find out about the famous 1601 Battle of Kinsale along with tales of the Great Famine and Pirates in the area. A great way to get to know the area a bit better.
Time For Lunch
Your walk will no doubt have worked up a bit of an appetite so be sure to stop by one of the towns many popular cafes and grab a bit of lunch. Lemon Leaf Café, Hamlets of Kinsale and Bastion all provide great lunch menus, although you really are spoilt for choice in this part of Ireland. Visit Kinsale.ie for a full list of cafes and restaurants in the area.
Explore the History of Charles Fort
Now that you’re fed and watered, it’s time to head off and further explore the history of Kinsale. Next up, Charles Fort. Charles Fort is perhaps the best known of all Kinsale’s historic attractions and is open all year with guided tours available. You can explore the fort at your own leisure if you wish, and this impressive 17th Century Fort provides wonderful views of the surrounding area, including views over to another famous Kinsale landmark, the Old Head of Kinsale. Prepare to do plenty of walking around the 20 acres of ground at the fort, as you explore its significant past, including its role in the Williamite War and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23.
Continue Your Exploration of Forts at James’s Fort
Another fort dating back to the 17th Century, James’s Fort is located across the harbour from Charles Fort, and on a good day will give you a great vantage point for photos of the scenic Kinsale Harbour and townland. James’s Fort is a great area to explore at your own leisure after a long walk around Charles Fort, and while the Fort and Castle have deteriorated significantly over time, it’s still a highlight of any trip to Kinsale, and well worth stopping off at. Once you have finished exploring the two forts, make your way back towards the town and get ready to relax for the night.
Wine, Dine and Call it a Night
Following a day of walking and exploration, relax and watch the sunset over the Old Head of Kinsale as you enjoy a drink and some great food in one of the many great bars and restaurants in the town. The Black Pig and Fishy Fishy Café were both recently named in the McKenna Good Food Guide for 2017, while Bastion, Twisted, Finns’ Table, Toddies, Max’s and Fishy Fishy were all named in the 2017 Michelin Guide.
Day Two – Start With a Walk Along the Harbour
Begin your second day exploring Kinsale by taking a leisurely stroll along the charming harbour area of the town. If you’re feeling energetic you could check out the popular 6.5km Maritime Walk which leaves from Bulman’s Pub (a bar well worth frequenting in later in the evening). The walk lasts 3 hours so do take this into consideration, and loops around both Charles and James’s Fort. The route is very much dependant on the weather, but if it’s a clear day this is a great way to explore the coast of Kinsale, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a school of Dolphin’s, Seals or Whales.
Next up, the Old Head of Kinsale
After exploring the harbour area, next stop is the Old Head of Kinsale, one of 15 signature points along the Wild Atlantic Way. With plenty to see and explore at the Old Head, be sure to give yourself a few hours here.
For any golfing enthusiasts among you, consider booking 18 holes at the Old Head Golf Links, one of the finest courses in Ireland. As you stand on the tee box ready to tee-off, you’ll feel like you’re on the edge of the world. This is a golfing experience you will remember for years to come, and at a cost of €170 in the low season and €280 in the high season, the Old Head attracts serious golfing enthusiasts from all over the world throughout the year.
If you’re not a golf fan, don’t worry, there’s plenty to keep you occupied at the Old Head of Kinsale. One of Ireland’s most stunning coastal areas, the rugged cliffs at the Old Head of Kinsale will create wonderful picture moments while providing another adventurous walk for you to explore (the Old Head of Kinsale Loop is a 6km walk).
Discover the Story of Lusitania
Head to the very tip where you will see the Old Head Lighthouse and the ancient ruins of a fort built by the Celts over 3,000 years ago. This is the site where the RMS Lusitania sank back in 1915 after it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The wreckage remains in the waters off the Old Head of Kinsale. A memorial for the 1198 people who died on Lusitania is located near the Old Head of Kinsale while town’s museum tells the story of The Lusitania, and indeed the Battle of Kinsale. Make the museum your next stop as you arrive back in the town following your trek around the Old Head.
Explore the Shops and Cobbled Streets of the Town
Once you’ve finished exploring the Old Head, make your way back into town and grab some lunch before taking the time to check out the many shops in the area, including some wonderful craft shops, galleries and boutique shops. Be sure to check out Quays Food Company and take a taste of Ireland’s Gourmet Food Capital home with you and check out the master craftsmanship at the Kinsale Crystal.
Relax and Unwind
After another long day exploring the beauty and history of Kinsale, relax down by the harbour or visit one of the town’s popular bars and enjoy a traditional music session and a drink with the locals. Kinsale really is a jewel in the Cork Crown, and perfect for a weekend break that is all about discovery. With a deep history and a story to discover at every turn, Kinsale really is a place that needs to be on every Irish person’s travel bucket list. With so much to see and do in the country, get out and explore what’s on your doorstep, and consider Kinsale as the perfect starting point.
Plan your Break to Kinsale Today
For more information on things to see and do in Kinsale, visit www.kinsale.ie.
Images courtesy of Fáilte Ireland