Haven Coast

Bantry to Kinsale

2 Days
  • Beaches
  • Food & Drink
  • Activity Breaks
  • History & Heritage
  • Blarney Castle

Haven Coast will see you explore the very tip of Ireland as you visit Ireland’s Teardrop, Mizen Head, the most southern point of Ireland.  Like so much of the Wild Atlantic Way, this stretch of coastline is rugged and beautiful in equal measure. Indeed, the true beauty of Cork lies in its many towns and villages, and the coastal towns of the South West of Cork are the jewel in ‘The Rebel’ crown.

While Mizen Head is the highlight signature point of this road trip, there is no shortage of things to see and do.  Sheep’s Head Peninsula is a designated European Destination of Excellence, while the seaside towns of Baltimore, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Kinsale have a natural charm that will capture your imagination and leave you with memories for years to come.  Your final stop is the popular town of Kinsale, the gourmet food capital of Ireland.  Food is a way of life in this part of Cork, so awaken your taste buds to the taste of Cork in Kinsale.  The stunning Old Head of Kinsale is the other signature point along this route.

Day 1

Bantry to Baltimore

Your first day exploring Haven Coast will see you travel along the stunningly impressive Sheep’s Head Peninsula, before taking a step at the most southern point in Ireland, Mizen Head.  Lastly, you’ll visit the town of Baltimore where you can spend time on coast or at sea looking for whales and dolphins, or explore the small islands off the Baltimore coast.

Sheep’s Head Peninsula

Leaving Bantry, it’s a short drive to Sheep’s Head and the Sheep’s Head Peninsula.  This area is also know an Muntervary and is a designated European Destination of Excellence.  This unspoiled peninsula is perfect for exploring on foot or bike, with a number of routes just waiting to be discovered.  If you wish to explore the whole area, the Sheep’s Head Way is a 200km route of unspoiled, natural beauty.

Watersports are particularly popular around Sheep’s Head with scuba diving, kayaking and sailing attracting visitors throughout the year, while the more adventurous among you can try your hand at rock climbing.  At the very tip of the peninsula, you’ll find Sheep’s Head Lighthouse, providing a great photo opportunity and great view of the surrounding area.  With many pubs and cafes along the peninsula, you’ll never be stuck for things to do.  Leaving Sheep’s Head, make your way towards the town of Durrus and onward to your next stop, Mizen Head.

Onward to Ireland’s Teardrop

Durrus is your entry to Ireland’s teardrop, better known as Mizen Head, the most southern point of Ireland.  This area is known as Ireland’s teardrop, as it was the last sight of the Emerald Isle for many as they set sail for pastures new.  As with the Sheep’s Head Peninsula from your previous stop, this is another stunning piece of coastline, combining jagged rocks and rugged cliffs with the foaming waters of the wild Atlantic.  When travelling along Haven Coast, this is simply a must see.

With a long maritime heritage, Mizen Head’s dramatic views and landscape will take your breath away (quite literally).  You can get to know a little bit more about Mizen Head by visiting the Mizen Head Visitor Centre and Maritime Museum before trekking down the 99 steps of the coastal path to be at one with the ocean.  Cross the bridge from the mainland and explore the Mizen Head Signal Station, which has stood the test of time and the force of Mother Nature for over 100 years.  Grab a quick coffee and a snack before returning to civilisation and making the short trip to the town of Baltimore for your last stop on day one.

Whale and dolphin watching at Baltimore

The picturesque harbour at Baltimore Bay provides the perfect backdrop to call it a night, any time of the year as you travel Haven Coast.  A popular fishing village, Baltimore is another of Cork’s famous culinary hotspots, while tours of the surrounding islands are popular with visitors.  Indeed, it is water based activities that draw many visitors to this part of Ireland with sailing, angling and diving all popular across the year.

There is one water based activity that is the jewel in the crown though, and that is whale and dolphin watching.  The Voyager boat or Baltimore Sea Safari are just two ways to get closer to these amazing animals.  For those of you less comfortable with being on water, golf, walking, hiking, horse-riding and crafts are among the many popular land based activities enjoyed by visitors to Baltimore.  The town also has a series of festivals across the year.  Call it a night by dining in one of the popular restaurants or bars in the town, and get ready for your final day on Haven Coast, as you continue to head east towards the wonderful town of Kinsale.

Day 2

Baltimore to Kinsale

Your second day exploring Haven Coast will be a little less hectic as you can take your time to meander through the towns of Skibereen, Clonakilty and Kinsale.  From here, you’re well placed to continue exploring County Cork, with Cork City a short drive from Kinsale.  Other towns to explore near Cork City, are Blarney (home of Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone), Cobh and Midleton.

Visit the market town of Skibereen

The beauty of Cork lies in its many towns and villages, and West Cork’s capital town, Skibereen is one place that showcases this beauty both through its people and its surrounding landscapes.  Make this popular town your first stop off as you travel from Baltimore.  With many boutique shops in the town, you’ll be sure to pick up a gift or two as you head onward to Kinsale.

Skibereen is also a famous town in Irish history, with particular ties to the great famine of the mid 1800’s as the town was one of the worst hit places in Ireland.  The Great Famine Exhibition at Skibereen Heritage Centre shares the sorrowful story, while the mass graves at Abbeystrewry is the location of almost 10,000 burials from the famine.  Indeed, you can find out more about Irish history and folklore at Skibbereen Heritage Centre.

Other highlights of Skibereen include the towns historical walking tour, which takes in sites of the famine, the West Cork Art Centre, the Sky Garden and Castletownshend, while the nearby Lough Hyne is home to Ireland’s first marine nature reserve (and is also Europe’s largest salt lake).  If you’re visiting Skibereen on a Saturday, be sure to stop by the popular farmers market, and with over 20 pubs in the town, you’ll never be stuck for places to enjoy a pint and the ‘craic’ should you decide on an extended stay.

Next stop, Clonakilty

Continue your trip along Haven Coast as you make your way from Skibereen to Clonakilty, the home of famous Irish rebel Michael Collins.  Collins’ family home is now a tourist attraction in Clonakilty, while his statue is also a popular spot for visitors to the town to stop for a photo.  Historians among   Like Skibereen, Clonakility is a great town for shopping in, with a number of quirky fashion and craft shops enabling you to pick up something a little bit different.  Be sure to visit Spillers Lane where you’ll get a good variety of goods.

With award winning food producers and amazing Blue Flag beaches nearby (Inchydoney Island is particularly popular with the locals), Clonakility gives you another taste of South West Cork, and will leave you wanting more.  The weekly farmers market, and popular Jungle City and Model Railway Village will also give you plenty to do on your travels, especially if travelling with young kids.  Surfing, kayaking and diving are popular water-based sports around Clonakility, while the nearby towns of Bandon, Lisselan, Dunmore and Kinsale are great for golf.  Speaking of Kinsale, onward to your final stop on Haven Coast.

Relax and unwind in wonderful Kinsale

You final stop along Haven Coast is one of the finest towns along the Wild Atlantic Way, the beautiful town of Kinsale.  Recognised as the gourmet food capital of Ireland, let your palette go on a food journey like no other.  Foodie fans should consider visiting Kinsale at the start of October as this is the date of the annual Kinsale Gourmet Festival, while the town has an amazing array of award winning restaurants, cafes and local food producers.

There’s more to Kinsale than food and drink though, with activities aplenty in this part of Cork.  Kinsale is near a number of Blue Flag beaches including Garrylucas and Garrettstown, while cycling, surfing, sailing and kayaking are all popular here.  Get to know the town by enjoying one of the many walking tours, while the Old Head Golf Links Course challenges even the best of golfers.

Some of the most famous landmarks in Kinsale include the Old Head of Kinsale, a signature point of the Wild Atlantic Way (home to Old Head Lighthouse), while the impressive Charles Fort and James Fort will help tell the story of times gone by in the town.  Desmond Castle & International Museum of Wine is another popular landmark in the heart of the town, while the marina and harbour area, and wide variety of shops and galleries will ensure you’ll have lots to see and do on your final leg of Haven Coast.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

Climb the tower and kiss the famous Blarney Stone and receive the gift of eloquence.

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