Kinsale is a quaint harbor town in County Cork, Ireland. It is known for its fishing, seafood, colorful buildings, friendly locals, and amazing views. Kinsale is a popular vacation destination, and for good reason. The town is lined with classic pubs and restaurants, and is full of character. If you are traveling to Kinsale, here are the five attractions you absolutely cannot miss.
1. Charles Fort
Charles Fort, named for Charles II, is one of the greatest historical attractions in southwest Ireland. The star-shaped fort was built in the 1670s, and was used in various battles until 1922. The fort has since been partly restored and has been named a National Monument of Ireland. Much of the original structure remains, and a day exploring Charles Fort is a fascinating walk back in time. There now stands a museum with artifacts and videos, explaining the different events that took place on the grounds. Guided tours are available daily, or you can wander without a tour guide. The fort offers a great look into Ireland’s history, as well as breathtaking views from its elevated height.
2. Scilly Walk
The Scilly Walk is a 2km walking trail along the River Bandon on the outskirts of Kinsale. It begins at the edge of the main street in town and continues up to Charles Fort. It is an easy walk, and offers many amazing views of Kinsale’s harbor. The Scilly Walk will lead you to The Bulman , arguably the best pub in the area. On a sunny day, I strongly recommend getting a pint and sitting outside on their stone wall. The views are spectacular, the beer is good, the atmosphere is cozy and traditional, and the bartenders are always friendly. The Bulman also offers great seafood, so if you’re hungry after your 2km walk, stop in for a meal!
3. Kinsale Harbour Cruise
The Kinsale Harbour Cruise offers a unique look at the fishing town from the water. The tour runs daily from March to October, weather permitting. An hour long trip on the Spirit of Kinsale will provide you with a lesson in the history and culture of Kinsale, as well as many picturesque views you would not see from land. With complementary tea, coffee, and warm blankets, the cruise is a relaxing way to enjoy Kinsale.
4. Kinsale Ghost Tours The Kinsale Ghost Tour is a great way for visitors of all ages to see Kinsale by night, while learning of different legends and historical events in town. The tour is also guaranteed to provide a good laugh and get your heart racing! April through October, this tour is offered nightly at 9:00pm. The tour leaves from the Tap Tavern, one of the oldest pubs in the area. The Tap Tavern is full of character and has been owned by the same family for four generations, giving it a very local and comfortable feel. I strongly recommend getting to the Tap early and enjoying a pint in this classic pub before the ghost tour.
5. The Old Head of Kinsale
Though not technically in Kinsale, this magnificent piece of land is only a 20 minute drive from town. From hundreds of feet above the Atlantic, you can venture down each side of the cliff to see views of Kinsale or Garretstown Beach. The Old Head is one of the most underrated attractions in the area. It is free to park and walk around, but the views are worth millions. The Old Head also houses one of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, where you can enjoy a par 72 walking course overlooking the spectacular views.