A WEEKEND IN...WEST CORK
West cork encompasses all the best of Ireland you have heard about and more. With the bonus of being still relatively undiscovered by tourism, if you want to get away from it all and escape the city this is a great spot to spend a long weekend.
The rugged coastline of the wild Atlantic way is the number one draw to this area packed with windswept dramatic scenery and lively local towns.
A Weekend in West Cork | Friday...
Kick start your Irish adventure in Cork city at Quinlan's seafood restaurant (14 Princes St, Centre, Cork, Ireland). It is the best restaurant in Cork to sample fresh local fish and oysters which are at the centre of West Coast cooking.
After dinner, a two minute stroll brings you to the Mutton Lane Inn (3 Mutton Ln, Centre, Cork, Ireland). This amazing pub could be lifted straight out of a film - it is a magical find, nestled down a discreet back alley where you can share a drink with the locals.
Oysters in Quinlans
A Weekend in West Cork | Saturday...
This is the start of your Wild Atlantic Way adventure! Hire a car and drive west towards the picturesque village of Schull for a spot of breakfast at Paradise Crepe (Meenvane, Co. Cork, Ireland) and fuel up on coffee for the morning ahead. Take in the view across the harbour and listen to the West Cork podcast en route (available on Amazon Audible) to hear about some of the infamous local residents.
This remote peninsula is home to the rugged and abandoned Dun Lough castle at Mizen Head. It is known locally as three castle head and rumour abound as to sightings of an enchanted white lady of the lake and buried treasure in the castle. The walk is a stunning vista for miles across sea and land with 100 metre cliffs below. Drive west, past Barley Cove, and on to a small parking area at Lisnagrave where you will see the start of the walk.
The stunning harbour at Schull
Views from the three castle head hike
Lunch / Afternoon
Reward yourself post walk with lunch at the Beach Bar restaurant in Cannawee (Beach Bar Restaurant, Cannawee, Barleycove, Co. Cork, Ireland) - take in the sea view from the terrace whilst you enjoy their speciality - a comforting bowl of seafood chowder.
A bracing walk or swim in Barleycove beach is recommended post lunch - it is a surfing hot spot when the weather is right and if the sun is out it can be a great place to relax on the sand for the afternoon.
Dusk / Evening
Continue on to Glengarriff to stay the night. This small town offers plentiful dinner options and local live music in most establishments on a Saturday night- the Blue Loo (Main street, Monteensudder, Glengarriff, Co. Cork, Ireland) is the locals venue of choice. Moonlight kayaking is also an option for those looking for a unique late night experience on the calm waters - in July and August the bioluminescence in the water creates a sparkling wonderland beneath the water's surface.
The Blue Loo, Glengarrif. As with many local pubs the bar is adorned with random trophies!
A Weekend in West Cork | Sunday...
After a spot of breakfast in your hotel, drive on to Killarney. Killarney national park is a must do for its great hiking and biking opportunities. Pick up rental bikes in town and head out for a ride in the stunning rural countryside. There are short and longer routes - Muckross is a 16km flat route or for the more ambitious the Gap of Dunloe is a 56km strenuous but rewarding cycle up into the surrounding hills.
Lunch / Afternoon
Once you've finished your cycling adventure, Head over to the Laurels pub (Main St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland) for a well earned dinner of traditional Irish fayre. This is where soda bread the size of doorstops is served alongside hearty Irish lamb stew. Perfect for a rewarding feast after an active day outdoors.
Dusk / Evening
Move on to Courtney's bar (24 Plunkett St, Killarney, Co. Kerry, V93 RR04, Ireland) for a nightcap - it is a great candlelit cosy pub where you can sample a flight of Irish whiskeys. The bar staff are knowledgeable and more than happy to help you choose from the list of over 50 tipples. It also plays host to some of the best musical groups in the Killarney area.
A cosy table at Courtneys bar
Views when cycling around Killarney national park
A Weekend in West Cork | Monday...
Set off back along to the wild Atlantic way for your next leg - the famous Ring of Kerry. This scenic three hour loop will take you past pristine wide rugged beaches, mountains and lough's and give you unmatched views of the island dotted Atlantic.
Half way round it's time to dust off your hiking boots for the Skelligs Monks Trail which is a 3 hour walk starting at Derrynane house. From here head to the beach and follow the coastal path right where you will find a guided signed route taking you along cliff walkways and through forests with a long gentle climb up to a spectacular viewing point.
Skelligs Monks Trail