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Image / Living / Culture

Day tripper: places to visit that are under a few hours from Cork City


by Sarah Finnan
20th Jun 2021
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This is a new series in which I’ll be exploring different parts of the country each week. So, please feel free to share your suggestions for places worthy of a visit!

Corkonians will tell you that Rebel County is “the real capital” of Ireland. Factually, we know this isn’t so, but blessed with some of the country’s best food, views and people, either way, it’s definitely worth a visit. 

With intercounty travel now firmly back on the table, our summer schedules are quickly filling up, but having left our plans to the 11th hour, most places seem to already be at capacity for the next few months. 

All is not lost though as there are plenty of things to eat, see and do that are only a few hours (or less!) from Cork City. So, you can still adventure to your heart’s content, even if you didn’t manage to secure accommodation and the likes ahead of time.

The answer? Day trips. The perfect compromise between staying and going, you’ll be able to explore a new part of the country without having to worry about any of the other faff that usually comes with organising a trip away. 

Starlight kayak tour on Ireland’s glow-in-the-dark lake

Kayaking on Lough Hyne is an experience like no other – not only is it Europe’s only inland salt water lake and Ireland’s first marine reserve, but it also glows in the dark. Yes, really. Opt for the starlight tour and you’ll be treated to a first-row view of the action the likes of which will leave you reaching for the camera… the pics rarely do it justice though. 

Cork day trips
Courtesy of Lukasz Warzecha / Ireland’s Content Pool

Snap a photo of the Galley Head Lighthouse

A friendly seaside village at the heart of West Cork, Clonakilty is renowned for its Irish hospitality. Famed for its black pudding, it’s the Galley Head Lighthouse that I recommend making the trip out for. While there are no public tours of the lighthouse, it is open during Heritage Week each year in late August. Even from the outside, there are photo ops aplenty though.

Cork day trips
Courtesy David Creedon / Ireland’s Content Pool

Surfing at Inchydoney Beach

Just a stone’s throw away from Clonakilty, Inchydoney Beach is the perfect spot to catch a wave or two. A haven for water lovers, the local surf school offers lessons to guests of all ages and levels of competence. Wet suits and surfboards are provided too so all you need is your sense of adventure. 

Cork day trips

Visit a UNESCO Global Geopark 

Around an hour and a half’s drive from Cork city, you’ll find the Copper Coast Geopark A UNESCO Global Geopark it stretches along the coastline for 25km. Named after the 19th-century copper mines that lie at the heart of the cliffs, you can take in the sights via one of the many walking/audio trails. 

Cork day trips
Copper Coast Geopark / Instagram

Boat out to Garinish Island

Very familiar to horticulturists and tree lovers, Garinish Island is a cornucopia of vegetation. Nestled snugly in the sheltered harbour of Glengarriff in Bantry Bay, it’s often referred to as a garden of rare beauty. On the island, pathways wind around the landscape leading visitors to any number of beautiful buildings – including the Grecian temple, the clock tower, the casita and an original Martello Tower.

Cork day trips

Take in the history in Cobh

Probably best known for being the “last port of call” for the famous RMS Titanic, Cobh offers up a wealth of knowledge on the ill-fated ship. Steeped in history, the Victorian promenade and bandstand is a great spot to stop and enjoy ice cream too – if the weather cooperates that is. 

Cork day trips

Go whale watching

Head down to Courtmacsherry and book in for one of the Atlantic whale and dolphin watching tours. Captained by experienced, professional skippers, they know all the best locations to spot some wildlife. Observe fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, common dolphins, basking sharks, harbour porpoise and sunfish amongst other marine life. Food at Monks Lane restaurant is a must after a day out at sea. 

Cork day trips
Christopher O’Sullivan via Atlantic Whale Watch

Sample the local food offering

Easily recognised by its colourful streetscapes, Kinsale is always a good idea – particularly for foodies who should make sure that one of the local food tours is on the agenda. Offering two different options, you can choose from the original walking food tour or opt for a foraging and picnic tour instead. The latter also incorporates food tasting and coastal foraging as well. 

Cork day trips
Kinsale Food Tours / Instagram

Meander along Gougane Barra

Get your fill of Irish folklore at Gougane Barra. The site of St Finbarr’s first monastic community, legend has it that he was met by an enormous serpent called Lú on arrival. Somewhat put out at not having the lake to himself anymore, he’s believed to have torn a chalice from St Finbarr’s hands as he was celebrating mass one day. Needless to say, the snake was quickly banished, but while Lú has departed, the ruins of the monastery remain.

Cork day trips

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