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From £89 each way

Things to do in Kinsale

Where spectacularly green Irish countryside meets the rocky Atlantic coastline, you’ll find a stunning meeting point – the town of Kinsale. One of the most picturesque places on the south west coast, Kinsale is filled with colourful cottages, a beautiful harbour and winding cobbled streets.

While Kinsale has seen more than its fair share of monumental historic events, it’s far from stuck in the past. The town has made a name for itself as a foodie destination, which is ideal for refuelling after a long walk or boat trip – just remember to stop and drink in the incredible surrounding views on the way.

Historical sites in Kinsale

There are few towns in Cork with history books as thick as this Irish town’s. Following the famous Battle of Kinsale, which saw the ruling English cavalry victorious against the Spanish fleet, preventative measures were taken for future defences. Both the James Fort and the later star-shaped Charles Fort were built in the 17th century and hold incredible stories in their walls. Located opposite sides of the bay, both offer detailed guided tours and incredible views of the surrounding areas from their tall walls.

Slightly further inland is Desmond Castle, an intriguing 16th century venture that began life as a Customs House for the Earl of Desmond. In the centuries since, it has stood as a naval prison in the 1600s, an ordinance store during the Battle of Kinsale and a workhouse in the Great Famine. Now, it is not only a National Monument but also home to the International Museum of Wine Exhibition, which explores Ireland’s wine links with the rest of the world.

After your visit there, walk two minutes down the road to the oldest building in Kinsale, St Multose Church, which features Norman French inscriptions, a Baptismal font, carved memorials and reredos (ornamental screens) from the Galway chapel.

Walking in Kinsale

As the starting point of the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way route, Kinsale possesses all the stunning features that characterise Ireland’s famously beautiful coastline. One of the town’s most breathtaking sights is the Old Head of Kinsale, with rocky cliffs jutting out into the choppy Atlantic Ocean. You can walk around the Old Head of Kinsale Loop in an hour and a half, but make sure to stop and admire the incredible views, including the classically striped lighthouse and remains of a Celtic fort.

The tragic sinking of the RMS Lusitania – a passenger ship sunk by a German torpedo – occurred just off the coast here, so take some time to visit the museum and memorial that delve into its history.

Water sports in Kinsale

Sitting pretty on the picturesque Irish coastline means Kinsale has long depended on its surrounding waters – resulting in plenty of water-based activities for you to enjoy. As a famous fishing village, why not do as the locals do and try deep sea fishing in the Atlantic?

As well as catching mackerel, pollock and cod, you can spot local caves and beaches. Kinsale is also a fantastic destination for diving, with crystal clear reefs and local shipwrecks waiting to be explored. If you’d rather stay on the surface than delve below the glistening waters, hire a yacht, canoe, kayak or windsurfing board for an experience to remember.

Food heaven in Kinsale

As the Restaurant Association of Ireland’s ‘Top Foodie Town 2018’, you can be sure of finding non-stop culinary delights in Kinsale. The town’s history is rooted in fishing, meaning the seafood is suitably fresh and delicious. The aptly named ‘Fishy Fishy’ is one of the most popular and well-known restaurants in Kinsale, with queues of people waiting to be served that day’s fresh catch. Foodies should visit in October for the annual Kinsale Gourmet Festival, the oldest food festival in Ireland. The town has celebrated the festival for 37 years with three days of tastings, cookery demonstrations and competitions.

Ready to book a trip to Kinsale? Book a P&O ferry from Liverpool to Dublin today.


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