This is the fifth of our 5 part blog on the Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip with a Caravan (WAW), the longest defined coastal touring route in the world. It stretches for over 2,500km so it’s best to divide it into areas and take your time to explore and see the beauty that Ireland has to offer. However, you don’t have to follow these routes and can cross over into other areas. The best thing is to be flexible and take your time to explore this great country.
There’s adventure and excitement around every corner of the Wild Atlantic Way.
In this blog, we explore your potential road trip with a caravan in Cork – Ireland’s largest county with over 1,000km of coastline. Cork is so big it stretches from the Wild Atlantic Way into Ireland’s Ancient East. Spend a few days, a week or longer - there is a huge amount to see and do and places to explore in the Rebel County –Cork. In this blog, we will explore Cork along the Wild Atlantic Way. There is a large selection of caravan & camping sites in Cork with great locations on the beach, in rural locations, on working farms, all top quality approved sites.
Discover the Beara Peninsula- 30 mile-long piece of land jutting out into the Atlantic from Glengarriff to Dursey Island bordering the counties of Cork and Kerry. The Beara peninsula is densely studded with Bronze Age remains: wedge tombs, stone circles and standing stones. Glengarriff Caravan & Camping is ideally located just 300m from the Harbour and has an onsite bar & restaurant. Glengarriff is a great place to base yourself and visit the many sites in the area.
Glengarriff Bamboo Park – here you will find 30 different species of bamboo surrounded by palms and other tropical plants with breathtaking views of the bay.Also located in the bamboo park are 13 mysterious stone pillars, believed to be ancient.
The Ewe Experience and Sculpture Garden- a unique combination of history, creativity and humour with four themed gardens of water, time, the environment and ancient earth. Enjoy the tranquillity of this special place.Have fun with the interactive sculpture gardens and see the spectacular waterfall flowing down into the gardens.
Take a boat trip to Garnish Island – the ferry leaves regularly from Glengarriff harbour and brings you to Garnish Island. The very sheltered ferry trip includes a visit to seal island where you will visit the very tame seal colony. The gardens are laid out in beautiful walks and it has some stunning specimen plants which are rare in this climate. The Island also boasts a Martello tower on its southern shores. In 2021 entrance to the Island is free (boat charge still applies)
Walking & Cycling routes – The Beara Way is 184km but the route can be broken into 18 sections and each section is rated moderate to easy with only one hard section from Adrigole to Castletownbere. Why not make Adrigole your base and pitch up your caravan at Hungry Hill Lodge & Campsite. This small site also welcomes guests to their lodge. Don’t forget to visitthe Copper Mine Museum in Allihies. The Museum preserves the rich mining heritage of the region with displays of artefacts, photographs, illustrations, original drawings, diagrams, maps and large scale models.
Island hopping– Bere Island is just 2km offshore from Castletownbere and is one of 7 inhabited Islands in West Cork. Whales, basking sharks, and bottle-nose and common dolphins can all be sighted around Bere Island. There are 3 looped routes on the Island to explore. Bere Island is served by two car ferry services, suitable for travellers on foot, bike or car and both sail year-round from Castletownbere and the Pontoon. Dursey Island is the most westerly of West Cork’s inhabited islands and can only be accessed by boarding the only cable car in Irelandwhich runs about 250m above the sea and takes six people. The journey takes about ten minutes.
Bantry House & Gardens – the ancestral home of the Earls of Bantry you will also find a fabulous tea room here. The house has an important collection of art treasures. The garden is laid out in the Italian style over seven terraces, with the house sitting on the third terrace. Don’t forget to climb the famous Hundred Steps, a monumental staircase built of local stone, set amidst azaleas and rhododendron. The view is breathtaking.
Just outside Bantry in Ballylickey, you will find Eagle Point Camping. The site is situated on a peninsula with a safe and sheltered coastline and pebbled beaches suitable for watersports.
Mizen Peninsula – Ireland’s most south-westerly point and again boasts some magnificent scenery and fabulous driving routes. A visit to Mizen Head Irish Lights Signal Station is a must. Discover how the Mizen Head Signal Station was built to save lives off the treacherous rocks at Ireland’s most south-westerly point. Drop by the visitor centre at Mizen Head and learn about the navigational aids simulator, the geology of the Mizen Head area and the Fastnet Rescue Tide Clock. Take a walk over the footbridge. Why not spend a few days on the Mizen Peninsula. Barley Cove Holiday Parkis located in Crookhaven. Barley Cove beach is one of Cork’s top blue flag beaches. It is quite a remote area and there is a floating bridge in place to manage access and reduce the impact on the natural surroundings. It has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation under the European Habitats Directive. The pretty villages of Goleen and Schull are ideal places to stop off for lunch or icecream.
In Schull, you will find Schull Planetarium, Ireland’s only Planetarium. Sitting under the hemispherical dome in a darkened auditorium, you can see an amazingly realistic and accurate reproduction of the star-studded night sky. On the Planetarium's eight-metre dome, the Carl Zeiss single sphere sky projector shows an accurate representation of the night sky from anywhere in the northern hemisphere. Shows are held regularly but are not suitable for children under 7. Centre open on certain days only so please check in advance.
Skibbereen & environs – This is a great place to explore the delights of West Cork including the towns & villages of Baltimore, Glandore and Courtmacsherry. Pitch up for a few nights at The Hideaway, Skibbereen located just 1km from the town centre or the small family run site The Meadowin Glandore. There is so much to see and do in the area:-
Spend a day on an Island – Sherkin Island and Cape Clear Island are inhabited Islands off the West Cork coast. Sherkin Island is a hub for artists where locals create art, paintings, books and unique craftwork inspired by the island’s tranquil atmosphere. Cape Clear is a Gaeltacht Island. Don’t forget to try the goat’s milk icecream made on the Island. You will see Fastnet Rock on the West of the Island. Ferries to both Islands leave from Baltimore all year round.
Lough Hyne – the only seawater lake in Europe, Lough Hyne and is the most tranquil and peaceful place to spend a few hours. Why not take a kayak on the lake. You can take a dawn or night tour by kayak, which is spectacular. There is also an elevated nature trail which gives some great elevated views over the lake.
Clonakilty – an award-winning town in West Cork, voted best town in Europe in 2017. The town is full of charm with beautiful colourful shop fronts and a great place to base yourself for a few days. It was also voted Ireland’s first autistic friendly town in 2918.Desert House Caravan & Camping Parkis within walking distance of the town and is located on a dairy farm. Sexton’s Caravan & Camping Park is 5 minutes from the town in the rural village of Timoleague. Another option is Top of the rock Pod Páirc & Walking Centre in Drimoleague is a glamping site that offers camping & motorhome spaces.
West Cork Model Railway Village – Ireland’s only model village is located in Clonakilty and is a full-scaled handmade model of the West Cork Railway line with fully working miniature trains. You will see handcrafted model buildings and figurines showing how people lived and worked in years gone by. It also has a colourful play area and an onsite cafe.
Clonakilty Black Pudding Visitor Centre – who hasn’t had Clonakilty Black Pudding for their breakfast? The secret recipe dates back to the late 1800s and the self-guided visitor centre in Clonakilty gives you a great insight into the history of the fabulous pudding and from the viewing gallery you can see how the pudding is made. The best part is that you also get to sample some in the cafe.
Sample some of West Cork’s fabulous beaches – 90% of the region's beaches are within 20km of Clonakilty! Take a picnic to Red Strand with views of Galley Head Lighthouse, go surfing in Inchydoney, take a dip in the ocean in Owenahincha.
Take a whale watch tour – There is no better place to see whales and dolphins than in West Cork. With boats leaving daily from Courtmacsherry, Baltimore and Union Hall you have a good number of options available. Get up close and personal with whales, dolphins, sharks and many more.
Kinsale – one of Ireland’s prettiest towns is located just 40 minutes drive from Cork City and is known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland because of its huge selection of great restaurants and places to eat. From Kinsale Harbour take the walk along the coast to Summercove and on to Charles Fort. Charles Fort is a unique star-shaped military fortress that has stood guard over Kinsale for over 300 years. You will also have magnificent views of Kinsale and the harbour from this location.
Old Head of Kinsale– you will have the most breathtaking view from this viewing point. Whilst you cannot walk to the lighthouse there is a shuttle bus that will bring you out. The Old Head Signal Tower in Kinsale is the most southerly point of the stunning Wild Atlantic Way. The tower is home to the Lusitania Museum, exhibiting a fascinating selection of memorabilia, storyboards and artefacts recovered from the wreck.
This is just a small sample of things to do in West Cork along the Wild Atlantic Way. There are loads more things to see and do, find your own route, discover your own beach the main thing is to give yourself plenty of time to explore in Cork. Don’t forget to travel inland to the many other great spots to visit in Cork. Take a trip to Blarney Castle, located 8km north of Cork City or travel east and visit Fota Wildlife Park and the Queenstown Story in Cobh. For the adults, a trip to the Jameson Centre in Midleton to sample the whiskey would a great treat or for the kids a trip to the Perks Amusement Centre in Youghal, the list is endless. Make your own plans and draw up your own routes. Cork is waiting to be explored by everyone.
Click below for other blogs on the Wild Atlantic Way:
Caravan & Camping in Ireland
Cork is home to the largest number of quality approved caravan & camping sites in Ireland. Some are located along the coast others in rural locations but all are top quality. Check out Camping Irelandfor details on sites in Kerry and all over Ireland.
There is no better way to see the country with all your own home comforts. Click Camping Ireland to find information on all the great caravan & camping sites throughout Ireland before you travel. It is always wise to book ahead so you won’t be disappointed or have a wasted journey. Download the Camping Ireland App which you can use to browse and search for approved sites with ease while you are travelling around. For more information on the app click here
There are over 100 quality approved caravan & camping parks throughout Ireland. Sites offer top-class facilities with many onsite amenities. There is a variety of sites around Ireland. Maybe you are looking for a quiet site where you can pitch up and use the site as a base for travelling around. Maybe you want a site where there is a playground for your kids or even sites where there are a host of onsite activities for all the family to enjoy. Whatever you want Camping Ireland has something for everyone.
Don’t forget to order your Camping Key Europe Card which offers great discounts and savings at campsites, visitor attractions and many more outlets. The card is accepted in over 2,800 sites in Ireland and Europe. It also includes free third-party insurance. You can order the card here