Kinsale is actually a city located within the county of Cork. It’s most well-known for its extensive history and colorful buildings, as well as the 1915 sinking of RMS Lusitania. Below are 23 things to see in Kinsale, Ireland.
Desmond Castle is an urban tower house that was built by Maurice Bacach Fitzgerald back in c. 1500. This place has a lot of history, beginning as a house, but then also serving as an ordnance store, then a prison, and a workhouse. However, since 1997, Desmond Castle has been the home of the International Museum of Wine, perhaps my favorite version of the castle. You can come here to take a quick, 30-minute crash course on the story of Ireland’s wine connections with Europe and the rest of the world.
2. Charles Fort
Charles Fort is a star fortification located right on the water. You can feel free to wander around or opt for a guided tour to soak in some more knowledge about the history of the structure.
3. James Fort
James Fort is a pentagonal fort that was built in the early 17th century on Castlepark peninsula. The site is listed as a National Monument and is open to the public for exploration.
Garretstown Beach is a wonderful little beach full of activities to occupy your time with. Some of the obvious ones are, of course, surfing and swimming. Along with these, there is also a nice walk you can take along the cliffs just a mere kilometer away. Be sure to bring your hiking shoes if you plan to take this wander, as the path gets quite narrow in some areas and can be a bit challenging.
The full Seven Heads Peninsula is a looped walk that’s a whopping 55.24km long. However, if you’re short on time, there are smaller loops within this loop that you can venture out on. Check out their website for more information on the scenery and various hikes.
Built during the Napoleonic wars, the Old Head Signal Tour is over 200 years old! Open 7 days a week, the view from atop the tower serves a 360 degree showroom of breathtaking Kinsale. Keep your eyes peeled for puffins!
The Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance was established by a Kinsale woman (Kathleen Cait Murphy) who worked in New York as a nurse for over 30 years. She was heartbroken by the deaths of the 343 firemen who died fighting during 9/11 and decided to commemorate them by planting a tree for each of these brave men. Now blooming, people from all over come to visit, pray and leave flowers or photos for their loved ones.
Kinsale Mead Co is a world-class meadery handcrafting small batches of meads from carefully sourced ingredients. For 12 euros, you can take a tour through this delicious factory to see where their mead is fermented, matured and bottled, as well as take a flavorful break in their tasting room. Head to their site to check out their tour calendar or pre-book your event.
Blacks Brewery began just recently in 2013 when Maudeline gave her husband, Sam, a beer-making kit for Valentine’s Day. Being Ireland’s first co-located micro brewery and Distillery, they obviously would be proud to show you around. However, due to a change in Irish law, they’re currently unable to give brewery tours. Check back on their website for updates on when they’ll be opening back up to the public for history and tastings!
10. Scilly Walk
Scilly Walk is a pedestrian path along the edge of the sea that crosses through the harbor of Kinsale. This is probably one of the more famous parts of Kinsale, and many claim that you truly haven’t ‘done’ Kinsale until you’ve done the Scilly Walk.
Old Head of Kinsale Loop is probably one of the best hikes you can do in the area. Starting at the Garretstown Beach Car Park, the walk around Old Head is 6km long, which leaves you with about 1.5 hours of incredible views. You won’t be disappointed.
12. Irish Veteran’s Museum
The Irish Veteran’s Museum involves “the Irish involvement from the American Civil War up to the war in Afghanistan”. Here is also where you’ll find the only Medal of Honor displayed outside of the United States. Open 7 days a week from 10:30AM until 5:00PM, this charitable organization is the perfect place to spend a rainy day.
St. Multose Church is the oldest church in continuous use in all of Ireland. Dating back to the 12th century, you can feel free to self-tour this beautifully stained glass paradise.
Beginning in the 1590s, The Kinsale Regional Museum has tons of interesting artifacts, such as the boots from the Kinsale giant and pieces discovered from the ship wreck of the Lusitania. Admission is free, but donations for upkeep are much appreciated.
16. Garrylucas Beach
Garrylucas Beach is near Old Head and boasts clean, white sand and grassy dunes. This is a very popular place to be during summer, especially for surfers as the waves stack up quite high.
At the Kinsale Pottery and Arts Centre, you [and your children] can take art classes and courses. Scan their website to see what sorts of activities are screaming your name.
Mount Long Castle is a mansion that was created in the early 17th century. Overlooking Oysterhaven Creek, this once-oasis is now classified as an abandoned building after the mansion was set afire after being defeated in a battle near Bandon. John Long, the homeowner, was convicted of treason and sentenced to death in 1652.
What was once a Steam Bakery back in 1906, The Boathouse Gallery is now an art gallery located on Main Street. This family run business officially opened in 2010 and has been showcasing unique collections ever since.
If you’re looking to find out what events are happening while you’re in town, you can head to the Kinsale Tourism Chamber of Tourism & Business. They’ll be able to point you toward the best ice cream shop in town, where to golf on what day and even where to host your wedding!
The Kinsale Harbour Cruises are relatively inexpensive and last about 50 minutes. Take a step back and soak in the beauty of Kinsale from a new perspective. Tickets are purchased as you board, but if you’re looking for more information on their sailing schedule, check out their site.
22. Follyfoot Riding Farm
Follyfoot Riding Farm is a small horse farm located just a few miles out of the city. They’re open year-round, though the trekking is only done during summer months. You can also book riding lessons for 30 minute or 1 hour sessions.
23. Kinsale Ghost Tours
These tours normally start at 9:00PM and last an hour and 15 minutes. The price is quite cheap for a ghost tour and is something fun for the whole family to enjoy.
From historic forts and castles to spectacular hikes with stellar views and sparkling beaches, Kinsale has a little something for everybody. What city is next on your bucket list?
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