Two ruined fortresses stand watch over the harbor of this pretty-as-a-postcard fishing town. Though it’s got beaches, coastal walks, and a handful of historic sites including two forts and a Norman church, Kinsale’s big draw is its reputation for gastronomic greatness; its seafood restaurants are said to be among Ireland’s finest.
Just a short hop from the city of Cork, Kinsale is a popular summer day trip destination. Many day-trippers make stops at Charles Fort, the star-shaped 17th-century fort just southeast of the town, and at the Old Head Signal Tower, which hosts a museum documenting the fate of the RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. Many multi-day tours around counties Cork, Kerry, and other parts of the southwest of Ireland include a stop at Kinsale.
Things to know before you go
- Kinsale is a must for history buffs and foodies.
- Wear sturdy footwear if you plan on exploring the town’s ruined forts.
- Plan a lunch or dinner stop here—Kinsale’s seafood is superb.
How to get there
Kinsale is about a 30-minute drive south of Cork city. Bus Éireann service 226 runs between Cork and Kinsale.
When to get there
The best time to visit Kinsale is in summer, when warmer weather allows you to take advantage of the surrounding beaches and coastal walks. Summer weekends can be busy so go midweek for a more peaceful experience.
Beaches in Kinsale
There are several scenic beaches within easy reach of Kinsale. Just a 5-minute walk from James Fort lies Dock Beach, a small swimmable strand near Castlepark Marina. A short drive west of town lies golden-sand Garrettstown, a spacious stretch with ample facilities including restrooms and lifeguards during the bathing season, while a 20-minute drive east takes you to Robert’s Cove, a sheltered inlet ideal for swimming.
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