If you’re debating staying in Allihies in Cork, you’ve landed in the right place.
Surrounded by wild, breath-taking scenery and close to many of the more popular things to do in West Cork, Allihies is a great base to explore from.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Allihies and where to stay and where to grab food and a post-adventure drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Allihies in Cork
Although a visit to Allihies in Cork is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
At the western tip of Beara Peninsula, you’ll find the pretty coastal village of Allihies. This place punches far above its weight for beauty, interest, and history. You’ll find it nestled between the Atlantic coast and the Slieve Miskish Mountains near Ballydonegan Bay.
2. A clatter of colour
Set among the many shades of green fields and the mountains of the Beara Peninsula sits the colourful Allihies. Even on the darkest and most brooding of days, when the Atlantic Ocean screams at the Heavens, the rows of houses shine bright.
3. The Copper Mines
Copper Mining in the Allihies area went on from the Bronze Age right up to the 20th Century. In 1812 a company was established to operate the mines, miners were drafted in from Cornwall, and drilling continued until 1912. Cornish Engine houses can still be seen from the village.
A brief history of Allihies
Most likely due to the presence of the Copper Mines, Ahillies doesn’t seem to have fared too poorly during the famine years.
The population shrank during the years 1841-51, yet the number of houses actually increased.
The Copper Mines’ demise in 1884 resulted in a much larger population decline as many emigrated to work in US or Canadian mines.
The mythical history of Ireland is never far below the surface, and Ahillies is purported to hold the Children of Lir’s burial site at a location close to the village.
Things to do in Allihies (and nearby)
One of the beauties of Allihies in Cork is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Cork.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Allihies, from walks and museums to scenic drives and more.
1. Grab a view of the village from above
If you approach Allihies village from the East side of the Peninsula on the Ring of Beara drive, you’ll be able to pull into a small lookout point where you can look down over the village and the surrounding hills and water.
It’s worth having a look at it on Google Maps before you go because it’s hidden beyond the brow of a hill as you approach.
Gorse, heather, sheep and, of course, the colourful houses are spread out beneath you to deliver a wonderful panoramic view.
2. Step back in time at the Allihies Copper Mine Museum
Can you imagine what it must have been like for the people in this remote village when copper mines were discovered in the area? Their lives changed forevermore.
Not only were they provided with a living right then, but the miners had the skills to emigrate to the likes of Butte, Montana, where huge tracts of copper and silver were discovered around the same time as the Allihies mines closed.
So goes the Allihies Copper Mines story, which is recaptured for all in the Allihies Copper Mine Museum, designed and built by mining historian Theo Dahlke.
Make sure you have your glasses with you if you need them; there’s lots of reading in this small but well put together Museum.
3. Then head for a ramble along the Allihies Copper Mine Trail
Next up is one of the more popular things to do in Allihies.
Now, if you’re going to take the Allihies Copper Mine Trail, it’s best to visit the Museum first so you have a bit of background information as you go around.
The self-guided walks are well signposted and are of various lengths to suit all types of walkers. Starting at 1.5km, the 7km and 10km seem to be the most popular because of the glorious views of the wild and wonderful landscape and coastline of Allihies.
Pack your imagination as well as your hiking boots (it can be a bit boggy) because if you try, you can sense the history of those who walked before you.
4. Head for a saunter along Allihies Beach
A sandy beach with sand that doesn’t stick? Can there be such a thing? Yes, Ballydonegan Beach or Allihies Beach, as it’s known to some, is manmade of crushed quartz from the copper mines and is why this beach is the sandiest in the locality.
The sand is a little rougher than the ‘normal’ sand you’ll find on some of the other nearby Cork beaches, but on the plus side, you won’t have to spend ages flicking it off yourself.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best beaches in West Cork (a mix of hidden gems and tourist favourites)
5. Clear the head with a stay at Dzogchen Beara
It’s not unusual for visitors to Allihies to stop for a coffee and lemon cheesecake at this Dzogchen Beara.
The peaceful atmosphere is enhanced by the wild and wonderful Atlantic Ocean and many hours can be spent contemplating the beautiful views.
The Retreat caters to both casual and longer-stay guests with a variety of accommodation options and class times.
The Retreat is also providing several online classes that cater to many issues affecting people.
6. Take the cable car over to Dursey Island
As of March 2023, the cable car is closed for a major maintenance project. Cork County Council has yet to announce a date for reopening.
A mere 8-10 minutes on the cable car will take you to Dursey Island. Dogs are allowed free in the cable car and leashed on the island.
Now that the important stuff’s out of the way, the island is a mecca for walkers with spectacular views all around.
Come prepared for all seasons; sturdy shoes or boots and raincoats really are a must. You may have a bit of a wait on your return, depending on the time of day.
7. Visit the nearby village of Eyeries
East of Allihies, you’ll find another colourful village, Eyeries. Surrounded by mountains and overlooking Coulagh Bay, this is where you’ll have fabulous views and unforgettable sunsets.
There’s a lot to do for such a small place to give yourself time to enjoy it.
The two looped walking trails can be walked separately or as one long walk, and information boards along the way explain the rich biodiversity of the area.
8. Do the Beara Peninsula drive/cycle
Depending on your route, the Ring of Beara is either 80km or 130km approximately. If you opt for the shorter route, you will cross the mountains via The Healy Pass and still have spectacular views and maybe a few queasy moments.
The longer way takes you along the coastal roads to experience the full beauty of the Peninsula.
The narrow country roads only add to the experience as you are faced with more and more stunning views around every corner.
When it comes to Allihies accommodation, you won’t find hotels, but you will find lots of B&Bs and guesthouses (note: if you book a stay via one of the links below we may make a tiny commission – you won’t pay extra).
The Beach View B&B is only a few minutes from town and provides picnic lunches when requested. If your exertions haven’t tired you out during the day, you can play a game of tennis on the private court when you return.
Only a kilometre from Ballydonegan Beach is the Seaview Guesthouse, where you’ll have a hearty breakfast before setting out on your explorations for the day.
Restaurants and pubs in Allihies
There’s a handful of places to eat in Allihies, and there are a couple of pubs if you fancy kicking back with a drink after a long day on the road.
1. O’Neill’s Bar & Restaurant
Arriving in Allihies to see the red pub that adorns many of Ireland’s tourist brochures is like seeing an old friend. It’s so familiar you feel you know it already.
When tourists come to Ireland, they want to be in a pub when the craic begins and music and song take over. You won’t have to spend much time in O’Neill’s before that happens.
Lovely company, great food and a sense of history make this pub one of the most special in Ireland.
2. The Lighthouse Bar
The Lighthouse Bar is renowned for its live music ‘out the back’ every Saturday and Sunday evening. With Sky Sports, so you won’t miss your favourite teams even on holiday and a BBQ in the summer months, this is a pub for all weathers and seasons.
3. Jimmy’s Bar
One of Allihies’ social calendar highlights is the Michael Dwyer festival, and surely the “Stew Competition” held at Jimmy’s Bar has to be among the most Irish of competitions – where else would you get it, eh?
This pub has been serving pints for over 400 years, and you’ll become part of its history when you spend an evening or two enjoying the music, conversation and laughter.
We can’t guarantee that they will be open when you visit, but if they are, we recommend going in for a pint and a chat.
FAQs about visiting Allihies in Cork
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Cork that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking about everything from things to do in Allihies to what to see nearby.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Allihies worth visiting?
Yes. Allihies is a great place to base yourself from while exploring the glorious Beara Peninsula. It’s also a nice little town to stop off in if you’re doing a loop of the peninsula.
Are there many things to do in Allihies?
Yep – there are several things to do in Allihies, from the Copper Mine Trail and the museum to Allihies Beach. The big draw of this little village, for many, is that it’s a gorgeous little base for exploring Beara.
Are there any pubs or restaurants in Allihies?
There are several places to sip a drink and grab a bite to eat in Allihies. You’ve O’Neill’s, The Lighthouse and Jimmy’s Bar.