West Cork is hands-down one of my favourite places on earth, never mind Ireland.
The wild, remote, ever-changing landscapes, the isolation and the people make it an absolute gem of a place to spend a day or 5.
1 – Spinning through Glandore, Union Hall and Skibbereen en route to Baltimore
// Clonakilty to Baltimore – 45-minute drive (take your time and arrive to Union Hall for Baltimore for 10:00) //
We’ve no specific stops or places to visit in either town, but you can’t drive through this neck of the woods and not take some time to ramble around.
Give yourself an hour and stop-off anywhere that tickles your fancy.
I’m a huge fan of Skibbereen.
Often referred to as ‘the Capital of West Cork’, it’s a gorgeous, lively little town that’s a great base for exploring some of the best that West Cork has to offer.
Hop out for a ramble. Your first handful of many gorgeous little towns that we’ll be visiting on this Ireland road trip.
2 – Cape clear island and Fastnet Rock
// Ferry times will vary (check them out here) – we’re going to assume that you’ve followed the guide and gone for the 11:00 sailing //
Our second stop of the day is going to be the base for a lot of the days activities.
We’re going to board a ferry to Cape Clear Island and head off exploring.
Cape Clear is the southernmost inhabited part of the island of Ireland and has a population of over 100 people.
The ferry takes 45-minutes to get to the island, so just kick back, relax, and gaze out at the beautiful waters of Roaring Water Bay.
When you reach the island, a shuttle bus service leaves from the North Harbour, taking visitors to Cape Clear Heritage Centre for the Fastnet multimedia exhibition.
When you’ve finished up at the exhibition, make your way back down to the ferry.
The final lap of the trip takes you around Fastnet Lighthouse, often referred to as ‘the Teardrop of Ireland’, as it was the last sight of Ireland for emigrants sailing to America.
Here’s a fantastic look at the lighthouse from every angle, thanks to Tom Vaughan.
3 – Lunch at Mizen Head
// Baltimore to Mizen Head – 1-hour drive (arrive for 15:00) //
It’s been a long morning and afternoon, so fuel up with a hearty lunch at the cafe at Mizen Head.
If you haven’t packed any snacks or water, grab some here and pop them in your bag.
4 – Embracing the power of nature at Mizen Head
// Aim to start exploring Mizen by 16:00 //
I visited here during the summer of 2018, and it really is an experience and a half.
The Mizen Head Signal Station was built to save lives off the treacherous rocks at Ireland’s most south-westerly point.
Kick your visit off by spending a bit of time wandering around the the Maritime Museum.
From here, take a stroll down towards the Signal Station – it’s a 15 minute walk along a gravelly path, down 99 steps (these were closed on the day that I visited) and across the beautiful arched bridge.
Take your time walking around and admiring the views that lay as far as the eye can see.
5 – Bantry for the night
// Mized Head to Bantry – 45-minute drive (aim to arrive for 18:30) //
That was a long day – still with me? Let me know in the comments below.
On night number 9 of our Ireland road trip, I’m going to recommend that you stay at the Bantry Bay Hotel.
When you’re ready to eat, take the 2-minute stroll to Fish Kitchen for a hearty feed.
We’re going to round the evening off with a few pints in Ma Murphy’s pub right across the road from Fish Kitchen.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.