If you’re debating staying in Schull in Cork, you’ve landed in the right place.
The pretty little village of Schull is a great place to base yourself if you fancy seeing some of the most beautiful places to visit in West Cork.
A short spin away from endless walks, hikes, scenic drives, beaches and much, much more, you can’t go wrong with a few nights in Schull.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Schull to where to eat, sleep and drink in what is one of the most beautiful towns in Cork.
Some quick need-to-knows about Schull
Although a visit to Schull in West Cork is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Schull is located on the southwest coast of West Cork. Dominated by the backdrop of Mount Gabriel, it’s on the edge of a sheltered harbour on the Mizen Peninsula. It takes just under two hours to reach Schull from Cork city.
2. A fine base for exploring
Schull is handy village to base yourself in as it’s very close to some of the best things to see and do in West Cork. Right on the coast of the Mizen Peninsula, you can easily explore more of the area, including the beaches and mighty Mizen Head, as well as further afield to Baltimore harbour and its islands.
3. The name
The name of the village is written as either Schull or Skull, which is thought to be translated from An Scoil or Scoil Mhuire meaning Mary’s School. There is some disagreement as to the name’s origin for the town, but Skull has been used since the 17th century for the area.
About the village of Schull in West Cork
Schull is a small village that is surrounded by natural beauty. Located at the foothills of Mount Gabriel on a picturesque harbour, it’s a popular resort town, especially for those who enjoy water-based activities.
Sailing, kayaking and boating are very popular, and the calm waters of the harbour are dotted with boats all year round.
One of the town’s biggest attractions is the planetarium housed at the Schull Community College, which is one of the only planetariums in Ireland. It provides star shows during the visitor season for those interested in astronomy.
Otherwise, the small town offers an incredibly convenient place to base yourself for a trip to the Mizen Peninsula and West Cork. There are plenty of things to do and see within short distances from town.
Things to do in Schull (and nearby)
There’s a handful of things to do in Schull and hundreds of things to do a short spin away from the village.
Both of the above combined make Schull in Cork a great base for a road trip! Here are some of our favourite things to do in Schull.
1. Conquer Mount Gabriel
The village’s backdrop is dominated by Mount Gabriel, so you can’t miss it when you’re in town. The 400m high mountaintop can be explored on a long hike that requires a bit of cross-country navigation.
The trail is mostly a vague track which crosses over rough pastures, boggy flat areas and eventually climbs up along the ridge to the summit.
At the top, you can find large radar domes and an incredible view that sweeps across the Mizen Peninsula, Bantry Bay, Roaring Water Bay and over to Kerry.
2. Soak up a fine view from Brow Head
Brow Head is the southernmost point of mainland Ireland and is characterised by incredibly dramatic coastal scenery. You can take a narrow road that winds its way to the point where you can enjoy some of the finest views in Cork.
On the highest elevations of the headland, you’ll find the ruins of a former watch tower built by the British in 1804. While it’s not as commonly visited as Mizen Head, it’s worth the trip from Schull.
3. Visit the mighty Mizen Head
Mizen Head, at the tip of the peninsula, is the most south-westerly point of Ireland and home to the Mizen Head Signal Station.
The incredibly spectacular landscape of the coastline makes a trip out here worthwhile, with sweeping views of steep coastal cliffs and the chance to see a range of marine life from humpbacks to minke whales.
The old Signal Station was originally built here to save lives off the treacherous coast. You can learn more about the history of the station and the geology of the area at the visitor centre.
4. Head for a paddle on Barleycove Beach
Just back from Mizen Head, you can find the pretty Barleycove Beach. The sandy beach has Blue Flag status and is the perfect place to spend some time paddling in the clear water.
You can reach the beach via a boardwalk which crosses over a river estuary. There is a lifeguard service there for most of the summer, with a hotel located right near the beach as well.
The beach is backed by sand dunes, which were formed by a tidal wave which swept through the area after the Lisbon earthquake in 1755. The dunes are now designated a Special Area of Conservation for the animals that call the area home.
5. Spend a day in search of whales and dolphins
Just 30 minutes away from Schull, you can spend a day searching for whales and dolphins in Baltimore.
The town is the centre of whale watching in Cork and is home to a number of tour operators who can take you out for a close-up view of these incredible mammals.
From April to December, you can spot minke whales, common dolphins and harbour porpoises. In late summer and autumn, humpback and fin whales can often be seen as well.
6. Take a ferry to Cape Clear Island
Just off the coast of Cork, Cape Clear Island is the southernmost inhabited part of Ireland. You can reach the quiet island by a 40-minute ferry ride from Baltimore town or by a 45-minute ferry from Schull that operates during the summer months.
The ferry ride is worth the trip in itself, with incredible coastal views on the way (it’s worth booking the ferry that sails over to Fastnet Lighthouse en route to the island).
Once you reach the island, you can explore the historical sites and bird observatory, not far from the ferry dock. You can also head out for a steep climb up to the old lighthouse, which offers stunning views over the whole island and far-reaching sea.
7. Or nearby Sherkin Island
Slightly closer to the mainland, Sherkin Island is another day trip you can take from Schull. The island has historical sites, beaches and a lighthouse to explore. It’s easily accessible with regular ferries from Baltimore town.
The island has an interesting history. It was the ancestral home of the O’Driscoll clan, and you can still find their castle above the pier, along with the ruins of a 15th-century Franciscan abbey.
8. Visit the Baltimore Beacon
If you haven’t had enough spectacular coastal views yet, a trip out to the Beacon in Baltimore provides an incredible panorama of the harbour and islands.
The Baltimore Beacon is a white-painted stone structure at the entrance to Baltimore’s harbour and was built at the order of the British following the 1798 rebellion.
The best way to reach the beacon is on foot. The easy, one-hour walk takes you from Baltimore pier around the cove to the beacon, offering views all the way along.
9. Stretch your legs on the Knockomagh Wood walk
For a decent ramble, try the Lough Hyne walk, which heads up Knockomagh Hill. The 197m high hill offers beautiful views over Lough Hyne and the surrounding woodland. The walk takes about an hour, with the views a reward for the tough effort.
Where to stay in Schull
If you fancy staying in Schull in Cork, you’re spoiled for choice for places to rest your head, with something to suit most budgets.
Note: if you book a stay through one of the links below, we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
Schull has one hotel, the Schull Harbour Hotel. Overlooking the harbour in town, they have recently refurbished boutique rooms and self-catering apartments for couples, families and groups. The Chapters Restaurant and O’Brien’s Bar onsite are the perfect places to grab a bite to eat and order a craft beer with a sea view.
B&Bs and guesthouses
There’s no shortage of B&Bs and guesthouses in Schull. There are plenty of choices to suit a range of budgets and group sizes, with self-catering and traditional bed and breakfasts on offer. With some located right by the sea, you can kick back and enjoy the view from your own place.
Where to eat in Schull
Schull has quite a few good restaurants and cafes to grab a bite to eat, with most scattered along the main street.
A popular little café is Nickie’s Kitchen, which has delicious coffee and homemade sandwiches. For something a little sweeter, you can head to Paradise Crepe Restaurant for some delicious crepes and coffee.
For some all-round good food, The New Haven offers a great option for dinner with fresh seafood, pizza and steak a speciality at this casual place.
Like any popular seaside town, you can find quite a few pubs in Schull to sit back with a drink.
Most of them have some kind of live music on during the weekend and old school friendliness you can only find in a small town.
Across the road you can find Newman’s Pub, which is a small and cosy place for a beer or local whiskey with some friends.
Or, tucked down Pier Road, you’ll find O’Regan’s Bar and Venue, which has great live music nights and a good pint of Guinness.
FAQs about visiting Schull in West Cork
Since mentioning the town in a guide to West Cork that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Schull in West Cork.
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.
Are there many things to do in Schull in Cork?
One of the beauties of Schull is its size and its location: Schull is a small Irish village, so it offers a unique experience to those visiting for a few nights. It’s also close to many of the areas top attractions, so there’s plenty to do during the day.
Are there many places to eat in Schull?
There are plenty of restaurants in Schull. From the Bunratty Inn and the Townhouse to Hackett’s Bar, the New Haven and more, there’s something to tickle most fancies.
What are the best places to stay in Schull?
Accommodation wise, there’s one hotel in Schull – the Schull Harbour Hotel. However, there are plenty of B&Bs and guesthouses available.
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.