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Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Day 4. Cobh, Kinsale and Clonakilty

Day 4 is a BELTER. Get a decent feed in Dungarvan and prepare yourself for one of my favourite legs of this trip.

1. Colourful houses, a grand aul Cathedral and a prison in Cobh

Ireland in February 2020

Photo by Brian Morrison via Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland

Our first stop of the day is Cobh – it’s a 1-hour spin from Dungarvan and it’s home to plenty more than the colourful houses above.

Cobh is a gorgeous little town, with plenty of stuff to see and do, so we’re going to spend a good chunk of time exploring it! When you arrive, head for St. Coleman’s Cathedral’s and get to the car park.

If you want to see St. Coleman’s Cathedral and the colourful houses from the view above, you’ll need to head for ‘Spy Hill’. Pop it into Google maps and you’ll find it handy enough.

From here, it can be a little tricky based on your height, as you’ll need to peer over/climb up onto a wall which obstructs the view. If you climb it, be careful! The view above is what awaits!

For those of you that are fond of architecture, nip back up to the cathedral and take a look inside.

Named after the patron saint of the diocese, St. Colman Mac Leinin, the structure was inspired by the great cathedrals of medieval France.

Admire it from the outside as it towers over you and then take a ramble inside and enjoy the magnificent design of its interior.

2. Spike Island (Ireland’s Alcatraz)

spike island cobh

Photos by Irish Drone Photography (shutterstock)

Our third and final stop in Cobh is Spike Island. Often referred to as ‘Ireland’s Alcatraz’ online, Spike Island was named Europe’s leading tourist attraction at the World Travel Awards 2017.

You’ll need to grab a ferry from Cobh which takes between 10 and 20 minutes to reach the island.

In the last 1300 years, Spike Island has hosted a 6th century Monastery, a 24 acre Fortress, the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times and centuries of island homes.

The island’s history has included monks, monasteries, rioters, redcoats, captains and convicts.

Today the island is dominated by Fort Mitchel, a fortress that became a prison holding over 2,300 prisoners.

3. Kinsale for a ramble and a bite to eat

colourful street in kinsale

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

We’re off to Kinsale, next. It’s a 45-minute drive from Cobh. If you can, aim to arrive for around 14:00.

I’ve been here a handful of times before, but I keep coming back as it’s always a lovely little town to have a ramble around and grab a bite to eat.

Take a bit of time to wander around the town and then head for food. Drop into the Lemon Leaf Cafe for food and grab a cup of coffee to-go.

4. A stroll around the Old Head of Kinsale

the old head of kinsale loop walk

Photo via Failte Ireland

The drive to our next stop, the Old Head of Kinsale, won’t take any longer than 20 minutes in the car (leave Kinsale at 14:50 and arrive at 15:10).

This walk is a handy 6 km (roughly 1.5 hours) loop walk that takes in remarkable views at every turn.

The Old Head of Kinsale is a magnificent narrow promontory into the Atlantic Ocean which rises hundreds of feet from the sea with craggy cliffs. Take your time and enjoy the gush of Atlantic wind that’ll clatter you from every angle.

5. A ramble along the sand to round off the day

Inchydoney beach cork weather

Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The Old Head of Kinsale to Inchydoney Beach – 58-minute drive (arrive to Inchydoney for around 17:38)

The promise of a stroll on a beach like Inchydoney to round off a day of exploring is enough to help you power through the last of the journey from Kinsale.

Now, I’ve parked in the hotel car park beside the beach before as I wanted to use the bathroom, but there are signs up specifically stating that the car park is for customers use only.

Use it at your own risk or grab a coffee or a bite to eat in the hotel first.

I really do love this place. It’s amazing at sunset if you just fancy getting a bit of pre-bed sea air (the view from the grassy verge near the car park is great) and it’s even better if you want to go for a stroll.

Well worth dropping by.

6. Clonakilty for the night

Clonakilty village

Photo by Marcela Mul (Shutterstock)

Inchydoney Beach to Clonakilty – 8-minute drive (arrive to Clonakilty for around 18:30) I’ve stayed in O’Donovan’s Hotel in Clonakilty previously, loved it and would 100% recommend it.

The hotel, décor and the place in general was pretty dated, but that, and the wonderful staff, gave the place a charm that I find rare to come by in hotels in Ireland.

It was also a couple of seconds from this pub…When I was here in the winter of 2017, the hotel bar was virtually empty. I moseyed on down, grabbed a table and ordered fish and chips and a pint of Guinness.

The evening consisted of myself, two local aul lads and the barman, all sat back, in comfortable silence, eating and watching a re-run of a David Attenborough documentary.

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Jan Garvey

Thursday 25th of April 2024

We did your tour last year, we thought you being Irish and living in Ireland you would have more knowledge of Ireland than us. We followed your Itinerary to the letter only choosing different accommodation from time to time. This tour was the best ! I would recommend it every day of the week. The views, the walks, the people, I will remember this adventure forever, I'm so glad I found your page. Thank you for your hard work it is very much appreciated, and for anyone out there, do It ! trust the Itinerary you won't be disappointed its amazing.

John Duke

Monday 4th of April 2022

Morning Keith O Hara I have been looking at your 18 days tour of Ireland I am arriving on the 14th April at Rosslare can I start my tour on day 2 I am driving a small camper van can you tell me about camp sites on my around please and do I have to book or just turn up my name is John Duke

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hey John! You'll find campsites in most counties along that trip. The best way to do it is to just give it a Google and then suss out a spot with good reviews (I've never stayed in a campsite in Ireland, so I wouldn't like to lead you astray). In terms of booking. I'd recommend doing so if you're visiting during the busier months of the year, like summer. I hope this helps!


Tuesday 11th of January 2022

This was a great trip to read through. I understand how tired you are after writing so much - my husband and I are coming to Ireland from the U.S. in May 2022 for 3 weeks, and I've been planning everything myself for many months. Lots of great suggestions for places to visit, things we shouldn't miss, etc. Also, many of the things you suggested are already part of our plans, so it made me feel like I had done a good job! Thanks for all of the great help - we can't wait for the trip to begin!


Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Really digging this blog!! I have the travel blog so bad and Ireland is next on the list - your recommendations are speaking to me! Thanks for taking the time to create all the wonderful road trips / ideas.

Akshay Bansal

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Hi Keith,

I am considering travelling to Ireland this summer via road-trip and AirBnBs. While researching, I found your blog and found it very helpful and resourceful.

I am travelling from New Delhi (India) with my extended family (infants, toddlers, siblings, wife, parents etc.). Assuming this might be our only trip to Ireland together as a family, I am interested in covering Ireland comprehensively within a limitation of 11-13 days.

Is it possible to shorten the suggested 18-day itinerary to the above duration by bypassing some of the locations or sites. I understand this would mean we missing a few locations, but need your help.

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