Day 1 – Coffee, coastal walks and some of the most beautiful towns in Ireland

Day one kicks-off our adventure in style.

We’re going to start our 4-day road trip by taking in a handful of some of the best things to do in West Cork, with a mix of adventurous and chilled activities for you to get stuck into.

Here’s everything you need to know about day 1!

What we'll be doingWhere we'll be sleepingWhat you'll need

Grabbing coffee in Kinsale and heading for a ramble
Tackling a stroll around the Old Head of Kinsale
Another ramble – this time on the sandy shores of Inchydoney Beach
A spot of lunch in Clonakilty
Drombeg Stone Circle for a gander
A spin through Glandore and Union Hall
A climb to the top Knockomagh Hill (the view is insaaaane)

Annie Mays Bed & Breakfast, Skibbereen

Hiking boots
Rain gear (weather dependent)
Some snacks

Day 1 Stop #1 – Kinsale for coffee and a stroll along its gorgeous streets

Arrive to Kinsale for 9:00

I’m making an assumption that you’re not living or staying in Kinsale, and that you’ve had to travel to get here.

And are in need of coffee ☕

Grab a some caffeine (the Cosy Cafe is gooood).

Take some time to ramble around this gorgeous little town. It’s colourful, narrow streets are guaranteed to delight.

the bench in kinsale
Photo © The Irish Road Trip
Kinsale in cork
Photo © The Irish Road Trip
colourful street in kinsale
Photo © The Irish Road Trip
kinsale town county cork
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Day 1 Stop #2 – The Old Head of Kinsale

Kinsale town to the Old Head of Kinsale – 20-minute drive (leave Kinsale at 9:40 and arrive at 10:00)

Our next stop is the Old Head of Kinsale to stretch the legs and to soak up some of Cork’s gorgeous coastline.

the old head of kinsale loop walk
Photo via Failte Ireland

This walk is a handy 6 km (roughly 1.5 hour) 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.

Day 1 Stop #3 – The sandy shores of Inchydoney

The Old Head of Kinsale to Inchydoney Beach – 1-hour drive (leave the old head at 11:30, arrive to Inchydoney for 12:30)

Inchydoney Beach is a lovely little addition to your first day on the road.

It’s racked up plenty of awards that have crowned it Ireland’s best beach over the years.

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.

Inchydoney beach cork weather
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

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 lungfull of pre-bed sea air (the view from the grassy verge near the car park is cracking) and it’s even better if you want head off on a stroll.

Well worth dropping by.

Day 1 Stop #4 – Clonakilty for a spot of lunch

Inchydoney Beach to Clonakilty – 10-minute drive (arrive to Clonakilty for around 13:40)

You should have worked up a fierce hunger at this point, so point the car in the direction of Clonakilty and head for Richy’s Restaurant.

When you’ve finished eating, have a post-feed ramble around the town.

Keep an eye out for the gorgeous Teach Beag pub in the picture below, but don’t let its gorgeous exterior tempt you in for a pint – we’ve lots more driving to do.

teach beag clonakilty
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Day 1 Stop #5 – Drombeg Stone Circle

Clonakilty to Drombeg Stone Circle – 20-minute drive (arrive to Drombeg for around 15:00)

Drombeg stone circle cork
Photo by Brian Morrison

Next up we’re heading to check out one of Ireland’s most well known stone circles.

Drombeg Stone Circle is easily accessible, and therefore often mobbed with visitors.

As we’ll be visiting in the afternoon, we’re likely to hit some peak visiting hours, but don’t let that put you off.

Drombeg stone circle cork
Photo by Brian Morrison

Drombeg Stone Circle is aligned to sunrise at the Winter Solstice and boasts 13 stones still standing out of the original 17.

During excavations in the late 1950s, cremated bones were found wrapped in thick cloth.

Nearby, you’ll find the remains of two prehistoric stone huts, which may have been occupied until the 5th century.

You can find out more about it’s history with the lads at Megalithic Ireland.

Day 1 Stop #6 – Spinning through Glandore and Union Hall

Drombeg to Glandore and on to Union Hall – 15-minute drive (take your time and arrive to Union Hall for 16:00)

We’re going to take a little bit of time to spin around the gorgeous fishing villages of Glandore and Union Hall.

glandore cork
Photo via Wikipedia

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 45 minutes and stop-off anywhere that tickles your fancy.

glandore in cork
Photo by Chris Hill

Day 1 Stop #7 – Climbing up Knockomagh Hill

Union Hall to Knockomagh Hill – 20-minute drive (leave Union Hall at 16:00, arrive to Knockomagh Hill for 16:20)

I put out a post on Instagram recently and asked people to recommend the best things to do in West Cork.

A lot of the recommendations were for places that I had already heard of but a few, like the one for Knockomagh Hill, we’re completely new to me.

This climb is fantastic.

It took us (myself and the aul lad) roughly an hour and 15 minutes to get to the top, but this was due to the fact that we kept stopping to admire the view.

Knockomagh woods skibbereen
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Throughout the climb you’ll come across lovely old stone steps like the ones pictured below.

The trail is pretty well maintained, and there’s plenty of places to stop for a couple of minutes for anyone with low fitness levels.

Knockomagh woods things to do in west cork
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Here’s the view that you’ll be treated to when you reach the top.

That’s Lough Hyne over my left shoulder.

Knockomagh woods cork guide
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Spend some time working up an appetite here – we’re off for dinner next.

Day 1 Stop #7 – Food, pints and a bed for the night in Skibbereen

Knockomagh Hill to Skibbereen – 10-minute drive (leave Knockomagh Hill at 18:20, arrive to Skibbereen for 18:30)

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.

Check in to your B&B (we’re recommending Annie Mays Bed & Breakfast – if you’re looking for somewhere else to stay, open this map and zoom in on Skibbereen)

skibbereen town

When you’re ready, take the 2-minute saunter down to An Chistin Beag and grab a feed.

It’s been a busy aul day.

If you’re hankering for a pint or two, nip down the road to Cahalanes Bar, and spend a couple of hours kicking-back and rounding the day off in style.

Where the Road Trip will take us on Day 2 (stop #1 involves whales and dolphins)

That’s day 1 done!

Here’s where we’re taking you on day 2.

Click ‘3’ below to check out day 2 of our West Cork road trip 😘