If you’re debating staying in Union Hall in Cork, you’ve landed in the right place.
If you are looking for a good base in the southwest of Cork that gives you easy access to stunning beaches and some of the best things to do in West Cork, Union Hall is a great shout.
Quiet and scenic, the lovely little fishing village of Union Hall is one of a number of gorgeous towns in Cork that just seems to sooth the soul.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Union Hall in Cork to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Union Hall in Cork
Although a visit to Union Hall in Cork is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
2. Population and summer swell
Union Hall has a population of 270 people. However, as it’s one of the most picturesque small towns in Ireland, when the summer finally arrives, you can expect numbers to swell.
2. A peaceful slice of paradise
The area around Union Hall is known for its woodlands, beaches, rivers and islands, and while you might be limited to a few pubs and places to eat (not necessarily a bad thing), the result is an often quiet village that punches well above its weight.
3. A great base for exploring
Union Hall makes the perfect hub when it comes to exploring many of the best places to visit in Cork, and a stay here is a world away from what many travelling around Ireland will be used to.
About Union Hall
The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive at Union Hall is the setting and the size of the village – Union Hall is tiny, and it’s surrounded by lush green hills.
The harbour is home to active fishing fleets and anchorage to pleasure boats with waters calm enough for an array of water activities such as canoeing.
Union Hall has had its fair share of historical events, too. In late July and early August, 1922, army troops arrived in the village to outflank Republican forces operating in the area.
Then, many years later, in 2012, a tragedy occurred when a fishing vessel known as ‘Tit Bonhomme’ sank near Glandore.
Many people from Union Hall spent weeks searching for the sailors (from Ireland and Egypt) who sadly lost their lives.
Things to do in Union Hall (and nearby)
There’s a handful of things to do in Union Hall and hundreds of things to do a short spin away from the village.
Both of the above combined make Union Hall in Cork a great base for a road trip! Here are some of our favourite things to do in Union Hall.
1. Have an early morning ramble around the village
The summer season brings many visitors to Union Hall, so there’s no better time for a ramble around the village than first thing in the morning.
If you are lucky enough, you might spot the odd seal or dolphin when you stroll along the Keelbeg Strand or The Cusheen, which is by the Reen Pier.
If you are in Union Hall in June, you should catch a glimpse of the Union Hall festival, which is full of games and every kind of water sport you can think of.
You could also head to the Union Hall Smoked fish store if you want to learn about the ins and outs of smoking locally caught tuna, mackerel and salmon.
Related read: Check out our guide to the best beaches in West Cork (tourist favourites and hidden gems)
2. Take a spin over to Glandore and enjoy a coffee with a view
Glandore is only a 5 min drive east over the new causeway (or you could take the 36 min walk if it’s a nice day).
There is a lot to see and do here, but a nice cup of coffee with a captivating waterside view should be at the top of the list.
After a caffeine boost, you could take one of the local walks or explore more of the harbour. The harbour is a haven for windsurfing, water-skiing, fishing and the Glandore Harbour Yacht Club.
3. Step back in time at Drombeg Stone Circle
Located about a mile and a half east of Glandore is this striking archaeological structure. Drombeg Stone Circle is surrounded by rolling fields with a strip of distant ocean serving as a backdrop making the whole site a visual treat.
There is no concrete theory as to why our Bronze Age ancestors built this structure. However, it is believed to line up with the moon from time to time (though the exact calendar has yet to be discovered), which would have allowed the ancient Celts to worship the celestial body.
Close to the stone circle is a Fulacht Fiadh, an ancient cooking pit that would have been filled with water and then had hot stones added to boil it.
4. Beaches, beaches and more beaches
Union Hall makes the perfect base for exploring some of the best beaches in Cork. Aside from the many beaches close to Glandore, the next best beach is Carrigillihy Bay Beach which is about an 8-minute drive.
If you take a 10-minute spin south of Union Hall, you can find Squince Beach, a small and secluded beach which is great for kayaking.
Trá an Oileáin is around 10 minutes away, too, and the popular Owenahincha Beach (Little Island Strand) is just 16 min drive east of Union Hall.
5. Hit the water on a whale watch tour
The closest tour is Cork Whale Watch which is a 7-minute drive south of Union Hall. For around €40 (prices may change), you get 4 hours out in the ocean with Captain Colin steering you to where all the action is.
If you head west towards Baltimore, you can find Whale Watch West Cork, which has been operating for over seven years and has racked up rave reviews online.
6. Visit the mighty Mizen Head
An hour’s drive west of Union Hall will lead you to the most South Westerly Point of Ireland known as Mizen Head.
The cliffs of Mizen Head stand proudly at the end of the Mizen Peninsula overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Mizen is home to the now-iconic Mizen Bridge that sits high above the icy water below. If you cross it, keep an eye out for seals below, as they’re often floating in the swell.
7. Do the Lough Hyne hill walk (Knockomagh Hill)
Next up is a walk at Lough Hyne Marine Nature Reserve (Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve, to be exact).
The Lough Hyne walk, which only takes an hour and a bit, will lead you up Knockomagh Hill with the reward being some of the best views in West Cork at the top.
Knockomagh Hill is 197m high and can get muddy, so shoes with decent grip are a must. After the walk, take a spin to Skibbereen, where you’ll find plenty of places for a bite to eat.
8. Take a ferry to Cape Clear or Sherkin Island
There are several islands a stone’s throw from Union Hall in Cork, and many are easily accessed from Baltimore harbour, around a 25-minute drive from Union Hall.
The first island, Sherkin Island, boasts three wonderful beaches, and you will find many musicians and artists here who visit for a bit of inspiration.
Cape Clear Island is situated below Sherkin Island, Ireland’s Southernmost inhabited Gaeltacht island.
Roaringwater Bay, the bay that all these islands are located in, is said to be one of the best locations in Europe for dolphin and whale sightings.
Union Hall Accommodation
If you fancy staying in Union Hall 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.
1. Shearwater Country House
This B&B feels more like a luxury boutique hotel, with a lovely private sun terrace to enjoy ocean views towards the harbour while sipping on a cup of tea or coffee in the morning.
Each room comes with a TV, seating area, tea and coffee making facilities. Parking and WiFi is free. There are several accommodation options here: the B&B itself, the self-catering option and the apartment.
2. Lis-Ardagh Lodge
This B&B features garden views as well as a lovely terrace to enjoy. Parking and WiFi are free and guests can enjoy a continental breakfast to get the day started right.
All rooms come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels and an en-suite bathroom. If you are looking for somewhere to chill in the evening, there is a shared lounge area as well as a mini-gym.
3. Sea Haven
This holiday home comes with three bedrooms, a flat-screen TV and a fully equipped kitchen for self-catering. The front desk is 24-hour, so you don’t need to stress about coming in late after a late night ramble.
There is also a sun terrace, BBQ and tennis court on the property that guests are free to enjoy. The property is also right on the water.
Union Hall restaurants and pubs
Union Hall has plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. The town is known for its good food and drinks, with many prioritising locally sourced produce.
1. Dinty’s Bar
Dinty’s isn’t just a traditional Irish pub but also a great spot for a pint or a bite. The food here takes full advantage of the locally sourced produce and ingredients such as black sole and muscles with garlic.
2. The Boatman’s Inn
This family run business has been in operation for many years and comes with an intimate beer garden with timber decking, perfect for a pint in the sun or eating al fresco (or both)! The pub also has live music at times.
FAQs about visiting Union Hall 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 Union Hall 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 Union Hall in Cork?
So, there are only a handful of things to do in Union Hall, however, the big draw of this little village is its setting and the fact that it’s a stone’s throw from some of the areas to attractions.
Are there many restaurants in Union Hall?
No – you don’t have a huge choice of restaurants in Union Hall, but both Dinty’s and the Boatman’s are great spots for a fine feed.
What are the best places to stay in Union Hall?
B&Bs and guesthouses provide accommodation for those visiting the village. In the guide above, you’ll find two of the best (Shearwater and Lis-Ardagh Lodge).