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Day Trip Diaries – A Day in Kinsale

Top 5 Things to do in Kinsale

Our resident Kinsale Insider, Áine O’Sullivan, gives us her top tips for visiting Kinsale for a day!

From working in Cork International Hotel for the past two years, and commuting daily from my beautiful hometown of Kinsale, I can honestly say not enough people realise how close it is when they stay with us. Cork International Hotel is located just 10 minutes from Cork City Centre and onlny 20 minutes drive to Kinsale. Having grown up in Kinsale, and having the privilege of scenic views, mouth-watering food and rich history, there are so many reasons why there is no better place to spend a day. I would like to think I have a unique perspective as a ‘native’ Kinsaler- so I hope you will enjoy some of my top tips below.

Don’t forget, after a day out in the fresh sea air, you will no doubt need some great food. Stop by Cork International Hotel on your way home and choose from our a la carte Dine menus. See all menus here. 


1. Experiencing the Blue Waters of Kinsale

One of my favourite outdoor activities and an excellent way to explore the harbour of Kinsale is OysterHaven. I have so many cherished memories here with the exhilarating team building activities, perfect for the whole family, to the friendliest team, it will definitely be a day you remember. From windsurfing to kayaking, there is something for the whole family to enjoy. One of the most convenient features of the activity centre is that they supply wetsuits and equipment needed for the activities.

On your way back after what will have been quite an energetic day- you can’t go wrong by stopping at Koko Kinsale– where you can grab a cup of the most amazing hot chocolate in the town- it will be sure to warm you all up after spending the day in the sea. Frank, the owner, is a chocolatier and makes the chocolate that is in every cup in-store. Definitely something unique and special.


2. Harbour Views and Ice-Cream Sundaes

If it’s a day of relaxation you are craving, Kinsale has that option in abundance. Kinsale boasts so many unique shops and Irish owned businesses that you would be remiss not to take a stroll through the colourful and vibrant town. A walk along the harbour, which is full of boats, will lead you straight to the best ice cream in town. Sundays is one of the most popular spots in Kinsale, and its not hard to see why. A 50’s inspired ice-cream bar that serves up delicious desserts & irresistible ice-cream flavours, this is definitely a hit with anyone that visits Kinsale. My favourite has to be the Cookie Dough or Mint Chocolate Chip (extra caramel sauce is a must!).

After this, you can’t spend a nicer afternoon than embarking on the Kinsale Harbour Cruise. A double-decker boat that cruises around the stunning harbour, tours are accompanied by a guide who share their knowledge & history about the wonderful harbour town.


3. Unique and Historic Old Head Signal Tower

One of the most popular spots in Kinsale for many years is the Old Head Signal Tower.  The journey from the town to the signal tower is only about a 7 minutes drive, but I promise you the time goes by very quickly on the journey as you are blessed by the most scenic of routes on the “Wild Atlantic Way”.

My favourite part is the tower top and if you are a golf lover you are in for a treat as you will be able to see the grounds of the famous Old Head Golf Links while learning a little history of the area about the tower and Old Head. A fun fact- the tower was actually built during the Napoleonic wars in response to threat of a French invasion.


4. Kinsale Equestrian Centre – Horse Riding & Delicious Doughnuts

In Kinsale, we have our own horse riding centre where you and your family will have the chance to ride horses in the lovely country green areas around the area.  Whether you prefer to stay in the yard or explore some of the trails which overlooks the Bandon River, it is entirely up to you. Interestingly, this Equestrian horse riding centre boasts one of the largest indoor arenas in Ireland (60m X 40m) and the centre has a hack/trek/trail over 40 acres of grassland. I can tell you from experience that the team there couldn’t be more helpful and friendly and they even supply all equipment needed for the activities. Top tip: Wear some warm clothes, like any summer’s day in Ireland, you can’t really trust that sunshine and you don’t want to be without the raincoat in the middle of a trek!

After an astonishing day of adventures, you’ll be dying for a treat before dinner-  I would highly recommend a fresh homemade doughnut from The Cups and Cones Shop. Only 5 minutes from the equestrian centre it is a local family run business. Like all other Kinsale natives, you’ll want to sit on the wall by the water across from the wonderfully colourful shop- enjoying some people watching and basking in the beautiful surroundings.


5. Garrestown Cliff Walk & Garrestown Beach

One of my favourite activities to do on a Sunday is to have a family picnic on the Garrestown Cliff Walk. While breathing in the beautiful fresh air of the Wild Atlantic Way, turn off your phones and just enjoy the full view of Garrestown sparkling blue ocean. From there you can also spend the day exploring the small hidden shore and little caves. The full cliff walk takes about one hour and is an easy enough stroll for all the family, boasting the best backgrounds for a family snap that you can treasure for a lifetime.

The stunning Garretstown Beach is only a stone’s throw away and the perfect way to spend the remainder of an afternoon. Like so many other Corkonians, this beach is very special to me, one of my favourite experiences used to be jumping from the pier and catching crabs with my little fishing net. The beach is very safe and whether it is a day of paddling or building sandcastles- it is one of the best family-friendly beaches in Cork and you will certainly all enjoy it.


Without sounding too biased, I can honestly say spending the day in Kinsale during your stay at Cork International Hotel will be a highlight your family will remember fondly. The vibrant town is bursting with energy, and only being 20 minutes away, is the perfect day out.

Don’t forget, you can pick up dinner on your way home from Kinsale at the Cork International Hotel. Click here to see our menus

Enjoy our Family Offers!

Choosing Cork as your family staycation this year? There’s no better place to stay than Cork International Hotel! With Cork City, Kinsale, Fota Wildlife Park and so much more all within driving distance, it is the perfect base for your much-needed family getaway.

3 night family packages from €359

5 night family break packages from €799

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