Duration: 3 night(s) From €550
Trip created by Erin Elliott
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The undulating hills of West Cork meander across the narrow peninsula that stretch out into the Atlantic. Rugged coasts and sheep-shorn grass make for perfect walking country. West Cork is a region that values its food – particularly its cheese – above all else, making it a foodie’s paradise.
Rich in ancient history, Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) villages, and tranquil coves, this often-overlooked region is actually one of the finest places for out enthusiasts to explore. The narrow country lanes and rural villages make West Cork feel like the place at the ends of the earth.
This short break self drive trip is perfect on its own, or the West Cork Escape can be extended for those looking for a longer holiday. Looking to get even more amazing experiences? Check out the options to upgrade and extend your stay in West Cork.
Cork, Ireland’s second city, has a vibrant centre and is worth wandering around. Ireland may once have been known for spuds and cabbage, but this little island has come a long way. The English Market, one of Europe’s oldest food markets, is a perfect place to discover fresh, local delicacies, from farmhouse cheeses and fresh seafood for which West Cork is world-famous, to locally-blended spices, and everything in between. Or hop in the car and head straight to the wee colourful town of Kinsale on the sea to breathe in the salty air. Relax to the crash of waves while enjoying a seaside lunch overlooking Kinsale’s marina before driving the coast road to your accommodation. (B)
The meandering emerald landscape in which you are staying is so impressive it has been named a European Destination of Excellence in the development of sustainable tourism. West Cork’s Sheep’s Head Way is a community undertaking allowing access to some of the most beautiful and unspoilt landscapes in Ireland. Today you will meet with a local guide, who will tailor the day’s walking on the Sheep’s Head Way according to your ability and preferences. The Atlantic is never far away and options include ridge and shoreline walking along borreens, empty beaches or windswept heathery uplands. B, G
*Optional Upgrade: Visit to a West Cork Cheesemaker
See Upgrades tab for full details.
Today you are free to explore a final West Cork peninsula – The Beara Peninsula. In this breathtaking region, there are plenty of options for short walks, taking in some quiet coastal landscapes or the widening expanses of the Caha Mountains with views to Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula and beyond. Spend time in the wee coastal village of Bantry where the spectacular views and the 17th century Bantry House are worth a visit. Perhaps you might take the ferry out past the seal colony to the exotic, paradisal gardens of Garnish Island where world-renowned garden design fuses with native West Cork plants.(B)
*Optional Upgrade: Guided Walk with Archeologist
See Upgrades tab for full details.
You can choose to extend your stay in colourful Kinsale or head back to the airport. (B)
*Optional Upgrade: Kinsale Extension
See Upgrades page for full details.
This self drive trip features accommodations chosen for their excellent location, service and comfort in West Cork. Expect small, comfortable and characterful lodgings. You will have the choice between cosy B&Bs or 3-star family-run hotels or guesthouses, with options and in towns or rural communities. Accommodation rooming is a choice of double or twin rooms, which are en-suite with a shower.
You will also have the option to upgrade your accommodation standards to deluxe and luxury options in the same region. See more info in the Upgrades section.
Each morning, enjoy a homemade breakfast of your choice at your accommodation. We will provide local suggestions for lunches and dinners, to be taken according to your own preferences.
At the start of your trip on Day 1, pick up your hire car. The closest airport is Cork Airport in Cork city, and the next closest is Kerry Airport. Both have good hire car options, though Cork is larger. Dublin is also an option, and is about a 3-3.5 hour from the trip starting point. Of course, you may also use your own vehicle.
Drop off your hire car on the final day of your trip, or choose to extend your stay.
*Day 2 | Visit to a Cheesemaker
West Cork has a proud tradition of dairy products. Get hands on with a behind-the- scenes tour of an award-winning cheesemaker whose cheeses have become a symbol of West Cork. Visit the small farm for a look at the cheese-making process and perhaps have a taste of this delicious product!
*Day 3 | Tour With an Archeologist
Ireland has rich tapestry of history going back thousands of years. While in West Cork, dive into history when you meet up with a charismatic archeologist and spiritualist who will take you to archeological gems. Conjuring up the stories of the ancient peoples of Ireland by visiting Neolithic monuments, beautiful churches, and stones that feature in popular Irish folklore.
Extend Your Stay in Kinsale
Kinsale is one of the most vibrant coastal towns in southwest Ireland. Extend your stay to experience small town Ireland, a lively marina, great local food, and artesian shops. Start your visit with a guided walking tour to get your bearings and learn about the town’s rich heritage.
Visit Cape Clear Island
Ireland’s west coast islands are microcosms of Irish tradition. Meet your guide for the day and head over to Cape Clear island for a hike around this amazing place, still home to a Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) community. Visit a goat farm in the island to taste the rich, creamy goat’s cheese produce my a local blind goat farmer.
The southwestern-most region of Ireland has a long maritime history. From raiding pirates to fishing villages, this region was often the last view of Europe that immigrants to North America had. Enjoy a private sailboat charter – either full day or half day – to discover quiet inlets and beautiful coves. Or head further out into the ocean for the chance to spot whales!
After a day spent exploring the raw beauty of West Cork, perhaps you’d like to retire to luxurious settings. Choose to upgrade to deluxe or luxury accommodations, including countryside estates and Georgian mansions.
Planning to hire a car here in Ireland? Make your life easier by leaving the car rental process up to us. Just tell us your preferences and we’ll do the rest.
Originally hailing from the wilds of Canada, Erin was drawn to Ireland’s emerald hills, rugged coasts and big waves in 2014 to surf, practice yoga and travel. Joining Wilderness Ireland in 2017, Erin draws from her own experiences travelling and living in North America and Ireland to create magical Ireland adventures. From Donegal to Clare to Cork, Erin knows all the best spots along the Wild Atlantic Way!
- Erin ElliottAsk Erin a Question
At your Own Pace
Discovery journeys are self-drive with personal activity experiences tailored to your own personal activity level. They allow you to discover Ireland with one-to-one meet ups with local guides and experts who can lead you through activities and hikes at you own pace. They also include overnight stops at the very best local 4 and 5 star accommodations. For the days you are self-guided, we will provide you with suggestions of places to stop, eat and things to see along with maps and directions.
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