10 Unusual Places to Visit in Cork

1. Midnight kayaking in Lough Hyne, Skibbereen

One of the most magical and popular kayaking experiences, a moonlight / starlight paddle starts one hour before darkness. There is always something to make you gasp on the moonlight / starlight kayak trip, whether it be the silhouette of the seabirds on the bank, the red sunset, the whole panoply of stars overhead, the moonlight reflected on the water, or, at certain times of year, the astonishing bio-luminescence. This is a light emitted by marine life, which, from the paddler’s point of view, causes the water to light up around your paddle in 1,000 tiny lights.

The night time kayak is very gentle and atmospheric. Beginners are  welcome, and indeed it is many people’s first experience of kayaking. The trip takes place in the safety of either Castlehaven Bay or Lough Hyne .

Midnight Kayaking

Pictured: Jim Kennedy (Photo: Atlantic Sea Kayaking)


Jim Kennedy, Atlantic Sea Kayaking



2. Butter Musuem, Cork City

The Cork Butter Museum is a unique institution, celebrating one of the great success stories of Ireland, the butter trade. Located in the historic Shandon area of Cork city, the story begins with the central role of dairy culture in the Island of Saints and Scholars. The Museum goes on to describe the internationally important Butter Exchange in nineteenth century Cork, the traditional craft of home butter making and the modern success of the Kerrygold brand. In the course of this story, the commercial, social, and domestic life of Ireland is recalled.

Butter Museum

(Photo: courtesy of Cork Butter Museum)


Cork Butter Museum


3. Fairy woods in Rineen, Castlehaven

Take a stroll Rineen woods. Bring the little ones along to find the fairy houses built and maintained by a local artist. There are numerous carefully constructed fairy houses built into the roots of the trees along the walk and it is a great treat for the little ones.
Park your car in the carpark and start your walk on the south west side near the picnic bench. If the entrance to the picnic area is closed you can park at the barrier and start your walk on the grassy path to the right of the barrier. Bring good walking boots/wellingtons as the path can be muddy.

Fairy Tree
Photo: Fairy Tree (via Instagram: @Mrfruity2)
Union Hall, for walking route and travel info

4. Whale Watching tour off West Cork

When it comes to unique wildlife encounters there are few things as breath-taking and humbling as coming face to face with the world’s largest creatures. Whale watching in Ireland and whale watching in West Cork in particular has now reached a high point for whale and dolphin watching enthusiasts the world over. All whale species seen in this part of Ireland range over an area between Cape Clear and the Old Head of Kinsale but may frequently be seen feeding in company and with Common Dolphins in attendance. It is not uncommon to have Minke Whales, Fin Whales and Common Dolphins all feeding in the same area.  Whale watching day trips are available, which includes viewing the seals and other marine wildlife along with the coastline of West Cork. Whale watching day trips also take in the beautiful coastline of West Cork.


Whale W WC


 Photo 1: Minke Whale (Daniel Lettice/Cork Whale Watch)

Photo 2: Common Dolphins (Whale Watch West Cork)

Photo 3 : (Richard O’Flynn/ Cork Whale Watch)


Nic Slocum, Whale Watch West Cork



Colin Barnes, Cork Whale Watch


5. Visit Dursey island via the cable car

Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the turbulent waters of the Dursey Sound and offers a truly singular experience. Ireland’s only cable car, and one of the very few cable cars that traverses seawater in all of Europe, it is one of the great attractions of the island and people travel from far and wide to give it a go!


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.30.42

(Photo: Ireland.com & Beara Tourism Association)


Beara Tourism,


6. Do the heritage trail and visit the alpacas in Drimoleague

A two hour National Loop walk combining village landscape, hilltop panorama, woodland and riverbank. Starting at Drimoleague Railway Yard, your walk takes you past All Saints Church, the Old Graveyard and the Famine Pit. A steep climb takes you to the Top of the Rock where the old village once stood. Here you can survey the hills before descending into the River Ilen Valley for a lovely river bank walk.

In addition, the Alpaca walk is a 1km stroll with a chance to meet the alpacas a perfect walk for the family.


(Photo: Waterfall Alpaca Farm, Facebook Page)


David and Elizabeth Ross, Pod Pairc Walking Centre



Waterfall Alpaca Farm


7. Explore a prehistoric trail of the stone forts and ring forts

Cork is one of the richest areas in Ireland for megalithic structures. We have portal tombs, stone circles, stone rows, ogham stones, fulacht fiadhs, and a range of other megaliths. All you need is a good guide and an OS map of the area to explore these historical wonders. One of the most famous sites in Cork is Drombeg Stone Circle, located close to Glandore village.


Drombeg Stone Circle : (Photo via Instagram: @chovahanis)




8. Visit Cape Clear island to see heritage centre and goat farm where they make ice cream

Ireland’s southernmost inhabited Gaeltacht island, 3 miles long by 1 mile wide, lies 8 miles off the coast of West Cork. 3 miles west of the island stands the solitary Fastnet Rock. Saint Ciarán, the island’s patron saint, allegedly the earliest of Ireland’s four pre-Patrician saints, was born on Cape Clear.  Saint Ciarán’s well is one of the first features you encounter on arrival at Trá Chiaráin where the Islanders gather each year on the 5th of March to celebrate his feast day. The Heritage Centre includes a museum, exhibition area and archive. Many artifacts of maritime, folk and farm life are exhibited and extensive material has been assembled for the inclusion in the museum archive resource. Established in 1979, Cléire Goats is an eco-friendly farm near Cape Clear Heritage Center, church, and island walking trails. Come meet the friendly goats and people, and try our delicious homemade goats cheese and ice cream which is for sale. Come see the goats being milked between 10 and 12 daily. Cléire Goats is on Facebook and is also associated with WWOOF Ireland.


Cape Clear Island

(Photo: Ed Harper, http://www.capeclearisland.ie)

(Photo: via Instagram: @todestinationunknown )


Cape Clear Island


9. Visit Liss Ard estate Skibbereen to see the mystical a Sky Garden

Liss Ard Estate  in West Cork, is a place of enchantment and relaxation, just one mile from Skibbereen town, nestled on 200 acres of undulating Irish countryside dotted with beautiful woodlands and a private 50 acre glittering lake. And one of the greatest surprises is the living art featured in the Irish Sky Garden: the giant earth and stone works, The Crater, by famed artist James Turrell, with its contemplative ‘Vault Purchase’ or plinth at its centre. As a landscape feature The Crater has encouraged many landscape architects to make their pilgrimage to Liss Ard over the years, but it is also an enlightening experience for the solitary surveyor, lying on their back on the ‘Vault Purchase’, gazing up through the Craters ‘bowl’ at the sky.

Liss Ard

(Photo: Liss Ard Estate/ Lissardestate.com)


Liss Ard Estate (opens seasonally)


10. Try water zorbing in Funnanway Dunmanway

Do you think that if you are brave enough to skydive from a plane or even bungee-jump off a bridge, that you would be brave enough to ride down a West Cork hill inside a giant see through zorb ball. Well, come to Funmanway and prove yourself to us, because what they offer outside the hill fortressed Cork town of Dunmanway, is as extreme and frightening as you will get in Ireland! Funmanway has the only cornered globe riding track in Europe running at over 265 meters and an even steeper straight track at 245meters. You can ride these tracks either harnessed into the globe ball which will send you ass over head like Robbie Keane or yourself and your hysterical mates can chill inside in an orb filled with 12 gallons of our spring water, rolling and sliding around each other the whole way down the back of the Yewtree Hill, for what will feel like eternity, ok well not really eternity, just a lot longer than you can keep up screaming.


Photo: (Funmanway.ie)




Don’t forget to follow us on:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WestCorkTourismAssembly   and

Twitter https://twitter.com/TourismWestCork

*Please note all activities may operate on a seasonal or weather permitting basis, please contact the provider before you visit.

20 thoughts on “10 Unusual Places to Visit in Cork

  1. Padraig Whooley says:

    What a pity the top image of the breaching humpback whale doesn’t look like it is from Ireland, let alone West Cork. The mountainous back drop and large hotels on the seafront would suggest it’s from somewhere like Hawaii and we’ve seen this image on a website promoting whale watching trips to Hawaii. With many hundreds of strong images of this iconic species from West Cork since the late 1990’s, it seems a missed opportunity to have to use images that are not from Ireland and it sends out a rather confused message regarding the enormous potential for whale watching here in West Cork. Drop us a line if you are short any images.


    • visitwestcork says:

      Hi Padraig,
      A hasty Google search led me astray, and I have updated the article with some home grown images. I chose a photo of a beautiful Minke Whale instead from your collection. Many thanks for your feedback. Continued success to Cork Whale Watch for 2015.


  2. Clare O'Sullivan Blackmore says:

    Fantastic ideas we’ve done a few already including Rineen Woods this Saturday, we all loved it 10 of us from age 3 – 70. Such enchanted natural beauty all free!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda o halloran says:

    For families looking for Fun Free Festivals- Shandon Street Festival takes place under the Shandon Bells on June 20th this year. From 1-6pm.Puppet shows, magic shows, face painting, ceili beag, farm animals, lots of live music and all this for Free. Food can be purchased from the food stalls, tho bringing your own picnic is fun. For more visit us on facebook shandon street fest or website http://www.shandonstreetfest.com. Everyone is welcome. Pedestrian event- wheelchair friendly

    Liked by 1 person

  4. nessieos says:

    Thank You for including Cleire Goats. As a seasonal volunteer to the farm, I know that it often gets forgotten about. Free tours on the farm, myth busting, organic goat icecream and cheese.

    Its just a wonderful place to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alex says:

    #5 was utter dissapointment as we waited 2hrs for the railcar to pick us up yet no one was there to operate it, long way home back and haven’t been on island.


  6. Gregory Carson, Esq. says:

    My wife and I stayed at Liss Ard (my great grand father (George Carson of Cornea House) )was once the executor of the estate and I ran the loop and trails in Drimoleague up to the castle (mostly because my great great Uncle was George Robinson) and I want to run where he lived.

    But now my wife and I will have to go back to do the other 8 things….we love the West Cork Hotel and Skibbereen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • visitwestcork says:

      Fantatsic to hear Gregory – I hope you have visited David and Elizabeth Ross in Pod Pairc walking centre in Drimolegue? They have a beautiful collection or oral history stories to accompany walkers on the routes around Drimoleague.


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