Trip Idea: Haven Coast

It's time to relax on your Wild Atlantic Way journey

Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork

Let the Haven Coast be your safe harbour as you weave along the exhilarating Wild Atlantic Way between Ballydehob and Kinsale

The food. The fields. The easy-going West Cork vibe. And oh, that ocean: sparkling in picturesque port towns; crashing against wave-scarred cliffs; hiding hulking sea giants – and glowing by night as if by magic. Follow this fairytale trail between Ballydehob and Kinsale, and be rewarded with a true natural treasure: the Old Head of Kinsale.

Ballydehob to Old Head of Kinsale

Explore our itinerary on the map
Map View

Day One

Celts and copper mines, castles and coastal thrills, fill your first day with '"craic" galore as you begin your journey through the heartlands of West Cork.

A driving 27 mins
Ballydehob Harbour

A truly traditional village by the name of Ballydehob

Set against the graceful backdrop of the Twelve Arch Bridge, cosy Ballydehob village is endearingly unassuming. Steal an hour to poke around the Gurtnagrough Folk Museum, packed to the rafters – literally – with contraptions and curios dating back as far as the 1700s. Or delve into the fascinating life of wrestling champion, Danno O'Mahony, at the Irish Whip Bar! Just one of the intriguing tales told by the proprietors, the O'Briens.

If you have more time

Climb Mount Gabriel, where copper was mined 4,000 years ago and stone remnants of the Celts still stand.

B driving 14 mins

Ride on the crest of the waves with Whale Watch

West Cork is a nature-lover’s delight. These waters host a thrilling range of marine wildlife – porpoises, dolphins, seals, minke, fin and humpback whales, and even an occasional basking shark. Birdwatchers should look out for kittiwakes, gannets and puffins, among other species. Our advice? Take a whalewatching tour so you can see some of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

If you have more time

Experience the islands: hitch a ferry ride to Heir Island and the unforgettable Island Cottage Restaurant or make a beeline for Cape Clear Island during its annual Storytelling Festival (September).

C driving 35 mins
Lough Hyne

Entering the incredible waterworld of Lough Hyne

By day, enjoy the natural wonders of this marine nature reserve, packed with a multitude of marine life that call Lough Hyne’s salt water home. By night, fall in love with a star-lit kayaking session through waters twinkling with bio-luminescence.

Alternatively, row out to Castle Island, home to the ruins of Cloghan Castle and the legend of Labhra: the king with donkey’s ears!

If you have more time

Fancy some Onion & Cider Soup with Mature Smoked Gubbeen Cheese for lunch? Pitstop at Georgina Campbell's Restaurant of the Year: Good Things @ Dillon's Corner in Skibbereen. Delicious! 

D driving 33 mins
Drombeg Stone Circle

A Druid's Altar that has stood the test of time

Jutting up out of the ancient earth, the 17 free-standing stones of Drombeg have reached to the same Glandore sky for 3,000 years. Known as the Druid’s Altar, this sacred place remains adorned with the shell and flower offerings of countless, nameless visitors. Arranged symmetrically with a pair of tall portal stones forming the entrance, place your own offering, and feel the pervasive sense of the past emerge.

If you have more time

Feeling sentimental? Pop over to Castletownshend for a photo opp beside one of the last standing old-fashioned Telefón (telephone) boxes in Ireland!

Michael Collins Centre

The story of the Big Fella, Michael Collins

From precocious schoolboy to revolutionary leader, peer into the life of the Big Fella: Clonakilty’s most famous son. Rebellion and legacy, love and war all play out in the Michael Collins Centre’s audiovisual show, before you step outside to the quiet, grassy ambush trail where Collins met his untimely end in 1922.

If you have more time

Boasting one of the best pints and trad sessions in West Cork, take the weight off at De Barra's and feel like you've come home.

Old Head of Kinsale

Day Two

Get ready for sprawling luxury, saintly retreats and more seaside showstoppers.

F driving 14 mins
Lisselan Estate

Yearning for some old-world glamour?

Kickstart your day with a full Irish breakfast, including local specialty, Clonakilty Black Pudding. Then prepare for elegance at Lisselan Estate, which has slumbered in Robinsonian elegance on the banks of sleepy Argideen River since 1853. The 80-acre Lisselan Golf Club is surrounded by mature woodlands and boasts one of Ireland’s most scenic – and challenging – golf courses; while the wider grounds include the ancestral home of Henry Ford – and the current home of a vintage Ford fleet.

If you have more time

Swing by Inchydoney Beach: a seemingly endless expanse of pale sand and perfect surf. Voted “Best Beach in Ireland” by Tripadvisor's Travellers Choice Awards.

G driving 40 mins
Timoleague Abbey

If these walls could talk...

The Franciscan monks sure picked a pretty spot when they established Timoleague Abbey way back in 1240. The secretive wall passages, stunning stonework and immaculate bell-tower make this building irresistible to intrepid explorers. Outside, uninterrupted views of the bay hark back to a time when ships delivered goods straight from the river into the Abbey’s cellar.

Come at festival time

Catch the whole village out in force for the traditional Timoleague Festival (August). Pig race, anyone?

Old Head of Kinsale

Old Head of Kinsale

Take a deep breath as you stop and stare at the Old Head of Kinsale, its sheer cliffs topped with that iconic striped lighthouse. The air here is a tonic, ruddying your cheeks and brightening your eyes with the ocean’s tang. Rather appropriately, the wedge-shaped headland jutting out into the Atlantic is part of a world-class links golf course; while the vast sea beyond conceals the wreckage of the tragic Lusitania, a British ocean liner sunk by a German torpedo during World War 1.

If you have more time

The Kinsale Gourmet Food Festival (October) is unmissable – but Fishy Fishy Café is a year-round culinary delight.

Print your trip idea and take it with you

Continue your Wild Atlantic Way journey

Getting here

Excited your interest? There are airports throughout the Island with international arrivals. Discover airlines flying to Ireland from your location.

Find flights

Places to stay

No results match your search criteria
Hmm, don't know that email. Can you check it and try again? Note: Please fill in your email address manually instead of copy/pasting it.