From Cork, our on-the-road trip in Ireland continues with a stop a little further south in the colorful town of Kinsale. Here we take a long stroll through its picturesque old town and then walk to the old Charles Fort along the Scilly Walk, a hiking trail that leads from the town centre to the fort along the seacoast and offers great panoramic views of the harbor and town.
ALL ARTICLES ABOUT IRELAND
We leave Cork after a long, restful night’s sleep and a rich Irish breakfast prepared by our B&B, the Gabriel House Guesthouse*, which hosted us for one night. From there, our road trip to Ireland continues towards Kinsale, just south of Cork.
Kinsale is about half an hour’s drive from Cork and getting there will not be difficult at all. You will certainly recognize it as soon as you start strolling through its alleyways because it is featured in so many articles and social media posts about Ireland. Less famous – but no less scenic – is the nearby Charles Fort, which we will reach with a short walk from the city centre. In this article we tell you about all these places and give you all the information and some useful tips for planning your visit!
Arriving by airplane
Most travelers choose to reach Ireland by plane. The island’s main airports are located in Dublin and Cork – in the Republic of Ireland – and in Belfast – in Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. However, the island is well connected to Switzerland and the rest of Europe by several flights of the national airline Aer Lingus, Swiss* and, of course, the low-cost airline Ryanair. Dublin Airport is located about 11 km north of the city. If you have rented a car, the counters of the major rental companies are located in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
Arriving by ship
Ireland can also be reached by ship, a popular option for those who enjoy on-the-road travel with their own car or caravan. Dublin has two harbor areas: Dun Laoghaire Terminal, southeast of downtown, and Dublin Port Terminal, northeast. Many companies connect the city with the United Kingdom. We suggest Stenaline, Irishferries, P&O Ferries. Alternatively, other companies connect Ireland with France (mainly with Cork, southern Ireland): Irishferries and Brittany Ferries.
As already mentioned, big cities are not the focus of our trip. Instead, the small towns have their own character and exploring them during your road trip can really give you some pleasant surprises. Of them all, the one we liked the most was certainly Kinsale, a small village on the south coast of the island with a strong maritime character and a bohemian soul.
The town is easy to get around on foot and as you walk around you will certainly come across some of its main attractions, such as St. Multose Church – the town’s main church – or Desmond Castle – closed for restoration at the time of our visit. But our advice is to focus more on the narrow streets and squares of the centre, with their cheerful colored buildings, cafés and pubs. The town also has a lively art scene and if you are an art lover, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to visit any of the many craft shops that can be found in Market Lane and ‘The Glend’ area. Kinsale is easily reached from Cork in about half an hour by car. Parking is normally in ‘Pay and Display’ mode, so you have to pay the hourly parking fee at the parking machines (which often do not accept credit cards!) and display the parking ticket on the windscreen.
For the night, we chose to stay at the Lemon Leaf Cafe Bar & Townhouse*, a bistro with some rooms available upstairs. Let us tell you straight away: although the rooms have been recently renovated and are really clean and well maintained, they are very small. Despite this, we really enjoyed our stay, appreciating the attention to detail and the location right in the centre. Breakfast is normally included in the price and can be eaten in the bistro on the ground floor (please note that guests are provided with a voucher per person that covers a maximum amount; if you exceed this, you will have to pay the difference on the spot).
One of Kinsale’s main attractions is located…just outside Kinsale! It is Charles Fort, an old 17th century star-shaped fort that is still well preserved and also offers a stunning panoramic view of the bay – one more reason to visit it! This incredible building, declared a National Monument in 1973, was built by the British to prevent French and Spanish attacks and was used for military purposes until the early 1900s. Reaching it from Kinsale is extremely easy, either by car or on foot. By car, you will find a large car park just in front of the Fort. However, our advice is to get here on foot, taking the famous Scilly Walk, a hiking trail that leads from the town centre to the fort along the coast and offers amazing panoramic views of the harbour and Kinsale. You can find our out-and-back route on Outdooractive.
Charles Fort can be visited during the summer months daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last admission at 5 p.m.) and during the winter months from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.). The entrance ticket costs € 5.00 per adult (approx. CHF 4.80). Inside you will find a small exhibition room telling the history of the place and an open-air café, which however is closed during the winter months.
More information can be found at this link.
Kinsale is in our opinion an unmissable stop for a roadtrip to Ireland. We chose to arrive here at lunchtime but wished we had more time to discover it. So our suggestion is to spend at least a full day here – especially if you plan to walk the Scilly Walk – and stay overnight.
If you plan to spend the night here, and if you’re arriving by car, our advice is to avoid the ‘pay and display’ car parks located along the narrow streets of the centre and use the large free car park located near St. Multose Church, here.