Kinsale is one of Ireland’s most beautiful seaside towns. The quaint crooked streets wind lazily into the distance, revealing the town’s medieval heritage.
Many of these winding streets lead to Kinsale’s stunning bay. The blue green sea sparkles with reflected sunlight and there are always plenty of boats in the Kinsale’s historic harbour.
I recommend a stop at the Tourist Information Centre to find out about all that is on offer. There are tons of free maps and leaflets about things to see and do locally and further afield. The staff are really friendly and incredibly happy to help. Walking tours are also available from the centre.
History of Kinsale
This seaside town has a rich history. The Spanish Armada sailed here in 1601, attempting to liberate the Irish from British rule – and take Kinsale for themselves too, of course. The Luisitania sank just off the coast of Ireland near Kinsale, torpedoed by a German U-Boat during the First World War.
Just outside the main town centre (about 7 minutes drive depending on traffic) you will find perhaps the best known historical location in Kinsale, Charles Fort. It’s one of the best surviving examples of a 17th century star shaped fort and much of the original fort still exists. It continued in military use until 1922 but today regular guided and self-guided tours are available all year round.
I’m not hugely into military history but I really enjoyed my walk around the fort. There’s a very evocative exhibit honouring those who fought in the wars and the views out to sea were absolutely stunning. Be warned, it’s the fort’s position mean it can be very windy. I really wish I had tied my hair back – it took ages to get the tangles out. However, the views were worth it!
Places to Eat in Kinsale
Kinsale is also a wonderful place to dine and has even been hailed as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland, although nearby Cork might have something to say about that! There are lots of wonderful pubs, cafés and restaurants here, including my favourites Man Friday and Fishy Fishy. I have also heard great things about Max’s Seafood Restaurant. If you just fancy something simpler, Dino’s has an excellent reputation for takeaway fish and chips.
The fish simply could not be fresher here in Kinsale, and whatever your favourite seafood is, chances are you will find it beautifully prepared and served at one of the local eateries.
If it’s a breakfast, a light luncheon or afternoon tea you are looking for, I recommend you visit the Garden Room at Perryville House. My cousin and I had a delicious lunch there a few years ago – smoked chicken salads, beautifully garnished with edible flowers. After an afternoon wandering through Kinsale’s delightful streets we returned for afternoon tea in the garden. Open from April to October each year, Perryville House also looks like a rather lovely place to stay.
For coffee or a light lunch, try The Flying Poet Café where you will find delicious hot drinks, cakes, toasted sandwiches and snacks – as well as lots of flying memorabilia. The walls are lined with bookshelves and you can even purchase pre-loved books. I stopped in for coffee on my latest visit to Kinsale and received a very warm welcome.
More Things to Do in Kinsale
Full of quirky little shops selling far more than just the usual tourist fair, Kinsale is a wonderful place to pick up a souvenir of your travels. From knitwear to china, there’s something beautiful for everyone available here.
If more adventurous pursuits takes your fancy, there’s deep-sea fishing, whale watching and scenic tours of the coastline available, as well as kayaking and sailing. Charters are available locally. Horse riding and golf are also available nearby.
Whether you prefer a relaxed day out or something a bit more active, Kinsale really does offer something for everyone. Only 18 miles drive through beautiful countryside from the city of Cork, Kinsale is a wonderful place for a taste of Ireland’s beautiful coast, some of their very best food, and fantastic hospitality.
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