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During the summer, West Cork comes alive with bustling towns, stunning landscapes, and a wealth of outdoor activities. Here are some of our top places in West Cork to check out during the summer months.

1. Garnish Island (Ilnacullin)

Garnish Island, located in Glengarriff Harbour, is a horticultural haven transformed into an exotic garden oasis. Known for its beautiful Italianate gardens, Martello tower, and Grecian temple, the island is a must-visit for nature lovers and gardening enthusiasts. The ferry ride to the island offers the chance to see a seal colony, adding to the charm of this delightful excursion​.

2. Baltimore and the Islands

Baltimore is a vibrant coastal village that serves as a gateway to several islands, including Sherkin Island and Cape Clear. During the summer, visitors can enjoy water activities such as sailing, kayaking, and whale watching. The Baltimore Pirate Festival, held annually in June, is a fun-filled event celebrating the village’s maritime history​.

3. Mizen Head

Mizen Head, Ireland’s most southwesterly point, offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The Mizen Head Signal Station is a key attraction, where visitors can learn about the area’s maritime history and enjoy panoramic views from the viewing platforms. The dramatic cliffs and the iconic Mizen Bridge make it a perfect spot for photography and sightseeing​.

4. Skibbereen

Skibbereen is a bustling market town known for its rich history and vibrant cultural scene. The Skibbereen Heritage Centre provides insights into the Great Famine and local history. During the summer, the town hosts the Skibbereen Arts Festival, featuring a mix of visual arts, music, theatre, and film. The nearby Lough Hyne, Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve, is ideal for kayaking and hiking​.

5. Clonakilty

Clonakilty is renowned for its lively atmosphere, music scene, and historical sites. The town’s colourful streets are perfect for a leisurely stroll, and the Michael Collins House offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of the Irish revolutionary leader. The Clonakilty Guitar Festival in September is a highlight, drawing musicians and music lovers from across the country​.

6. Bantry House and Gardens

Bantry House, overlooking Bantry Bay, is a historic mansion set amid beautiful gardens. Visitors can explore the stately rooms filled with antiques and art, or wander through the terraced gardens that bloom with colour in the summer. The annual West Cork Chamber Music Festival, held in the house and gardens, attracts classical music enthusiasts from all over the world.

7. Allihies

Nestled on the Beara Peninsula, Allihies is known for its striking landscape and rich mining heritage. The Allihies Copper Mine Museum offers insights into the 19th-century copper mining industry. The surrounding trails provide stunning views of the rugged coastline and the opportunity to explore historic mine buildings. The village is also a great base for hiking and exploring the Beara Way​.

8. Kinsale

Though slightly east of the core West Cork area, Kinsale is often included in West Cork itineraries due to its proximity and appeal. This historic town is famous for its colourful streets, gourmet food scene, and historic forts such as Charles Fort and James Fort. The Kinsale Gourmet Festival in October celebrates the town’s culinary excellence, making it a great place to visit year-round.

West Cork’s mix of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and vibrant communities makes it an ideal destination for a summer getaway. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply soaking up the scenic views, West Cork has something for everyone.