West Cork Bucket List: 10 Things To Experience In This Scenic Region During Your Next Short Break

By Brian Dillon

August 27, 2019 at 3:09pm



For raw, unspoiled, natural beauty, West Cork is the place to be.

Forged in the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, this coastal region has some of the most rugged and wild scenery on our little green isle. It's here, upon one narrow peninsula jutting out from the mainland, that you’ll find the majestic Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop, a magnificent walking trail.

See our full trail guide for the Sheep's Head Lighthouse Loop here.

Featuring some of the most dramatic coastal scenery along the Wild Atlantic Way, this is one of the most rewarding walks you can do, and since there is plenty more to do in the areas surrounding the walk, it’s worth your while making a short break out of it.

We’ve decided to tell you about all the amazing experiences you can find near the Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop.

We can guarantee that you won’t run out of stuff to do on a walking break on the Wild Atlantic Way this year.


Stay in Maritime Hotel Bantry

A stay in this stylish West Cork spot is worth it for the sheer number of facilities available.

You can feast in The Ocean Restaurant, enjoy a nightcap in The Maritime Bar, take a dip in their 19-metre swimming pool and luxuriate in the YouTime Spa Treatment Rooms.

And you definitely won’t run out of ways to pass the time in Bantry. With a fabulous selection of bars and restaurants such as Ma Murphy’s, The Brick Oven and The Fish Kitchen, you will not be stuck for choice.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 40 minutes

Stay at Seamount Farmhouse B&B

Overlooking Bantry Bay, this Seventh Generation Farmhouse B&B is situated just 12km from the town of Bantry and is an ideal accommodation option for your break away.

They can offer walking trail maps and even guided tours for visitors who are walking the Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop.

Prices per person start at €40 and include free WiFi and complimentary breakfast.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 17 minutes

Explore Glengariff Nature Reserve

It’s no overstatement to say that this West Cork nature reserve is positively bursting with life.

A stroll through the area will lead you to interesting and colourful vegetation. There’s no shortage of animals either, with Glengariff being home to mink, pine martens, stoats, red squirrels, foxes, badgers and Sika deer.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour

Kayak in Lough Hyne

Take an epic journey from Northern Europe’s only saltwater lake all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Even though it seems disconnected from the sea, it in fact joins up with the sea through a short channel.

Kayakers will be guided to the open waters through a short channel called ‘The Narrows’ and along the way, they’ll get the chance to explore caves.

Depending on the tide, this unforgettable experience can be up to three and a half hours in duration.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour 10 minutes

Browse at Skibbereen Farmers’ Market

Having started in 2001, this market has grown to become one of the best experiences Skibbereen and West Cork has to offer.

Thanks to a thriving artisan community, the sheer quality of the stalls at Skibbereen Farmer’s Market is the secret to its success. Expect locally sourced produce, freshly baked treats, the aromas of coffee and live music.

Taking place every Saturday from 9.30am and 2pm, there can be anywhere between 40 and 120 stalls depending on the weekend.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour

Set foot on Barleycove Beach

This impressive sandy beach with beautiful crystal clear water near Mizen Head isn’t just nice to look at, it’s got a fascinating origin story too.

Barleycove was first formed way back in 1755 when a 15ft tidal wave that originated near Lisbon hit the west coast of Ireland and deposited the sand dunes.

It’s no wonder the beach has been designated a Special Area of Conservation by the EU.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour

Munch at The Old Creamery

If you’re a fan of simple Irish fare, pop into this family-run café in Kilcrohane.

Overlooking Dunmanus Bay, this stop is popular among visitors to the area for hearty dishes like roast loin of pork with apple sauce, baked fillet of hake with tartar sauce, and pan-fried fillet of salmon with caper & herb butter.

After you’ve eaten, have a gander in the Sheep’s Head Producers’ Market and Shop to see artisan goods made by local craftspeople.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 15 minutes

Walk up Mount Gabriel

This is quite a windy road and takes you up 400m, so it could be relatively challenging to some. But, you can drive straight up to the viewing point.

This mountain has long beckoned to the nearby population, with the remains of more than 30 copper mines dating from the Bronze Age still visible on its slopes. However, nowadays it mostly calls to people because of the stunning panoramic views afforded from its summit.

On a sunny day, it’s a perfect spot for a picnic.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour

Visit Bantry House & Gardens

To see what real opulence looks like, pay this place in West Cork a visit.

Home to the White family since 1739, the design of the building was inspired by the second Earl of Bantry’s visits to the continent and his experiences with Italian palazzos. These days it houses an impressive collection of stunning furniture, as well as many works of art.

Get a taste of how the other half lives by enjoying a cuppa in the tearoom or stay the night in the B&B located in the East Wing.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 40 minutes

Try Arundels by the Pier

Visitors come from far and wide for a few drinks in this Ahakista establishment.

A warm atmosphere, traditional Irish dishes and an enviable view of Dunmanus Bay gives this spot its characteristic charm.

It’s also located just a few minutes walk away from the Air India Memorial, a garden and sundial which acts as a touching tribute to those who died tragically in the 1985 disaster.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 25 minutes

Experience the Sky Garden at Liss Ard Estate

Just a stone’s throw from Skibbereen, this awe-inspiring structure looks like a monument from the ancient world… even though it was actually only completed in ’92.

The Sky Garden takes inspiration from a variety of sources, such as the Celtic, Egyptian and Mayan civilisations. To enter this seemingly sacred space you must pass through a wooded trail, along an underground passage and up a narrow set of stairs. The garden itself is a bowl in a hill, with a stone plinth at its centre where visitors can lie down in order to see the sky framed by the rim of the crater above.

You’ll be astounded by this ingenious design and thought-provoking experience.

Click HERE for more info.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour

Check out Mizen Head

Mizen Head, Ireland’s most south-westerly point, is definitely worth checking out.

Take in the dramatic views of West Cork as well as the fresh Atlantic Ocean air. Crossing the bridge provides you with some of the most outstanding views of the Wild Atlantic Way’s dramatically rugged coastline.

The visitor centre, which has been open since 1994, is fully equipped with an audio-visual room, a map and archive room. The keeper's kitchen and bedroom have been retained and there is also a bird and sea watch room.

Distance to Sheep’s Head Lighthouse Loop: 1 hour 10 mins

Click HERE for more info.

For spectacular sights, invigorating sensations and unforgettable experiences, make your next short break a walking break on the Wild Atlantic Way. Walking makes your break.

To find out more, check out www.wildatlanticway.com.

For more information or to plan your walking break on the Wild Atlantic Way, visit the Tales and Trails hub here