The Ring of Cork is full of experiences that won’t cost you a penny and will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy the breath-taking views, unforgettable beaches, dive into the history, take picturesque walks and go on fun family adventures. In this blog post, we are sharing 20 things you can do along the Ring of Cork that won’t cost you a penny. It is said that the best things in life are free and after compiling a list of these gems along the Ring of Cork, I cannot help but agree.
BALLYCOTTON CLIFF WALK
Ballycotton is around 45 minutes from Cork City. A fishing village in East Cork overlooking Ballycotton Bay. The Ballycotton cliff walk is known for its spectacular scenery and wildlife. The coastal cliff walk is one of the most beautiful walks in Ireland. It consists of 5 miles of cliff to the beach in Ballytrasna. Breathe in the fresh sea air and enjoy this natural beauty.
An exciting new experience for your little ones in Bishopstown. The new Bishopstown playground is newly opened and is waiting for you to explore. The playground is located at Bishopstown Park near Bishopstown Tennis Club. Discover the climbing units, tower slides, balancing bars, earth mounds, sand areas, see saws and much more. Along with the playground, you can enjoy walkways, playing pitches, a pitch and putt course and a recreation space. A great way to enjoy the fresh air with your kids and a new exciting place to explore as a family.
BALLINCOLLIG REGIONAL PARK
The Ballincollig regional park is located on the South bank of the River Lee. People are drawn to the parks natural landscape and peaceful walks. There are lots of walking trails to explore, all twisting and turning back and forth from the water, so you can make your walk as long or as short as you like. Each walk allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery in the park. A healthy way to spend time walking with friends in the evening.
The Fairy Trail at Ballincollig Regional Park is a trail where the fairies of Ireland come to live and where your children’s imagination comes to life. A great idea is to bring a fairy door and place it on the trail with the other fairy doors. A lovely way to spend time together.
CROSSHAVEN RAILWAY WALK
A very popular walk is from Kilnagleary, near Carrigaline, which brings you right into Crosshaven. This walk runs along the old Cork to Crosshaven railway line which was in use from 1904 to 1932. As you walk along the path, you have the Owenabue River by your side all the way to Crosshaven. A walk with a beautiful view.
The boardwalk in Youghal offers a beautiful walk into Youghal town. Park your car and walk into the seaside town of Youghal. The Eco-Boardwalk is a 400 metre hardwood panelled beach walkway, stretching from Front Strand Beach to Claycastle Beach. A lovely way to get some sea air with a beautiful walk and spectacular views.
We are very lucky to be known along the Ring of Cork for our breath-taking coastline. We have lots of beach walks to enjoy. Some of the most spectacular spots for walks are Redbarn and Claycastle in Youghal, Rocky Bay near Crosshaven and the secluded White Bay beach near Whitegate. Other local favourites include Youghal Front Strand, Myrtleville Beach near Crosshaven and the very popular Fountainstown which has a direct bus service from the city.
And that’s not all, you also have Inch Beach near Aghada, Garryvoe Beach, Ardnahinch beach, Ballynamona in Shanagarry, Ballycroneen Beach near Cloyne and the quieter Ballywilling Beach near Garryvoe. Lots of choice for a winter walk to enjoy the sea air.
If you are looking for an escape from the city, Farran Wood is exactly what you are looking for. It is located just off Inniscarra Lake and is surrounded by views of the lake, forest and countryside. You can enjoy a walk throughout the forest and pick from lots of different paths, some which offer a relaxed walk while others offer a more challenging walk.
MIDLETON’S FARMERS MARKET
A visit to Midleton’s farmers market is always a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning. It is one of the most famous markets in Ireland and has been running for over a decade. Soak up the atmosphere as you enjoy the delights on offer at the market from local producers. You can even pick up some produce to bring home as part of your weekly shop. The market buzz is contagious and the market is full of wonderful produce every single week. It is all about boosting the local economy and keeping small producers in business. The market takes place every Saturday from 9am – 1pm.
CROSSHAVEN GRASSY AND CLIFF WALK
The Grassy and Cliff Walk in Crosshaven is always a great walk with spectacular views of the harbour from start to finish. The walk takes you along the Point Road until you reach the grassy walk at the end of the road. You can climb up the path to the most sensational viewing area. You have breath-taking views of Spike Island, Haulbowline and Cobh. You can continue the walk or return to the village along Camden road. If you continue the walk you will be brought along the cliff on a well-worn path which will bring you down to Graball Bay. A lovely walk with family or friends.
PASSAGE WEST MARITIME MUSEUM
Passage West Maritime Museum is definitely worth a visit. The museum tells the story of Passage West, the Birthplace of Ireland’s Steamship Industry. The town of Passage boasts an impressive industrial heritage dating back over 300 years. Known as ‘the original port of Cork’ it was the birthplace of the first steamship built in Ireland, ‘The City of Cork’, which was constructed in 1815 on the site of where the Museum now stands. It was also the port from which “The Sirius”, the first ship to cross the Atlantic entirely under steam, left in 1838 under the command of local man Captain Richard Roberts. And of course, Passage West and its shipbuilding industry is probably best known through its association with the Royal Victoria Dockyard, which provided so much employment to its townspeople throughout the years. This experience is guaranteed to be a very interesting outing and one we would highly recommend.
If you are looking for a woodland walk in East Cork, Glenbower Wood will not disappoint. It is located in the friendly town of Killeagh as you take the turn off by the Old Thatch pub in the village. You can walk through the forest trail and enjoy the surroundings in this picturesque gem.
KNOCKADOON CLIFF WALK
Another fabulous cliff walk is the Knockadoon Head Looped Walk. This walk is a mixture of cliff, track and road walks. A lovely way to spend a day with friends or family in the fresh sea air.
ST COLEMANS CATHEDRAL, COBH
Cobh is home to the impressive St Colman’s Cathedral. Built in the neo-Gothic style over the course of 47 years, the cathedral finally opened in 1911. It is definitely worth a visit. The cathedral continues to hold religious services and often hosts recitals featuring choirs from around the world.
Another fabulous wood to explore in the winter months is Curraghbinny Wood which is located on a prominent hill overlooking Cork Harbour. It is a compact wood, covering just 35 hectares but its beauty punches way about its size. It has an old world feel largely due to the amount of carriage paths running through the wood and its location close to the stunning architecture of the Terrace and the Villas at Curraghbinny Pier.
ROCHE’S POINT LIGHTHOUSE
Roche’s Point Lighthouse is situated at the entrance to Cork Harbour. You can enjoy looking at it from the outside with beautiful views all around. The lighthouse was first established on 4 June 1817 to guide ships into Cork Harbour. The original tower was deemed too small and in 1835 was replaced by the larger present tower which is 49 feet high with a diameter of 12 feet. On Sunday 4th June 2017 there was an open day at the lighthouse to commemorate the 200th year of the establishment of the lighthouse. Over 1,500 people turned up for the chance to climb the lighthouse up to the balcony. Former lighthouse keepers were present for the open day. The last stop of the RMS Titanic before its fatal voyage.
EXPLORE BY BIKE
The Ring of Cork is full of places to explore by bike. It is a lovely way to spend your day with family or friends. A Sunday cycle is always a good idea. Some of our favourite places to cycle are the seaside town of Youghal, Ballincollig Regional Park, the Crosshaven Railway Walk or the Cork city to Passage West trail. There is plenty to choose from along the Ring of Cork
Marlogue wood is located on the south east of Great Island and bounds the Ballynacorra River and Cork harbour. It is a hidden gem with an old world feel that has much to offer including a variety of mature trees and tracks suitable for walking. This wood is well worth a visit!
RING OF CORK HERITAGE DRIVE
Why not discover the rich heritage and historic stories in East Cork, Cork Harbour and the greater Cork region with the new Ring of Cork Heritage Trail. With over 35 places to visit you will find round towers and castles, historic cathedrals, military barracks & forts, heritage centers & museums telling stories of emigration, whiskey & potatoes, ancient tombs, great houses & historic buildings & town walks. You can pick up your copy of the A3 Map from your local tourist office or local tourism business.
Download the map here.
VICTORIAN WORKING GARDEN AT FOTA HOUSE
If you are looking for a beautiful walk in a picturesque garden, the Victorian Working garden at Fota House is for you. A tranquil experience. As you walk around you can enjoy the beautiful orchard, pit houses and working glasshouses. The Victorian Working Garden is open Monday – Friday and most Sundays from March to September where you can wander about and take it all in.