27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork

26 Jun 2020
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  • Staycation

Ring of Cork

Activities in the Ring of Cork | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

In our last staycation post we looked at where to staycation in the Ring of Cork. There are plenty of activities and things to do along the Ring of Cork that you can still socially distance while enjoying the family.


Outdoor activities are going to be the easiest and safest for your 2020 Ring of Cork staycation. Here are some of the most amazing activities available on your doorstep:

1. Lose yourself in another world with Ballycotton Sea Adventures

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

Are you ready for an exhilarating, unique and magical experience? Ballycotton Sea Adventures is one of the best things to do in East Cork!

Enjoy the fresh Ballycotton sea air and be mesmerised by the natural beauty and stunning views that Ballycotton Island has to offer. Ballycotton Sea Adventures offers a truly magical memory-making excursion.

The Ballycotton Lighthouse lantern was first lit in 1851 and 141 years later the last lighthouse keeper was taken off the island due to the automation of the light. Now, for the first time ever, you can step foot onto the wild, natural and unspoiled island, climb the original iron staircase and enjoy the same incredible views from the lantern balcony that up until now only resident lighthouse keepers could have enjoyed.

2. Captain a harbour adventure with Cork Harbour Boat Hire

Cork Harbour Boat Hire | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork Staycation

Cork Harbour Boat Hire have been open since June 8th, at a reduced capacity. They are offering 1 hour Self Drive Boat Tours of Cork Harbour and also 1 hour High Speed Rib Tours of the harbour. These staycation tours are ideal Social Distance days out. All their boats and life jackets are cleaned and disinfected between each tour.

You can visit  for more information or to book online.

3. Wow your family at Fota Wildlife Park

Fota Wildlife Park | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Fota Wildlife Park is not like an ordinary zoo and is perfect for a staycation visit. Set on 100 acres of land, wherever possible animals are chosen that thrive in a free-range environment, allowing them to roam free, mixing with other species and human visitors! Visit the Asian Sanctuary which houses Sumatran Tigers, Warty Pigs, Visayan Spotted Deer, Lion-Tailed Macaques and Indian Rhino. Don’t forget your camera, you won’t be disappointed.

Fota Wildlife Park is currently operating a pre-booking essential system, visit www.fotawildlife.ie for the most up to date booking information.

4. Experience the Titanic Trail

Titanic Trail | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

The Titanic Trail Guided Walking Tour of Cobh is open and operating daily.

Only online or phone bookings accepted.  For everybody’s health and safety, participants are expected to bring and wear their own facemasks. Social distancing will be operated during the tour.

The fascinating content of the tour itself is not diminished in any way.

Booking direct on www.titanic.ie

5. Cycle at sunsets with Youghal Bike Hire

Youghal Bike Hire | Ring Of Cork | www.ringofcork.ie

Youghal Bike Hire is open now. This allows you to set your own pace and experience the fun & freedom cycling offers to explore Youghal and its surrounding areas. Collect route maps for all abilities and distances for you to explore and discover the historic town, local beaches, villages, cliff walks and woodlands, or take the opportunity to cycle a section of The Ironman bike route. We recommend nearby natural beauty attractions like Redbarn Strand,

With a new fleet of light-framed Ammaco, 21 gear bikes, they will help you pick a bike that suits you and provide the friendly advice you need to plan and enjoy your trip. Helmets, hi vis vests, locks and breakdown service are included in the price of hire. They also offer a drop off / collection service once arranged in advance. We can provide competitive rates for group bookings, team building events or longer duration rentals;

Call us on 087 092 1225 or Book Online.

More Information

6. Sail Cork Harbour with SailCork, Cobh

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

SailCork has been involved in watersports training and holidays for over 50 years in Cobh and on the south coast of Ireland and is run by Eddie English. The English family has been involved in seafaring in Cobh for 4 generations. Eddie has been teaching sailing since 1969 and is one of the most experienced instructors in the sport. He is an ISA/RYA sailing and powerboat trainer/examiner. Eddie is also a yachtmaster instructor/examiner and races dinghies and cruisers.

They will begin with Junior Adventure courses for all ages from June 29th. Junior dinghy courses cannot be run currently. Junior boat owners can book Time on the Water sessions where they will provide safety boat. Adult Dinghy, Powerboating & Yachting + VHF courses run with reduced numbers to allow for social distancing.

More Information (9 – 12 years old)

More Information (13 – 16 years old)

7. Visit Leahys Open Farm


Leahy’s Open Farm there is no need to book, but you can if you wish for one of the best activities for children within the Ring of Cork.

Bookings are available every half an hour for a 4 hour duration to help with social distancing and extras such as JCB digger rides and crazy golf can be purchased online. Indoor play areas and the museum will be closed and one way systems in place during petting time.

The café and chocolate factory will be open but only for take away service or pre booked picnic baskets or you are all very welcome to bring your own!

They cannot wait to welcome you all back to meet all the new animals, and are excited to see you all!

Those who are members will have additional time added onto theirs so don’t worry if they are nearing expiry.

More Information

8. Relax in the Fota House Arboretum & Gardens after your tour

Guided tours of the house are available on a daily basis during the spring and summer months and depart from the Welcome Desk in the house at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. We kindly ask that you arrive ten minutes before your chosen tour.

More Information

Walk the beaches of East Cork

If you’re looking for something more relaxing activities staycation break, grab a 99 ice-cream and walk some of Ireland’s best blue flag beaches.

1. Claycastle Beach

Claycastle Beach | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork
Claycastle Beach is located near Youghal and is an ideal spot for walking, swimming and relaxing. It is very popular with residents and visitors alike.

It is a great beach for walking, swimming and relaxing and there are lifeguards on duty during the bathing season.

2. Ballycrenane Beach

Ballycrennane Beach | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Ballycrenane Beach is located near Shanagarry. It is located on the long stretch of sandy beach from Garryvoe to Ballywilling. There is a car park with good access.

This is also a good spot for beach fishing.

3. White Bay Beach

White Bay Beach | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

This is a secluded little surf strand situated on the east side of Cork Harbour Inlet near Roches Point.

There are rocks either side, but a long cast out at low water puts you close to the main deep shipping channel, which is capable of producing some excellent fishing.

4. Front Strand Beach Youghal

Youghal Beach | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Front Strand Beach is a sandy beach beside Youghal town.

It is most suitable for families, picnics and walking as there are plenty of amenities close by. There is also a public car park and toilet facilities are provided.

Relax in the Woods

Studies have shown time and time again that surrounding yourself in trees and nature is good for your health. And the Ring of Cork has plenty of nature and natural beauty around. Here are some of our favourites for your perfect staycation:

1. Ballyannan Woods


Ballyannan Wood is a beautiful mature mixed woodland of close to 25 hectares. There are a number of bygone features such as old stone walls and banks, stone gate pillars, ruined cottages and boathouses that are visible as you explore the wood.

2. Castlemartyr Woods

Castlemartyr Woods | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Castlemartyr Woods is a stones throw away from Castlemartyr Resort. This woodland was once part of a larger demesne that originated around the latter end of the 17th century. If you consider the wood along with the wider grounds of the Hotel you can imagine times past when landscape architects such as Lancelot ‘Capability‘ Brown were engaged to style the countryside. The old names of Mitchells’ Wood, Barn Wood and Pigeon Wood refer back to this era.

3. Explore Ballincollig Regional Park

Ballincollig Heritage Week | Ring Of Cork | www.ringofcork.ie

Ballincollig Regional Park is Cork’s largest park. With walks and trails around the historic grounds of the old gunpowder mills, Ballincollig Regional Park has something for the whole family, history, playing pitches, a real life Fairy Trail, a skate park, canals, bird spotting all enclosed within 140 acres of parkland. Easily accessible with lots of wide open spaces and enough to explore for hours and still not see it all. Perfect for young families.

More Information

4. Marlogue Woods

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork
Photo by Jan Hayes

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. The area originally carried old oak stands that were felled during World War I. Interestingly, old Ordnance survey maps refer to the wood as Walterstown Wood. This dates back to when the area was part of the Smith-Barry estate. Members of this family would have been also linked to Barryscourt Castle in Carrigtoohill and to Fota House. Indeed, John Smith-Barry enlarged Fota House in the 1820’s and used it as his main residence.

This wood is well worth a visit!

5. Curraghbinny Woods 

Curraghbinny Woods | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Curraghbinny Wood is located in a most beautiful setting 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. The diversity of tree species and the Gazebo or the summer house at the top of the hill reinforces the perception of Curraghbinny being a ‘pleasure’ woodland for the landed gentry.

Evidence of Bronze Age man (circa 1500 B.C.) is also found here in the form of a grave cairn to their dead. The name Curraghbinny may be derived from the legend that the name commemorates a giant, Binne, who is interred in this burial chamber that surmounts the hill ‘Corra’.

5. Glenbower Woods

Glenbower Woods | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Glenbower Woods are located just outside Killeagh :

  • It was in the ownership of the DeCapell family from 1182 until 1933, that’s seven hundred and fifty one years!!!! They were an Anglo-Norman family and lived at Aghadoe House.
  • We have Sequoiadendron giganteum trees (that’s a giant Redwood to you and me) in the wood. These are native to California and one specimen is the largest tree in Glenbower Wood. Look out for its walrus trunks!!
  • There were tennis courts in the wood, used by the DeCapell family of Aghadoe and the Uniacke family of Castletown House.
  • The now drained lake was used to power the corn mill located behind the ‘Old Thatch’ pub.
  • There is a holy well and mass rock located north of the Metal Bridge.

Can you find all the hidden suprises in the woods? This is a great day out for a small family!

Walk the Ring of Cork Cliffs

There are many cliff walks around the Ring of Cork for your perfect staycation, the most famous of which is Ballycotton Cliff Walk steeped in history such as the Mary Stanford Daunt Rock rescue and one of the best known cliff walks in Ireland.

1. Ballycotton Cliff Walk

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

Ballycotton Cliff Walk is the hidden gem of East Cork. It is located near a small picturesque fishing village which sits on a rocky-ledge overlooking Ballycotton Bay and is surrounded by sandy beaches. You can gain stunning views of Ballycotton Lighthouse (one of only two black lighthouses in Ireland) which was painted black in 1902 to distinguish it from the beacon at Capel. There are plenty of activities around Ballycotton to enjoy as well.

More Information

2. Knockadoon Cliff Walk

Knockadoon Cliff Walk | www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork

Knockadoon Head Looped Walk is a mixture of cliff, track and road walks.

Knockadoon Pier is a favourite with locals especially during the summer time when people want to cool down with a dip in the ocean!

More Information


The weather may not always be the best, but that’s okay as there are many indoor activities that you can enjoy while on your staycation and which comply with social distancing rules. Here are six of our favourites:

1. Explore the island fortress built to defend an empire that became the largest prison in the world

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been an Island Monastery, Fortress, Prison and Home. Today the island can be visited by a short and scenic ferry journey from heritage town Cobh. Discover 200 year old Fort Mitchel, the 24 acre star shaped Fortress built to defend an empire. This same Fortress became the largest prison in the world in the 1850’s, and there has never been a larger prison in Ireland or Britain before or since. For tens of thousands of Irish men and women Spike Island was the last Irish soil they set foot on, as prison ships transported them to America, Australia and the Caribbean.

Join Ireland’s best storytellers for a mesmerising insight into the personal stories of this unique corner of the Ancient East, winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction 2017. Entry includes return ferry, guided tour, free map and app and  access to the island activities such as the children’s fairy trail, access to all exhibitions and scenic island walks, cafe and gift shop on site.

Daily sailings to the island. Boats will depart at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm to Corks international award winning island attraction.

More Information

2. Something for grown ups at Jameson Distillery Midleton

Jameson Midleton
Today, every drop of Jameson is produced here in Midleton, amid the lush fields of southern Ireland. Life is full of simple pleasures, and there’s not much more simple or more pleasurable than enjoying the world’s best Irish whiskey at source. Take a tour of the Jameson distillery and enjoy a host of unique experiences, from a Jameson Experience Tour or a Behind the Scenes Tour to develop a new appreciation of Irish whiskey, from grain to glass.

In line with the Irish Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, we are happy to confirm that Jameson Distillery Midleton, Co. Cork. The team are currently putting thorough measures in place to ensure all guests and staff will have a safe, comfortable & enjoyable experience for your indoor activities.

Online booking is now re-open here for experiences with pre-booking is strongly advised. Sláinte!

3. Step into the past in the Titanic Experience Cobh

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

Titanic Experience Cobh offer our fully guided tours. Experience what it was like to board the ill fated Titanic by stepping back into time to 1912 in one of the must do activities in your lifetime.

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4. Indulge in 800 years of history at Saint Mary’s Collegiate Church Youghal

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

When you enter the church keep in mind that you are walking in the footsteps of some of the most prominent people of Youghal, such as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Richard Boyle, world renowned poet Edmund Spencer and hundreds of years of Mayors, Alderman, Merchants and assorted influential figures. St. Mary’s Collegiate Church has been in use for nearly 800 years.

The beautiful St. Mary’s is the medieval parish church of the historic walled town of Youghal, and the second largest of its type on the island of Ireland. It sits imposingly at the top of Church Street, just west of the town’s medieval marketplace. From its thirteenth century foundation, Youghal became one of the most prosperous towns in Medieval Ireland, and the building of Saint Mary’s in the fashionable Gothic style, through the support of its citizens, reflected the status of this new Anglo-Norman seaport town that had wide-ranging trade contacts across Europe.

The church is built to a mid-thirteenth century cruciform plan, meaning the church is built in the shape of a crucifix. It has a detached bell tower and is surrounded by a hillside graveyard. Walking around it, the Gothic church layout of a nave, chancel and transepts to the north and south can easily be seen.  The nave is aisled and divided into five bays by the pillars of the nave arcade, maximising the space available for worship by the townspeople. The exposed oak timbers of the roof are constructed in an original scissors braced design and one of the oldest church roof structures in Ireland.

Join St Mary’s in what we can only describe as the Ring of Cork’s unmissable historical activities.

5. Drop the little ones off at the Monkey Maze

www.ringofcork.ie | Ring of Cork | Monkey Maze

Monkey Maze is the Ring of Cork’s largest indoor adventure play area which includes five amazing slides, two indoor ball courts, and a dedicated area for toddlers under 5 years. This is perfect for you to relax while the kids enjoy their monkey activities.

They have a café serving teas, freshly ground coffee, scones, muffins, sandwiches and hot food all freshly prepared each day.

More Information

6. Enjoy the arcades at Perks Entertainment Centre

27 Amazing Activities for your Staycation in the Ring of Cork - Ring of Cork

Perks Entertainment Centre are open all summer long. Check out their Facebook page the latest information.

Look out for our fantastic places to eat during your Ring of Cork staycation post and find the best spots to recharge and continue enjoying amazing activities!

Tourism accounts for one in every ten jobs in Ireland, so now is the best time to enjoy what’s on offer locally and enjoying the activities for your perfect staycation. Share your Ring of Cork staycation images with #rocstaycation #ringofcork on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Something missing? Let us know by contacting us.

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