Bull Rock: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

Home to one of Ireland’s most unique tourist attractions, Bull Rock is not to be missed on a trip to Cork.

Located not far from the well-known Beara Peninsula, Bull Rock in County Cork is a lesser-known attraction that looks like something straight out of a fantasy film.

One of three rocks, alongside Cow Rock and Calf Rock (can you spot the pattern?), Bull Rock sits just off the western point of Dursey Island, which can be accessed by cable car.

Otherwise known as the ‘entrance to the underworld’, here is everything you need to know about this unusual attraction in the southwest of Ireland.

Overview – the facts

Bull Rock is truly incredible.
Credit: Facebook / @durseyboattrips

Standing at an impressive 93 m (305 ft) high and 228 m (748 ft) by 164 m (538 ft) wide, Bull Rock sure is a sight to behold. However, its unique shape and jagged cliffs make it look smaller than it is.

Only accessible by boat, a natural tunnel passes through the centre of the rock. Thus, allowing tourists to pass through from one side to the other. It is thanks to this tunnel that the rock has gained the nickname of the ‘entrance to the underworld’.

When to visit – weather and crowds

A boat tour around the rock is a great option.
Credit: Facebook / @durseyboattrips

As the rock is only accessible by boat, it is important to check the weather forecast before visiting. Spring, summer, and early autumn will be your best bet for mild and calm conditions at sea.

Summer around the Beara Peninsula can become extremely busy as the area is home to a lot of Ireland’s most well-known tourist attractions.

So, if you want to avoid crowds, we recommend visiting in spring or early autumn. We also recommend avoiding weekends and bank holidays if possible.

What to see – a spectacular sight

Bull Rock Lighthouse.
Credit: Facebook / @durseyboattrips

Built atop Bull Rock is an impressive lighthouse, built in 1889 to assist navigation off the coast of Cork. This can be seen clearly from the sea and proves to be a very impressive sight.

Synonymous with images of Bull Rock is the cliffside, which features abandoned and ruined houses that have been compared with something from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Looking up at these incredible troglodyte-style dwellings, you will wonder who and how they were built. Tucked amid the rock of the cliff face, they threaten to fall into the sea at any moment.

One of the most spectacular parts of the rock is the natural tunnel cutting through the centre. This tunnel is reminiscent of something you might see in the Indian Ocean.

Things to know – useful info

The tunnel through Bull Rock.
Credit: Facebook / @durseyboattrips

The best way to see Bull Rock is by booking a Dursey Boat Tour. The tour takes you on a one-and-a-half-hour trip around the islands.

Beginning at Garnish Pier, the boat trip takes you past an array of inlets and sea caves along Ireland’s southwest coast before heading around Calf, Cow, and Bull Rocks.

Tour guides will tell you all about the history of the area. Plus, you’ll hear stories and folklore about Gaelic Chieftains, Vikings, and the courageous lighthouse keepers who lived on the islands.

You will also get to see Dursey Island.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

You will get to see the wildlife who call the Beara Peninsula and the surrounding sea their home.

On this boat trip, you will also get to see the incredible Dursey Island. Dursey Island is home to Ireland’s only cable car, making it one of Cork’s main attractions.

Boat trips cost €50 and depart at 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, and 20:00 daily.

Where to eat – delicious food

Grab a bite to eat at Murphy's Mobile Catering before heading out to Bull Rock.
Credit: Facebook / Murphy’s Mobile Catering & Dursey Deli

Grab a bite to eat at the fantastic Murphy’s Mobile Catering and Dursey Deli in Garnish. It serves mouthwatering fish and chips and plenty of other traditional Irish fares.

For a sit-down feed and a pint, head to the bright red O’Neill’s Bar and Restaurant in Allihies, which is well-known by both locals and tourists alike. For a lively atmosphere and tasty food, you can’t go wrong here.

If you fancy something a little lighter, we’d recommend the Copper Café. This café specialises in soups, sandwiches, and salads with a view over the incredible Ballydonegan Beach.

Where to stay – to rest your head

Rest your head at Sheen Falls Lodge.
Credit: Facebook / @sheenfallslodge

Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare is an upscale country hotel. It boasts a day spa, pool, bar and restaurant, and a tennis court. If you’re looking for something luxurious, this hotel is for you.

For something a little more unique, we recommend booking into the Eyeries Glamping Pods on Pallas Strand. Here, you can immerse yourself in nature and take in the stunning views of the Beara Peninsula coastline.

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