10 BEST things to do in West Cork in 2024 (we tried them all)

West Cork is one of the most stunning parts of our island. Here are the ten best things to do in West Cork, Ireland.

With its absolutely majestic mix of still blue waters, green rolling hills, and windy country roads dotted in and out between the landscape, it’s no wonder West Cork is a popular tourist destination as well as being a haven for locals.

Having owned a house in West Cork before her passing, even Maureen O’Hara had a huge soft spot for this part of the country. West Cork cannot be missed when taking a trip to Ireland, it’s almost like going to New York and never visiting Central Park, it’s a key feature to our island.

People who visit this region of County Cork can’t believe their eyes, wondering how somewhere so beautiful can exist, which keeps people coming back time and time again to continue discovering the hidden gems.

We are here to give you the lowdown on the top ten best things to do in West Cork, Ireland, and we’re sure after this you’ll need no convincing to take a trip to this special region.

Ireland Before You Die’s tips for visiting West Cork:

  • West Cork can be quite rainy, so it’s a good idea to bring waterproof gear and layers for cooler temperatures. 
  • Book accommodation in advance. West Cork is a popular tourist destination
  • Pack appropriately, as West Cork has many amazing outdoor activities!
  • Rent a car so you can explore in your own time and comfort.

And, if you need somewhere to stay, check out our piece on the ten best hotels in West Cork.

10. Take a boat to Garnish Island – Roman villa-style

Take a boat to Garnish Island, a villa-style island well worth a visit.

This lush island, full of various plants and vegetation only to be found here, is a truly unique place to visit. The gardens make you feel like you have stepped into a Roman villa. With the backdrop of mountains and sounds of nature surrounding you, you may never want to leave this magical spot.

READ MORE: The IB4UD guide to visiting Garnish Island.

9. Surfing at Inchydoney – a surfer’s paradise

Why not learn surfing at Inchydoney beach, a truly great beach.

Not only is this Blue Flag beach ideal for surfing, but it is also a must for all water lovers. Located just off the mainland connected by two causeways, this island is easy to get to from Clonakilty. Whether it’s a surfing lesson you’re after or a family picnic in summer, head to one of West Cork’s most scenic and most popular seaside destinations.

RELATED: Read our top 5 tips for surfing in Ireland

8. Sherkin Island – a tranquil lifestyle

Sherkin island is home to tranquility and peace.

With only 100 inhabitants, two pubs, a school, community centre, and a church, this small island off the coast of West Cork is a peaceful place for many local families and tourists to visit, especially in the summer. The island is known for having an artsy vibe with many residents creating art and writing books. Sounds idyllic!

CHECK OUT: Our top 5 best islands off county Cork

7. Lough Hyne, Skibbereen – nature at its best

Lough Hyne is nature's best friend, a beautiful lake to visit.

Ireland’s first Marine Nature Reserve, Lough Hyne, is so special that it is one of the most studied marine sites in the whole continent, having first been discovered in 1886.

6. Cape Clear – Ireland’s southwest Gaeltacht

Cape Clear is Ireland's great southwest Gaeltacht, another of the best things to do in West Cork.

With only 120 inhabitants, many of who speak Irish as their first language, this island is a popular getaway, not only for it being a well-known Gaeltacht area, but also because of its milder climate compared to the mainland. It has its own bird observatory and is a bird watcher’s paradise.

READ MORE: Cape Clear Island, what to see, when to visit and things to know

5. Mizen Head – most southwesterly point

Another of the best things to do in West Cork is to visit Mizen Head, the most southwesterly point of Ireland.

Just like its counterpart in the north, Malin Head, Mizen Head is a much-visited tourist attraction too, being the most southwesterly point of our Island. You can admire the dramatic cliffside views as they jut into the Atlantic Ocean. A definite must-see!

4. Whale and dolphin watching – a rich area for whale watching

Seeing whales and dolphins is another of the best things to do in West Cork.

24 of the world’s species of whale and dolphin have been found in Irish waters and half of these can be found in West Cork alone, so it’s definitely the place to be!

3. Explore the Ring of Beara – spectacular scenery and wonderful walks

Explore the Ring of Beara for another of the top best things to do in West Cork.

Whether you want to take the car along the coastline and explore the Irish country roads, or put your hiking boots on and become one with nature, there is no right or wrong way to get familiar with the Ring of Beara. Just don’t forget your camera.

MORE INFO: Beara peninsula when to visit, what to see, and things to know

2. Visit Fastnet Lighthouse – the teardrop of Ireland and one of the best things to do in West Cork

Fastnet Lighthouse is definitely one of the best things to do in West Cork.

Take a step back in time and imagine this scene as being one of the last images of Ireland. It was that for many emigrants taking the ship to America to start a new life.

1. Scuba diving in Baltimore – gateway to the underworld

Scuba diving at Baltimore is one of the best things to do in West Cork.

With countless shipwrecks and excellent visibility, Baltimore is an ideal spot for divers to explore, but don’t worry if you’re not experienced, just take a course at one of the local diving centres and you’ll have opened yourself up to all new possibilities.

How appealing does West Cork sound now? Although there’s not much convincing we need to do, just ask anyone who has been to the region and they will tell you how special this place is. We truly are lucky to have all of this on our doorstep.

Your questions answered about the best things to do in West Cork

Still have more questions? We have you covered! In this section, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions and popular questions that have been asked online about this topic.

What is the most beautiful town in West Cork?

West Cork is known for its stunning scenery and charming towns, so it’s difficult to pick just one as the most beautiful. However, some of the most popular and picturesque towns in the region include Kinsale, Clonakilty, Bantry, and Skibbereen.

What to do on a rainy day in West Cork?

On a rainy day in West Cork, you can visit one of the many museums, galleries, or indoor attractions, such as the West Cork Arts Centre or Bantry House.

What is West Cork famous for?

West Cork is famous for its stunning natural landscapes, fresh seafood, artisanal food products, and charming towns.

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