Best things to do in Kinsale, Ireland: one day itinerary

For a relatively small town, there are plenty of things to do in Kinsale in County Cork. This vibrant town is a must-visit whether as a day trip from Cork or as an overnight stay.

But while Kinsale is famous for its vibrant buildings, there are plenty of places to visit in Kinsale and things to do around Kinsale which make it a perfect option for a day out.

I spent one day in Kinsale and loved how much there was to do even in a short space of time.

Here’s my recommendations for the top things to do in Kinsale if you’re visiting the town for a day or as part of a longer Ireland itinerary.

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Need to start planning your trip to Kinsale ASAP?

Below are some of the top rated tours, hotels and recommendations for visiting Kinsale. Make sure to book ahead of time to ensure availability!

Top Experiences, tours and day trips in and around Kinsale:
1) 3 day tour of Ireland’s southeast (best for multi-day fully guided tour from Dublin if you don’t have a car)
2) Blarney Castle Tour (leaves from Cork)
3) Jameson Whiskey tour experience (From Cork. I loved this, much better than the Dublin location)

Top Hotels and Accommodation in Kinsale:
1) Kinsale Hotel and Spa (Top rated!)
2) Trident Hotel Kinsale (Incredible harbour view rooms)
3) Actons Kinsale (brilliant location)


A day in Kinsale: things to do

Breakfast at OHK Cafe

Their brunch menu is to die for, you need to try their Breakfast Smorgasbord, also their Turkish Eggs Flatbread *chefs kiss*

They have plenty of pastries and of course coffee so you absolutely need to start your day at this cute and cosy cafe in Kinsale!

Check their website for opening times as they do update them throughout the year depending on the season!


See the colourful streets at Newman’s Mall

Girl waling down brick street surrounded by many colourful buildings

Newman’s Mall

If you’ve done some research on Kinsale, you've probably seen the neon orange, yellow and purple street that’s much photographed and possibly top of your Kinsale to do list if you’re a colour lover like me!

This street is Newman’s Mall and if you fancy exploring the independent shops, restaurants and bookstores located here - it’s well worth visiting this vibrant area!

If you’re struggling to find it on Google Maps, look for the Milk Market Cafe on Market Street - Newman’s Mall is right next to it.


See the Charles Fort and do the Scilly Walk

This is a nice, easy waterfront walk to do in Kinsale that starts on Lower Road in Kinsale and follows the waterfront along Scilly Walk. The well-marked, flat trail is perfect if you're looking for things to do in Kinsale for families or those who prefer not to be on their feet for too long!
It’s about 2.5km each way, 5km there and back, if you follow the Scilly Walk to the Charles Fort - one of the best Kinsale attractions.
The Charles Fort is a HUGE star-shaped fort, perched on the edge of the water in Kinsale.

The fort was built in the 17th-century and has seen many a siege, battle and civil war over its history, yet still stands extremely well-preserved.

Tickets to visit Charles Fort cost €5 per adult and €3 per child, or just €13 for a family which is a pretty good deal considering how much there is to see and do there!

Don’t miss the stunning Kinsale harbour views from the ramparts of the fort, the bastion, the main entrance gate and the countless buildings inside that still stand and most of which are open to visitors.

If you’re looking for refreshments, there’s also a tearoom on site!


Do the Old Head of Kinsale Loop Walk and visit the Lusitania Museum

A girl in red standing on a cliffs edge looking out onto the jagged coastline

Old Head of Kinsale

If you’re looking for more things to do near Kinsale, then the short 15 minute drive to the Old Head of Kinsale is a must do for the Old Head of Kinsale loop walk.

Depending on how much time you have (and the weather!), you can drive or walk the Old Head of Kinsale loop as it follows a loop road from Lispatrick lower, down to the Lusitania Museum & Old Head Signal Tower at the end of the peninsula, before looping back up the other side of the Old Head.
If you choose to walk, I suggest parking at Garylucas Beach car park which is large and free parking.

The walk itself is very straightforward and fully paved if you follow the road, it’s around 6km in total. I even listed it on my top easy walks in Ireland with epic views.

Unfortunately you can’t go to the very tip of the peninsula unless you’re an avid golfer, the end of the peninsula is privately owned by a golf club.

There is also a cliffs walk but I’ve heard a few sketchy things about how much of a path actually exists right along the cliffs here and I personally won’t want to suggest taking that route.

Instead, follow the loop road to the end of the peninsula (right before the gold club), here you’ll see a sweeping grassy area that’s great for a break and a snack, you can walk down here to the cliff's edge and see the stunning views of the peninsula, cliffs and rocks below. 

Of course please take all sensible precautions as there are no barriers here between you and the cliff's edge.

If you have time, or if you’ve driven, you might want to make a stop at the Lusitania Museum which is dedicated to the Lusitania Ocean Liner which lies wrecked 11 miles off the coast of the Old Head of Kinsale.

The ship was torpedoed by German forces in World War I and was significant in allied forces wartime propaganda against Germany, 761 of the 1266 passengers on board survived.


Dinner with harbour views at Vista Wine Bar and Bistro

Head back to Kinsale to finish your day with dinner and a view over the harbour at Vista Bistro. 

This is a great spot that I recommend because it’s affordable, child friendly and has a good mix of stuff on the menu!

With their balcony terrace you can enjoy a romantic wine and cheese board, or you can sample their pizzas, burgers or sandwich selection.

Even though it’s a wine bar, it’s not pretentious, it’s casual with a chilled vibe, plenty of outdoor seating and a lovely view.


Other things to see in Kinsale

Bright green and orange buildings along a brick pathway with a lamppost in front

Newman’s Mall

If you’ve got some spare time or you’re planning to stay in Kinsale a day or two longer, check out these other ideas for your time in Kinsale:


Summary: Kinsale Ireland things to do

There are plenty of fun, easy and budget friendly things to do in Kinsale, Cork. Thanks to its great location near the coast, beaches, the beautiful harbour, vibrant town and affordable Kinsale tourist attractions.

If you’re in County Cork, I highly recommend a day trip to Kinsale!

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