Stretching from Kinsale near Cork City to the three rugged Westerly peninsulas on the Wild Atlantic Way: Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head and the Beara Peninsula and inland to the Lee Valley, West Cork has something for everyone.
Hundreds of tiny inlets and coves are scattered along a coastline dotted with sandy beaches and safe harbours. It's hard to beat this area for whale-watching, kayaking, sailing, diving, island hopping, bird watching or swimming.
Around every bend in the road, from the crashing Atlantic ocean to the quiet of our unpolluted lakes and peaceful river valleys, the views are always changing. Ancient relics - standing stones, stone circles and castles - litter the landscape. This is an area of strong traditions and links with age-old culture seem to reach through time.
What to Do and What to See
Bantry Area / Sheep's Head
- Bantry is just 17 miles away from Gougane Barra on the Wild Atlantic Way. The town hosts a wonderful range of summer schools and festivals throughout the year, including a well-known literary festival, an international chamber music festival and a traditional Irish music school. All events are bookable online.
- Every Friday in Bantry Square, the farmers' market is in full swing. Stroll around and meet the cheesemakes and meat smokers from Gubbeen to Milleens, check out the myriad stalls with olives, feta and homemade soaps and bric-a-brac, organic vegetables and meat, fresh fish and crepes from a van. Enjoy meeting the makers and the bakers of some of our most amazing local produce.
- Wander from the market to Bantry House and Gardens (open for tours in the spring and summer months), home to the Shelswell-White family for generations, overlooking Bantry Bay and Whiddy Island.
- A little further afield, explore the award-winning Sheep's Head Way. The Sheep's Head Peninsula is criss-crossed with tracks and footpaths with a breath-taking view at the top of every rise. Have a slice of cake in the tiny Old Creamery Café en route to the lighthouse at the 'edge of the world'.
- On your way back from town, why not drop into Laura and Andrew at Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey for a huge selection of great West Cork cheeses and artisan products or a cup of excellent coffee. Manning's also serves delicious wood-fired pizzas at the weekends.
What to Do with Children...
- Looking for something exciting to do with the young ones?
- Why not explore the interpretative sculpture gardens of the Ewe Experience just outside of Glengarriff? Both educational and fun for kids and adults, it's easy to lose track of time in this magical place.
- The West Cork Model Railway Village in Clonakilty will keep the whole family entertained. Not convinced? Check out this review written by a dad after his visit to the model railway village with his two-year-old son!
- For riding enthusiasts, Bantry offers two horse riding centres: Bantry Pony Trekking and Bantry Bay Pony Trekking.
- For a rainy day, we recommend the Toy Soldier factory in Kilnamartyra, near Macroom. On your way, make sure you stop at the little shop at Toons Bridge Dairy (open at the weekends). The only Irish Mozzarella in Ireland is made here and you can buy everything from olives to Serrano Ham.
Irish Culture and Heritage
- If archeology is your thing, how about visiting Drombeg Stone Circle, Kealkill Stone Circle, or Carriganass Castle at Kealkill, or Timoleague Abbey and Kinneigh Round Tower. West Cork is home to hundreds of relics from our ancient Celtic past.
- Ballyvourney, just 25 minutes' drive from here and also in the Gaeltacht, has a wonderful intimate theatre/concert space called ‘An Ionad Culturtha’. It hosts a variety of concerts and cultural events throughout the year.
- Experience our more recent history and learn about the dramatic part played by Rebel Cork in the Irish struggle for independence. Kilmicheal, Béal na Bláth and Crossbarry, the Micheal Collins Centre in Clonakilty and the Independence Museum in Kilmurry are all within an hour of Gougane.
If gardening is your passion, follow the West Cork Garden Trail, with artistic sculpture gardens and impressive colonial gardens to choose from, all possible in a day trip from the hotel.
Golf your way around West Cork starting in Bantry Bay Golf Club, with its spectacular views, and taking in The Old Head of Kinsale and Maureen O’Hara’s Glengarriff Golf Club.
Jim at Atlantic Sea- kayaking in Union Hall will take you kayaking by day or by night. He is a local legend and loves what he does. Please ask - we are more than happy to put you in touch or arrange your trip.
Drive one of the many loops we can help you plan, depending on your interests, to take in all the local scenery, villages and towns in West Cork including Kinsale, Rosscarbery, Clonakilty, Ballydehob, Schull, Goleen, Bantry, Dunmanway, Cactletownbere, Glengarriff, the Borlin Valley etc…The possibilities are endless and just waiting to be explored.
For sightseeing tours in West Cork and Kerry, contact:
- Patrick Creedon, on +353 85 7311586.
- Donal Scannel, from Chauffeured Tours Ireland
- O'Brien Coach Tours
- Lee Valley Taste Trails