With its rugged coastline, unexplored countryside, and myriad potential adventures, Beara is one of Cork’s 3 southerly peninsulas (the other two being Sheep’s Head and Mizen Head). Staying on Beara during your time in West Cork offers an idyllic blend of off-the-beaten-track escapism and a central base from which to begin your adventures.
Without further ado, here are our top recommendations for things to do in Beara during your time here.
Far less travelled than its well-documented neighbors, the Ring of Kerry, the Ring of Beara is a driving route that boasts all the natural beauty and far fewer crowds and tour buses. The Ring of Beara is scenic, remote, and takes you along a route with local landmarks like Hungry Hill, Allihies, and Garnish Island at your fingertips.
Acting as a walking or cycling alternative to driving the Ring of Beara, The Beara Way is a 206km loop that starts and finishes in Glengarriff. The route, which takes you all around the peninsula, over to Bere Island, and down into Kerry, typically takes about a week and a half to complete.
An absolutely stunning drive that our B&B is located just at the bottom of, The Healy Pass is one route you don’t want to miss during your time in Beara. Staggering heights, seriously bending roads, and sheep that aren’t afraid of no car, all included.
Nestled amongst the Caha Mountains, Derreen Gardens span 60 acres of woodland walkways, sea views, and subtropical plants. During the summer months, you can enjoy great coffee and lovely homemade treats. This is one of our favourite places to visit!
Located just over the Cork/Kerry border in Kenmare, Gleninchaquin Park features an adventure-worthy mix of woods, log bridges, lakes, rocky passages, carved stone steps, and hikes up into the hills. It also acts as the gateway to the historic Uragh Stone Circle.
Garnish Island is a subtropical island situated just off the coast of Glengarriff. On the island, you’ll be greeted by immaculately maintained gardens full of subtropical blooms, as well as untouched woodland full of walking trails. Hidden within is a historic Martello tower, which you can climb to the top of via a tiny spiral staircase for fabulous views of Glengarriff Harbour and Bantry Bay.
Every Friday, the town of Bantry plays host to its local farmer’s market - an event steeped in tradition and history for the local community. Find slow food stalls for a bite to eat on the go, farm-fresh produce, gourmet ingredients to bring home with you, handmade crafts, clothes, vintage, and more. The market runs every week throughout the year but is at its peak during the summer months.
One of West Cork’s newer market offerings can be found in the car park right next to Quill’s in Glengarriff village. During weekends from March through till the end of the summer, you can find a growing selection of some of the area’s finest tasty treats, from homemade burgers and pizzas to delicious vegan and veggie meals, authentic French crepes, and fancy cheese toasties.
One of Ireland’s finest examples of an untouched forest, Glengarriff’s nature reserve is a sprawling woodland filled with native trees, rivers, meadows, and wildlife. There are a number of walks you can do within the reserve, from quick 1km strolls along the river banks to lengthier rambles through its further flung corners.
Just beyond Glengarriff Village, you’ll find its famous Bamboo Park where visitors can walk amongst different species of bamboo, palms, and other subtropical species while enjoying the surrounding views of Glengarriff Harbour and the mountains beyond.
If getting a look at some local wildlife is more your speed, renting a kayak in Adrigole, Glengarriff, or Bantry is a great way to do so. Kayak rental is usually done by the hour and whichever local business you choose to go with will be able to recommend the best spots to paddle to in order to catch a glimpse of the seals.
The largest of West Cork’s Islands, Bere Island makes for an interesting day trip thanks to its scenic ferry ride, countless country roads, and historic background.
The Beara is home to a number of golf courses, including Glengarriff Golf Club (a 9-hole course) and Bantry Golf Club, which boasts an 18-hole course on 170 acres of woodland and coastline.
Bantry House is a gorgeous stately home located just on the outskirts of Bantry town itself. The house, which has been open to visitors since the 1940s, is filled with antiques and perfectly preserved rooms that hark back to its original design by the Earl of Bantry. Outside, visitors can stroll through the Italianate gardens complete with a maze, fountains, walks through the woods, and the famous 100 steps that lead to the very top of the property and offer the best views of Bantry Bay.
One of the few inhabited islands that lie off the southwest coast of Ireland. Famed for its over-water cable car ride onto the island, Dursey is one offshore spot not to miss during your time in West Cork.
Set right on the cliffs near the end of the Beara Peninsula, Dzogchen Beara is one of the highlights of the area. While the facilities there include an array of meditation rooms and retreat spaces, you can also visit for the day to simply walk around the serene gardens, enjoy the unrivalled sea views, and grab a tea and scone in the cafe.
Follow the winding, climbing road out of Glengarriff village up the Caha Mountains and you’ll come to the pass of the same name - a spiralling road through no man’s land and a ride through some ancient stone tunnels before dropping down the other side of the mountain towards Kenmare.
Shortly after passing through the Caha Tunnels, you’ll come to a rest point at Molly Gallivan's Cottage. Inside an authentic old Irish cottage, you’ll find all kinds of local souvenirs such as sheepskins, Arran knits, locally made woodware, and Claddagh rings.
For those of you with a taste for outdoor adventure, hiking Hungry Hill is one you won’t want to miss. Not only does the mountain offer a selection of challenging hikes across its rugged face, but you’ll also find access to The Mare’s Tail, the tallest waterfall to be found not only in Ireland but in all of the UK.
At the end of the Beara Peninsula, Allihies is a picturesque spot that’s home to a sandy beach, a popular camping area, a historic copper mine, and a well-kept, colourful little village.