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12 great things to do in Kinsale

A medieval town with a maritime heart, Kinsale’s energy comes from its beauty, its people and its large, safe harbour. Sheltered by steep green hills, and guarded by an impressive 17th-century fortress, the River Bandon meets the sea in this picturesque spot where sailing and fishing have shaped the community.

Narrow, winding streets fizz with historic pride, lined with colourful shop fronts and heritage buildings, galleries and gift shops, lively pubs and exceptional restaurants. At the heart of it all since 1946, Actons Hotel overlooks the handsome natural harbour busy with fishing boats, dinghies and yachts. Our front desk team are the best people to help you plan your adventure, and would love to help you plan a perfect stay.

Why not whet your appetite with these 12 top ideas.

1. Heritage Walks

A heritage walk with Kinsale native Dermot Ryan will peel back the layers of this pretty town. With unrivalled local knowledge, Dermot will bring to life almost 1,000 years of history, from the first settlers to the Anglo-Normans, the catastrophic 1601 Battle of Kinsale right up to the Lusitania disaster and the town’s striking Georgian and Victorian architecture.

2. Desmond Castle

Discover Kinsale’s surprising connections to the world’s greatest wineries on a visit to Desmond Castle. The early-16th-century tower house was occupied by the Spanish forces in 1601 and served as a customs house, prison, and famine workhouse before housing the small International Museum of Wine.

3. Charles Fort

One of Kinsale’s most impressive sights, Charles Fort was built in the 17th century as a military defence to protect the town and harbour. One of Europe’s best-preserved star-shaped artillery forts, the spectacular structure was in use until 1922, when much of it was destroyed as the British withdrew. The view from the ramparts is extraordinary.

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4. Beaches

Kinsale is surrounded by the most untouched beaches, all within striking distance of Actons by car. Let us arrange a packed lunch before you set off along the coast to find your own slice of heaven.

5. Old Head Signal Tower & Lusitania Museum

13 kilometres south of town, The Old Head of Kinsale Signal Tower is a beautifully restored viewing point and museum. Built by the British during the Napoleonic wars as a look out and signal posts, the 200-year-old signal tower now houses a museum dedicated to the RMS Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat during the First World War with the loss of 1200 lives.

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6. Water Adventures

Hit the high seas and experience the unique thrill of sailing within Kinsale’s sheltered harbour. Enjoy Kinsale and its spectacular setting from the water aboard the Spirit of Kinsale with Kinsale Harbour Cruises. Perhaps you’d prefer to charter a yacht or head for open waters on a deep-sea fishing charter with Sovereign Sailing? How about a private tour from Brian from Kinsale Wellness on Water where you get to fish, check lobster traps and have the company of a furry friend called Alfie.

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7. Black’s Brewery & Distillery

Overlooking the Bandon River lies a hidden gem for beer and spirit enthusiasts alike – Blacks Brewery & Distillery. They brew a variety of beers, craft gins and whiskeys. Whether you are a seasoned sipper or just curious, stop by for a guided tour of their grounds and taste their creations. Recently having opened their outdoor area, be sure to check out a variety of their locally brewed beers and distilled gins.

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8. Kinsale Mead

Made from fermented honey, mead is the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, dating back to 6,000 B.C. A visit to Kinsale Mead will reveal the drink’s age-old secrets on a fun and educational meadery tour. You’ll learn about honey and the fermentation and bottling process, on an hour-long tour that finishes with a guided tasting of four meads in the meadery’s tasting room.

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9. Food Tours of Kinsale

Discover the local flavours of Cork, with a satisfying (and delicious) daytime walking tour of Kinsale. With behind-the-scenes access, your local guide will introduce you to the chocolatiers and chefs, mead makers and fishermen that help shore up the town’s global reputation for excellent food.

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10. FootGolf

A fun blend of golf and football, why not try your luck at FootGolf. FootGolf Cork is the only purpose built FootGolf course and is close to Actons on the outskirts of Kinsale. Great for competitive families – with wonderful coastal views – come armed skill, sass and a sense of humour.

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11. Golf

With a world class links course and a picturesque woodlands course, Kinsale offers up two challenging and contrasting golf experiences. Whatever your handicap or budget, Kinsale promises to deliver unforgettable golfing opportunities.

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12. Kinsale Pottery

Kinsale Pottery and Arts Centre is the largest privately run arts centre in the south of Ireland, and provides arts and craft courses for adults and children, including pottery, glass fusing and more.

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