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Haven Coast Driving Route

In the Haven Coast, nature sets the pace. Indulge your senses as you dive into a region that takes particular care with locally-grown food, explore its thriving arts and crafts, try an adventure activity or simply soak in the sensational views and rich history. At the south end of the Wild Atlantic Way, this particular slice of the world’s longest defined driving route is perfect for a day trip. 


•   Region: Haven Coast

•   Highlights: Lough HyneBaltimore BeaconDrombeg Stone CircleGalley HeadOld Head of KinsaleTimoleague Abbey

•   Distance: 121 km 

•   Duration: 2 hours, 56 minutes 

•   Starting point: Baltimore

•   Finishing point: Kinsale 


Baltimore Coastline in West Cork, Ireland
The bright village of Baltimore, County Cork

Starting out on the R595, the sailing village of Baltimore is your first port of call. Watch the sun rise at the Baltimore Beacon, a striking 15m, white-painted stone pillar that acts as a lighthouse watching over the harbour. Linger a while with Whale Watch West Cork or hit the road to start exploring the region. Keep on the R595 to reach bustling Skibbereen, one of the liveliest environments you’ll encounter on your journey. The long and twisty road to Galley Head should take a further 30 minutes, leading to amazing views of the dramatic cliffs and Galley Head Lighthouse on the headland. Continue on past Galley Head, where you can take in spectacular sights all along the coast from Fastnet to the Old Head of Kinsale


A lighthouse at Galley Head, County Cork
The lighthouse at Galley Head, County Cork

Past this, be sure to pit stop at the beautiful Blue Flag beach at Inchydoney before reaching the charming coastal town of Clonakilty. Next, head to Timoleague where you’ll discover the ruins of the 14th century Franciscan Timoleague Abbey


Timogleague Abbey Franciscan Monastery, County Cork
Timogleague Abbey, image via Celtic Spirituality

Two of the most loved beaches in all of County Cork are located just a few kilometres west of Kinsale; Garrettstown and Garrylucas, so be sure to stop by one for a stroll. Meanwhile the Old Head of Kinsale is the spot to indulge in terrific sea views. The Old Head is a peninsula that juts deep into the Atlantic Ocean atop towering sea cliffs. Get immersed in history with a visit to the Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum, a fitting tribute to a remarkable story that includes many artefacts recovered from the ship’s wreckage. Back on the road, take the R605 and conclude your Wild Atlantic Way adventure with a culinary tour through Kinsale, one of Ireland’s finest gourmet food destinations. 


The view from the roadside in Kinsale, County Cork
The view from the roadside in Kinsale, County Cork

Related Activities: 


Scenic views of beautiful Lough Hyne, County Cork
The beautiful environs of Lough Hyne, via Skibbereen.ie

  • Colourful Skibbereen, bursting with artisan food and crafts, is a sumptuous stop off. Learn about the town’s history and discover the majesty of the marine nature reserve Lough Hyne at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre, before heading five kilometres out of town to take a walk at the Lough itself.

  • Indulge in some Celtic mysticism with a trip to the Drombeg Stone Circle in Glandore. This druid’s altar is regarded as one Ireland’s finest structures of its kind. 

The Drombeg Stone Circle in Glandore

  • Head to Union Hall for another opportunity for sea life spotting with Cork Whale Watch.

  • If you make it to Clonakilty on a Friday, look out for the market at Clonakilty for some of the country’s top food producers, including the town’s famous black pudding. Clonakilty boasts its own rich history. Learn all about the life and times of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins at the centre which bears his name, and visit his birthplace at Sam’s Cross. 

  • Travel back in time by heading to Timoleague where you’ll discover the ruins of the 14th century Franciscan Timoleague Abbey

  • Satisfy your cultural curiosity in Kinsalewith visits to the star-shaped Charles Fort, Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum and the local wine museum or take a historical walking tour through medieval streets, before getting acquainted with the restaurants and bars after the sun sets.

Nearby highlights:

  • Hop on the ferry to Heir Island for a lesson in the art of baking at the Firehouse Bakery - Bread School where the results are guaranteed to be nothing short of delicious. Bantry, Schull, Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Kinsale all host weekly markets which showcase the very best in local produce. If you’re after a more traditional pub and seafood restaurant, visit Casey’s of Baltimore. Kinsale, meanwhile, boasts the seafood lovers haven Fishy Fishy and the recently renovated, extended and quaint environs of Crackpots, an intimate restaurant where you can purchase the pottery you dine from when you’re finished!

  • Take a starlit kayak across Lough Hyne with Atlantic Sea Kayaking or try a range of options from surfing to stand-up paddling boarding and yoga with Kinsale Surf School at Garrettstown Beach. You can also try coasteering; an adventure journey that comprises of a combination of swimming through sea caves, blow-holes and sea arches, and jumping and diving off rocky outcrops. Garrettstown Surf School offers tours and lessons for first-timers. 

  • Liss Ard County House Estate near Skibbereen is home to the wondrous Irish Sky Garden; a magnificent installation

  • For something utterly romantic, stay in the charming old lighthouse keeper’s house at Galley Head

  • Kinsale’s 9/11 Garden of Remembrance stands as a touching memorial to the 343 fireman who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. You can also take a harbour boat tour and see the town and Charles Fort from the peaceful water. 

For more great drives along the Wild Atlantic Way, check out guides for the Northern Headlands, Surf Coast, Bay Coast, Cliff Coast and the Southern Peninsulas. For a further sense-heightening experience, the Haven Coast is home to a delicious 10-day celebration of food and all that’s great about West Cork.