Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay

West Cork is a stunning corner of Ireland that boasts some fantastic destinations to visit, including Bantry. The town is around 1.5 hours from Cork City, so you can easily take a daytrip here if you decide to pick up a rental vehicle.

Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay

Whiddy Island, Bantry Bay

I’d definitely recommend hiring a car at the airport, such as those found here, as there’s plenty to see and do in and around Bantry. Below are my top five reasons why you should put a few hours to one side to explore what it has to offer.

1. The seawall

One of my favourite ways to explore a new place is by foot, and after the journey from Cork, you’ll be glad of the opportunity to stretch your legs. There’s a safe footpath you can follow that stretches for a mile, with lots of viewing platforms and seats along the way so you can take a moment to appreciate the view.

You’ll notice the spectacular Bantry Bay as you look out, with the town the ideal place to escape the stresses and strains of daily life.

2. Whiddy Island

Whiddy Island is a quick ferry ride from Bantry, so there’s no excuse for not coming here on a daytrip. If, like me, you love to spot wildlife, Whiddy Island is the place for you. Birdwatching at one of its lakes is popular among many visitors, while you should keep your eyes peeled for bottle-nose dolphins and killer whales on the boat ride to the isle.

During the summer and autumn, the common butterwort can be spotted here. Interestingly, this is one of a handful of insect-eating plants in the country.

3. Bantry House and Gardens

This stately home is the perfect vantage point for views of the bay, and while it’s set on an elevated position, it should only take you around five minutes to walk here from the town centre. You can take yourself round the property, with some of the highlights including tapestries from Versailles, its drawing rooms and the gardens, which were first created in the 1850s.

In total, you can explore three floors of treasures, so it is well worth the short walk (or you could hop into your rental car!).

4. Bantry Market

Located in the Square, Bantry Market is the place to go if you want to pick up some local produce to enjoy on the ride back into Cork. The county is famous for an array of produce, particularly its wild salmon, cheese and free-range meats.

It’s well worth taking the time to enjoy a meal at one of the town’s restaurants, and its coastal location means there is plenty of locally-caught seafood on the menu.

5. Bantry Historic Town Walk

Following a town walk is one of the best ways to see these highlights and more. The town is home to two heritage trails that should take you around 30 to 40 minutes to complete. You can see the likes of the Kilkeenagh Burial Ground and St Brendan’s Church, along with the Presbytery Pillar and Mill Wheel, the latter of which is still in use.

Have you ever been to Bantry or plan to holiday there soon? If so, tell us what your favourite things to see and do in the town are.