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Best things to do in Bantry

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Ireland  /  Province of Munster  /  County Cork  /  Bantry

Top 15 things to do in Bantry

1. Bantry House & Garden

Explore Bantry House & Garden, a scenic 18th-century estate that has been in the same family since it was purchased in 1750 by Councilor Richard White. More than 250 years later, the White family still owns, operates, and lives on the property. Visit the historical grounds, which have been open to tourists since 1946. Walk the lush gardens, examine the stables, and view the Queen Anne-style architecture of the building, which was built in 1700. Purchase a refreshment in the Councilor tea room, or stay at the bed-and-breakfast that has been welcoming guests since 1990.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Skellig Michael, County Kerry

Visit Skellig Michael, the larger of the two Skillig Islands, to see the natural beauty and the famous ruins of early religious settlement. The remains of the historic monastery, along with much of the Atlantic Ocean island, were named a World Heritage Site in 1996. The monastery was established on the island between the 6th and 8th century, but was abandoned in the 12th century. Take a tour of the island, weather permitting. If you like to dive, take advantage of one of the dive sites.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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3. Slea Head Drive, Dingle Peninsula

Cruise past stunning natural landscapes along Slea Head Drive, a circular driving route that begins and ends in Dingle. Start your journey driving across the Milltown Bridge and then past the Burham woodlands. Consider a stop in Ventry, a seaside village, to enjoy beach and water activities. Your trip continues westward past Dunbeg Fort and along the Atlantic Ocean. Take in views of the clifftop fort on one side and the ocean on the other.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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4. Cork Whale Watch, Union Hall

Cork Whale Watch offers wonderful opportunities to observe whales and dolphins and a host of other marine wildlife in West Cork. These productive coastal waters provide critical feeding habitat for a diversity of species including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), basking sharks, seals and sea birds, along with prolific fish life.

If you've seen film footage or natural history documentaries on whales from anywhere in Co. Cork or Waterford, the chances are it was filmed with Colin Barnes from the MV Holly Jo. Among these contributions are RTE's "Wild trials" series over several years since 2002, "Wild Journeys", "Living the Wildlife" and in recent years Colin has worked with both BBC Autumnwatch (2011) and Winterwatch (2012) and most recently BBC's "Great British Year" (2013) to film large whales along the Irish South coast.

As a former fisherman of 40 years experience observing whales in West Cork, Colin is Ireland's longest established and most experienced whale watch operator and has been enthralling whale watchers and wildlife enthusiasts in West Cork since 2001. Colin has contributed to and co-authored scientific publications on fin whale photo-identification and humpback whale distribution (2014) with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, and contributes to the All-Ireland Cetacean Sighting Scheme, by reporting sightings directly to IWDG. Colin is a rare breed of conservationist, who has evolved from the fishing industry, his passion and understanding of local marine ecosystems is second to none.

We operate out of Reen Pier, just 5 minutes outside of Union Hall. So, if you are staying in Skibereen, Leap, Rosscarbery, Clonakilty, Bandon, Kinsale or Cork City, then Cork Whale Watch are your nearest whale watch operator, offering plenty of free car parking space within easy walking distance of the pier, ensuring you start your whale watch trip fresh and "stress free".

Colin is available for longer filming and research charters during summer and winter.

Summer Timetable (Trips are a minimum 4 hour duration)

Our rates are as follows:

• Adults €50

• 3rd level students €40 (valid student card),

• Children (under 18 yrs): €40 (1st child), €30 (2nd and others)

Trip times: April - September (4-5 hours duration, subject to weather & demand)

10.30am to 2.30 pm

3.00pm to 7.00 pm

Winter Timetable October - March (Trips generally 4 hrs+ duration)

10.30am to 3.30 pm

How to get to Reen Pier?

Go into Union Hall and drive through the main street until you reach the church (St. Brigid's) on your left (heading away from village). Take left at the church, where Reen Pier is signed. Take 1st right after 200 mts (again signed for Reen Pier) and stay on this road, keeping the lake on your left, and you can't miss Reen Pier. It's a 5 minute drive from Union Hall to the car parking area. A local map showing Reen Pier is available on our website www.corkwhalewatch.com in the "Frequently Asked Questions" section. We have additional street signage from Leap and Union Hall.

You can book your place by:

1. Phone: +353 (0)86 3850568 or 353 (0) 86 3273226

2. email: info@corkwhalewatch.com

3. On Facebook
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Learn more about Cork Whale Watch

5. Garinish Island, Glengarriff

A short ferry ride away in the harbor of Glengarrif in Bantry Bay, Garinish Island is a lush island filled with stunning gardens and rare plants from around the world. Harold Peto designed the now-famous gardens in the 19th century for the island's owners, Annan and Violet Bryce. Since it was given to the state in 1953, this island has become a popular tourist site because of its beautiful walkways. Stroll through the property, which covers 15 hectares (37 acres), and view the world-renowned gardens with plants that are only able to grow in this area's mild microclimate. Visit historic structures on the island, including a Grecian temple, Martello Tower, and Italian casita.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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6. Gleninchaquin Park, Kenmare

At Gleninchaquin Park, a family-owned park and farm, you can enjoy a day of exploring natural beauty and stunning landscapes. This long valley contains several waterfalls and lakes, including Laughs Inchanquin, Uragh, and Cloonee. Walk various flat routes through this scenic valley along log bridges, streams, mountain trails, stone steps, and rock passages. Trek or picnic while taking in views of powerful cascades, dense woodlands, and the Killarney McGillicuddy Reeks on the horizon.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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7. Ring of Kerry, County Kerry

One Ireland's great road trips, Ring of Kerry passes through a picturesque landscape that contains most of Ireland's notable features, including scenic outlooks, pristine lakes, glacial valleys, rocky islands, medieval castles, and historical forts. The circular route stretches for about 180 km (110 mi), beginning and ending in the town of Killarney. You can drive this route in a single day, but to experience the area at a slower pace, take the long-distance walking / cycling path following the slightly quieter roads. The narrow roads tend to get extremely crowded with tour buses, which travel counter-clockwise from Killarney. Avoid having to pass traffic in dangerously narrow sections by driving or cycling clockwise.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Horseback Riding Tours

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Bantry Bay Golf Club

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Gallarus Oratory, Dingle

Climbing out of Gallarus Oratory through its window cleanses one's soul, according to local mythology. Visiting the 1,000-year-old church proves this cannot be done, as the structure's window measures only 18 cm (7 in) in length and 12 cm (5 in) in width. Despite its small dimensions, the ancient church represents the pinnacle of dry-stone architecture, built using techniques originally developed by Neolithic tomb makers. The builders cut the stones with such precision that even after a millennium the structure exhibits a smooth finish on its outside walls. Take a walk around this simple structure to fully appreciate the level of skill needed to fit the stones so precisely together.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Molly Gallivan's Cottage & Traditional Farm, Kenmare

Molly Gallivan's Cottage & Traditional Farm provides a chance to explore Irish farm life before electricity. Visit the cottage, a small yet imposing stone structure, to understand the difficulties and limitations of life lived without electricity and other amenities. Follow the traditional farm walk, which takes you past the house well—where water was drawn for drinking and food preparation—and through the garden to see where much of the household food crop was grown. The tour continues through the oat and barley fields, the farmyard, and to Molly's still where she distilled moonshine whiskey from the barley and potatoes that she grew. Also see the famine ruin, a monument to the Great Famine of the 1840s, which killed hundreds of thousands, and the Neolithic stone row, which is part of a druidic sun calendar. You can also visit the craft and gift shop and the tea room and barn restaurant.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Beicin Loop

Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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13. Stone Circle, Kenmare

Just a short walk from Kenmare Towne, Stone Circle represents one of the largest prehistoric monuments of its kind in southwestern Ireland. This arrangement consists of 15 heavy standing stones surrounding a boulder dolmen in the center of the circle. This circle and dolmen were most likely placed in the Late Neolithic period for ceremonies, including burials of the dead. This is a a great site to see if you want to check out one of Ireland's many stone circles but don't want to go far from town to do so. The circle is considered one of the best-maintained prehistoric monuments in the country.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale

Old Head Golf Links offers a luxury golfing experience on a promontory of emerald green hills that look out into the Atlantic Ocean. The course is a walking course of 18 holes with a par 72. Stroll the green as a member or a visitor and experience the complexities of the course caused by the winds from different directions across the promontory. At the 18th hole, visit the clubhouse where you can have a drink at the bar and enjoy a five-star meal. Advanced bookings are essential, visit the website for details.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Great Blasket Island, Dingle Peninsula

Shrouded in sea mist, the mysterious Great Blasket Island is known for the number of notable authors who wrote in the local dialect. A historical village on the island was once home to many writers, as well as a small fishing community. The residents left in 1953, but the tiny cottages they called home are part of a ghost town near the coast. From a distance, it makes for a haunting image; but don't be afraid to get a little closer on one of the guided tours that depart by boat from Dingle Harbor and Dunquin hamlet. The latter is home to the Blasket Information Center and museum, where you'll learn more about the island. Bring along drinking water, snacks, and a jacket for the day because there are no facilities on the island. Also, a pair of hiking shoes will help preserve your feet as you walk around grassy hills.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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