One of the oldest tourist destinations in Ireland. Follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth, Thackeray and GB Shaw and discover the magic of this natural treasure where sea, river and ancient forest meet.
The easiest way to get to Glengarriff is by road. Glengarriff is on the Ring of Beara and depending on your starting point you will probably either approach it on the N71, from Bantry (coming from the Cork side) or from Kenmare (coming from the Kerry side), or the R572 (coming from Castletownbere).
If you have your own boat, the most spectacular way to get to Glengarriff is by sea. Glengarriff Harbour is one of the most spectacular natural harbours in West Cork and has very safe anchorage.
Glengarriff is served by the Bus Eireann Cork-Castletownbere bus service (Route 236), which leaves from the Parnell Square Bus Depot in Cork and passes through Bandon and Bantry. During the summer months, there is a bus service from Cork to Tralee (Route 252), which passes through Clonakilty, Skibbereen, Bantry and Glengarriff, before squeezing through the tunnel on the Caha Pass on its way through Kenmare and Killarney to Tralee.
You really need a car to get around the area (although Glengarriff itself is very compact and can easily be walked). There are a number of local taxi and minibus services.
- Ilnacullin Gardens (On Garinish Island), ☎ . Ferries run regularly from the village with ferries operation from the Main pier and the Blue Pool. The island was originally a military outpost; and a barracks and Martello Tower were built against the threat of a Napoleonic invasion. The island was purchased from the War Office in 1910 by Annan Bryce, who commissioned English architect Harold Peto to design a house and garden. Thousands of tons of topsoil were imported to the then bare, rocky island and shelter belts were planted, creating a micro-climate in which a number of tender plants thrive. The house was never built, and the Casita and Italian garden remain the centrepiece of the gardens. There are also very fine herbaceous borders. The gardens are now maintained by the Office of Public Works. Open March to October: Monday - Saturday 10:00 - 16:30 Sundays 13:00 - 17:00. April: Monday - Saturday 10:00 - 18:30 Sundays 13:00 - 18:30. May and September: Monday - Saturday 10:00 - 18:30 Sundays 12:00 - 18:30 June: Monday - Saturday 11:00-18:30 Sundays 11:00-18:30 July and August: Monday - Saturday 09:30 - 18:30 Sundays 11:00 - 18:30. Admission Adult €3.70 Group and Senior Citizen €2.60 Child/Student €1.30 Family €8.70. Last landing 1 hour before closing. Average Length of Visit: 1-2 hours. Please note that the boats are privately operated and levy a separate charge.
- Glengarriff Nature Reserve. 1000 acres of ancient Irish Oaks. The main entrance to the nature reserve is located on the Glengarriff-Kenmare road about two kilometers outside the village. The reserve is crossed by public roads, so there are a number of different ways to gain access. There are several car parking areas beside the river which flows through the reserve. There are a wide range of walks on both paved roads and earthen paths. The walking routes are well signposted and vary in difficulty and length.
- Barley Lake. A hill-side lake west of Glengarriff. Nestled in the hills west of Glengarriff and visible from the Caha Pass road (Glengarriff-Kenmare road), the lake is at the end of a long and winding road through countryside mostly populated by sheep. At the end of the road, walk the last few yards to see the lake laid out below you. Not recommended for large camper vans.
There are regular boat trips to Garinish Island which take you on a tour of the harbour and past a seal colony.
- Sea Kayaking. Offered in the bay and is a stunning way to see the islands.
Aran sweaters and shillelaghs (traditional hardwood cudgel associated with Ireland in folklore).
- Blue Loo Pub. Most famous traditional bar, located at the westernmost end of the main road through the town.
- Glengarriff Lodge, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Self catering villa located on a private 40 acre woodland estate.
- Rockwood House B&B. Clean, welcoming B&B on the Castletownbere road. Enormous breakfast. Motorcycle-friendly. €35 a single.
- Harringtons pub. Busy sociable pub, cosily lit with good beer. Often with live music.
- Hawthorn Bar.