Tourism Geography

Top Things to Do in Kinsale: Must See Places & Fun Things to Do

Reema Bharti

Reema Bharti

· 11 min read

From exploring historic landmarks to indulging in delectable seafood cuisine, there are so many things to do in Kinsale for every traveler. A visit to this beautiful town wouldn't be complete without strolling along the colorful streets, soaking in the charming ambiance, and experiencing the warmth of its welcoming locals. Whether you're a history buff, a food enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, Kinsale promises an unforgettable experience filled with memorable moments. 

I've visited Kinsale several times and each visit is as enchanting as the last. Walking through its colorful streets always brightens my day. Dining by the harbor, watching the sunset, is truly unforgettable. Kinsale never fails to impress, making it a must-visit destination.

Top 10 Things to Do in Kinsale, Ireland 

Top 10 things to do in Kinsale, Ireland, include discovering the rich history of Charles Fort and walking the colorful streets of the Old Head of Kinsale. Marvel at the art galleries, and sample the vibrant flavors at local seafood restaurants. Stroll along the Kinsale Harbour, and soak up breathtaking views of the Wild Atlantic Way. Visit Desmond Castle, explore the charming shops in Market Square, and enjoy a round of golf at the renowned Old Head Golf Links. Attend a traditional music session at a lively pub, and savor the area's famous culinary delights on a food tour.

Things to do in Kinsale Description
Visit Charles Fort Explore the star-shaped military fort with rich history and panoramic views of Kinsale Harbour.
Stroll Around Kinsale Town Enjoy the colorful streets and maritime charm of this historic port town.
Sail the Kinsale Harbour Experience sailing in the beautiful harbor and enjoy scenic views of the coastline.
Play Golf at Old Head Golf Links Play a round of golf on one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world with dramatic cliff-top views.
Walk the Scilly Walk Take a picturesque walk along the coast, featuring views of Kinsale Harbour and Charles Fort.
Dine at Award-Winning Restaurants Sample gourmet dishes in a town known for its culinary excellence and seafood specialties.
Visit the International Museum of Wine Learn about the history of wine and its global journey through interactive exhibits.
Experience the Kinsale Ghost Tour Embark on a thrilling ghost tour and explore the eerie and supernatural side of Kinsale’s past.
Explore the Kinsale Arts and Crafts Shops Discover unique local crafts, art, and handmade jewelry in the quaint shops around town.
Take a Cooking Class at the Kinsale Gourmet Academy Enhance your culinary skills with expert-led cooking classes focusing on local and international cuisines.

1. Visit Charles Fort


Visiting Charles Fort is a must when exploring Kinsale, Ireland. This 17th-century star-shaped fortress is rich in history inspired by kinsale native dermot ryan and sits prominently overlooking Kinsale Harbour. Wander through the remnants of its bastions and take in the commanding views of the sea and town below. You can feel the legacy of centuries past as you roam the grounds, imagining the soldiers who once stood guard.

I remember my visit vividly. The panoramic views from the fort were breathtaking, and I marveled at the intricate architecture designed for defense. The fascinating exhibits inside helped me appreciate how crucial Charles Fort was during the Williamite War in Ireland and beyond. As I wandered around, I learned about the fort's strategic significance during world war and its unfortunate fall during the Siege of 1690.

2. Stroll Around Kinsale Town

Kinsale Town

Strolling around Kinsale Town is one of the top things to do in Kinsale, Ireland. Its narrow, winding streets are brimming with vibrant shops, cozy cafes, and friendly pubs. Kinsale's culinary scene is top-notch, with fresh seafood and gourmet cuisine aplenty. Don't miss the colorful buildings and historic architecture that hint at the town’s rich maritime history.

When I visited, I loved the warmth of the locals and found myself lingering in delightful conversations with shopkeepers. The town felt like a welcoming haven, especially with the picturesque views of the harbor.

3. Sail the Kinsale Harbour


Sailing the Kinsale Harbour cruises is a top thing to do in Kinsale, Ireland. As you navigate these shimmering waters, you're treated to breathtaking coastal views that showcase the vibrant fishing town and its rolling green hills. The harbor is the perfect blend of tranquility and adventure, with the gentle sway of the waves guiding you toward coves and historic forts. Kinsale Harbour is one of the safest and most scenic anchorages on Ireland's southwest coast, and it's home to a fleet of colorful fishing boats and yachts.

During my sail, the invigorating sea breeze and the panoramic beauty left me speechless. I could see why it's known as the Gourmet Capital of Ireland with its harborside restaurants. Don't miss spotting Charles Fort, which stands guard over the harbor with its star-shaped walls. The changing tides reveal abundant marine life and seabirds, making every moment memorable.

4. Play Golf at Old Head Golf Links

Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale

Playing golf at the Old Head Golf Links is a must for golf enthusiasts visiting Kinsale. The course sits on a breathtaking 220-acre peninsula, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, offering spectacular ocean views. Designed by Ron Kirby and Joe Carr, the course is known for its challenging terrain and strategic layout.

The par-72 course measures over 7,100 yards and is often considered one of the most scenic and challenging courses in the world. The winds off the ocean add a unique challenge, ensuring that each round is different. With its dramatic cliffs and beautiful fairways, the Old Head Golf Links provides a golfing experience like no other.

5. Walk the Scilly Walk

The Scilly Walk path in Kinsale

The Scilly Walk is a charming coastal path that offers breathtaking views of Kinsale's harbor and coastline. It starts from the town center and leads you to the charming Scilly neighborhood. The route is lined with lush vegetation, making it a peaceful journey surrounded by nature.

Along the way, you will see historic landmarks like Charles Fort and James Fort, both offering panoramic vistas over the town. Stop by local cafes or pubs for refreshments while enjoying the scenery. The Scilly Walk is a must for anyone wanting to savor the natural beauty of Kinsale.

6. Dine at Award-Winning Restaurants

One of the top things to do in Kinsale, Ireland, is to dine at award-winning restaurants. The town is renowned for its culinary scene, featuring fresh seafood and local ingredients. Favorites include Fishy Fishy Café, known for its innovative seafood dishes, and The Black Pig, which offers a selection of fine wines paired with gourmet offerings. Enjoy a meal at the Michelin-starred Bastion, where the focus is on modern Irish cuisine with a twist. Each restaurant provides a unique dining experience that reflects the rich flavors of the region.

7. Visit the International Museum of Wine 

One of the highlights of my visit to Kinsale was the International Museum of Wine, a unique attraction that celebrates the rich history of viticulture. The museum houses an impressive collection of wine-related artifacts and exhibits that trace the global journey of wine-making. I was particularly fascinated by the ancient wine vessels from the Mediterranean and the detailed displays on modern wine production techniques.

The museum also offers wine tasting sessions and food tours featuring varieties from around the world, which I found to be a delightful experience. During my visit, I learned about the intricacies of wine pairing, which has significantly enhanced my appreciation for both wine and food. The staff were knowledgeable and passionate, making the experience both educational and enjoyable. For anyone with even a mild interest in wine, this museum is a must-visit in Kinsale.

8. Experience the Kinsale Ghost Tour

The Kinsale Ghost Tour is a unique walking tour that offers a spine-chilling journey through Kinsale’s storied past, led by engaging storytellers who bring the town’s history to life under the cover of darkness. I remember feeling a shiver run down my spine as we navigated the narrow, cobbled streets, hanging onto every word about the ancient spirits said to roam the area.

The tour includes stops at significant historical landmarks, each with tales of eerie occurrences and legendary figures. The stories of ghostly sightings near the 17th-century Charles Fort were particularly captivating. The guide's lantern-lit face added to the ambience, making it feel as if we had stepped back in time. It's not just about ghosts; it’s an opportunity to see Kinsale’s rich history through a different lens.

9. Explore the Kinsale Arts and Crafts Shops

Exploring the Kinsale Arts and Crafts Shops offers a delightful peek into local creativity. These quaint shops dot the narrow, colorful streets of this historic town, each brimming with unique handmade items—from pottery to handwoven textiles. It's a paradise for anyone who loves to support local artisans and bring home a piece of Irish culture.

During my last visit, I spent hours meandering through the charming lanes, stopping at The Canvas Works where you can find stunning canvas prints of Irish landscapes. The highlight was Kinsale Silver, a cozy boutique where the craftsmanship of silver jewelry truly amazed me. I always make it a point to pick up a few pieces as they make perfect gifts. These shops not only showcase art but also tell the story of Kinsale’s rich artistic heritage.

10. Take a Cooking Class at the Kinsale Gourmet Academy 

Taking a cooking class at the Kinsale Gourmet Academy ranks high among the must-do activities in Kinsale, Ireland. Located in the scenic surroundings of Ballinacurra House, this culinary school offers hands-on experience in preparing traditional Irish dishes, using locally sourced ingredients. Participants not only learn to cook but also get insights into the history and techniques behind Ireland's culinary traditions.

Classes here cater to all skill levels, from novices to experienced cooks. The academy’s professional chefs provide step-by-step guidance, ensuring you leave with new skills and a deeper appreciation for Irish cuisine. This engaging activity not only enhances your cooking abilities but also adds a memorable and tasty dimension to your visit to Kinsale.

What Outdoor Activities Can You Do in Kinsale, Ireland?

Kinsale offers a variety of outdoor activities like Sailing and Boating, golfing, hiking, cycling tours and bird watching, that caters to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. You can sail around the picturesque harbor or take a leisurely kayak tour to explore the serene waterways. For those who prefer land-based pursuits, cycling along the scenic coastal paths provides breathtaking views and fresh sea air.

Golf enthusiasts will find exceptional greens at the Kinsale Golf Club, where the sport can be enjoyed against a backdrop of rolling hills. Hiking the historical Charles Fort offers a combination of exercise and education, with stunning panoramas of the town's courthouse and surrounding ocean. Whether you're hitting the links or trailing the forts, Kinsale's outdoor scene is vibrant and inviting.

Sailing and Boating


Sailing and boating are popular choices in this amazing coastal town. The serene waters of Kinsale Harbour offer perfect conditions for sailing enthusiasts. I've spent many afternoons leisurely navigating the calm seas, feeling the cool breeze against my face.

Boat tours are readily available, providing opportunities to see the scenic coastline from a different perspective. On my last visit, I joined a sunset boating excursion that showcased the stunning Irish coast as the sun dipped below the horizon. Whether you're an experienced sailor or a first-time boater, Kinsale's sailing and boating experiences are not to be missed.



In Kinsale, golfing is a premier outdoor activity that offers breathtaking views and a challenging experience. The town is home to the renowned Old Head Golf Links, where the Atlantic Ocean surrounds the course on three sides, providing a stunning backdrop for each swing. The course's design cleverly integrates natural landscapes, such as dramatic cliffs and lush greenery, making every round memorable.

During my last visit, I played a round at Old Head and was truly captivated by the panoramic sea vistas from every hole. It felt like playing on the edge of the world, especially at the signature lighthouse hole. The fairways are well-maintained and the greens are impeccable, challenging both beginners and seasoned golfers alike. After a fulfilling day on the links, the clubhouse's warm ambiance and hearty meals were the perfect end to a fantastic golfing adventure.


Hiking in Kinsale

In Kinsale, Ireland, hiking enthusiasts can discover a variety of scenic trails that promise both tranquility and breathtaking views. One of the must-visit paths is the Scilly Walk, which offers a panoramic view of the harbor and Charles Fort. As I strolled along this trail, the early morning mist over the water painted a serene picture, perfect for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Each hike around Kinsale reveals unique landscapes and historical sites. The James Fort trail, another favorite of mine, allows hikers to explore the area's rich history while enjoying coastal views. On my last visit, the sunset from the fort was spectacular, with the sky ablaze in hues of orange and red. These trails are not only a way to experience Kinsale’s natural beauty but also a chance to step back in time and enjoy Ireland's storied past.

Cycling Tours

Cycling tours in Kinsale offer a unique way to see the picturesque landscapes and historical sites of this charming Irish town. Riders can enjoy well-mapped routes that pass through scenic coastal roads, lush countryside, and past famous landmarks like Charles Fort and James Fort.

These tours cater to all levels of cyclists, from beginners to experienced riders, ensuring that everyone can comfortably participate in the adventure. Rentals are available in the town center, where knowledgeable staff can also suggest personalized routes based on your interests and stamina.

Bird Watching

Bird watching emerges as a captivating outdoor activity in Kinsale. The region, known for its diverse avian population, attracts enthusiasts eager to spot rare and migratory birds. With its coastal location, Kinsale offers unique vantage points for observing seabirds and other species in their natural habitat.

Visitors can head to places like Charles Fort or the serene Bandon River estuary, where binoculars reveal glimpses of oystercatchers, herons, and occasionally, peregrine falcons. These areas provide not only excellent bird watching opportunities but also stunning views of Kinsale's scenic landscapes.

Best Places to Do Your Shopping in Kinsale

The best places to do your shopping in Kinsale are Kinsale design and arts centre itself, the Kinsale market, Giles norman gallery, and fishy fishy shop. Kinsale offers a variety of unique shops where you can find everything from local crafts to gourmet treats. I always visit the Kinsale Craft Shop for handmade pottery and textiles; it's a treasure trove for authentic Irish gifts. The Market Street boutiques are perfect for picking up one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories. As a food lover, I can't resist the temptations at the Kinsale Gourmet Pantry, where the local cheeses and chocolates are simply irresistible. These spots make shopping in Kinsale a truly delightful experience.

Kinsale Design Centre

The Kinsale Design Centre stands out as a prime destination for unique Irish crafts and textiles. You can find an assortment of locally made items that showcase the artisanal talents of the region. From hand-woven scarves to beautifully crafted pottery, the offerings are both traditional and contemporary. I remember buying a stunning ceramic vase here that became the centerpiece of my dining table, always a conversation starter with guests.

The Kinsale Market

Every Wednesday, the bustling Kinsale Market offers fresh produce, gourmet foods, and handmade crafts. It's an ideal spot to purchase authentic Irish goods directly from the producers. The vibrant atmosphere is filled with the aromas of freshly baked bread and local cheeses. My last visit here led me to discover some exquisite homemade jams and a variety of artisanal cheeses that were simply out of this world.

Giles Norman Gallery

For those interested in photography and art, the Giles Norman Gallery offers stunning black and white prints capturing Ireland's landscape. The gallery also sells elegant frames perfect for home decor. The dramatic contrasts in Norman’s photos truly capture the essence of the Irish scenery. I personally own a few of his prints, which adorn the walls of my study, providing a touch of serene beauty to my workspace.

Fishy Fishy Shop

Adjacent to the popular Fishy Fishy Restaurant, this shop sells fresh seafood and maritime-themed kitchenware. It’s perfect for picking up both dinner ingredients and charming souvenirs. The quality of seafood here is top-notch, and the nautical-themed dishes and tablecloths I’ve purchased have given my kitchen a lovely coastal feel. Plus, the staff are always willing to share their best recipes for preparing seafood, making each visit both educational and enjoyable.

The Popular Places to Do Dinner in Kinsale are Fishy Fishy, The Bulman, Finns’ Table, and Max’s. Kinsale brims with culinary delights, making it a top destination for food lovers. My favorite spot has always been Fishy Fishy, where the seafood is fresh and the ambiance reminds me of cozy seaside dining. Another gem is The Black Pig, which offers an eclectic menu paired with some of the finest local wines. On my last visit, I was particularly impressed by their oyster selection. For a taste of traditional Irish cuisine, I often head to The White House, where the hearty meals and warm, inviting atmosphere make for a perfect evening. Finally, for those who enjoy a more intimate dining experience, Bastion provides a gourmet menu that showcases the best of local ingredients.

Fishy Fishy

At Fishy Fishy, the focus is on showcasing the best of the sea. The restaurant prides itself on serving fresh, locally sourced fish and shellfish dishes that truly capture the essence of coastal dining. I remember the first time I visited; the seafood chowder was rich and comforting, filled with generous chunks of fish. The outdoor seating area also adds a special touch, allowing diners to enjoy the fresh sea air.

The Bulman

The Bulman, nestled near the historical Charles Fort, is a must-visit for anyone wanting to soak up traditional Irish pub culture. The atmosphere is always buzzing with energy, and the staff makes you feel like a local. My personal favorite dish here is the beef and Guinness pie, which pairs perfectly with a pint of local ale. The view of the harbor at sunset is simply breathtaking.

The Black Pig

The Black Pig is a wine lover's retreat, known for its carefully curated selection of organic and biodynamic wines. Each visit feels like a new adventure in wine tasting, complemented by a menu of gourmet small plates. The last time I was there, I tried a flight of reds alongside some locally sourced cheese and charcuterie—a perfect evening treat. The rustic, yet chic decor creates a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Finns' Table

Finns' Table offers a warm, family-run ambiance that makes each dining experience feel personal. The owners, John and Julie Finn, are often on hand to recommend dishes and share stories about their ingredients, all sourced from local farms and producers. The lobster risotto is simply sublime and a testament to the chef's commitment to freshness and quality. The quaint dining room, with its soft lighting and thoughtful art, enhances the romantic feel.


Dining at Max's feels like stepping into a blend of French bistro and Irish comfort. The restaurant's elegant decor complements a menu that features a fusion of French and Irish flavors. On my last visit, I savored a beautifully cooked duck confit with a side of colcannon that was flavorful and heartwarming. Seasonal menus ensure that each visit offers new tastes to explore, and the attentive service makes you feel truly special.

What Things to Do in Kinsale in the Rain? 

When considering what things to do in Kinsale in the rain, it's comforting to know that this charming Irish town offers plenty of indoor activities that ensure your visit remains enjoyable regardless of the weather. Kinsale attractions like the Kinsale Mead Co offer a unique experience where you can taste the world's oldest alcoholic drink, mead, which has been produced since ancient times. This is perfect for those rainy days when you prefer staying indoors.

  • Visit the Kinsale Museum: Step back in time at the Kinsale Museum, where exhibits detailing the town's maritime history and local legends captivate visitors. It's a great way to learn about Kinsale's past in a cozy, dry environment.

  • Explore Art Galleries: Kinsale's art scene is thriving with galleries like the Kinsale Art Gallery showcasing a mix of contemporary and classic pieces. Spend your afternoon admiring artworks by both local and international artists.

  • Charles Fort: While primarily an outdoor attraction, Charles Fort offers a number of indoor exhibits that explain its historical significance as a 17th-century fortress. The on-site café provides a warm spot to watch the rain over the harbor, possibly catching sight of the nearby River Bandon.

  • Relax in Coffee Shops: Kinsale's coffee shops offer a warm refuge with delicious Irish coffee, freshly baked scones, and the opportunity to mingle with locals. Each café has its own charm, providing a cozy ambiance to unwind.

  • Participate in Cooking Classes: Join a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Irish cuisine. These indoor sessions are not only educational but also a fun way to spend a rainy day, ending with you eating your own creations.

  • Browse Local Bookstores: Lose yourself in a good book from one of Kinsale’s quaint bookstores. They often carry titles by Irish authors that delve into the country's rich folklore and history.

  • Enjoy Wine Tasting: Some local vineyards offer indoor wine tasting sessions. It’s a sophisticated way to spend your afternoon, sampling various wines paired with expertly chosen snacks.

  • Indulge in a Spa Day: For a truly relaxing experience, visit one of Kinsale’s top-rated spas. Enjoy massages, facials, and other treatments that pamper the body and soul, perfect for a soothing day indoors.

Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Head Signal Tower, one of the historical Kinsale attractions which, despite being an outdoor site, has indoor areas where historical artifacts and stories are displayed, enriching your understanding of the local heritage.

FAQs on Top Things to Do in Kinsale

1. What are the best activities for families in Kinsale?

The best activities for families in Kinsale include exploring Charles Fort, enjoying a family picnic at James Fort, and taking a boat tour around Kinsale Harbour.

2. Where can food lovers dine in Kinsale?

Food lovers should dine at Fishy Fishy for fresh seafood, The Black Pig for gourmet tapas, and The Bulman for traditional Irish fare with a view.

3. What historical sites should I visit in Kinsale?

Visitors should explore the 17th-century Charles Fort, stroll through the historical streets of Kinsale, and visit Desmond Castle, which houses the International Museum of Wine.

4. Are there any recommended shopping areas in Kinsale?

Yes, head to Main Street for its boutique shops offering local crafts, artisan foods, and unique Irish gifts.

5. Are there outdoor activities in Kinsale?

Kinsale offers a variety of outdoor activities, including golfing at Kinsale Golf Club, hiking the Scilly Walk, and sailing in the Kinsale Yacht Club.

6. What are the best spots for photography in Kinsale?

The best spots for photography in Kinsale are the colorful town center, the panoramic views from Compass Hill, and the scenic waterfront.