Visit Kinsale, Ireland
A highly attractive little town of narrow, winding streets lined with brightly painted houses set around a sheltered bay, affluent Kinsale is renowned for its setting and fine food.
The waterfront teems with bobbing fishing boats and yachts, and the narrow, medieval lanes wind through vividly painted shops and houses in shades of orange, fuchsia and lime green.
Two formidable forts guard the shoreline of what was once an important maritime hub. The hilltop James Fort and the immense, star-shaped Charles Fort were built in 1601 to defend the town as a coastal stronghold and a global trading port throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.
Today, Kinsale is a far more modest place and has returned to its roots as a fishing village, its boats supplying the many fine eateries in town. Kinsale is now known as ‘the Gourmet Capital of Ireland’, and the pedestrian-friendly old town is packed with excellent restaurants, artisan craft shops and energetic bars featuring regular live music.
Kinsale sits on the estuary of the River Bandon, its port naturally well protected. A thriving fishing fleet is based here, and there are two fully serviced marinas and a commercial port, and plenty of opportunities for getting out on the water. However, things weren't always so tranquil.
In 1601, a fleet of Spanish navy ships anchored here after being summoned by the Irish earls to help in the fight against the British. The Spanish managed to hold Kinsale for three months despite being besieged by the British army. When Irish reinforcements eventually arrived a bloody battle ensued, but the Irish were defeated. The Spanish were allowed to return home, but Catholics were banned from Kinsale for 100 years. The defeat was seen as the last stand against the British. Many of the Gaelic lords fled the country soon after, marking the end of the old Gaelic system.
Kinsale is also known for being the site of one of recent history’s greatest tragedies. In 1915, the passenger liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Kinsale. This event resulted in the death of almost 1,200 passengers and was a contributing factor to the United States’ entry into World War I. The Signal Tower on the Old Head of Kinsale houses a small museum commemorating the liner’s sinking.
Suggested itineraries featuring Kinsale
This sample itinerary will give you an idea of what is possible when you travel in Kinsale, and showcases routes we know work particularly well. Treat this as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Kinsale
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Kinsale
- Cork 14 miles away
- Cobh 14 miles away
- Kenmare 47 miles away
- Killarney 49 miles away
- Limerick 67 miles away
- Waterford 72 miles away
- Dingle Peninsula 81 miles away
- Kilkenny 85 miles away
- The Burren 93 miles away
- County Wexford 98 miles away
- Inis Mór 109 miles away
- Galway 111 miles away
- Connemara 139 miles away
- Dublin 148 miles away
- Newgrange and the Boyne Valley 163 miles away
- Sligo 178 miles away
- Enniskillen 187 miles away
- County Donegal 205 miles away
- Northern Ireland 223 miles away
- Belfast 228 miles away
- Derry/Londonderry 234 miles away
- Giant’s Causeway 259 miles away
Photos of Kinsale
Accommodation choices for Kinsale
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Kinsale. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
A quiet, inviting hotel with the warm atmosphere of a guesthouse, the Old Bank House is a peaceful getaway that is nevertheless right in the heart of Kinsale.
The conveniently located Blue Haven Hotel offers a warm welcome and provides comfortable and attractive rooms to rest in at the end of the day.
The characterful Perryville House evokes a sense of old world charm with its warm, welcoming atmosphere and delightfully decorated guest rooms that overlook the hotel’s country garden or the River Bandon.
Ideas for experiencing Kinsale
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Kinsale, and which use the best local guides.
Discover the historic town of Kinsale with a highly engaging guide on this hour-long walking tour. You'll hear interesting details about the town's links to Robinson Crusoe and the Spanish Armada, as well as the Lusitania and the New World.