We love Kinsale. It’s a vibrant little port town in Ireland that explodes with color at every turn. It’s one of those happy feeling type places. Maybe it’s the bright pinks and oranges, maybe it’s the friendly people, but for whatever reason–it feels like home when we stay there.
Kinsale is small, with a population of less than 6,000, but it packs a huge punch with things to do and places to see. As slow travelers, we are always looking for that ‘perfect’ home base. You know, places, where you can ‘nest’ for a week and live like locals. Well, Kinsale gets a big fat 10 from us, for being that perfect destination.
The other huge plus for slow traveling in Kinsale is that everywhere and everything is walkable. From the pubs and restaurants to the historic sites like Charles Fort on the outskirts of town, it’s all easily accessible with a good pair of walking shoes.
1. Follow The Color Trail
It won’t be a hard trail to follow, let me tell you. You just have to look up and you can’t miss it. I’ll start you off with this little area right here. It is probably one of the most famous instagrammable spots in Kinsale. If you hashtag #Kinsale, this bright orange corner will always show up.
You just keep heading down the cobblestone streets and there will be a bright yellow bookstore, turquoise blue gallery….
The creativity and imagination that goes into all the paint and color combinations are fascinating and definitely worth a stroll through town. For some reason, brightly painted buildings fascinate me. Probably because where I am come from in the US, buildings are painted beige, tan, white, or more shades of beige.
2. Take The Famous Walking Tour
I think there’s an unwritten travel law somewhere, that you should take some kind of tour when you get to a new town. I mean it makes sense, right? Why wander aimlessly and waste time, when some local has it all down to a fine science.
In Kinsale, you must go on the famous Don & Barry’s Historic Stroll. It was selected by Rick Steves as ‘Kinsale’s single best attraction’ and I think featured on his show. Duration is approximately 1 hour rain or shine! It’s a great introduction to Kinsale and it’s history. Be prepared, Barry knows everyone and they know him, so there’s lots of chatting with locals along the way.
3. Take all 5 of the Self-Guided Historic Town Walks
Okay, maybe not all 5. And I guess it depends how energetic you are, whatever you decide…it’s a ready-made itinerary. Easy peasy.
This is a completely different walking tour than the Dan and Barry’s Historic Stroll , I described above. With their tour you stay in the center of town, these routes are out of the town.
As you can see the map is easy to follow with loads of things to see along the way. Definitely hit the trail (Route 5) that takes you to the 17th century, star-shaped Charles Fort. On the way, there are some wonderful views of the harbor and gorgeous landscapes.
On your way back, rest your weary bones at Bulman Pub, and grab a pint while you’re there.
4. Cruise Around The Harbor
Since it’s such a beautiful port town, it’s definitely worth it to take a cruise around the harbor. It is a short cruise, at least the one we took was, but it’s so relaxing and the views are spectacular.
TIP: Make sure you use the bathroom before you go as there are none nearby and none on the boat–which was actually a bit of a bummer.
5. Listen To Some Real Traditional Irish Music
Traditional Irish Music, or Trad Music as it is also known, is a must when you visit Ireland. There so many famous places to listen to Trad music, probably the most notable is Temple Bar, in Dublin which is a blast I’ll admit.
But, if you looking for something more intimate and authentic then Kinsale is the place to be. The two places we have been are Kitty Ō Sē’s and Daltons.
We have liked both places for trad music, but Dalton’s has one night where some locals get together and play some of the best trad music we have heard. We have seen the same group of locals play for a few years now and they just can’t be beat in our eyes.
6. Explore The World’s Longest Defined Coastal Touring Route
The Wild Atlantic Way is the name of the spectacular 1600 mile route along the west coast of Ireland. It starts (or ends) in Kinsale- depending on how you decide to travel. It is a well-marked route, with signs even in the remotest of areas, all along the way. You can also pick up maps at every tourist site and hotel along the way.
You will see quaint little villages, breathtaking views, ancient and historical sights and everything in between. It leads you into areas off the beaten path you probably would have never gone. But once you do, you will not regret it.
If you ever plan to drive the Wild Atlantic Way, then Kinsale would be a great first stay and launching point for your drive. Even if you aren’t it’s still worth a stay!