A Road Trip Along Ireland’s Southern Coast: Things To Do In County Cork & Waterford

March 30, 2023
ireland southern coast,ireland's southern coast,things to do in county cork,things to do in county waterford

A meandering, unhurried road trip along Ireland’s southern coast is full of sweeping ocean views, rugged cliffs, emerald fields dotted with little sheep, and dozens of tiny colorful villages.

It’s a wonderful addition to any Ireland itinerary, so I wanted to share with you all of the tips from this part of my Ireland travels, and specifically things to do in County Cork and County Waterford.

A Roadtrip Ireland's Southern Coast: Things to Do in County Waterford & County Cork | The southwest coast of Ireland is filled with sweeping ocean views, rugged cliffs, emerald fields, & charming colorful villages. Here's a detailed guide to the many things to do in County Waterford & Co. Cork, from roadtrip stops to where to eat, where to stay, natural beauty, distilleries, & much more! #ireland #roadtrip #countycork #cowaterford

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This post is quite in-depth, a combination of travel guide and photo essay.  I’ve got ideas of possible things to do, where to eat, etc., but a lot of the things on this itinerary are less true “things to do” than they are just ideas for where to stop.  You can pick the spots that sound most appealing depending on the time you have.

Visiting Drombeg Stone Circle on an Ireland south coast roadtrip

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Where to stay along Ireland’s southern coast

I started my Ireland southern coast roadtrip in Adrigole, on the Beara Peninsula (at the charming Irish hipster-y Mossie’s B&B), and that was a great jumping off point for my trip.  As such, early in the day I skipped through towns that would make great bases, such as RosscarberyBaltimoreSkibbereenKinsale, and Cobh.

If you’re going as far as Ardmore, I HIGHLY recommend the amazing Cliff House Hotel (It’s definitely a splurge, but completely worth it, here’s my detailed review).  I also strongly considered Coolcormack Stud B&B in nearby Dungarvan.

Right near Galley Head I also stayed at Seafield Farmhouse, which was charming and beautiful but the breakfast wasn’t much (maybe caught on a bad day).

A detailed guide to a roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - staying at Cliff House Hotel is a must!

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Driving in Ireland 

First off, I have a super detailed post on renting a car and driving in Ireland that I recommend reading.  Driving in Ireland can seem intimidating if you’re not used to driving on the left, or you aren’t familiar with driving more rural roads, but it REALLY is the way to see this country.  I personally love it.

While part of this itinerary is on decent smaller highways, there are a number of narrow, curvy, and not-well-marked roads.  Take your time, stay in your lane, and when in doubt, yield…it’s completely normal to pull over to let a car pass, or if you’re not sure that you and an oncoming car (or bus) will both fit!

One thing to be aware of is that it’s easy to get deceived by the seemingly-short distances on the map.  Don’t rely on Google Maps for time estimates.  You definitely need to assume any leg of your journey will take longer…not to mention you’ll want to get out and take photos.

A detailed guide to a roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford & Cork - driving tips

A detailed guide to a roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - Ireland driving tips

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Road trip stops along Ireland’s south coast

For this trip, we’re focusing specifically on the western half of the southern coast, and things to do in County Cork and County Waterford.  The direction you drive this route doesn’t matter…the views are great either way.

I was coming from the north end of the western coast, so I did the Aran Islands, then Dingle, then the Beara Peninsula.  And for this leg, I started in Adrigole and made my way down and across.

With a short time, I decided to skip the deep southwestern corner since I’d already explored it a bit on a previous trip (and it was pretty out of my way).  But here are some great recommendations for it, if you’ve got the time.

  • Mizen Head – Supposed to be stunning, but can also be a bit crowded
  • Three Castle Head – Reviews are pretty amazing, though quite a bit of variance on how long people say it takes (this is a hike), a good option for avoiding the crowds of Mizen Head
  • Barleycove Beach – A pretty, wide beach popular for swimming, paddling, its tidal stream, and more
  • Sheeps Head Peninsula – I had explored this wild bit of the country on a previous trip, and found it thoroughly charming and not at all crowded!  You can read more about it here.
  • Crookhaven – O’ Sullivan’s Bar in the little village of Crookhaven is supposed to be great, overlooking the harbor with gorgeous views
  • Schull – Supposed to be cute
  • If you’re looking for good coffee or breakfast, two places recommended by my B&B host were Kinda Cafe in Bantry and Buds Restaurant in Ballydehob

A detailed guide to a roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - the wild & remote Sheeps Head Peninsula

Other Ireland adventures to plan your trip! 

The Perfect 7-Day Ireland Roadtrip Itinerary:  Hidden Gems

Tips For Renting A Car & Driving In Ireland

The Medieval Charms of Kilkenny

Driving Ireland’s Beara Peninsula

Exploring Ireland’s Breathtaking Dingle Peninsula (& 10+ Hidden Gems)

Duchess For A Day: A Luxury Stay At Dromoland Castle (Co. Clare)

What to Expect at the Cliffs of Moher (& Where To Go Instead)

What to Do With 2 Days in Dublin (+ Touring Guinness and Jameson)

What to Do in Ireland’s Boyne Valley Region & Slane Village

Clonmacnoise Monastery, Ireland: A Road Trip Must-See

24 Hours On Inis Mor, In Ireland’s Aran Islands

Skibbereen

Okay moving on…given that I had gotten a later start than planned, I made my first stop in Skibbereen.  It’s an adorable little town (you’ll notice a theme of that as we go through) that is big enough to have shops and restaurants, but small enough to feel quaint—definitely worth a walk around!

After finding street parking, my first stop was O’Neill Coffee.  It’s a really cute PROPER coffee shop (like, with really good coffee, which is less common in Ireland).  I got a delicious scone and a cortado.

On my way back to the car, I stopped in at West Cork Crafts, which has beautiful local items…I couldn’t resist picking up a few as souvenirs.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - adorable Skibbereen

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - adorable Skibbereen & O'Neill coffee house

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - coffee & scone in adorable Skibbereen

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - O'Neill coffee house in Skibbereen

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Just outside of Skibbereen is a spot that isn’t super well-marked, but is worth a few minutes of your time.  Abbeytrowsry Cemetery (also called Abbeystrewry Graveyard) is one of the most significant and sobering memorials of the Famine in Ireland.

This is where the infamous “pits” or mass graves are, where somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 Famine victims were buried in a seven-year timespan.  You can learn a bit more about the memorial and what it commemorates here, if you’re interested.

I had trouble figuring out where to park, so if you’re coming FROM Skibbereen, turn right *just* before the cemetery, then drive up the little narrow road a bit and you can park there.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - Abbeytrowsry Graveyard memorial to victims of the Famine

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - Abbeytrowsry Graveyard memorial to victims of the Famine

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - Abbeytrowsry Graveyard memorial to victims of the Famine

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - Abbeytrowsry Graveyard memorial to victims of the Famine

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And then I ended up back in Skibbereen because I had trouble finding a spot that was open for lunch on a Monday (in early May toward the end of COVID).  Annie Mays B&B was really cute and had good service and pretty good food.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - lunch at Annie May's in Skibbereen

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - lunch at Annie May's in Skibbereen

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - lunch at Annie May's in Skibbereen

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Baltimore

If you’re looking at a map, you’ll notice that Baltimore is a bit out of the way.  So I was tempted to skip it and keep on truckin’, but it was such a pretty day that I decided to go see if the Baltimore Beacon was worth the fuss.

I took a quick drive through the town, but didn’t have time to stop and walk around.  It’s a really charming village, with Victorian cottages, a busy shorefront, cute pubs, and a 13th-century castle (Dún na Séad).  It’s also a good spot to take a whale-watching tour.

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - beautiful Baltimore harbor

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

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There’s a small parking lot, but I can definitely see how it would get really busy during peak season.  If there’s no parking available there, you may need to park in town and walk, which takes about 20 minutes.

I took a very short but steep climb up some rocks, but if you don’t want to do that you can start the trail a bit further back and take a gentler route up to the point on the cliffs.

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

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Even without the beacon, the scenery here is stunning.  I love the craggy cliffs and azure blue water…heck, even the COWS look scenic.

A Roadtrip Ireland's Southern Coast: Things to Do in County Waterford & County Cork | sweeping ocean views from the Baltimore Beacon

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

And then there’s the famous white-painted stone “beacon” itself—100% worth a visit on a pretty day.  You’ll have uninterrupted views of Cork’s amazing coastline and the crystal clear waters below.

Things to do on an Ireland south coast roadtrip - visit the Baltimore Beacon on a beautiful day

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

A roadtrip along Ireland south coast - things to do in County Cork - visit the Baltimore Beacon

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Glandore

After making my way back up from Baltimore to the main road I’d been on, next up was Glandore (known in Irish as Cuan Daire meaning “harbour of gold”).  I didn’t have time to stop (and didn’t see a ton open at the time), but it’s a very pretty village with an adorable harbor and beach area.

There are also two Norman castles in the vicinity, and a pleasant walking route to the megalithic Drombeg Stone Circle nearby (next up on the list!).

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stop in charming villages like Glandore

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stop in charming villages like Glandore

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - enjoy the scenic drives

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Drombeg Stone Circle

Back up near Skibbereen, the Drombeg Stone Circle (or standing stones) deserves a spot on your itinerary—it’s cool, quick and easy to see, and free.  What more could you ask??

Also known as the Druid’s Altar, this is one of the iconic attractions in Cork, and probably the most famous of the prehistoric stone circles in Ireland.  Believed to be erected about 3,000 years ago, the circle is very well-preserved.

My one big tip is that the lighting when I visited mid-afternoon was not great (for photography), I think it would photograph better before lunchtime.  You can access the circle down a quiet narrow lane.  There’s a small car park for visitors (but large vehicles, trucks, buses, etc. cannot access).

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stopping by Drombeg Stone Circle is a must

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stopping by Drombeg Stone Circle is a must

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stopping by Drombeg Stone Circle is a must

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Rosscarbery

I bumped along on the road a bit past the stone circle, and made a quick swing through Rosscarbery.  It’s definitely a bigger town, with a cute downtown area.

I didn’t have as much luck finding a place for a snack and coffee (what I was looking for mid-afternoon), but you can reference this post on restaurants in Rosscarbery.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stop in charming villages like Rosscarbery

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - stop in charming villages like Rosscarbery

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Owenahincha Beach

One thing that really stood out to me was how the south coast seems much more gentle than the wild western coast, with more harbors and bays, and less-violent crashing waves.

Instead, you get these nice wide sandy beaches like Owenahincha Beach, which are great for families.  (Though don’t underestimate the power of the waves and tide, and always ask the lifeguards if it’s safe to swim)

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - there are many beach options like Owenahincha Beach

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - there are many beach options like Owenahincha Beach

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - there are many beach options like Owenahincha Beach

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Clonakilty

Clonakilty is a larger village that is SUPER cute and worth taking some time to explore.  Beyond your expected brightly-colored buildings and pretty shops, it’s got a local craft distillery and a pretty good local food scene.

In fact, if you’re staying a bit longer (it’s a good town for basing yourself) you could look into a foodie walking tour that blends local history with sampling local artisan markets, ice cream, cheese, and chocolate shops.

Charming Clonakilty is a great stop on a roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Clonakilty is a great town to stop in

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Clonakilty is a great town to explore

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I stopped a cute spot called Gearoidin’s for a takeout slice of Bakewell-themed cake, and popped in at a cute wine shop/bar called Ari’s.  There are lots of little boutiques as well.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Clonakilty is a great town to explore

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Clonakilty is a great town to explore

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - delicious bakewell cake in Clonakilty

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One of the joys of just meandering along the south coast is just stopping whenever the whim strikes.  And that’s exactly what I did when I saw the bright copper stills of Clonakilty Distillery.  The distillery makes whiskey, gin, and vodka, and is relatively new to the area (but Clonakilty has a long brewing and distilling history).

I managed to catch a tour just after they had left, and we first watched a really well-done video (that sent me on a wild hare to Galley Head, where the barley is grown).  Then we went through the distilling process, learning about the grains, how the stills work, and more.

I took the whiskey tour, but they offer gin and vodka tours as well.  They also have “gin school” occasionally, where you can distill it and infuse your own botanicals—very bummed to miss that!

The tour ends with a tasting, with two different whiskies to taste (I also convinced them to let me try the gin too).  I went home with a bottle of gin and a bottle of their sloe gin…who can resist?!

Read more about my viist to the distillery (& beautiful, wild Galley Head!)

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - an Irish distillery tour is a must, try Clonakilty Distillerly

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - an Irish distillery tour is a must, try Clonakilty Distillerly

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork - an Irish distillery tour is a must, try Clonakilty Distillerly

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At that point I didn’t have any concrete plans before heading to my B&B for the night, and the beautiful video had inspired me.  So I decided to take a drive out and see Galley Head for myself (where the family who owns Clonakilty grows the barley).

It’s got lush green grass and wildflowers, with crashing waves pounding against rocky cliffs.  There’s a lighthouse out on the furthest point, but it was hard to get a good angle for photographing it.  You can even rent the lighthouse keeper’s house, which sounds super cool.

I didn’t stay long…it would be beautiful at sunset but there was a fog rolling in off the ocean late afternoon, so I decided to head on toward my B&B.  But I was so glad I popped over here to explore, and this is exactly the type of impromptu road trip stop you should find!

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - there are many beautiful coastal walks, such as Galley Head

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - there are many beautiful coastal walks, such as Galley Head

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - there are many beautiful coastal walks, such as Galley Head

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My B&B out in Kilbrittain

As I was researching where to stay along the south coast, I was really looking for traditional B&Bs.  But where I was going to end up at the end of this day put me a bit more remote.  I booked at Seafield Farmhouse B&B, which has beautiful views and great walking opportunities.

Eileen and here husband were very welcoming and the room was very roomy and comfortable.  They made a couple great dinner recommendations (I took them up on one, more on that in a sec) and I enjoyed walking along the coast in the morning before breakfast.

The only thing that was weird was that she didn’t make any scones or baked goods in the morning for breakfast, and was out of like…everything (including tomatoes and honey).  It was odd, not sure if maybe I caught her having just been out of town or something, because the reviews of breakfast had been great, but it was the one negative in the experience.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - view from Seafield Farmhouse B&B in Kilbrittain

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - Seafield Farmhouse B&B in Kilbrittain

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - Seafield Farmhouse B&B in Kilbrittain

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - porridge at Seafield Farmhouse B&B in Kilbrittain

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The two great dinner places that were recommended nearby were Hurley’s Bar (more like traditional pub food) and The Wild, both in Ballinspittle (a 10-15 minute drive).

I decided to try out The Wild, and was SO glad I did.  It is a quirky and pretty, with a really interesting menu that is very different from what you typically see in a tiny Irish village.

I got the prosecco poached pear, Cashel blue cheese, and walnut salad—that blue cheese was amazing!   For dinner I got the crispy chili beef, which was really good (though a bit salty for me).  And their sticky toffee pudding was delicious, more like how I made it and the best I had on this trip.

I was quite tired at that point, but had wanted to listen to some live music.  So while I didn’t end up going, they had recommended Kitty O Sé’s in Kinsale, which has live music every night.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - The Wild is a great restaurant in Ballinspittle

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - The Wild is a great restaurant in Ballinspittle

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - The Wild is a great restaurant in Ballinspittle

This area around Kilbrittain is really lovely, and quite off-the-beaten-path, even by the standards of this less touristy area.  But if you have a bit of extra time, I suggest exploring here a bit, just driving around and stopping to enjoy the views or walk a bit!

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - the Kilbrittain area is more off-the-beaten-path & worth exploring

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - the Kilbrittain area is more off-the-beaten-path & worth exploring

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - the Kilbrittain area is more off-the-beaten-path & worth exploring

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Kinsale

So onto day 2 of my itinerary along Ireland’s southern coast…

After leaving my B&B, my first stop of the day was in Kinsale, which is incredibly adorable—in fact it’s known as the “prettiest town in Ireland”.  The town is nestled at the mouth of the River Bradon, and is known for its narrow cobbled lanes, glossy and dazzling colored shops, great seafood, craft stores, and is a great spot to listen to trad (traditional) music.

Kinsale is the southern trailhead for the Wild Atlantic Way would be a wonderful base on the south coast for exploring the area, with plenty of accommodations, restaurants, and shops.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Kinsale is charming & a great base

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Kinsale is charming & a great base

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Kinsale is charming & a great base

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Kinsale isn’t just charming, but has some cool history as well. On one side of the river you’ll find the 17th century remains of James Fort, with the even older Charles Fort sitting on the opposite side (of the two, the latter looks cooler).

You can see (but not visit) a lighthouse from the 1600s out on the Old Head of Kinsale, and check out Desmond Castle (a customs house from the 1500s that’s now a wine museum…reviews seem to indicate you should look at it, but not worth actually visiting).

And it was from here that Alexander Selkirk (inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe) set sail in 1703 on his misadventures.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Kinsale is charming & a great base

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - colorful Kinsale is charming & a great base

I was there early/mid-morning and so a lot wasn’t open yet.  But I stopped in at a cute spot called Lemon Leaf Cafe for coffee and a scone.  It would be a great breakfast or lunch spot as well.  Janey Mac’s is supposed to have great scones as well.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - eating a scone in colorful Kinsale

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - The Lemon Leaf Cafe in colorful Kinsale

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - The Lemon Leaf Cafe in colorful Kinsale

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Cork City

I had planned to stop in Cork for a snack and some exploration, but traffic was MAD and I couldn’t find parking, and just gave up since I was on a tight timeframe.

It is a really lovely small city that’s a good alternative to Dublin or Galway if you’re strapped for time on your itinerary and can’t get to either of those.  I’d just plan on a half-day minimum, to make the most of getting parked, walking around, etc.

It’s got a great music scene, robust and varied food options, and some cool cathedrals (including one where you can ring the bells).  Two recommendations I’d had for Cork City were Coffee Pod (supposed to have great scones) and Fitzpatrick’s Shop in Glounthaune village.  You should also check out The English Market, one of the best covered markets in the UK and Ireland (“a food lover’s paradise”).

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Cork & Waterford - Guinnesse poster in colorful Kinsale

Ardmore

The last stop on my south coast roadtrip was a very special one for me…as I continued on east into County Waterford, the area was more bucolic, with pastures and farmland, gentle hills, and even some enchanted forest-like vibes.  But this was the only day of my whole trip where it was gray and rainy.

So I missed a glorious entrance to the tiny village of Ardmore.  Nestled into the coast, this village boasts some of the area’s most important religious history along with its gorgeous coastal views.  On top of that, the main reason it was on my radar was because it was the setting for one of Nora Roberts’ most iconic O.G. series (The Gallaghers of Ardmore trilogy), which I loved as a teenager.

Along with the general ocean views, the Ardmore cliff walk is (in my opinion) one of the best and most accessible in the region, and long, wide Ardmore Beach draws tons of locals and visitors during the summer.  Make sure to have a meal or two at Whitehorses as well, it was delicious!

Here’s a much deeper post on what to do in Ardmore here!

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - amazing view of Ardmore

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - Ardmore Bay

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - delicious dinner at Whitehorses in Ardmore

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And that aforementioned cliff walk is one of the biggest reasons to visit Ardmore!  It’s studded with ancient Declan-based spots (that religious history I talke about above), but I was here for the sweeping views and crashing waves.

When I first got to Ardmore, a giant rain front was just sitting on top of Ireland…but it was my only day in the village and I couldn’t bear to not do the cliff walk, so I did it in the rain.  And the second I finished the loop and got down to the beach…it was like a switch flipped, and suddenly there was blue skies and sunshine!

Soooo I did the loop again.  It was a 25,000+ step day.  But totally worth it, as you can see by these pics!

Read this detailed post on the cliff walk route!

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - the Ardmore cliff walk is one of the best along the coast, a must-do!

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - the Ardmore cliff walk is one of the best along the coast, a must-do!

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - the Ardmore cliff walk is one of the best along the coast, a must-do!

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And if you’re in this area and are willing to splurge, you absolutely HAVE to stay at Ardmore’s Cliff House Hotel.  The hotel sits atop the coastal cliffs surrounding Ardmore village, with incredible views of the ocean.

Instead of the very traditional architecture and décor you’d expect, the hotel instead has a very modern aesthetic blended with cozy traditional comfort.  My room had a staircase (!) and a beautiful shiny purple mosaic tile floor, with great balcony views.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - splurge on a stay at Ardmore's Cliff House Hotel

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - splurge on a stay at Ardmore's Cliff House Hotel

A roadtrip along Ireland's southern coast - things to do in County Waterford - splurge on a stay at Ardmore's Cliff House Hotel

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I was out of time on my Irish roadtrip at this point and had to fly back home, but there are several other spots just past Ardmore that you should explore if you can.

  • Cappoquin – A bit out of the way but looks really cool and maybe worth it (Mount Melleray Abbey in particular).  Make sure to stop in Barron’s Bakery (famous for more than 130 years).
  • Drive the Copper Coast – This doesn’t get the hype of the Wild Atlantic Way, but is supposed to be absolutely stunning.  The drive winds through a European geopark, and provides endless seascapes, rugged cliffs, lovely coves and beaches, and several cute villages.  This article has details on the route.
  • Dungarvan – A pretty coastal town in Waterford that makes a great base for exploring the area.  It isn’t short on scenery or activities (such as sea kayaking and hiking), and will have more food and housing options than Ardmore.
    • They also have some highly-recommended pubs (like Anchor Bar and the Moorings and Nagle’s), and I strongly considered staying at nearby Coolcormack Stud B&B, which had amazing reviews.
  • Lismore – West of Waterford, this town dating back to 636 AD sits at the foot of the scenic Knockmealdown Mountains.  Check out Lismore Castle, the “Vee” road, the Waterford Greenway, and Lady Louisa’s Walk.

From here, you can continue along the southern coast, or head up toward Kilkenny (which is AWESOME), or up toward Dublin.  This was the end of my trip so I drove the couple hours up to Shannon to fly out.

Other epic regional roadtrips you’ll love:

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A Roadtrip Ireland's Southern Coast: Things to Do in County Waterford & County Cork | The southwest coast of Ireland is filled with sweeping ocean views, rugged cliffs, emerald fields, & charming colorful villages. Here's a detailed guide to the many things to do in County Waterford & Co. Cork, from roadtrip stops to where to eat, where to stay, natural beauty, distilleries, & much more! #ireland #roadtrip #countycork #cowaterford

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