One Day in Kinsale, Ireland (Best Things To Do)

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One of my favorite towns we visited in Ireland, has to be Kinsale. This colorful coastal town is the perfect escape from the larger cities while still holding all of its colorful Irish charm. Located just 40 minutes away from Cork by bus, I highly recommend spending one day in Kinsale. Plus, did you know this is actually the start of the Wild Atlantic Way?

So, in the guide below, you will learn how to spend one fabulous day, including the best things to do, how to get there, and additional tips to help with planning.

One Day in Kinsale Ireland Itinerary

I have laid out this one day Itinerary like a walking tour. It will start by bringing you through the historic town centre and then off to the further attractions.

Colorful street in Kinsale - a must with 7 days in Ireland

Stop 1: Stoney Steps

Start your day off in Kinsale by heading to the Stoney Steps. This is located on Emmet Place and Main Street by the Bank of Ireland. I absolutely love these steps with the fun mural going up them. It is a great spot to grab a picture.

Related: Planning An Ireland Vacation Guide

Stoney Steps in Kinsale Ireland with mural up the stairs

Stop 2: Main Street

After, take a right and head down Main Street. Not only is this one of the cutest streets in Kinsale, but it also has some cute shops. I wouldn’t miss adding this street to your Kinsale itinerary.

Guinness Mural in Kinsale Ireland
Guinness Mural in Kinsale Ireland

Stop 3: Market Street

Next, make your way down Market Street. It will be on your right-hand side from Main Street. If you’ve ever seen any pictures or videos of Kinsale, I bet they included the colorful Stone Mad, likely the most Instagrammable place in Kinsale. There is also a bench area here that we enjoyed sitting at. Oh, and the Milk Market Cafe is also quite popular. This will also lead you to Market Quay.

Kinsale Fun Fact: Did you know Kinsale is one of the oldest towns in Ireland?

Market Street with colorful building in Kinsale
Milk Market Cafe blue building
Stone Made shop that is lime green and hot pink | One day in Kinsale

Stop 4: The Kinsale Museum (Optional)

We didn’t make it to the Kinsale Museum during our visit because it was closed, but if you are interested in seeing local artifacts and learning more about the history, this can be a fun stop. The museum is located in a 400-year-old building.

Market House Museum
Market House Kinsale Museum

Stop 5: Market Quay

After exploring the shops, take a turn onto Market Quay. There is a cute mural here, which makes for a nice photo, and where I got some pretty good coffee and ice cream at the Jesk of Kinsale. Jim Edwards also looked like they had some great fish and chips, which is also located on Market Quay. I checked the reviews, and it has my stamp of approval.

Kinsale is actually known as “The Gourmet Capital of Ireland,” so grabbing some food is a must when visiting. You will find dozens of eateries throughout the beautiful alleys of Kinsale.

They also have benches and a beer garden over here if you want to take a foot rest. However, if you don’t mind walking just a bit longer, I recommend taking a foot break at our next stop.

Market Quay looking down the alley
Market Quay Mural that is blue with colorful homes

Stop 6: Kinsale Town Car Park

From Market Quay, just keep walking straight until you hit the water. This is River Brandon, and the views from here are so beautiful. I suggest just taking it in and resting your feet here if need be. This was one of the best things to do in Kinsale, in my opinion. Dinos restaurant is also right here, and well known for excellent seafood. There may be a bit of a wait, though.

If you haven’t bought enough souvenirs yet, my mom bought a beautiful glass ornament at Boland Gift Shop & Crafts and I got a print from Matt O’Donovan Photography which is also sold inside. It is of a sheep, and I love it.

Kinsale River View on a sunny day with boats in the water

James Fort

Visiting James Fort will likely depend if you drove here or not. Getting here without a car can be a bit of a walk. However, if you do have a car, it is worth the quick drive to see some ruins, plus parking is free. James Fort is still considered a hidden gem and was built in 1607. On a nice day, you can stop by Dock Beach (Kinsale Beach) right after. Locals have considered this one of the best things to do in Kinsale.

Charles Fort

Charles Fort is also just outside of the main downtown area. Walking will take around 40 minutes, but by car, it’s just over 5 minutes away. If you don’t mind a walk, you can enjoy the Scilly Walk. This is probably the most popular attraction in Kinsale. In fact, it is one of the largest military fortresses in Ireland.

Fort Charles from Ariel view
Credit:Carrigphotos/depositphotos

Lusitania Museum and Signal Tower

Last, but not least is Lusitania Museum and Signal Tower. You may not have time to fit this into your one day in Kinsale itinerary, but I wanted to include it at the end, just in case you want to swap something out. Again, you will want a car to enjoy this one since Old Head is not located in the immediate downtown area. If you choose to go here, you can experience a great walk with some beautiful cliff views.

Since we arrived on public transportation, we had to skip this one, but there is a lot of history here as well. The Signal Tower has over 200 years of history and was built after the French Invasion, and the Lusitania Museum honors its sinking, which happened right off the shore by a German U-boat.


Is One Day Enough Time

In all honesty, you could spend half a day in Kinsale if you’re on a tight itinerary and like to move fast-paced. With that being said, a full day really allows you to enjoy the charm of the town. As you can see, the town doesn’t really have too many attractions besides the town being super charming. Despite that, I would have loved to base myself here for a day or two instead of the whole time in Cork.

Since my mom and I visited Ireland without a car, it didn’t make sense for us to base ourselves here, but next time, I’d be happy to. So, is one day enough in Kinsale, yes. Could you spend less time? Yes, but could you enjoy more time, say a weekend, also yes.

Kinsale Seaport in Ireland
Kinsale Seaport in Ireland

Getting Here

This is pretty straightforward. Most people stay in the downtown Cork area, and Kinsale is around 20 minutes away by car. I recommend arriving here early if you come by car because there’s not much parking available. Also, the streets are very narrow and have a lot of foot traffic. Arriving early will allow you to avoid some of this.

Kinsale One Day itinerary

You can also take public transportation from Cork. The 226 bus goes right to Kinsale and takes anywhere from 25-40 minutes. It comes every hour. Currently, you need either cash or a Leap Card to pay for the bus. Hopefully, Ireland will add contactless payments soon. We took the bus, and it was so easy.

There is also car service like Bolt, but I don’t believe the price is worth it when public transportation works so well. Additionally, you can do a tour, but I don’t believe it is necessary. If you want a tour, I would recommend booking one that you meet in Kinsale.

Kinsale Street signs

One Day in Kinsale Wrap-up

I hope you have decided to add one day in Kinsale to your Ireland itinerary. As you can see, this town has a ton of charm to be explored. If you haven’t already, make sure to also check out my detailed travel guide for 7 days in Ireland, which maps out our entire time in Ireland.

More Ireland Guides coming soon!

Have any questions about my guide on the best things to do in Kinsale? Let me know in the comments below! You can also find more inspiration for Ireland on my Instagram, if videos are more your jam!

If you found this Itinerary helpful, I would greatly appreciate it if you could share it below!

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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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