Ballycotton – Cork’s forgotten gem

When I was looking for a spontaneous staycation by the sea, almost everything was booked out. Looking at places in Cork, I came across a little fisher village called Ballycotton. I’ve never heard of it and I think most people (especially non-Irish people) haven’t. 

After having stayed there for a weekend, I feel Ballycotton is worth a recommendation for anyone who likes to have a relaxing staycation not far from home this summer.

Where is Ballycotton?

Ballycotton is on the east coast of Cork, about 25km away from Cork city. There are a few houses along the coast, but many are out in the countryside. That makes Ballycotton a lovely place if you love the sea as much as the countryside.

When you live a bit further out, you do need a car to get around. However, if you have one, you are only a few minutes away from the beach in Ballycotton as well as some other lovely beaches in the surrounding area. 

Things to do in Ballycotton

Ballycotton in itself is a quiet fishing village, not focused on tourism. Nevertheless, there are some things to do in Ballycotton and some are only a short car drive away.

1. Ballycotton cliff walk

Ballycotton CliffWalk

The Ballycotton cliff walk follows a path on the top of the cliff right beside the sea. There are several loops to follow, so it is suitable for everyone. As it is just a pathway in a field on a cliff, you can also turn around at any point. 

The cliff walk is something you should definitely do during your stay in Ballycotton. It is a beautiful place to be. You will walk in fields, with cows to your right and the sea on your left. On our walk, we found a rocky beach which was absolutely stunning and definitely worth the walk. 

A little tip I can give everyone doing the walk: wear long trousers as there are a lot of nettles. 

2. Lighthouse tour

Ballycotton - Cork’s forgotten gem

Wherever you are in Ballycotton, you will see the lighthouse. It is located on a little island about 2km from the mainland. The only way I came across to visit it was to book a lighthouse tour, which will bring you over to the island and show you around. You can book your tour with Ballycotton Sea Adventures. The same company offers some other services and tours, such as private charters and fishing trips. 

3. Stony beach

Ballycotton StoneyBeach

Ballycotton has a small stony beach right beside the harbour. It is open to everyone. But, as the name suggests, it is very stony. If you don’t mind stones, it is the perfect place for you. If you do, read on to find out where else you can go. 

4. Garryvoe

Ballycotton Garryvoe

Garryvoe is a village located about 12 minutes away by car. While Ballycotton only offers stony beaches, Garryvoe beach is a beautiful sandy beach with park benches opposite the car park as well as a nice playground for children. 

Make sure to use some sun cream. The sun might not seem strong, however, I made the mistake of underestimating it which led to me having a sunburn.   

5. The ghost ship of Ballycotton

For all you explorers out there, check out Ballyandreen Beach. In the cliffs around the beach, you can find a stranded shipwreck, which is also called the ghost ship. 

When you approach the beach, you will see a sign saying: “DANGER – Do not approach shipwreck”. This suggests that the shipwreck is somewhere close. A walk down to the beach will show you that you actually cannot see it. The cliffs around the beach were rather steep and we decided not to go any further.

I found out that the shipwreck is hard to approach, but it is possible. You can either wait until the tide is low or go for the adrenalin kick and walk around on the rocks beside the cliffs. I do not suggest that you do this. It is dangerous and not wanted. If you are lucky and own a little boat, you can probably sail around the cliffs until you reach it. 

6. Go for a drive

Ballycotton GoForADrive

Ballycotton may seem like it’s out in the middle of nowhere, but it actually isn’t. Fota Wildlife Park is only 25 min away and you can be in Cork city in about 40 minutes. If you go the other direction, you arrive in Youghal, a popular place to take holidays. 

If you decide to go to Fota, you have to pre-book your visit on their website, but, after that, nothing will be in your way to enjoy your trip.  

Places to eat in Ballycotton

Although Ballycotton is rather small, it’s got a nice number of restaurants and cafes to visit. Here are a few that I came across: 

1. Cush

You can’t miss Cush when you are in Ballycotton. It is a restaurant located right at the harbour. I didn’t eat there, but it looked lovely from the outside. It has a few tables standing out front, making it possible to eat out. 

2. Skinny’s Diner

Skinny’s is a fish and chips place in Ballycotton that offers typical beach food. Skinny’s also has tables outside for customers to sit down and enjoy their food. 

3. The Blackbird 

The Blackbird in Ballycotton is another fish and chips shop. Their fish is freshly caught the same day. To sit down, you are better off booking your table as we had to go and sit by the harbour since all the tables were booked. 

4. Sea Church

I only drove past the Sea Church, but it looked so lovely. It is located beside a church, and sells food and drinks. Every time I saw it, it was busy, so I assume you have to book a table if you want to sit down. 

5. Ballymaloe cookery school 

The Ballymaloe cookery school is a huge place. From the outside, you could only see the shop and cafe, but it also has gardens and is a cookery school. The cafe is perfect for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. You can enjoy your treat right outside and admire the look of the old building. 

6. Kilkenny shop and cafe

The Kilkenny shop and cafe is in Shanagarry, only a five-minute drive down the road from Ballycotton. At the front, you have a little shop, while you can find a cafe with beverages and little cakes at the back.

Places to stay in Ballycotton

I found our house on Airbnb and was very happy with it. There is also the Bayview hotel in Ballycotton, as well as the B&B Cush. Have a look at booking.com to find more places. Since Ballycotton is not one of the most touristic places in Ireland, prices for accommodation are low compared to the bigger towns like Youghal or Cork city. 

If you fall in love with Ballycotton, there are also a good few houses for sale at the moment. 

All in all, Ballycotton is a nice getaway from home. It is a very quiet place and not for people who are planning to party. But, if you want a little break away to relax and unwind, Ballycotton is the perfect place to go.

Have you ever been to Ballycotton and can, thus, add to the list? Let us know in the comments. 

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About the author

Christine Brungard

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