enjoy scenic drives in Bantry and West Cork
Bantry’s fantastic location at the heart of West Cork, means we are very lucky to have several stunning scenic drives on our doorstep. We are located on the Wild Atlantic Way, the famous touring route of southern Ireland, so perfectly placed for you to explore this beautiful part of Ireland. Hop in the car, get out for the day, then come back and recharge in Bantry.
Vaughan’s Pass / The Wild Atlantic View
Vaughan’s Pass or The Wild Atlantic View is located high above Bantry town and is a great spot for a view over the town, islands and bay beyond.
Drive from Wolfe Tone Square up New Street past The Anchor Tavern and up past Bantry Library. Continue on past St. Finbarr’s Church, past the turn off for Bantry Hospital and look out for a signpost after the school cross.
The Priests Leap
The Priest Leap mountain pass is a steep, narrow and winding mountain road on the border of counties Cork and Kerry. It is about a 20min drive from Bantry town and once you turn off the N71 road, the road soon gets increasingly narrow. Transforming to a single lane track before long, oncoming traffic represents a bit of a challenge so the drive is not for the faint-hearted!
The top of the pass reveals spectacular panoramic views of the Bantry Bay. Beside the road a rock with a cross on it rises up. There is a story to this rock which also gave the pass its name: A priest being pursued by english soldiers jumped off with horse and landed 3 miles away in Bantry where a plaque is mounted on Glengarriff Road, on the way in to Bantry town.
The Sheep’s Head Peninsula
The Sheep’s Head Peninsula is a 70km route that is a circular route from Bantry and back through the colourful villages of Kilcrohane, Ahakista and Durrus.
The narrowness of the peninsula means that you are never far from the glorious Atlantic Ocean, even on the outward stretch when you climb to the route’s highest point, 300 metres above sea level, on the heathery Seefin ridge. The remains of an old copper mine, a blow hole, stone circles, standing stones, high cliffs, a Napoleonic signal tower and old churches are some of the varied attractions to be discovered if you decide to get out of the car and walk some part of the waymarked route.
The Ring of Beara
The Ring of Beara Beara Way is about 137 km in length and completes a circuit stretching from Glengarriff to Kenmare, west of Dursey and back to Glengarriff, along the Beara Peninsula.
There are numerous walking loops to stop off at for those who just want a short circular walking in scenic surroundings. The Beara Peninsula is a 48km long mountainous finger, shared by counties Kerry and Cork, stretching into the Atlantic Ocean. Quite remote, it has remained perhaps the most unspoilt part of the south west region, and like the peninsulas to the north, is a magical world of mountains and lakes surrounded by a picturesque seacoast. The main industries are farming and fishing, with the latter being based in the port of Castletownbere.
There are also many fine villages, such as Allihies and Eyries, along the route.
The Mizen Head
The Mizen Head is Ireland’s most southwesterly point and is located on The Mizen Peninsula. It is approx a 45min drive from Bantry and is a great scenic drive. The cliffs of Mizen Head rise high above the Atlantic Ocean, where the currents meet from the west and south coasts and waves from the mid-Atlantic crash into the land.
The award winning Mizen Head Irish Lights Signal Station is a great attraction, with visitor centre and a great café for refreshments. Dare to cross the iconic Bridge high above the gorge; watch for seals and their pups in the swell below. Laugh with exhilaration into the fresh salt-laden sea air – be inspired by the majesty (pull) of the endless seascape and the breath-taking views. Scan the ocean for whales and dolphins.
In wind, rain and gale as well as hot summer sun, the Mizen is exciting. In fog and mist, it is mysterious – a journey of discovery for the senses. In all weathers, the Mizen is spellbinding. A full visit will take 1 hour to 2 hours.