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European town of the year in 2017,

Clonakilty is a gem on the West Cork coastline. A hub for visitors to the breathtaking peninsulas of the region, Clonakilty is a small, vibrant town that showcases the best of Ireland. 

Known for its colorful streets and buzzing live music scene, it is worth setting a day aside to explore the delights of Clonakilty before heading out to windswept Atlantic panoramas. Our guide will help you get the most out of that one day in Clonakilty.

Things to do in Clonakilty

During a barnstorming 2017, Clonakilty also won awards as the best place to live and tidiest Irish town. First impressions confirm the titles were fully deserved. 

The streets are pristine, homes brightly painted, floral displays plentiful, and the atmosphere welcoming and confident. The town is ideal for gentle strolls, occasionally interrupted with a pint of Guinness or something less heady. 

If you’ve got your walking boots on, head to stunning Inchydoney Beach. It takes about an hour to reach the long golden sands of this Blue Flag beach. If you’re immune to the cold, take your bathing gear. In summer, there are lifeguards, plus showers and toilets. Coffee, maybe crepes, are usually sold from a food truck.

Suitably refreshed, head to Clonakilty’s headline attraction, the West Cork Model Railway Village. It’s a surprisingly diverting experience and great fun for families. Clonakilty’s unwritten tourist rules are clear, you can’t visit without feeling like a giant at least once.  

Afterward, take a more somber excursion to The Michael Collins House Museum, dedicated to the revolutionary hero who fought for Irish independence. < https://www.michaelcollinshouse.ie/ > Cleverly curated, with lots of interactive displays, it is an insightful place to learn about the life and legacy of this towering figure in Irish history.

Culinary Clonakilty

A beachside crepe now a distant memory, hungry travelers will find several decent places to eat in Clonakilty. 

Black pudding is the local specialty: check out the Clonakilty Black Pudding if this bloody delicacy fires your appetite. 

Whisky fans should head to the Clonakilty Distillery to sample triple distilled Irish pot-still whiskey. Tour bookings are essential if you want to learn more, although the shop is open to all visitors. 

To quickly fill a rumbling hole, fish and chips at The Chunky Chip are a reliable option. Find them on Western Road, right in the heart of town. 

For a more lingering dinner, head to Scannell’s Bar on Connolly Street for pub food done right. An unflashy menu belies the culinary precision and quality of this gastropub. With a convivial, cozy vibe, you might linger long after the plates have been cleared away.

Live music in Clonakilty

Suitably nourished, and with evening descending, this is the moment to enjoy what Clonakilty is best known for, live music. The little town has an outsized reputation for good times, and several pubs, including Scannells, host live performances. 

The unmissable music venue is the DeBarra Folk club. < https://debarra.ie/ > Walk through the door, and it is immediately apparent that this pub lives and breathes Irish music. Walls decorated with traditional musical instruments are a big clue. But evenings are when the pub comes to life, with live music lighting up the intimate venue. This characterful venue is always busy, although that just makes for a lively party.

Where to stay in Clonakilty

If you need a bed to crawl back to after a full day experiencing the best of Clonakilty, there are only a handful of hotels close to the town center.  Close to Clonakilty’s nightlife is the four-star Fernhill House Hotel 

Surrounded by gardens and far enough from the center to feel like a rural escape, this is one of the best-rated hotels in the area. Contemporary and stylish, the Fernhill House Hotel also happens to be an agreeable 20-minute walk from the DeBarra Folk club.

Over your filling Irish breakfast the next day, the only question you’ll have is whether to spend another day in delightful Clonakilty. 

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