What to do and see in Skibbereen, Ireland: The Best Places and Tips

February 10, 2018 Myesha Cogley

Skibbereen (/ˌskɪ.bəˈriːn/; Irish: An Sciobairín), is a town in County Cork, Ireland. It is located on the N71 national secondary road. The name "Skibbereen" (sometimes shortened to "Skibb") means "little boat harbour". The River Ilen runs through the town; it reaches the sea about 12 kilometers away, at the seaside village of Baltimore. As of the Census of Ireland 2011, the population of the town (not including the rural hinterland) was 2,568. Skibbereen is in the Cork South–West (Dáil Éireann) constituency, which has five seats.
Restaurants in Skibbereen

1. Lough Hyne

Skibbereen, Ireland +353 21 427 3251
Excellent
81%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 224 reviews

Lough Hyne

Reviewed By A I - Manchester, United Kingdom

Loud Hyne is well known to the locals as a outdoor practice swimming pool. I would only rec it to experienced swimmers. It's full of great wildlife especially bird watching. I was told it's the only fresh water lake that links directly into the sea that's why it's popular with swimmers. No lifeguards on duty if your a tourist wanting to know re. children. Any walks adjacent including up through the forest. Pack good walking boots though you'll need them. West Cork is prone to periodic showers even in the summer.

2. Cork Whale Watch

Reen Pier, Union Hall, Ireland
Excellent
94%
Good
5%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
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5 based on 299 reviews

Cork Whale Watch

Colin Barnes is Ireland's longest established and best known whale watch operator, and has been enthralling whale watchers and wildlife enthusiasts in West Cork since 2001. Cork Whale Watch offers wonderful opportunities to observe marine wildlife in West Cork. These productive coastal waters provide critical feeding habitat for a diversity of species including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), seals and sea birds, along with prolific fish life.If you've seen natural history documentaries on whales from anywhere in Co. Cork or Waterford, the chances are it was filmed from the MV Holly Jo. Among Colin's contributions are: RTE's "Wild trials", "Wild Journeys", "Living the Wildlife" and in recent years Colin has worked with both BBC Autumnwatch and Winterwatch and BBC Seasons to film large whales off the Cork coast. As a former fisherman of 40 years experience observing whales in West Cork, Colin may not have letters after his name, but those that do, know who to contact if they need to find, film or carry out research on whales and dolphins along the Cork coast. Colin has contributed to and co-authored scientific publications on both fin and humpback whales in collaboration with Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), and contributes to the All-Ireland Cetacean Sighting Scheme, by reporting sightings data to IWDG. Colin is a rare breed of conservationist, who has evolved from the fishing industry, his passion and understanding of local marine ecosystems is second to none. Colin is available for longer filming and research charters year round.

Reviewed By Josefin W - Dublin, Ireland

We had been longing for this trip for many months so when it finally happened we were extremely excited. We kept our expectations low as we knew that seeing whales might be unpredictable. There were however dolphins everywhere and we got to see a humpback whale.
Colin was amazing as our guide! He explained everything in great detail and always answered our e-mails promptly.
We would def recommend Cork whale watch!
A massive thank you to Colin and the team for this amazing experience!
/Josefin & Rossa

3. St Barrahane Church

Saint Barrahane's Church Off Main Street | Skibbereen, Cork, Castletownshend, Ireland
Excellent
20%
Good
60%
Satisfactory
20%
Poor
0%
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Overall Ratings

4 based on 5 reviews

St Barrahane Church

Reviewed By NHjo - Rye, New Hampshire

This 1826 stone church with its historic graveyard is one of my favorites in all of Ireland. Three of its stained glass windows are by Harry Clarke. There are 52 steps leading up to the church through a wrought-iron gate, one for every Sunday. The views from the outside of the church are beautiful. The church isn't very well known to tourists, and you have to do your research to find it. It's simple, historic, and beautiful!

4. Whale Watch West Cork

Baltimore Harbour, Baltimore, Ireland
Excellent
86%
Good
8%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 207 reviews

Whale Watch West Cork

Responsible tourism award winner - Whale Watch West Cork runs responsible whale and dolphin watching tours led by zoologist and conservationist Dr Nic Slocum. All tours depart from Baltimore, Harbour, West Cork on board Voyager- daily between April and November (sea conditions permitting). Each tour takes you around the beautiful Islands and headlands of West Cork,stopping at Cape Clear Island affording visitors an insight into the unique lifestyle of the islanders of Roaring Water Bay. Our overseas arm, Whales Worldwide, runs exclusive wildlife holidays to unique destinations including Baja, Maui, Patagonia and Sri Lanka to watch whales responsibly in their natural habitats. Each tour is personally guided by Nic Slocum with a maximum of ten like-minded guests per holiday. We are dedicated to providing each of our customers with a safe, comfortable and educational whale and dolphin watching experience. We seek to impart accurate knowledge on the marine mammals and other wildlife we encounter and on the wider issues of marine conservation through informed commentary with special emphasis on the current threats facing these unique animals and their fragile environment. We directly support conservation measures through education and research.

Reviewed By ljm355 - Pendleton, Oregon

Wonderful trip with Nic and Brendan. Very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Even though this was their third trip of the day they were just as excited as we were when the Minke whales were spotted. Highly recommend this trip. Even though my friend got seasick she loved seeing the whales and dolphins.

5. Skibbereen Heritage Centre

Old Gasworks Building | Upper Bridge Street, Skibbereen, Ireland +353 28 40900
Excellent
72%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 273 reviews

Skibbereen Heritage Centre

Skibbereen Heritage Centre's Great Famine Exhibition tells the poignant story of this pivotal period in Irish history. Skibbereen became notorious as one of the worst affected areas in all of Ireland and this tragic era is now brought to life via the latest multimedia technology. Walk or take a virtual tour of sites associated with the Great Famine that still exist today including the mass graves where almost 10,000 people are buried. At Skibbereen Heritage Centre you can also discover the unique nature of Lough Hyne, a salt-water lake just 5km from Skibbereen which is Europe's first Marine Nature Reserve. Find out about the history, folklore and formation of this renowned natural phenomenon with a multi-lingual audio-visual display and follow with a trip to the lake and follow the Knockomagh Wood Nature Trail which overlooks the lake. Skibbereen Heritage Centre also offers a genealogy service for the greater West Cork area, an archaeology trail, a gift shop, reference library and a great welcome!

Reviewed By PookieWestSussex - West Sussex

A small but well executed exhibition which leaves you feeling deeply moved by the tragedy of the famine. Definitely worth a visit, especially as you are in the worst hit area.

6. Baltimore Sea Safari

Baltimore Garda Station The Ferry Pier, Baltimore, Ireland
Excellent
92%
Good
6%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 124 reviews

Baltimore Sea Safari

Baltimore Sea Safari is a family run boat trip business from Baltimore in West Cork, Ireland, providing coastal sightseeing tours, with whale, dolphin, porpoise, seal and wildlife watching. Our aim is to introduce our passengers to the outstanding beauty of the West Cork coastline, while looking out for the wildlife that may be in the area. The waters off Baltimore offer the perfect environment to see whales, dolphins, porpoise, basking shark, seals and a wide variety of seabirds. We operate in an area of exceptional unspoiled natural beauty within Carbery Hundred Isles, Roaringwater Bay (which is a designated Special Area of Conservation SAC) and the Ilen River, which are home to the most diverse range of sea and bird life to be seen anywhere in Ireland. During our boat trips we provide an informative commentary on the sights of interest, and on the fascinating history of the area and its wildlife. We visit seal colonies on all of our boat trips, and the shallow draft and high manoeuvrability of unique boat allows us to take passengers into sea caves previously used by Smugglers and pirates. During all of our boat trips we collect data on the wildlife that we encounter, logging times, numbers, behaviour, positions and take photos for photo ID where ever possible. This data is shared with other agencies, groups and universities to help develop a better understanding of the whales, dolphins, porpoise, basking sharks, seals, ocean sunfish and other wildlife that frequent the waters around the West Cork coastline. We also have an onboard Hydrophone for listening to the sounds of the sea. Even though we have a good record for whale, dolphin and wildlife sightings, they are not guaranteed.

Reviewed By Michaela9812

Hubby and I were recommended Sea Safari so we got their number a text a booking 2 days in advance (off peak) and got a space which was great. When we arrived we were kitted out with life jackets and taken on to the boat. The seats were quite comfortable after first seeing them. Our guide Michéal, offered up waterproofs if needed. Be well prepared, we had coats, hats and gloves. So glad!!! And that was with dry and sunny weather. For the fast bits we were thankful for them. We saw a lot of porpoise and dolphins with some sightings of the minke whales. Michéal was always straight over to any sightings and gave great info. We did a tour around some of the small islands/rocks and saw a couple of seals. We were out for roughly 2 1/2hrs and we enjoyed every bit of it!! Would definitely recommend!

7. West Cork Sailing

The Boat House, Adrigole, Ireland
Excellent
86%
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Terrible
14%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 14 reviews

West Cork Sailing

Escape to the crystal clear sheltered waters of Bantry Bay, West Cork, Ireland for professional Yacht Cruising Training and Powerboat Training or simply to have some fun on the water with kayak and canoe rental and paddle with the seals within Adrigole Harbour. Come and visit our purpose built water side centre set in one of Europe's most beautiful harbours - Adrigole Harbour, off Bantry Bay.

Reviewed By donbosco2014 - Cork, Ireland

Half a days paddling with my two impossible to please teenagers. They were too exhausted to argue on the way home. We stopped out on the little island with the seals and had a great day. Fun and a really safe place to paddle around. They also do sailing lessons and we had a nice hot cup of tea when we landed back at the centre.

8. Drombeg Stone Circle

Drombeg | Off R597 between Rosscarbery and Glandore, Skibbereen, Ireland +353 28 71766
Excellent
66%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 353 reviews

Drombeg Stone Circle

Reviewed By JnVSydney - Sydney

These stones from megalithic times are very interesting. An easy drive to them, and plenty of parking, no one around during our visit. awesome piccies to be had.

9. Baltimore Beacon

Baltimore Harbour | The Beacon, Harboursmouth, County Cork, Baltimore, Ireland
Excellent
75%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 192 reviews

Baltimore Beacon

Reviewed By Rebecca G - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This was our first view of the southern coastline and we were absolutely amazed. The views are truly breathtaking. You can slowly drive up towards the beacon on the winding, narrow lane and then climb up the little hill to see the beacon and cliffs beyond.

10. Liss Ard Gardens

Liss Ard, Skibbereen, Ireland +353 28 71766
Excellent
69%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 61 reviews

Liss Ard Gardens

Reviewed By Ashimo - Limerick, Ireland

James Turrell's Sky Garden at Liss Ard Estate was my favourite thing that we visited on our recent trip to Clonakilty (and that's saying something). Before you visit you should check to see when the Sky Garden is available for public viewing. We checked their Facebook page but you can also ring or email them. When we arrived we met the most fabulous lady at reception (unfortunately we didn't get her name). She was so so friendly and helpful and didn't mind that we kept coming back to her with various queries and requests. We collected the key for the garden and had the place virtually to ourselves bar a couple of families who wandered in (tip: close the gate behind you after you enter). The garden itself is so tranquil and really allows time to take in the beautiful sky above (a good time to visit is when the sun isn't high in the sky and of course when it's not raining). Of course, when in the Sky Garden it's important to be respectful of this wonderful piece of earth art which we are privileged to view. Climbing on the sides of the crater has caused damage to this artwork so if visiting with children (or overgrown children) it's important to make sure they refrain from the temptation of climbing. Otherwise there is a very real Prospect that it will eventually be closed to public viewing. After you drop the key back to reception consider purchasing the Sky Garden book for just €5 which details the planning, development and concept of the garden.

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