It’s warmer out west. Literally.
Just over one hour outside Cork City, Glengarriff is snuggled around its own teal blue harbour like a cosy green cardigan.
It’s all down to the Gulf Stream; a steady flow of warm ocean currents from the Caribbean that create the perfect conditions for rare tropical plants to flourish.
And flourish they do; you can’t turn your head without catching a view of the picture-perfect landscape, all wild mountains and lush green forests.
Utterly unspoilt, it’s the perfect destination for a sneaky escape; a short drive for a blissful long weekend spent bobbing in the sea (and in and out of pubs).
Ready to hit the road? Here are six things to do in Glengarriff this summer:
Nestled into the hillside at the entrance to Glengarriff village, the Bayview Boutique B&B is the perfect bolthole for a West Cork weekend. Each of the elegant bedrooms is custom designed by interiors whiz and owner Aine Murphy, boasting chic furniture, feather soft beds, luxe linen and power showers.
For the best views, book a Deluxe Room overlooking Bantry Bay and enjoy your morning coffee from your own private balcony.
You won’t want to leave…
Don’t miss breakfast though; a festival of fresh breads, local cheeses and other goodies is laid on for guests until 11am every morning and you can enjoy it on the gorgeous terrace outside if you’re lucky with the weather.
Geraldine’s French toast with bacon and fresh berries is to die for and the Full Irish is the tastiest we’ve tried (and we’ve tried a few). It’ll set you up ’til lunchtime and probably beyond, plus the sunny breakfast room is the best spot to hear all the news and get tips on things to do and see.
Rooms start at €99 and you can book here.
Glengarriff is packed with cosy spots for good pub grub. Every West Cork village has their own chowder, but the light, brothy, verdant bowls served up with a hunk of brown bread at Casey’s Hotel are worth seeking out.
Check out the specials boards on the street before you pick your dinner venue. If you’ve got a hankering for pizza, Mannings Emporium is ten minutes away; their wood-fired oven serves up heavenly gourmet pizzas on Friday nights (5.30pm – 9pm), Saturdays (12pm – 9pm) and Sundays (12pm – 4.30pm).
The kind of place where nobody bats an eyelid if you rock up with wind-swept hair and salty skin, fresh from a swim in the Blue Pool, P. Harrington’s (The Blue Loo) might be the perfect West Cork pub.
Take a pint of Murphy’s or a hot toddy to the benches out front and watch the world go by or grab a stool at the bar to hear the latest goings-on from the local fishermen.
The flavour of this unique part of the world is best tasted in a Garnish Island Gin, inspired by the bright floral aromas of iris, rose and hibiscus and hints of rosemary and thyme.
Casey’s Hotel has a pretty terrace for an evening G&T too and the Harbour Bar at the 250-year-old Eccles Hotel looks out over the bay, offering magical views at sunset.
Teeming with exotic plants, thanks to the warm waters that surround it, a short boat trip from the village pier will transport you to magical Garnish Island.
The enchanting former home of Scottish businessman John Annan Bryce and his wife Violet L’Estrange, a cousin of Countess Markievicz, the gardens were initially created by gardener Murdo Mackenzie to envelope a mansion that never came to be.
Instead, the family remained in the charming Bryce House, which has been carefully preserved to give visitors a taste of what life was like in 1910.
The house is open to the public until the end of October. Boats leave every 30 minutes from Glengarriff Pier and the Blue Pool (around €13pp). They’re dog friendly too.
An Instagrammers’ dream, the island boasts a Grecian Temple with epic views, a clock tower and an Italian Tea House, as well as otherworldly plants, giant rhododendrons and a lovely tearoom where you can get a caffeine fix or a snack to fuel your adventure.
There’s nothing like a dip in the Atlantic to make you feel alive, but Glengarriff’s stunning Blue Pool is a sun trap where the river meets the sea, so the water temperature tends to be a touch less icy.
Just past the main inlet is a spot known locally as The Point where you’ll find a diving board and pontoon you can swim off.
Located right in the middle of the village, the Blue Pool area is also famous for forest walks so bring your togs and towels and pack a picnic to enjoy in the shade of the trees after your swim.
If you really want to see how the Glengarriff climate can grow all manner of tropical plants and trees, take a ramble around the Bamboo Park.
Tree ferns, myrtles, eucalyptus and 30 different species of bamboo make for interesting trails and stunning views and there’s a cute coffee shop to chill out in afterwards.