Charles Fort Tours
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Built in the 17th century, the vast star-shaped Charles Fort was designed to guard Kinsale Harbour. The site of fierce fighting during the 1690 Williamite War, Charles Fort was ceded by the British during the War of Independence in 1921, only to be extensively damaged during the Irish Civil War. The fort is now a designated National Monument.
Though much of the site is in ruins, Charles Fort has been partially restored and is still a fascinating place to explore. Visit the exhibition center, housed in the former commander's quarters, where displays illuminate the history of the site. Then, wander around the exterior walls, admiring the views overlooking the harbor, town, and the River Brandon.
The fort can be explored independently, as part of a guided hourlong tour, or as a part of various day tours, which typically leave from Cork city and combine a visit to Kinsale with other west County Cork highlights, such as Timoleague Abbey and the scenic coastline of the Old Head of Kinsale.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Charles Fort is a must for families, with lots of open space for kids to run around.
- Wear sturdy, waterproof footwear, as some surfaces are uneven and weather is always changeable.
- Restrooms and a tearoom are situated at the fort.
- The exhibition center is wheelchair-accessible, though the fort itself is only partially accessible.
How to Get There
Charles Fort is just southeast of Kinsale, about a 30-minute drive south of Cork. The most scenic way to get here from Kinsale is along the Scilly Walk, a picturesque coastal route signposted from Kinsale town. Local Link Cork bus service 253 also connects Kinsale to Charles Fort.
When to Get There
The fort is open year-round, though some facilities, such as the tearoom, have limited opening hours outside the summer months. As much of the fort is exposed and its views are a big part of the site's appeal, it's best to visit on a clear, dry day if possible.
Just across the harbor from Charles Fort sits another star-shaped fort, James Fort. Built between 1602 and 1607, James Fort was also tasked with guarding Kinsale Harbor and it saw much action during the Williamite War. Though it's less impressive and has undergone less restoration than Charles Fort, James Fort is nevertheless a fascinating site, and offers excellent views of Charles Fort across the water.
Address: Summer Cove, Kinsale, Cork, Ireland
3 Tours and Activities to Experience Charles Fort
Make the most of your time in port on a shore excursion from Cobh and discover county highlights, including Blarney Castle, Kinsale, and Cobh Cathedral. Enjoy round-trip transportation for seamless transfer between dispersed locations, and gain insight into the region from your guide’s on-board commentary. Benefit from tailored departure times according to the duration your docking.
This great tour starts at one famous fishing town and its historic port: Kinsale We drive back to Kinsale and visit Charles Fort, situated on a cliff overlooking Kinsale harbour. Then we will explore Kinsale. Kinsale is a busy town with a wide choice of bars, restaurants and cafes. Then we will drive back to Cork. Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It is a vibrant city with plenty of things to see. On this tour we will pass by some of its main attractions: the English Market, one of the worlds oldest municipal markets. St. Annes Cathedral which is known for the famous Shandon Bells tower, St. Patrick´s Street, main shopping street in the city, The Victorian Quarter, The house of Annie Moore - Ellis Island´s first immigrant, Huguenot Cemetery and Elizabeth Fort. Small stop at Saint Fin Barre´s Cahedral, have your camera ready!! We can´t leave Cork without visiting the famous Jameson Distillery PLEASE NOTE: WALKING INVOLVED MISSING YOU ALREADY!!
Price varies by group size
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures
Face masks required for travelers in public areas
Face masks required for guides in public areas
Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
Get a comprehensive tour of the Wild Atlantic Way, West Cork, and Kinsale on this private tour. With all private transportation provided, you can focus on enjoying the scenery and your guide's commentary as you travel. Highlights include the Charles Fort, Timoleague Abbey, and medieval Kinsale. Stroll along the Wild Atlantic Way through the countryside and snap photos at the stunning lookout points.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience Charles Fort?
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