As the highly anticipated Ironman event kicks off in Youghal, I’m discovering 10 great things to do in this East Cork town.

1. To be a lighthouse keeper

This is one of the best places to stay in the county, if not the country.

The renovated lighthouse keeper Saoirse Fitzgerald’s cottage, next to the town’s iconic lantern, is the ultimate base for a holiday in Youghal.

RTÉ House of the year finalist and now highly sought-after Airbnb site, offers guests a soothing seaside haven with Pinterest-perfect interiors.

It’s a treat at around €400 a night, but it sleeps four, making it the perfect place for special gatherings – plus, with views like these, you’ll probably want to share them.

  • Follow @thelighthousekeepsher on Instagram for last minute property news and cancellations.

2. Yoga with Vashti

Youghal has some of the most stunning stretches of coastline along the Celtic Sea, and there’s no better way to connect with the spectacular backdrop than with a seaside yoga retreat.

Vashti Brosnan is a local yogi offering Zen-inspired outdoor yoga and pilates classes in scenic locations across the bay.

Classes are for all levels and visitors can book group activities or private sessions on request.

“Youghal has the most beautiful sunrises and beach yoga is the perfect place to come together, stretch and relax – usually followed by tea, conversation and a dip!” says Vashti.

3. Seafood by Aherns

For a coastal town, I don’t think Youghal showcases its rich maritime treasures to the same extent as Cobh or Kinsale, but the town’s excellent food offerings are a good place to start.

For a taste of Youghal on a plate, I like the Ahernes culinary establishment, especially for lunch, where the atmosphere is relaxed and the blackboard specials are always well priced. Seafood dinners are an old tradition, so expect oysters, mussels, scallops and the fresh catch of the day. They also have a great selection of wines.

As for other options, the Red Store is one of my favorite places to meet for a casual lunch, and The Priory is a friendly spot for freshly brewed coffee and delicious sandwiches.

My Hot Spot Sauna in Youghal.

4. Sauna by the sea

It seems like every beach worth its salt has a hot tub, sauna or seaweed bath these days!

And at Redbarn Strand you’ll find a unique Youghal My Hot Spot offer.

The pop-up sauna allows guests to enjoy shared or private wellness sessions with a view of the sea, making them the perfect rider for invigorating sea sailing.

For the ultimate post-Ironman treat, they also have ice whiskey barrels!

  • Shared/private sauna sessions from €10/€50.

5. Trample the pavement

Youghal’s new waterfront is fast becoming a destination for the city… and that’s before the new greenway, due to open next year, takes off.

The people-friendly footpath offers wonderful coastal walks for a 7km round trip from Claycastle Beaches to Redbourn.

To fuel your walk, grab a brew from the Boardwalk Cafe or the Le Gourmet Red Coffee Truck.

For something more substantial, pancakes and toast from The Brunch Box will set you up nicely. Check their Instagram pages for updated hours.

    Claycastle: part of the beach in Youghal town centre
Claycastle: part of the beach in Youghal town centre

6. Tour of the tower with the clock gate

Anyone who drives through Youghal will be familiar with the iconic Clock Gate, but did you know you can also visit an iconic heritage site?

Built in 1777, the iconic building has been open to the public since 2017, where guided tours will take you through the fascinating history of the landmark and Youghal itself.

Think about it Pirates of the Caribbean with a touch of East Cork. Tickets for adults/children; €9.50/€5.

7. Go diving

Said to be the oldest street in Youghal, where pirates and traders landed in the old days, this small street next to Youghal Lighthouse is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it treasure.

A lane leads down to a historic bathing spot known locally as ‘The Diving’ and has a natural pool surrounded by rocks.

Diving isn’t recommended these days, but this secluded spot is a great place to dip your toes.

It has a lovely view of Youghal’s rather romantic Victorian promenade.

8. Wander around the Raleigh neighborhood

Although rare, Youghal’s medieval lanes are packed with history and charm at an affordable price.

From North Main Street, stroll down Church Street to Emmett Place, where you can pass Walter Raleigh’s former home, stumble upon local galleries by artists like Andrea Cashel, before visiting the beautiful St. Mary’s Collegiate Church.

The route around the city walls makes for an impressive walk, followed by a seat at the historic Nook pub. It’s a bold claim, but they say it has the best pint in town!

9. Picnic like a local

If you want to dine on the go, you’re in the perfect spot for a DIY picnic.

Dave Brown and his family have been smoking salmon locally for nearly 40 years, and his delicious Blackwater Smokehouse Salmon is perfect for a picnic.

You can pick it up at SuperValu, right in the city centre, and the freshly baked sourdough bread from Collins Bakery, right next door, is the perfect base!

Sweetie? Harrington’s, just down the street, is another local butterscotch favorite. As for your picnic spot… join the locals at Green Park in town or on the Front Strand.

10. Blackwater cruise

Youghal isn’t just about this stunning coastline you know!

The town also sits at the mouth of one of Ireland’s most pristine waterways: the mighty Blackwater.

A boat trip down the river is a great way to while away a few hours, and Tony Gallagher’s Blackwater Cruises are a great option.

From the Youghal Pontoon, the Ardmore native offers guided cruises under Youghal Bridge up the spectacular river, where you can sample everything from stunning riverside accommodations to stately estates such as Ballinatray House.

Watch for dolphins in the bay!

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