Combining history and stunning coastal scenery, Mizen Head is a fantastic destination to visit while cruising along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The area is the most southwesterly point on the Emerald Isle and is located on a small promontory in West Cork.
From the visitor’s center to the famous footbridge and the iconic station house, here is your complete guide to Mizen Head.
Located on the southwest tip of the jagged Kilmore Peninsula, Mizen Head is a dramatic cliffside area jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. The area is one of the most southerly points in all of Ireland and is nearly separated from the rest of the peninsula by a deep gorge. The tip of Mizen Head is the last piece of European land that sailors would have seen before undertaking the Atlantic crossing.
Because it is one of the most westerly points in all of Europe, it is arguably the point closest to America. For this reason, famed Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi chose the spot to build his radio signal tower to send the first transatlantic telegraph messages.
Mizen Head is not technically the southernmost point of Ireland (that title belongs to nearby Brow Head), however, it is common to refer to Ireland as stretching from “Malin Head to Mizen Head.”
What to Do at Mizen Head
Mizen Head’s location on the edge of Europe meant that it was the first or last land that transatlantic ships would encounter. The rocky coastline also made it a dangerous place to sail, so a signal House was built to warn passing ships. Visitors can purchase a ticket for 7.50 euros to climb down the 99 steep steps to reach the signal station. Once you have crossed the breathtaking coastal walkways to reach the signal station, visit the Marconi Radio Room and the Station Keeper’s Quarters—which has exhibits on what life was like for the people who once lived here and kept the signal station operating.
The ticket also grants access to the visitor’s center which has exhibits on local lighthouses, sea life, geology and the history of Mizen Head.
After learning about the area and braving the cliff-skirting walkways, sit down in the café for a coffee or sandwich, and browse the gift shop which specializes in boat-themed souvenirs.
The wild location is also ideal for spotting local animals. Keep an eye out for seals near the shore and numerous seabirds. Look slightly further out beyond the waves to catch a glimpse of passing whales and dolphins.
Location and How to Visit
The best way to arrive at Mizen Head is to drive a private car, but certain bus tours also stop at this attraction on the Wild Atlantic Way. Depending on the direction you are traveling from, take the R591 or the R592 to Goleen. Go through the village and follow the signs for Mizen Head Drive. There is a large free parking lot in front of the visitor’s center when you arrive.
Tickets for the visitor’s center and the signal station can be purchased on the spot. All the paths are paved and well maintained but sturdy shoes are a good idea for those who plan to make the trek out to the signal station.
The coastal pathways connecting the different buildings all have railings which add an element of safety even in rainy weather, but the area is best on clear days when you can take in more of the gorgeous scenery. (Note that access to cross the bridge itself may be restricted in stormy conditions).
What Else to Do Nearby
Mizen Head is a popular destination for its relatively wild and remote landscape. Aside from the viewing platforms, coastal paths and the small visitor’s center with a cafe, there is little else to do at the site itself. However, the attraction is close to the small villages of Durrus, Ballydehob, Crookhaven, Goleen, and Schull, which all offer a glimpse into traditional life in rural West Cork.
To get even closer to nature, try sea kayaking in fair weather and enjoy the chance to explore the rugged coastline from a new point of view. There are also several companies that offer bike rentals in the area.
After discovering West Cork from both land and sea, explore even more of the area by taking the ferry across Roaringwater Bay to Sherkin—one of the best islands in Ireland.