As Ireland’s largest county, Cork has an incredible amount of sights, attractions, activities and amazing food to offer and should be on everyone’s bucket list!
We love the vibe in Cork county and Cork city and highly recommend a visit if you are heading to the south of Ireland!
Cork city on the banks of the River Lee is Ireland’s second city and has quite a different atmosphere to the capital, Dublin. It is an absolute haven for lovers of music, art and food and was awarded the title of European City of Culture in 2005.
The abundant pubs and arts centers are great venues for live music sessions and gigs. (Check out the Old Oak, Triskel Arts Centre, Opera House and more to get involved in Cork’s happening arts scene).
In October each year the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival takes place and marks one of the biggest events of the Irish annual music calendar. Musicians and jazz fans from all over the world flock to the city during the many great events and concerts that are spread all over the city.
Wander about the streets of the city and discover the many sights, such as the Cork City Gaol, the Butter Museum, the Nano Nagle Place and the Elizabeth Fort. Art and history lovers should add Harry Clarke’s impressive stained glass windows at the Crawford Art Gallery as well as the Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the ogham stones at University College Cork to their bucket list.
As you head back to the city from University College Cork saunter through Fitzgeralds Park (with the Shakey Bridge), Bishop Lucey Park and take a look at St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral (just one of several beautiful churches in the city).
Another must-see sight in Cork is the English Market, especially for anyone interested in sampling Cork’s excellent local cuisine. This indoor market dates back to the 18th century and is well known not only for its tasty food, but also unique architecture.
If food is your thing, then search no further than the gourmet capital Kinsale. There you will be spoilt for choice with sumptuous options, with special emphasis on seafood.
One of the most internationally famous sights in County Cork is, of course, Blarney Castle and Gardens. This popular tourist attraction sees thousands of people each year, many of whom take part in the unique tradition of “kissing the Blarney Stone” for lifelong eloquence.
Cobh in Ireland’s Ancient East is another famous tourist attraction located just a short train ride from Cork city center. The town is well known for its superb views of Cork Harbour, as well as the imposing cathedral of St. Colman’s perched on a hill. This emigration port was also the last port of call of the ill-fated Titanic liner. Find out more in our post on Cobh here.
The former prison on Spike Island in Cork Harbour (named Europe’s leading tourist attraction at the World Travel Awards in 2017) is another fascinating sight to visit.
Whiskey lovers should visit the nearby market town of Middleton, where they will be treated to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery Experience. If you want to visit an observatory with a difference, then Blackrock Castle should be on your bucket list!
If you are planning on doing some day tours to discover Ireland, then Cork is an excellent place to base yourself. There is a wide variety of hotels and good accommodation options in the city itself.
Day trips to the Cliffs of Moher (where Harry Potter was filmed), the Ring of Kerry on the Wild Atlantic Way coastal route, Killarney National Park, Dublin, Kilkenny and the Rock of Cashel are all possible to do from Cork within a day. Just start early to make sure you maximise your experience! For some more day trip ideas from Cork, read our post here.
Ireland Destination Guides
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