Best things to do in Cork, Ireland

St Patrick’s Street, Cork - Ireland

Welcome to Cork, Ireland’s second-largest city located on the banks of the River Lee. This guide will take you on a journey through the best things to do in Cork. You’ll discover the best attractions, landmarks, and experiences, from exploring the famous English Market to taking a day trip to the beautiful Spike Island. We’ll also provide you with practical information, insider tips, and recommendations to help you make the most of your visit to Cork, whether you’re traveling on a budget or looking for luxury accommodations. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the charm and magic of Cork, Ireland.

It boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture, and picturesque landscapes, making it an ideal travel destination for all kinds of visitors. The city’s history dates back to the 6th century, and it has played an important role in Ireland’s past and present.


Why Cork is a great travel destination

Cork is a unique and captivating destination, offering something for everyone. The city’s friendly locals, rich cultural heritage, and picturesque landscapes make it a must-visit destination for travelers looking to experience authentic Irish culture. From exploring the historic landmarks to indulging in the local cuisine, there are plenty of reasons why Cork is considered one of the top destinations in Ireland.

Quick Facts

  • Location: Cork is located in the southwest region of Ireland, on the banks of the River Lee.
  • Climate: Cork has a mild, temperate climate, with cool summers and mild winters. The average temperature ranges from 7°C (45°F) in winter to 19°C (66°F) in summer. 
  • Population: The population of Cork city is approximately 210,000, while the wider metropolitan area has a population of around 400,000.
  • Language: The official languages of Ireland are Irish (Gaeilge) and English. English is the most widely spoken language in Cork, although Irish is also spoken by a minority of the population.
  • Currency: The currency in Ireland is the Euro (EUR).
  • Time zone: Cork is in the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone.

How to get to Cork

1. Plane

Cork Airport is the closest airport to the city, located just 6.5km (4 miles) south of the city center. The airport offers domestic and international flights to destinations across Europe, including London, Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona. From the airport, you can take a taxi or a bus to the city center.

2. Train

Irish Rail operates regular train services to Cork from Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and other major cities in Ireland. The journey from Dublin takes around 2.5 hours, while the journey from Galway takes around 3 hours. The train station in Cork is located in the city center, making it a convenient option for travelers.

3. Bus

Bus Éireann operates regular bus services to Cork from Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and other major cities in Ireland. The journey from Dublin takes around 3.5 hours, while the journey from Galway takes around 4 hours. The bus station in Cork is located in the city center, making it a convenient option for travelers. Additionally, several private bus companies offer services to and from Cork, including Aircoach and Citylink.

4. Car

Cork is easily accessible by car, with several major roads and highways connecting it to other parts of Ireland. The M8 motorway connects Cork to Dublin, while the N71 and N22 connect it to other towns and cities in the southwest region. If you’re driving from Dublin, the journey takes around 3 hours, while the journey from Galway takes around 2.5 hours.

Getting to Cork from the Airport

The main airport is Cork Airport and it is located only a 12-minute drive away from the city centre. You could easily get a taxi for €20 from the airport to the city centre, or take the 226 bus which costs about €6 to €8 depending on the time of day. Keep in mind that the bus will take closer to an hour to get you to the city centre because of the number of stops along the way.

Cordoba - Calleja de las Flores


The best way to experience both Cordoba and the surrounding area is to rent your own car! We recommend booking well in advance using price comparison sites like rental cars. if traveling in the peak summer season.


What to do in Cork

1. Explore The English Market In Cork City

English Market - Cork, Ireland

The English Market is a food lover’s paradise, with dozens of stalls selling everything from fresh produce and meats to artisan cheeses and baked goods. Some of the must-try foods include the traditional Cork dish of drisheen (a type of black pudding), Cork’s famous spiced beef, and the market’s own-brand smoked salmon. The market is also home to several cafes and restaurants, including the popular Farmgate Cafe.

The English Market is located in the heart of Cork City, just a few minutes walk from St. Patrick’s Street. If you’re taking public transportation, the market is easily accessible by bus or train. The closest bus stop is on Patrick Street, while the closest train station is Kent Station.

When visiting the English Market, be sure to take your time and explore all the different stalls. The market can get crowded, particularly during peak times, so it’s best to visit earlier in the day if possible. The market is also a great place to pick up souvenirs, with several stalls selling locally-made crafts and gifts.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

The English Market is open Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 6pm. Note that some stalls may close earlier, particularly on Saturdays.

2. Cobh

Cobh - Ireland

Cobh, located just a short train or car ride from Cork City, is a picturesque seaside town with a rich history. Originally named Queenstown, the town was the departure point for millions of Irish emigrants who left for North America during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was also the final port of call for the ill-fated Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.

Cobh is full of interesting things to see and do. Some of the must-visit attractions include the Cobh Heritage Centre, which tells the story of the town’s history and its connection to the Titanic, and the stunning St. Colman’s Cathedral, which boasts breathtaking views over the harbor. For a unique experience, take a boat tour around the harbor to see Cobh and the surrounding coastline from a different perspective.

The train journey from Cork City takes approximately 25 minutes, while the drive takes around 30 minutes. If you’re driving, there are several car parks located in the town center, including a multi-story car park next to the train station.

When visiting Cobh, be sure to take some time to wander through the town’s charming streets and admire the brightly-colored houses. The town is also home to several cozy cafes and restaurants, serving up delicious seafood and other local specialties.

3. Visit Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle, Cork - Ireland

Blarney Castle, located just a short drive from Cork City, is a must-visit attraction if you are traveling to the region. The castle was originally built in the 10th century and has a rich history, including being the site of numerous battles and sieges. Today, it’s best known for the Blarney Stone, a block of limestone built into the castle’s battlements that are said to give anyone who kisses it the gift of eloquence.

You can climb the castle’s narrow spiral staircase to the top, where you’ll have the opportunity to kiss the stone and receive the gift of eloquence. But there’s more to see than just the stone – the castle’s grounds are expansive and beautiful, with gardens, walkways, and other historical structures to explore.

Blarney Castle is located approximately 8km northwest of Cork City and is easily accessible by car or bus. If you’re driving, there is ample parking available on site. Alternatively, there are several tour companies that offer guided tours from Cork City.

Be prepared for crowds, as the attraction is very popular. To avoid the longest lines, consider visiting early in the day or during the off-season. And, of course, don’t forget to pucker up and kiss the Blarney Stone for some extra eloquence in your travels!

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Blarney Castle is open daily, year-round, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. During the summer months (June-August), the castle is open from 9 am-7 pm, while during the rest of the year, it’s open from 9 am-5 pm.

4. Check Out Charles Fort At Kinsale

Charles Fort At Kinsale - Ireland

Charles Fort is a 17th-century star-shaped fort that was built to defend the harbor from sea attacks. The fort played a significant role in Irish history, including during the Williamite War in the late 1600s. 

While you are there. you can explore the fort’s extensive grounds and learn about its rich history through informative displays and exhibits. 

Charles Fort is located in Kinsale, approximately 25km south of Cork City. It’s easily accessible by car, and there is ample parking available on site. Alternatively, there are several tour companies that offer guided tours of the fort.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Charles Fort is open daily from 10am-5pm during the summer months (April-September) and from 10am-4pm during the winter months (October-March).

5. St Patrick’s Street

St Patrick’s Street, Cork - Ireland

St Patrick’s Street is one of Cork City’s most iconic landmarks. Originally known as “George’s Street” after King George III, the street was renamed in the 18th century in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. Today, St Patrick’s Street is a bustling hub of activity, with numerous shops, restaurants, and historic buildings lining the pedestrianized thoroughfare.

A stroll down St Patrick’s Street is a must-do activity if you are visiting Cork. You’ll find a wide variety of shops, ranging from high-end boutiques to quirky independent stores. Be sure to stop by the historic English Market, located just off the street, for a taste of some of Cork’s finest food and drink. The street is also home to several notable landmarks, including the Crawford Art Gallery and the iconic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

St Patrick’s Street is located in the heart of Cork City and is easily accessible on foot from most areas of the city center. 


6. Finn Bares Cathedral

Finn Bares Cathedral - Cork, Ireland

Finn Bares Cathedral is one of Cork’s built in the 19th century and is named after Cork’s patron saint, St Fin Barre. The stunning architecture of the cathedral is a blend of Gothic and Romanesque styles, with intricate carvings, stained glass windows, and ornate stonework throughout.

The cathedral is open to visitors throughout the year and offers guided tours for those who want to learn more about the history and architecture of the building. Be sure to take some time to admire the intricate carvings and stained glass windows that make this cathedral so unique.

Finn Bares Cathedral is located in the heart of Cork City and is easily accessible on foot from most areas of the city center. 

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Finn Bares Cathedral is open to visitors daily, with varying opening hours depending on the season. During the summer months, the cathedral is open from 9 am-6 pm on weekdays and 9 am-5 pm on weekends. During the winter months, the cathedral is open from 9 am-5 pm on weekdays and 9 am-4 pm on weekends.

7. St Anne’s Church

St Anne’s Church is a beautiful and historic church located in the heart of Cork City. It was built in 1722 and is known for its impressive Shandon Bells, which have been ringing out across the city for over 300 years. The church is also famous for its stunning architecture, including its distinctive red sandstone tower, and for its connection to Irish folklore and music.

To visit St Anne’s Church, simply head to Shandon Street in the north of Cork City. You can climb the tower and ring the famous Shandon Bells, which offer stunning views of the city and the River Lee. Don’t forget to take a photo with the four-faced clock and the weather vane on top of the tower. 

Note: The tower climb may not be suitable for those with mobility issues, as there are over 120 steps to climb.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday: 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 4:30 pm, Sunday: Closed

Admission fee: €5 for adults, €3 for seniors and students, €12 for families

8. Fitzgerald Park

Fitzgerald Park is located in the heart of Cork City and is named after Edward Fitzgerald, the Lord Mayor of Cork from 1901 to 1903. The park covers an area of 18 acres and features various attractions, including a fountain, a pond, a rose garden, a café, and a museum.

One of the main attractions in Fitzgerald Park is the Cork Public Museum, which is located within the park. The museum features various exhibits showcasing the history and culture of Cork City and its surrounding areas. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is free.

To get to Fitzgerald Park, you can walk from the city center or take a bus from the city center to the park’s entrance.  You can explore the park’s many features, including the beautiful gardens, sculptures, and play areas for children. 

During the summer months, there are many events and festivals including outdoor concerts, theater performances, and family fun days. 

The park is open every day from 8 am to 8 pm, and admission is free.

9. Spike Island Day Trip

Spike Island is a small island located in Cork Harbour, just off the coast of Cobh. The island has a rich history dating back over 1,300 years, with a monastery, a fortress, and a prison all occupying the island at different times. The island was also used as a quarantine station during the 19th century, and as a training camp for the Irish Army in the 20th century. 

On Spike Island, you can explore the various historical buildings and landmarks, including the 18th-century star-shaped fort, the Victorian-era prison, and the gun park. There are also guided tours available, which provide a more in-depth look at the island’s history.

To reach Spike Island, you can take a ferry from Kennedy Pier in Cobh. Ferries run regularly throughout the day, and the journey takes around 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour that includes transport to and from the island.

Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Spike Island is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm from March to October, and from 11 am to 4 pm from November to February.

10. Red Abbey

The Red Abbey is a historic ruin located in Cork City. Originally built in the 14th century as a Franciscan friary, the abbey was destroyed in the 17th century during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. Today, only the ruins of the abbey remain, but they are still an impressive sight and a popular tourist attraction in Cork.

To get to the Red Abbey, you can take a leisurely walk from the city center, which is about 10-15 minutes away. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or public transportation to the nearby bus station.

The abbey is open to the public year-round, and there is no admission fee. You are welcome to explore the ruins at your own pace and take in the beautiful architecture and peaceful surroundings.

11. Kinsale

Kinsale is a picturesque town situated on the coast of County Cork. Once you arrive in Kinsale, there is plenty to see and do. You can take a stroll around the colorful streets and admire the pretty buildings and historic landmarks. One of the must-visit attractions is the Kinsale Museum, where you can learn about the town’s fascinating history.

To get to Kinsale from Cork, you can take the Bus Eireann bus service, which runs regularly between the two places. Alternatively, you can hire a car and drive there, which takes about 30 minutes.

For foodies, Kinsale is a treat, offering a variety of culinary delights. It is known for its seafood, so make sure to try some of the fresh local catches. If you want to sample some of the town’s famous whiskey, make a stop at the Kinsale Distillery.

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, Kinsale offers plenty of opportunities to explore the beautiful Irish coastline. You can take a scenic walk along the harbor or venture out to the nearby beaches.

12. Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre

Cork City Gaol, located on Sunday’s Well Road, is one of Cork’s most fascinating attractions. The former prison, which dates back to 1824, was a place of incarceration for various criminals, including men, women, and children, until its closure in 1923. 

You can take a self-guided audio tour of the gaol, which features informative displays and exhibits that showcase what life was like inside the prison walls. You can see the cells, including the women’s prison and the condemned men’s cell, and learn about the various prisoners who were held there.

The Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre is a short 20-minute walk from the city centre. Alternatively, take the 208 or 215 bus from Parnell Place Bus Station to Sunday’s Well Road.


Opening Hours And Ticket Price

Opening hours: It is open every day from 10 am to 4 pm. The last admission is at 3 pm.

Ticket prices: Adult admission is €10, while seniors and students pay €8. Children under 5 can enter for free, and there are discounts for families and groups.

13. Jameson Distillery Tour

The Jameson Distillery has a long and fascinating history dating back to 1780. The distillery was originally established by John Jameson and quickly became one of the largest and most famous distilleries in the world. Today, the Jameson Distillery offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the history and production of Irish whiskey.

To get to the Jameson Distillery, you can take a short walk or taxi ride from Cork city center. The distillery offers a range of tours, including a guided tour of the facility, a whiskey-blending workshop, and a tasting experience. You will learn about the history of the distillery, the process of making whiskey, and you will try some of Jameson’s award-winning whiskies.

The Jameson Distillery is open seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. The guided tours usually last around an hour, and it’s recommended to book in advance to ensure availability. You can also purchase bottles of Jameson whiskey in the gift shop as a souvenir of their visit.

How to get around Cork

Since it’s a major city in Ireland, Cork has widely available public transportation. Getting around Cork is easy and there are a variety of transportation options available to travelers. 

We suggest you walk if you want to see the major tourist sites within the city. Beyond that, you can take the public bus, especially to visit places like Blarney Castle & Gardens.

Public transportation is pretty cheap and we believe that you won’t spend more than €10 per day on public transportation if you purchase a Visitor Leap Card.


Cork is a pedestrian-friendly city with many of the main attractions located within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to explore the city and take in the sights.


Taxis are available throughout the city and are a convenient way to get around, especially if you’re in a hurry. You can hail a taxi on the street or use one of the many taxi ranks located throughout the city. If you’re just traveling around the city, you shouldn’t find yourself spending more than €20.


Cork does not have Uber, but it does have taxis which are reliable and affordable.

Public Transportation

Bus Éireann and CityLink are the main public transport providers in Cork. There are regular buses connecting Cork with other major cities in Ireland. In Cork city, there are regular bus services to most of the city’s major attractions. You can purchase tickets from the driver or use a prepaid Leap Card, which offers discounted fares. The bus is a great affordable way to travel to Cork. One way on the bus will cost around €2


Cork is a very cycle-friendly city and there are plenty of places to rent bicycles. Cork City Council provides a bike-sharing scheme called Coca-Cola Bikes which allows you to rent bikes for a small fee. There are 30 different spots around the city where you can stop and leave the bike and then pick it up again.

Car Rental

Car rental is also available in Cork if you prefer to drive yourself around. There are several car rental companies located in the city and at Cork Airport. However, it’s important to note that driving in Ireland is on the left side of the road, and parking can be difficult in the city center.

Where to eat in Cork

Cork has a thriving food scene, with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and pubs offering delicious food and drink options. Here are some popular places to eat in Cork:

1. Market Lane

This popular restaurant offers a menu of locally sourced and seasonal dishes, with a focus on fresh seafood and Irish beef. They also have an extensive wine list and craft beer selection.

2.The English Market

This historic indoor market is a must-visit for foodies, with a wide range of stalls selling fresh produce, meat, cheese, and more. Several of the stalls also offer cooked food, such as oysters, fish and chips, and traditional Irish breakfast.

3. Paradiso

This vegetarian restaurant offers creative and flavorful dishes that showcase local produce and ingredients. They have a daily changing menu and an extensive wine list.

What to eat in Cork

Irish Breakfast: This is a traditional hearty breakfast that typically includes bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, eggs, mushrooms, grilled tomato, and toast. You can find it at many cafes and restaurants throughout Cork.

Seafood: Cork is located on the coast, so it’s no surprise that seafood is a popular choice. Fresh fish and shellfish are widely available, and some popular dishes include fish and chips, seafood chowder, and smoked salmon.

Traditional Irish Stew: This is a hearty and comforting dish made with lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and herbs. It’s often served with soda bread and butter.

Cork’s famous spiced beef: This is a spiced and cured beef dish that is a specialty of Cork. It’s often served in sandwiches or with mashed potatoes.

Cheese: Cork is known for its cheese production, with several award-winning cheese makers in the area. Some popular types of cheese include Cashel Blue, Milleens, and Durrus.

Where to stay in Cork

Cork offers a variety of accommodation options for travelers of all budgets and preferences. Here are some popular areas to consider when choosing where to stay in Cork:

Victorian Quarter

The Victorian Quarter in Cork offers a range of accommodation options for visitors, including hotels, guesthouses, and apartments.

One of the most popular hotels in the area is the Metropole Hotel, which is a historic property that dates back to 1897. It offers elegant rooms and suites with modern amenities, as well as a restaurant, bar, and fitness center. Other popular hotels in the Victorian Quarter include The River Lee Hotel and The Imperial Hotel.

There are also several guesthouses and B&Bs in the area that offer a more budget-friendly option for travelers. Some popular options include Gabriel House Guesthouse, Garnish Guesthouse, and Rose Lodge Guesthouse.

City Center

Cork City Center offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. 

It has a range of hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury properties. Some popular hotels include The River Lee Hotel, The Imperial Hotel, The Metropole Hotel, and The Montenotte Hotel.

For a more intimate and personalized experience, you can consider staying at a guesthouse or B&B in the City Center. These properties usually offer cozy rooms and a homey atmosphere. Some popular guesthouses and B&Bs in the City Center include Ashley Hotel, Lancaster Lodge, and Number Forty-Eight Guesthouse.

If you’re a budget traveler or a solo traveler looking to meet other travelers, there are several hostels in the City Center that offer shared dorms and private rooms. Some popular hostels include Kinlay House Cork, Bru Bar & Hostel, and Sheilas Tourist Hostel.

University College Cork (UCC) Area

The University College Cork (UCC) area in Cork is a popular neighborhood for students and visitors alike. 

There are several student accommodation options available in the UCC area, including purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) and student apartments. Some popular options include Victoria Lodge, Brookfield Village, and Spires Apartments.

For a more personalized and homey experience, you can consider staying at a guesthouse or B&B in the UCC area. Some popular options include Garnish House Guesthouse, Lancaster Lodge, and Avondale House.

There are also several hotels in the UCC area that offer comfortable and convenient accommodation options. Some popular hotels include The River Lee Hotel, The Kingsley Hotel, and Hayfield Manor Hotel.


Kinsale is a charming coastal town located about 25 km south of Cork City. It’s known for its picturesque harbor, colorful buildings, and historical landmarks, making it a popular destination for visitors.

Kinsale has a range of hotels to suit different budgets and preferences. Some popular options include The Trident Hotel, Actons Hotel, and Kinsale Hotel & Spa.

For a more personalized experience, you can consider staying at a guesthouse or B&B in Kinsale. Some popular options include Tierneys Guesthouse, The Old Bank House, and The White House.

If you are on a budget or solo a traveler looking to meet other travelers, there is one hostel in Kinsale called The Blue Haven Hostel.

Cork Accommodation

Cork offers a variety of accommodation options for travelers of all budgets and preferences.

Best Time to Visit Cork

The best time to visit Cork is during the months of May through September when the weather is mild and the days are longer. This is also the peak tourist season in Ireland, so you can expect larger crowds and higher prices.

June, July, and August are the warmest months of the year, with average temperatures ranging from 17°C to 20°C (62°F to 68°F). This is a great time to explore the outdoors and enjoy the many festivals and events that take place during the summer months, including the Cork Midsummer Festival and the Cork Jazz Festival.

If you prefer a quieter and more budget-friendly visit, consider visiting Cork during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October. The weather is still pleasant, and the crowds and prices are usually lower.


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