Cork City For Free

Some call Cork City Ireland’s real capital! When it comes to real value, we agree. Here are our top 10 things to do for free in Ireland’s second city

Having a dance at a trad session in Cork City
Having a dance at a trad session in Cork City

1. Cork City culture

The home of visual arts in Cork, the Crawford Art Gallery is a city institution. Wander through an impressive collection of paintings by Irish and international artists or gaze in awe at the Antonio Canova plaster casts. 

2. A market fit for a Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II to be exact. Her majesty visited Cork’s famous English Market and was suitably impressed. This covered market is a wonderland of fresh foods, tasty cafés and friendly banter. 

3. Park life

A short stroll from the city centre brings you to the pastoral playground known as Fitzgerald Park. With the River Lee flowing gentle by, the park is home to a variety of sculptures, lily-strewn ponds and ornamental fountains. 

4. Visit Cork Public Museum

This handsome old Georgian building is home to a diverse collection of native Cork, Egyptian and Greek artefacts. Didn’t know about the importance of Cork as a thriving medieval town? Find out here. 

5. Escape the city!

If you’re looking for tranquillity, then look no further than Gougane Barra. An hour’s drive from Cork City, this little slice of heaven comes with possibly the most romantic chapel in the world: St Finbarr’s Oratory. 

6. Take part in a traditional Irish music session

You can’t come to Cork City and not experience a live traditional Irish music session. With live trad music on most nights, An Bodhrán is a local favourite. And trust us, the locals know good music. 

7. Imagine you're strolling through Hogwarts as you explore UCC

Established in 1845 University College Cork (UCC) is one of Ireland’s prettiest college campuses. Explore the ivy-covered limestone buildings in the main quad and the eerie atmosphere of the Stone Corridor.  

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8. The Lewis Glucksman Gallery

While you’re on campus, swing by the Lewis Glucksman Art Gallery. It’s easy to spot: just look for the whimsical, wooden-clad building housing 350 prints, sculptures and paintings by Ireland’s artistic giants. 

9. Get literal

Cork is a city with a strong literary heritage. Drop into the Cork City Library for a free self-guided audio tour of literary Cork and discover the hidden literary gems along Cork’s bustling city streets. 

10. Ramble through the Coal Quay Market

The Coal Quay Market (Saturdays from 8:30am) has been central to Cork City life for generations. Pack a picnic of Cork’s famous Clonakilty Black Pudding and smoked salmon from Cobh. Alternatively, just wind through the stalls and savour the atmosphere for free. 

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