Charming Cork

Relaxed, quirky and full of spirit – Cork is all about personality

Cork city will put you right at ease

If there’s one thing people from Cork love, it’s Cork. Friendly Corkonians take great pride in Ireland’s most southerly city (they call it the Republic of Ireland’s ‘second capital’). As it winds around the pretty River Lee, you can experience life at a different pace. Great-tasting food, expressive music and bright gardens bursting with fuchsias and palm trees are what matter here.

Introducing culinary Cork

See and taste the very best that foodie Cork has to offer

”…chock full of great restaurants fed by arguably the best foodie scene in the country”

Cork’s culinary legacy has been around a long time. Take the English Market, it’s been dishing up delicious food since 1788, and is the city’s foodie centrepiece. Cork’s Butter Museum regales the creamy tales of the city’s place as the world’s largest butter market; while Fabulous Food Trails Cork lets you indulge your appetite along the way. But there’s a lot more to Cork than just food…

Days beside the sea

Cork is a gateway to the fabulous southwest coast. Take a picturesque train ride along the coastline to Cobh, the Titanic’s final port of call and an incredible fishing village. Or move along the coastline to other charming villages, such as Kinsale, Courtmacsherry or Baltimore, a sailor’s hub. Breathe in the fresh Atlantic air on a seaside walk before stopping for a well-earned lunch – lobster, mussels or crab, anyone? April to November is whale-watching season, and Cork is now one of the best places in the world to observe these gentle giants as they pop up to say hello.

Gardens and castles you’ll love

The Blarney Stone, famous for passing on the gift of eloquence to all who kiss it. This may be what draws you to here at first, but the enchanting Blarney castle and gardens will give you the space to contemplate your newfound skills! Visit Garnish Island in Glengariff, filled with rare floral beauties. Fall in love with the romantic setting of Bantry House or the crumbling ruins of Dundanion and Ballinacarriga Castle - these treasures dotted across the county act as fascinating beacons to the past.

Festival happenings

The annual Cork Midsummer Festival (June), transforms the city with music, dance and visual arts; the ever-colourful Cork Pride (August), and mention the word Cork, and musical aficionados will probably have heard of the Guinness Jazz Festival (October) – it’s been THE big ticket on musical calendars since 1978. Film fans should will appreciate the intriguing mix of local and international productions shown at the Cork Film Festival (November) and the Arts Trail Festival (Nov-Dec) puts existing and unusual spaces to good use to present works of art from all over the world – fascinating is an understatement!

Getting around Cork

Take to two wheels and cycle around the city with the Cork City Bike Scheme. Or let Cork City Walking Tours lead the way to the urban highlights. If you fancy taking in the views from the sea, a Cork Harbour and Dolphin Watching Tour will keep everyone entertained! Keep your eye on Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world…it’s lined with reminders of its important status in shipping history, as well as a great spot to get your bearings.

You must try

  • Cool cafés of Cork – Check out the delicious and VERY local fare at Fenn's Quay, Best Restaurant in Cork winner at the 2014 Irish Restaurant Awards; the Farmgate Café, overlooking the English Market and proud recipients of a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor; and Nash 19, a true Cork institution (its buttermilk scones alone will surely lure you in through its doors).
  • The Hugeunot Quarter – Looking for your cultural home in Cork? Bookshops, bars, cafés and boutiques sit side by side around French Church Street and Carey’s Lane – Amicus Restaurant might be a good place to plan your tour!
  • The English Market – According to chef Rick Stein, this is the “best covered market in the UK and Ireland”. Even Queen Elizabeth II became a fan when she visited in 2011! 
  • Lewis Glucksman Art Gallery – This beautiful structure is so stunning it has been listed among author Mark Irving’s 1,001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die.

You have to see

  • Shandon BellsSt Anne’s Church lets you do what most others don’t! Ring out those 18th century bells. And they even have sheet music to help you along.
  • Crawford Gallery – The city’s municipal gallery houses an incredible collection of works, from Paul Henry, Harry Clarke and Mainie Jellett. And its café is rather good, too!
  • Cork City Gaol – Check out the spectres of the city’s criminals in this impressively maintained Victorian prison. Things get even more spooky during the Thursday night-time tours…
  • Crawford Observatory, University College Cork – Originally built in 1880, those keen on astrology can check out its Equatorial telescope, Ciderostatic telescope and Spectroscope! Look to the stars, folks.
Cork Evenings

When the sun goes down, the evenings just get brighter

“…Cork is a warm city—like a beautiful gem.”

Cork turns on the charm

During the day, Plunkett Street and St Patrick Street sing to the sounds of buskers, but at night lively music seeps out of the bars and clubs. Head indoors and sample one of the city’s two local stouts: Beamish or Murphy’s. Of course, there are too many pubs to mention, but to get you started, try: Sin É, a lively pub on Coburg Street that’s been hosting traditional music sessions since the Seventies, or An Spailpín Fánac, which boasts nightly music including Sundays with the Cork Singers Club.

It’s not always about the music makers in Cork – sometimes traditional ambience is just as delightful. Visit The Castle Inn on North Main Street – its old-world Irish country charm is renowned around here, along with the promise of a good drink, a warm relaxing atmosphere and none of the chaotic sounds of a superpub! Perfect for a pint.

Honored traditions

  • When in Cork… it’s not all about the Guinness. In fact, there are two tasty and well-established stouts you should look out for: Murphy’s and Beamish. Visit the latter’s Beamish & Crawford Brewery during the day, and you’ll get a flavour of what’s to come later! You may even get to pour your own pint.
  • Cork Opera House – beginning life as a centre of culture and art, this fine establishment brings in the big Irish stars and their international kudos. Think Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea, The Fureys, Imelda May and Clannad…something to suit all, you might say!

Top tastes

  • Craft Beers – “From grain to glass, the Franciscan Well Brewery relies on traditional methods in its brewing techniques.” And that’s why having a beer in its pub is definitely the right thing to do.
  • Dine out on fine food – Vegetarians will be in heaven at Café Paradiso – it specialises in mouthwatering dishes with no meat in sight! Cornstore will have seafood lovers enthralled, and with an ethos that believes in ‘quality food, sourced locally’, you’re guaranteed a wonderful meal. Les Gourmandises in Cook Street is an award-winning eatery. Having won everything from Best Chef in Cork to Best Restaurant in Cork and Munster (the province in which Cork resides in), you can expect the very best French and locally sourced produce, fine wines AND all in a thoroughly relaxed atmosphere.

Cork city is an ideal place to start your journey along the untamed west coast of Ireland, an adventure you’ll never want to end.