Cork travel guide

Cork Tourism | Cork Guide

You're Going to Love Cork

Situated in the southwest of the country, Cork is Ireland's second largest city behind Dublin, with a population of 210,000. The city straddles the River Lee, with the center on an island in the middle of the river.

There are dozens of bridges across the river and water plays an important part in the city's life and history: Cork is a seaport, and this adds to the cosmopolitan feel of this small city.

Cork lacks the tourist crowds of Dublin but is perhaps all the better for it. It offers an authentic taste of Irish life, with music spilling from the many pubs and good food served in lots of restaurants. The city also provides a base from which to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Cork

1. Cork City Gaol

The old gaol is just outside the city center and is a stop on the city sightseeing bus. It's around a 30-minute walk for those who feel a little more energetic. It has a good museum, chronicling a history that includes the transportation of convicts to Australia. Admission is EUR8.00.

2. The Lough Park

The Lough Park is a Public Wildlife Refuge just half a mile southwest of the city center. It consists of a small spring-fed freshwater lake with an island at its center. There is lots of wildlife and the park also teems with locals enjoying the scenery, relaxing, or running in the grounds.

3. Kiss the Blarney Stone

Blarney Castle lies just five miles to the north of Cork. The famous Blarney Stone is built into its ramparts. Kissing it means the visitor must lie on their backs and lean over the walls, but in doing so they are said to be blessed with the gift of eloquence. Admission is EUR14.00

4. The English Market

Cork's English Market is one of the finest covered markets in Britain and Ireland and a must for foodies. Its focus is on culinary products, and you will find lots of stalls selling a huge variety of herbs, spices, fish, meat, oils, sauces, and cheeses. There are also cafes where you can sample some of the produce.

5. University College Cork

A stroll in the grounds of the university is a great way to soak up some of the city's culture. The architecture of the college buildings is beautiful, and the manicured gardens provide an attractive and peaceful retreat.

What to do in Cork

1. English Market: Traditional Irish Treats!

In the heart of Cork City, the English Market, which has been open since 1788, is one of Ireland's most famous covered food markets. A great place to find fresh produce, fruit, meat and fish, the market also specializes in international delicacies, breads, spices, cheeses, olives and traditional Irish crubeens and tripe. A favorite among locals, the market offers a unique shopping and dining experience for tourists.

2. Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral: Marvel at the French Gothic Grandeur

Cork's Anglican Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, located in the city center, was designed by William Burges and dedicated in 1870, though the site has been a holy place of Christian worship since the 17th century. The French Neo-Gothic exterior of the cathedral is constructed of Cork limestone, while the interior is covered in Bath stone and lined with red Cork marble. Featuring some of the most spectacular stained glass in Ireland, the church showcases 19th century furniture, metalwork, mosaics and sculptures designed by Burges.

3. Fitzgerald's Park: Discover Archeological Treasures

A short distance from the city center, Fitzgerald Park is located on the banks of the Lee River and covers roughly eighteen acres. Popular with families and children, the park features lushly landscaped lawns dotted with sculptures, playgrounds and plant life. The park also houses the Cork Public Museum, a two-story Georgian structure built in 1845 by the Beamish family. The museum displays civic regalia, Bronze Age mining tools and archaeological finds from Cork as well as from ancient Egypt and Greece.

4. St. Anne's Church: Ring the Shandon Bells (It's Allowed!)

Built in 1722, St Anne's Church features a 170-foot-high pepper pot tower, a salmon-shaped weathervane (known as "the goldy fish") and a clock named the "Four Faced Liar". Built in pale limestone from an abandoned Franciscan friary and red sandstone from the Shandon Castle ruins, the church affords an unparalleled view of the city from the tower and visitors are encouraged to ring the renowned Shandon Bells.

5. Crawford Art Gallery: Appreciate the Visual Masterpieces

Featuring a collection of 2,500 works, Crawford Art Gallery is a highly regarded historic and contemporary visual arts institution. The gallery is based in the former Cork Customs House, which was built in 1724 and displays 18th century Irish and European painting and sculpture as well as current video installations. There is also a superb collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts that were donated by the Vatican in 1818.

1. English Market: Traditional Irish Treats!

In the heart of Cork City, the English Market, which has been open since 1788, is one of Ireland's most famous covered food markets. A great place to find fresh produce, fruit, meat and fish, the market also specializes in international delicacies, breads, spices, cheeses, olives and traditional Irish crubeens and tripe. A favorite among locals, the market offers a unique shopping and dining experience for tourists.

2. Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral: Marvel at the French Gothic Grandeur

Cork's Anglican Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral, located in the city center, was designed by William Burges and dedicated in 1870, though the site has been a holy place of Christian worship since the 17th century. The French Neo-Gothic exterior of the cathedral is constructed of Cork limestone, while the interior is covered in Bath stone and lined with red Cork marble. Featuring some of the most spectacular stained glass in Ireland, the church showcases 19th century furniture, metalwork, mosaics and sculptures designed by Burges.

3. Fitzgerald's Park: Discover Archeological Treasures

A short distance from the city center, Fitzgerald Park is located on the banks of the Lee River and covers roughly eighteen acres. Popular with families and children, the park features lushly landscaped lawns dotted with sculptures, playgrounds and plant life. The park also houses the Cork Public Museum, a two-story Georgian structure built in 1845 by the Beamish family. The museum displays civic regalia, Bronze Age mining tools and archaeological finds from Cork as well as from ancient Egypt and Greece.

4. St. Anne's Church: Ring the Shandon Bells (It's Allowed!)

Built in 1722, St Anne's Church features a 170-foot-high pepper pot tower, a salmon-shaped weathervane (known as "the goldy fish") and a clock named the "Four Faced Liar". Built in pale limestone from an abandoned Franciscan friary and red sandstone from the Shandon Castle ruins, the church affords an unparalleled view of the city from the tower and visitors are encouraged to ring the renowned Shandon Bells.

5. Crawford Art Gallery: Appreciate the Visual Masterpieces

Featuring a collection of 2,500 works, Crawford Art Gallery is a highly regarded historic and contemporary visual arts institution. The gallery is based in the former Cork Customs House, which was built in 1724 and displays 18th century Irish and European painting and sculpture as well as current video installations. There is also a superb collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts that were donated by the Vatican in 1818.

Top activities & attractions in Cork

Where to Eat in Cork

Clancy's Bar and Restaurant offers traditional Irish pub fare from around EUR10.00. Scoozis is very popular and offers grill-type food from around EUR15.00 for a main course, while the Ivory Tower is an upscale restaurant offering a modern take on Irish food, with a EUR45.00 tasting menu.

When to visit Cork

Cork in April
Estimated hotel price
$87
1 night at 3-star hotel
Cork in April
Estimated hotel price
$87
1 night at 3-star hotel

The peak tourist season in Cork is undoubtedly summer. This is when rainfall is lowest and warm daytime temperatures head towards 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The Midsummer Festival runs from mid-June to mid-July, with lots of theater, music, and art, adding to the enjoyment of visiting the city at this time. Visitors also come for the Cork Film Festival at the beginning of November and the Cork Jazz Festival on the last weekend of October.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Cork

Plane

Cork Airport (ORK) lies five miles to the south of the city center. It has good connections to UK airports and some international destinations across Europe. The 226 bus service connects the airport with the city center, leaving every 30 minutes. The 20-minute journey to Cork City Bus Station costs EUR7.40. Taxis are also available outside the arrivals hall and will charge EUR15-20 to take you into the city center.

Train

The main rail station in Cork is Kent Station on Lower Glanmire Road. It has direct services to Cobh, Dublin, Midleton, Mallow, and Tralee, with connecting services to other cities and towns. There are frequent daily services to Dublin but do try to book online three days or more in advance. This means a ticket will cost EUR19.99 or less, whereas paying on the day at the station could cost you EUR77.00.

Car

The main route to Dublin is the M7/M8 motorway, which should take around 2 hours 30 minutes for the journey. The N20 is the main route to Limerick and takes 1 hour 45 minutes.

Bus

Bus services in Ireland are operated by Bus Éireann. They operate services to Dublin, Waterford, Limerick, Shannon, and Galway. GoBus offers express services between Dublin and Cork, with single fares from EUR14.00.

Airports near Cork

ORKCork

Airlines serving Cork

Lufthansa
Good (1,376 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (2,464 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,901 reviews)
KLM
Good (292 reviews)
Air France
Good (298 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,656 reviews)
British Airways
Good (938 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (357 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (640 reviews)
Ryanair
Good (1,167 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (201 reviews)
Vueling
Good (263 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,136 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (303 reviews)
Edelweiss Air
Good (7 reviews)
Neos Air
Excellent (5 reviews)
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Where to stay in Cork

Cork is relatively compact and walkable, with most accommodation in or near the city center. Kinlay House is a good budget option, operating an environmentally conscious hostel on the north side of the city center. The Imperial Hotel has a good central location and comfortable rooms, while Hayfield Manor is a splendid 5-star hotel.

Popular neighborhoods in Cork

Barrack Street - this is where to go to experience Cork's buzzing nightlife. It is famous in the city for its number and variety of bars and clubs such as the Bierhaus, which has the largest selection of beers in the city. In this district, expect lots of live music - and a fair amount of noise too.

Shandon - Shandon is a quieter district of Cork, just around a mile northeast of the city center. It sits on the north bank of the River Lee and is home to the Church of St. Anne, which is noted for its tuneful bells. This historic district is now a conservation area, with lots of interesting architecture.

Midleton - this area is just outside Cork and is home to the famous Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery (set to reopen in March 2017). There is also an excellent farmers market on Saturday mornings.

Where to stay in popular areas of Cork

Most booked hotels in Cork

Lis-Ardagh Lodge
Excellent (9.8, 370 reviews)
$87+
Cannaway House B&B
Excellent (9.3, 458 reviews)
$111+
The River Lee Hotel
Excellent (8.8, 1518 reviews)
$176+
Castlemartyr Resort
Excellent (8.7, 1448 reviews)
$292+
Ballynona House
Excellent (8.5, 350 reviews)
$44+
Robin Hill House
Excellent (8.4, 380 reviews)
$105+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Cork

Public Transportation

There is a good bus service connecting the center of Cork to the surrounding suburbs. Most services operate from St. Patrick's Street and the South Mall. Fares cost from EUR2.10 for a single journey

Taxi

There are lots of taxi ranks across the city. If hailing a taxi, look for the green and blue stickers on the front doors and light on the roof. If the light is on, the taxi is available. The starting fare is EUR4.00 and then around EUR1.80 per mile.

Car

City center streets in Cork can be narrow, busy, and steeply sloped, so driving can be a bit of a challenge. Some city center streets are pedestrianized and there is a one-way system to add to the complexity. If you are confident with this sort of environment, car rental is widely available from companies like Enterprise and Budget, with rates from around EUR22.00 per day.

The Cost of Living in Cork

Shopping Streets

Opera Lane is one of the city's main shopping streets, featuring big brand fashion stores. Smaller boutiques are to be found in the side streets, selling jewelry, and souvenirs, while the English Market is the place to go for upscale food.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk in Cork will cost around EUR1.22, while a dozen large eggs will cost EUR4.14. Main supermarkets and convenience stores include Tesco, Iago, and Centra Stores and can be found throughout town.

Cheap meal
$12.79
A pair of jeans
$82.62
Single public transport ticket
$2.24
Cappuccino
$2.91
Other popular cities in Cork