Cork was definitely one of my favourite places in Ireland.
The county is vast and varied with beautiful castles, beaches and more and the city is a student city filled with amazing sites, great bars, good food and a generally great atmosphere.
So, if you’re wondering what to do in Cork, then look no further.
Below I take you through my 25 favourite things to do in county Cork!
1. Titanic Experience In Cobh
Cobh is a little port town in Co Cork and it’s brilliant.
It’s a great place to visit if you just fancy watching the ships pass by with an Ice Cream but the more significant point of the area is that it’s home to the Titanic Ticket office (the official one) and it was the last place the Titanic stopped to pick up passengers before tragedy struck.
I love the history of Titanic so this was super exciting for me and it really was a brilliant experience.
You get to learn all about the backgrounds of the people who boarded the ship that day and find out what it was like on the ship.
There are some really interesting stories too, but I won’t spoil it for you, you should go yourself.
The tour takes 1 hour and it’s 10 euro per person (Student discount available). Y
ou can pre book online or just turn up, but it does get super busy during the summer months, so I suggest you book online!
2. Lunch In Cobh Town
As I mentioned before, Cobh in Cork is a lovely town and we visited there was live music in the streets and lots of bars and restaurants serving great food all with a side of Guinness and Irish traditional music, what more could you want!
There is also a pretty cool church to visit that gives you views from the town above and out to sea.
Fun fact: most of the bars and cafes accept dollars because a lot of American cruise ships stop here.
3. Check Out Charles Fort At Kinsale
Kinsale town is a lovely little town in Co Cork with stunning views and some great forts.
We checked out Charles Fort and whilst we caught a very misty day which meant we couldn’t even see the small boats in the water, we could imagine it’s awesome on a clear day.
Either way, it was a great place to have our lunch!
There is also another called James Fort but it’s much smaller and we didn’t check that out.
Tour option: From Cork you can visit Kinsale and the Charles Fort with this great value tour.
4. Visit Blarney Castle And Kiss The Blarney Stone
Ah, the Blarney stone.
This is probably one of the most touristy things to do in Ireland.
But you have to do it!
Blarney Castle is quite beautiful and the actual surroundings are even more beautiful.
There are a variety of gardens to explore and a brilliant lake walk.
It’s quite a pricey castle compared to other entrance fees at 18 euro, but I do believe it is worth it.
The queue for kissing the Blarney stone can get super super long, with a wait of up to one hour and the stairways up the castle to the stone are quite narrow and claustrophobic.
So I suggest you visit when it first opens (9am) and you head to the stone first, where there will be very little, if no queue at all.
Either way, pack a picnic and you could easily spend a few hours here.
Without Doubt one of the best and most iconic things to do in Cork.
Combined tour: If you’re visiting Cork City and would like to visit Cobh and Blarney Castle, then this combined tour has it sorted for you at a great price!
5. Explore The English Market In Cork City
I love markets, I really do and when I read that there was an English market in Cork city I got super excited.
It’s cute, quaint and filled with fresh local produce.
There are a couple of bars and restaurants in there too so you can get some interesting food or even buy unique souvenirs.
Bradley and I picked up some food for our BBQ and it was the cheapest meat we bought the entire trip.
There is no entrance fee into the market, but I can’t guarantee you won’t want to buy something!
This was one of my favourite things to do in Cork City.
6. Finn Bares Cathedral
Bradley and I have seen a lot of Cathedrals over the years and this is another beautiful one.
When we visited Cork city it was actually quite a dreary and wet day, but this cathedral stood tall in the rain and was quite beautiful.
We didn’t go inside as we ran out of time but you can!
7. Spike Island Day Trip
This is something you can do whilst you are visiting Cobh in Cork. Interestingly enough, this island was used as a prison for petty crimes up until 2004, so you can take a day trip over and explore the remains of the prison and learn about its history.
Boats leave hourly from 10 am to 2 pm and you’ll probably need 2-3 hours on the island.
This is one of the really cool activities in Cork to participate in!
8. Shandon Bells And Tower
This Bell Tower offers you beautiful views of Cork City and on a clear day, I imagine it’s quite beautiful.
However, the mist was crazy when we were there and we couldn’t see much on ground level, never mind from a viewpoint, so we didn’t go up.
The bell tower has some great bell songs coming from it which is fun, and it’s 5 euro to climb to the top, but I would only do it if there was a view.
9. Elizabeth Fort
The Elizabeth fort is again in Cork city and it’s quite close to the cathedral so you can stop on your way.
You can climb the fort for views, but again, do it on a clear day!
You cannot visit the insides or up close of CastleFreke as it’s now privately owned.
However we drove up towards it and there are a number of walking trails you can take which will give you a pretty nice view of the castle.
If you’re driving around Ireland in your own vehicle, then I think this is a great place to stop.
Put this on your list of places to see in Cork.
You can surf here too!
This is a small island off West cork which is home to beautiful beaches.
If you’re looking for a relaxing and luxurious experience, then stay at the fabulous hotel that’s on offer here.
Otherwise, pick a nice summery day (yes, they’re rare) in Ireland and relax at the beach!
12. Mizen Head
This is Ireland’s most south westerly point and it’s home to some stunning views and worth a visit.
Some people have suggested the views here are even better than the Cliffs of Moher, but I’ll leave that up to you to compare!
The signal station is open 10 am to 6pm through June, July and August and it’s 7.50 for adults with discounted rates for students, seniors and children
13. Visit Castletownbere (Bere Island)
So by now I’ve mentioned that there are a lot of cute towns in Cork, well this is another one.
Bradley and I stumbled across this place when we were looking for somewhere to stay for the night in our Spaceships Campervan.
It’s a lovely little town and we enjoyed some food and drinks with live music in one of the pubs.
I think it’s worth an overnight stay if you’re that way and you can take a day trip to the nearby Bere island which you can see from the pier!
14. Visit Allihies
The Allihies is located on the Ring Of Beara and it’s actually a little coastal town with amazing coastal views.
There is some great shops, restaurants and viewing points available and it’s a popular place to stop overnight if you’re road tripping Ireland with your own campervan.
15. Party In Cork City
Cork is a student city which means there are lots of chances to have a drink and party.
There really is something on offer for every type of vibe.
So whether you want Irish traditional music, or jazz music, or listen to the latest hits in a nightclub, Cork has it all!
If Cork is the only city you will be visiting on your Ireland trip, then you need to try a night out.
Definitely ensure it’s on your list of things to do in Cork.
16. Dursey Island Cable Car
Bradley and I actually came across this whilst driving through the stunning Ring of Beara (more on that later)
You can take a cable car (Europe’s only over water cable car) to the island of Dursey Island.
Whilst there you can walk around, grab a bite to eat or even have an Irish coffee.
This is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Cork and I think it’s brilliant.
17. Drive The Ring Of Beara
You’ve probably heard of the Ring of Kerry, but not a lot of people make a point of driving the ring of Beara.
Well, I can tell you, it’s absolutely stunning, unique with small roads, sketchy with it’s large cliff drops, but altogether beautiful!
You should 100% rent a car, or your own campervan and drive around the Ring Of Beara, and perhaps even camp overnight if you have time.
It’s one of the most scenic drives in all of Ireland and it was one of my favourites.
Probably the best thing to do in West Cork!
18. Visit The BlackRock Castle Observatory
We didn’t visit this spot when we went to Cork City, but I wanted to include it because it was actually on my list of things to do in Cork.
It seems really cool and I’m a bit of star geek and you get to learn about different stars etc.
I think this is a great activity to do with kids if you’re visiting Cork city.
19. Visit The History Of Cork City Gaol
Last but not least, this was also on my radar and I think it’s worth mentioning.
The Cork City Gaol is supposed to be excellent and gives you lots of insight into Irish history.
So if you’re a history buff or you just want to learn something new, this pop this on your Cork itinerary.
You should head to Fitzgerald Park afterwards for a picnic if it’s a nice day.
20. Explore The Cork Public Museum
Located in the heart of Fitzgerald Park, you’ll find the former “Shrubbery House” that has been turned to the iconic Cork Public Museum. It’s a great place to learn some of Cork’s history, as well as see impressive silver and ceramics collections.
The museum itself consists of two buildings, a 19th century house and newer extension. The older structure was home to a well-known brewing family and later bought by the local government.
A 1902 exhibition here was attended by Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. It was also used as an air-raid shelter during World War II. Quiet an extraordinary history here, if I must say!
In the nearby gardens, there are plenty of cafes and sculptures you can explore. Not to mention a skatepark and beautiful pond too.
Opening Times: 12-4pm (Mon), 10am-4pm (Tue to Fri)
21. Walk Along St. Patrick’s Street
Known as the city’s main shopping street, a walk down St. Patrick’s Street is a must even for those who don’t enjoy shopping. It’s fondly referred to as “Pana” by locals and runs along the River Lee in an arched line.
The street was first established in the 18th century, but it’s the 2014 refurbishment that gives it its two awards as the country’s best shopping street. It’s only a few minutes from The English Market, so it might be worth stopping by.
You can find famous brands and stores like Brown Thomas, Marks & Spencer, Pandora and Holland & Barrett. There’s also a monument of Father Theobald Mathew that is 157 years old.
It’s definitely a bustling street, especially when the weather is nice, so you can watch lots of locals hanging around the area.
22. Experience The Charming Gougane Barra
Tourists flock to Gougane Barra for its magical and mystical allure. This charming settlement is only an hour away from Cork, but you will feel transported to a wholly serene and secluded world.
Here, the massive lake and valley are surrounded by towering mountains that measure up to 370 meters high. There’s also a small church that stands near the site of St. Finbarr’s monastery, which was built in the 6th century.
It is also home to a 138-hectare forest park with 20 tree species, from Japanese larch to Scots pine. You can find a 5km motor trail and 10km hill walks here, which winds around various nature points.
23. See The Crawford Art Gallery
Do you appreciate art and enjoy spending time in galleries? The Crawford Art Gallery boasts a huge collection of paintings, sculpture, stained glass, and crafts. And by huge, I mean over 3,000 pieces!
These artworks range from 18th century Irish paintings to modern video installations. But the main highlight has to be the Green and Roman sculpture casts from 1818.
Moreover, there’s a lot of drop-in events that include creative presentations and experiences. Don’t forget to stop for coffee in the Crawford Gallery Cafe.
Opening Times: 10am-5pm (Mon to Sat), 11am-4pm (Sun)
24. Trace The Sheep’s Head Way
If you need a break away from the masses, I’d recommend walking the Sheep’s Head Way. This walking route is part of the 2,500 km Wild Atlantic Way along Ireland’s west coast, and traces the Sheep’s Head peninsula.
Choose from a range of walking, cycling and driving routes which you can see on the official website. The main route begins in Bantry, West Cork and is over 93 km long, which is roughly 6 days’ worth of walking.
If you’re starting from Bantry, try hiking up the peninsula where you can spot the famous Sheep’s Head lighthouse. The landscape from here is also quite captivating as you watch over the entire Bantry Bay and Dunmanus Bay.
25. Visit The Fota Wildlife Park
Drive around 25 minutes towards the east of Cork City and you’ll find yourself on the 100-acre grandiose of Fota Wildlife Park. As Ireland’s second largest tourist attraction, this wildlife park gets more than 440,000 visitors every year!
This is the perfect place to watch animals wander freely in their natural habitat, and even interact with them. Sometimes, people would enjoy a nice picnic and get visited by ring-tailed lemurs.
You’re not allowed to drive through the park, which is definitely good for the animals, but does mean that you should prepare for quite a long walk. Personally, I’d recommend arranging half a day to explore Fota.
The Park’s most recent investment involves developing 27 acres that would house mostly Asian flora and fauna.
Price: €16.90 (Adults), €11.50 (Children), with other offers available.
Opening Times: 10am-4:30pm
Planning What To Do In Cork (Ireland): All Common Questions Answered
When Is The Best Time To Visit Cork?
Cork is fun all year around, but if you want a chance at good weather and to ensure all the best attractions are open and drivable, then visit in May, June, July, August or September!
Peak season is July, August, so if you want to avoid crowds, then head outside these months.
We still get decent weather in June and September in Ireland if you’re lucky!
Getting Around Cork
The best way to get around Co Cork is via your own vehicle. Bradley and I used our SpaceShips Campervan and it was amazing having our own transport so we could create our own schedule.
Also we got to camp in some amazing spots with some amazing views thanks to the convenience of our campervan.
After you consider the expensive price of accommodation in Cork, you’ll see how great value having your own campervan is.
However, if driving isn’t your thing, you’re other option is to base yourself in Cork city and take tours to the best destinations.
I’ve included suggestions above but we always use Get Your Guide for tours as they seem to be the best value.
Whilst a tour can be limited with where you go, they are great value in Ireland you get a lot for your money!
How Long Do I Need In Cork?
You could easily rush your way around all these spots in about 3-4 days, but if you have a little extra time, then I’d stretch it to a week to really experience everything that county Cork has to offer!
Where Is The Best Places To Stay In Cork?
If you don’t have the convenience of your own campervan in which you can wild camp or try one of the great Ireland camping sites dotted around Cork, then you should probably base yourself in Cork City and day trip from there.
Or, if you rent a car, you could stay in each of the little towns I’ve mentioned including Cobh which is definitely worth a visit.
Source by: dreambigtravelfarblog.com