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20 Essential things to see and do in Cork

Cork and its county are one of the essential places to see in Ireland. County Cork has a very special charm, with incredible landscapes, picturesque towns... If you are thinking of traveling to Ireland, the ideal is to add 1 day to get to know the city of Cork and a couple more days to get to know its surroundings.

Cork is the second largest city in Ireland and has quite a few interesting places to visit. In this post I talk about the 20 essential things to see and do in Cork, including not only places in the city, but also in the county.


1. Visit Saint Finbar's Cathedral

It is the most outstanding building to see in Cork. It is a Neo-Gothic Cathedral built between 1865 and 1870. As a curiosity, at the beginning, the stipulated budget for this cathedral was 15,000 pounds. However, once the works were completed, the budget had already skyrocketed to 100,000 pounds.

2. Stroll down St. Patrick's Street, Cork's most atmospheric area

This street was built in the 18th century by the wealthiest merchants in the city. Its objective was to expand the limits of the city and the commercial area. St. Patrick's Street is also popularly known as "Pana". In fact, it is one of the busiest meeting points for locals.

Both this street and the adjoining streets are full of shops, cafes, small restaurants... It is an area with a lot of atmosphere. In 2004, the street was redesigned, and since then it has won the award for the best shopping street in Ireland several times.

3. Take a guided tour of Cork

If you want to know the most essential places to see in the center of Cork, this guided tour is very interesting. For an hour and a half, accompanied by a guide, you will visit the St. Patrick's Bridge, the Huguenot neighborhood, the English market, the Saint Fin Barre Cathedral... It is a guided tour in English.

4. Don't miss the English market

The English Market is one of the oldest municipal markets in the world and is a must-see in Cork. It began operating in 1788 and is still active today. They have stands for fresh products, freshly weighed seafood, artisanal products, handicrafts, souvenirs...

5. Visit the Cork City Gaol

The Cork City Gaol is a prison that has been in operation for almost a century; from 1824 to 1923. At first it was a mixed prison for county criminals. Later, from 1878 to 1920, it became a prison for women exclusively.

Once the prison was closed, it was left in oblivion and it deteriorated a lot. Since 1993 it has been reformed and opened as a tourist attraction. The entrance costs 10 euros and it is a curious and different thing to do in Cork.

6. Fitzgerald Park, the best place to enjoy a picnic

In general, Cork is a very quiet city. But if you want to disconnect, walk and have a picnic, the best option is Fitzgerald Park. It is a park located on the outskirts of the city on the banks of the River Lee. There are grassy areas, areas with trees, paths, children's play areas...

7. Stroll through the port of Cobh

One of the most charming areas of the city is the port of Cobh from where you can see the houses with colorful facades with the towering neo-Gothic cathedral behind. The history of the port is linked to the emigration of the Irish to America. From this port, more than 6 million Irish departed for a better life between the middle of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th century.

Now the port is a pleasant walking area, as well as being one of the stops for cruise ships sailing through the British Isles.

8. Titanic Experience in Cobh

The port of Cobh was the last port of call for the Titanic during her maiden voyage and before her sinking. The pier from which the passengers left for the ship and the building that was the headquarters of a shipping company are still preserved. In this building there is now a museum “Titanic Experience”. In it, you will learn about the history of the scale of the Titanic, see some models...

The ticket price is 10 euros per person and discounts are applied to children, families, seniors...

9. Shandon Bells and St. Anne's Church

Near the old Cork jail, on the same bank of the river, is the church of Santa Ana. This church dates from the year 1722 and as a curious fact the church still uses the same original campaigns of the 18th century. Go up to the bell tower to enjoy incredible views. Access costs 5 euros.

10. Meet Spike Island

If you have a couple of days to get to know Cork, you cannot miss Spike Island. It is known as the Irish Gannet.

During the 6th century there was a monastery, later the island was fortified and used as a prison. Today it is possible to visit the prison, walk through its corridors and see its cells. You will be able to listen with an audio guide to the real stories of some of its prisoners, as well as a bit of the history of the prison. The boat trip and the guided tour cost about 20 euros.

11. Visit Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is on the outskirts of Cork city (about 10km away) and is one of the most beautiful castles to see in Ireland. It was built at the end of the 13th century and is currently in a half-destroyed state, although I think that fact adds a lot of charm to the place.

It is located in a privileged place, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Of the construction, only the Torre del Homenaje remains, some walls of common areas, some stairs...

The ticket price is 18 euros and discounts are applied to children, families and seniors. The hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in winter, and in summer they close at 7 p.m.

12. Don't forget to kiss the stone of eloquence

When you visit Blarney Castle you cannot leave without kissing the stone of eloquence. You must climb to the top of the tower to kiss the Blarney stone or the stone of destiny. This stone was used in the coronation of the Scottish kings during the Middle Ages.

13. Visit the Blackrock Castle Observatory

This beautiful fortification is located 2km from the city of Cork. It is a fairy tale castle.

It was built in the 16th century to protect the port and the city. Today, the castle houses an observatory where you can enjoy a cinema, an observatory and many interactive exhibits. The entrance costs 7 euros.

14. Visit Kinsale, a very lively place near Cork city

Kinsale is a nice and picturesque town to see if you visit Cork. It is a small fishing village that stands out for its multicolored facades. It's beautiful, don't miss it!

The town has a lot of small shops, cafes, restaurants... It is a perfect place to walk one morning and eat something in one of its terraces with sea views.

15. Visit Bantry House

To the southwest of Cork city, in the region known as West Cork, you will find the fishing village of Bantry, where you can visit Bantry House.

It is a beautiful stately mansion facing the sea and surrounded by beautiful gardens. The mansion was built in the year 1700 approx (since the exact date is unknown) and since 1750 it belongs to the White family, Dukes of Bantry.

Bantry House can be visited and during the tour you will pass through its exterior and interior gardens, through the stables and through some areas inside the mansion. It cannot be visited in its entirety, since it is a residence currently in use.

The ticket price is 11 euros for adults and they have discounts for children, families and seniors. You can visit the months of April, May, September and October, every day of the week, from 10am to 5pm.

16. Visit Craeford Art Gallery

In this gallery there is a very interesting and important permanent art collection. In it you can enjoy sculptures, paintings, engravings from various periods, objects... ranging from the mid-16th century to the present.

Among the most outstanding works in the collection are the casts of classical Greek and Roman statues by the genius Antonio Canova.

17. Take a trip to Garnish Island

This island is located quite close to the town of Bantry. From Bantry Bay you can take a small boat that will take you to Garnish Island in just 15 minutes. The boat trip is calm through the bay and you will be able to see a huge colony of seals with more than 250 individuals.

The Island is small and in reality it is a beautiful park, with ponds, gardens, different fountains... where you can walk and enjoy the tranquility that it transmits.

The ferries leave approximately every 30 minutes and the cost is 12 euros.

18. Go on a hike to Gougane Barra

The Gougane Barra area is one of the most beautiful to see in Cork at a landscape level and if you like nature you cannot miss it. It is located at 1:30h from Cork and you will need a rental car to get to know the area, since there are no organized excursions to visit it.

Park where you most catch your attention, contemplate and photograph the passages, do some hiking in the area and marvel at the number of sheep that are everywhere. They will even cut you off!

19. Visit the Charles Fort, one of the most incredible military fortresses to see in Ireland

This star-shaped military fortress has watched over Kinsale Harbor for over 300 years. It was built between 1677 and 1682 and is one of the largest military forts in the country. If you have time, come and meet her.

20. Take a tour of the Ring of Kerry

Another excursion that you can do from Cork, and this time if you have an organized option, is to visit the Ring of Kerry. This tour takes you to discover some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland; Killarney and its beautiful lake, Waterville, Sneem, the MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountains, Kerry Bog Village... In addition to beautiful landscapes, several towns and rural areas are visited during the tour.


I hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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