Cork was elected Capital of Culture in 2005 , a title to which its inhabitants are closely linked. It is a lively city full of surprises, which all travelers agree with thanks to its great offer and the many things to see! It is also a very young city: many young people from all over Europe move here to build their future, or choose it as a destination for a study trip during high school or university.
So let’s find out together what are the 15 things to see in Cork , best attractions and things to do!
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15 Things to see in Cork

1 – English Market
Photo by Flickr user: WordRidden.
The first unmissable stop on a trip to Cork is the English Market, a characteristic covered food market housed in an elegant eighteenth-century building , right in the heart of the city. Get ready to take a journey within the journey!
This large market sells a lot of organic and local products . Colors, smells and flavors will make your visit unique and here you can both shop and taste typical specialties, such as fresh fish, cold cuts, cheeses and bread. Try the eggs in butter , a typical product of Cork!

Plan the visit: the market is obviously more crowded during lunchtime, between 11:30 and 15:00, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. If you want to visit it more calmly, we advise you to avoid these times and visit it perhaps in the morning.

  • How to get there: on Princes St in Cork city center. Easily accessible from Crawford Art Gallery (280m, 3 min) and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral (750m, 10 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 8: 00-18: 00
  • Ticket cost: free

2 – St. Patrick Street
Photo by JoachimKohlerBremen. St. Patrick Street is one of the most important streets in the historic center of Cork, where you can fully test the friendliness and helpfulness of the inhabitants of the Irish town. Eclectic architectural styles in homes and public buildings, trendy boutiques and clubs make this street one of the most important centers of daily life, revealing its most worldly face.
Cross the historic center halfway, then along it you can easily reach many attractions ! For example, the English Market is located just off St. Patrick Street. At the end of the street is St Patrick’s Bridge, one of the bridges in the city, perhaps the most famous and known, from which to admire the entire Cork riverside!

3 – St. Anne’s Church & Shandon Bells Tower
Photo by Sebastian “sebrem” B….
Photo by William Murphy. St. Anne’s Church & Shandon Bells Tower, an old 18th century church , is located in the interesting area of ​​Shandon, one of the 4 hubs of Cork city, along with University Walk, City Center Island and South Parish.
It is one of the most interesting religious symbols of this extraordinary location. Its peculiarity lies above all in the presence of the suggestive tower, called Shandon Bells: visiting it from the inside will not only give the opportunity to enjoy a splendid view of Cork, but also and above all to be able to ring its bells, original pieces dating back to 1700.

  • How to get there: on Church St, in the Shandon neighborhood. Easy walk to the Butter Museum (70m, 1 min) and St Patrick’s Bridge (550m, 7 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: from March to May and October Mon-Sat 10: 00-16: 00 Sun 11: 30-16: 30, from June to September Mon-Sat 10: 00-17: 00 Sun 11: 30-16: 30, November to February Mon-Sat 11: 00-15: 00 Sun 11: 30-15: 00
  • Ticket price: free church / full tower € 5.00, senior € 4.00, child € 2.00

4 – Cork City Gaol
Photo by Sheila1988. The Cork City Gaol was once a prison that mainly housed female prisoners: in fact, many Republican women were detained here during the war of independence. The prison was inaugurated in 1824 and remained in operation until 1923. It is an elegant exterior structure , which did not resemble a prison, with an architectural style that combines Gothic and classical.
Today the former Cork prison has been restored and reinvented as a museum , where you can learn about the living conditions of the inmates who once occupied its austere cells. But not only that, it is also used for events and as a location for weddings!

  • How to get there: in Convent Ave, Sunday’s Well. From Saint Patrick’s Street walkable (2.2km, 28 min) or by bus to Castlewhite Apts (20 min) – Get Directions
  • Hours: every day 10: 00-16: 00
  • Ticket price: full € 10.00, senior € 8.50, child € 6.00

5 – St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
Photo of Charlie cravero. St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is an impressive neo-Gothic religious building erected in 1865. It is dedicated to Saint Finbar, patron saint of Cork. Over the years the cathedral has undergone several renovations and extensions , up to the appearance of today.
The exterior of the monument immediately captures, with its tall tower. Inside the cathedral, on the other hand, there are marvelous treasures : starting with the stained glass windows, the ornate organ and the heads carved in stone from the 12th century. It is also full of sumptuous mosaics!

Curiosity: according to a legend, when the angel on the east side of the Cathedral blows his horn, it means that he is announcing the Apocalypse!

Organize the visit : visits are not allowed during the celebration of Holy Mass on Sunday morning and during religious holidays, so insert the Cathedral in the itinerary of another day or at most Sunday afternoon.

  • How to get there: on Bishop St, The Lough. Easy walking distance from the Old Town (550m, 7min) and Elizabeth Fort (270m, 4min) – Get Directions
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 9:30 a.m.-5: 30 p.m., Sun 1 p.m.-5: 30 p.m.
  • Ticket price: full € 6.00, reduced € 5.00

6 – Blarney
Castle Blarney Castle looks like something out of a medieval fairy tale and is one of the attractions most besieged by tourists from all over the world. It is located in the town of the same name, in County Cork, less than 10 km from the historic center.

Castle of medieval origin and once a baronial residence , it was built in 1446 at the behest of Dermot Mc Carthy, lord of Munster. Its wonderful gardens , full of plants and flowers, are also worth visiting . The best season to visit this area is definitely spring, when nature awakens after winter!

But the real attraction of this place is the Blarney Stone, which according to legend, if you kiss it, it gives eloquence. In summer the queues of tourists are really long, wanting to kiss the stone upside down.

Visit it early in the morning : if you visit the castle in the summer, we recommend that you go early in the morning when it opens! In fact, here the lines can become very long, especially as regards the famous stone. We advise you to opt for the guided excursion, which includes transport to / r and stop in the city of Cobh, where the Titanic departs! Info and costs here.

  • How to get there: in Monacnapa, Blarney, County Cork. Accessible by car from Cork city center (8.7 km, 15 min), on-site Blarney Castle Car Parking (per vehicle € 2.00). By transport, bus line 215 from Cork City Library in Cork city center to Blarney Church (25 mins) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day, January, February and May 9: 00-17: 00, March and April 9: 00-18: 00, from June to December 9: 00-17: 30
  • Ticket price: full € 16.00, reduced € 7.00

7 – Fitzgerald Park and Cork Public Museum
Photo by Sebastian “sebrem” B….
Photo by Charlesolivercork. If between visits to Cork you want to relax a bit and immerse yourself in the greenery , away from traffic, Fitzgerald Park is the right choice! This public park, crossed by the River Lee, is named after Edward Fitzgerald, the Lord Mayor of the city who organized the Cork International Exhibition in 1902.
It is also an ideal attraction for children , as inside it there ‘and a large equipped play area! Also not to be missed is Daly’s Bridge , called by the locals Shakey Bridge, which crosses the river.
Finally, inside the park you can also find the Cork Public Museum,the local history museum , where you can learn more about the history of the city through the years! There are also numerous events organized here, such as workshops and workshops, even for children.

  • How to get there: in Mardyke, on the River Lee. Reachable on foot from the historic center (2 km, 25 min). By transport, bus line 220 from Cork City Library to Castlewhite Apts (15 min) or line 208 from Princes Street to Castlewhite Apts (16 min) – Get Directions
  • Hours: park every day, from November to February 8: 30-17: 00, October and March 8: 30-18: 00, April and September 8: 30-20: 00, May and August 8: 30-21: 00, June and July 8: 30-22: 00 / Cork Public Museum Mon 12: 00-16: 00, Tue-Fri 10: 00-16: 00
  • Ticket price: park and museum free

8 – Crawford Art Gallery
Photo by CelticMist. The Crawford Art Gallery, located in the historic center and easily reachable on foot, and a vast collection of works of art of various kinds , from sculptures to casts, up to evocative video installations, belonging to different eras. It is a real institution, visited by over 200,000 visitors every year.
The highlight of the collection is an impressive display of high-quality artistic pieces , around 2,500, but it is constantly growing with the incessant arrival of new finds. In addition, at the permanent exhibitions you will find several temporary exhibitions on different themes.

  • How to get there: on Emmett Pl, in the center of Cork. Easy walk to The English Market (280m, 3 min) and St Patrick’s Bridge (300m, 4 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 10 am-5pm, Thu until 8pm
  • Ticket cost: free

9 – Shandon neighborhood
Photo by psyberartist. Shandon is the district that develops north of the historic center, with characteristic colored houses and with a continuous ups and downs of streets , given its location on a hill. It is mainly a very quiet residential area which was once the working class district of Cork.

The neighborhood has a very picturesque atmosphere , and full of typical cafes and bars, where you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time! Here you will find several attractions such as the aforementioned Shandon Bells & Tower St Anne’s Church, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Mary & St. Anne and the Butter Museum.
Easily accessible on foot from the historic center via St Patrick’s Bridge (from here to Shandon Bells & Tower St Anne’s Church 550m, 7 min). Area served by numerous bus lines – Get directions

Residential neighborhood : Shandon is a quiet neighborhood, the best choice to stay if you are traveling with your family or are simply looking for tranquility and relaxation, away from the crowded center. It has all the services you will need and you can easily walk to the center.

10 – Blackrock Castle Observatory
Photo by Charlesolivercork.
Photo by Raul Corral. Postcard scenarios and a dream location for young and old. Culture and knowledge couldn’t have a more interesting home than Blackrock Castle, built in 1828 and recently restored and converted into an observatory by the Cork County Council, which owns it. To admire it in all its beauty, we recommend taking the nearby Lough Mahon Public Walk!

An ideal place for families , this attraction overlooks the banks of the River Lee and hosts various events throughout the year. It is possible to visit it inside and the main exhibition is titled Cosmos at the Castle, where it is possible to know all the secrets of the universe!

Visit with children: the castle has an eye for children! In fact, the “Kids at the castle” days are organized, with different events depending on the season. All the info on the official website.

  • How to get there: on Castle Road, Blackrock. Accessible by car from Cork city center (6km, 15 mins), on site Blackrock Castle Car Park (free). By transport, bus line 202 from Merchants Quay in Cork city center to Holy Cross Mahon (40 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 10: 00-17: 00, Sat-Sun and holidays 11: 00-17: 00
  • Ticket price: full € 6.50, reduced € 4.50

11 – Elizabeth Fort
Photo by Vimalkvn. Elizabeth Fort is a fortress located a stone’s throw from Cork’s city center , so easily accessible on foot! It dates back to the 17th century and was originally built with a defensive purpose , outside what at that time were the defensive walls of the city, in the southern part.
Used over the centuries, even during the 1920/1921 Irish War of Independence, the fortress has survived almost completely intact to the present day and is now partially open to the public ! Access is free and from its walls you can admire a beautiful view of the historic center and the whole city! Visit really recommended, especially on nice days.

One of the most beautiful views of the city : the visit is absolutely recommended as from here you can admire one of the most beautiful views of the whole city and entry is completely free.

  • How to get there: Barrack Street, The Lough. Easy walk to Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral (270m, 4 min) and The English Market (650m, 8 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: from October to April Tue-Sat 10 am-5pm, Sun 12 pm-5pm, May to September every day, Mon-Sat 10 am-5pm, Sun 12pm- 17:00
  • Ticket cost: free

12 – Cork Butter Museum
Photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen. In the Shandon district you can visit a truly unique museum of its kind, the Cork Butter Museum, or the museum of salted butter , one of the specialties of the city to be tasted absolutely! Butter has always been an important source of income for Ireland and its production follows precise steps, all to be discovered!
The museum focuses on the trade of butter, from its production to sale to consumption . You can learn all about its history, retracing the central role of dairies, showing the importance that the Butter Exchange of Cork had in the nineteenth century, up to the success of the more modern Kerrygold brand.

Visit with children: the Butter Museum is an attraction that even children will love, where they can diversify themselves by discovering all the steps of this food we eat every day.

  • How to get there: in O’Connell Square, Shandon district. Easy walking distance from the old town (450m, 6 min) and Shandon Bells & Tower St Anne’s Church (70m, 1 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: from March to October every day 10: 00-17: 00, from November to February only at weekends 11: 00-15: 00
  • Ticket price: full € 4.00, reduced € 1.50

13 – University of Cork
Cork is an important university city , thanks to the presence of Cork University! Chosen by many European university students both to regularly attend classes and to participate in an Erasmus exchange, it was founded in 1849 by Queen Victoria, during a visit to the city. The university has received many awards over the years , such as the Irish University of the Year from the Sunday Times five times, most recently in 2017!
You will be pleased to know that the University is open to the public and can be visited, obviously without interfering with the activities of teachers and students! One of the must-sees is Honan Chapel, which was built by James Macmullan in 1915 and attracts visitors for its stunning stained glass windows representing Irish saints. For the visit, you can find all the info on the official website.

  • How to get there: on Gaol Walk, University College. Easily accessible on foot from Fitzgerald Park (800 m, 11 min) or Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral (1.1 km, 14 min). UCC College Rd Gate (Line 205) Reference Bus Stop – Get Directions
  • Hours: Visitors’ Center Mon-Fri 10: 00-17: 00, Sat 12: 00-17: 00. Consult official website
  • Ticket cost: free

14 – Cobh While
staying in Cork, you absolutely cannot miss a visit to Cobh, at least half a day. The city is an important port area overlooking the River Lee and has become famous mainly for one reason: it was the last landing point of the ill-fated Titanic .

The whole town deserves an in-depth visit , as it is full of attractions, many of which are dedicated to the tragically shipwrecked ancient translatant in 1912. In this regard, if you are interested in its history, we recommend that you take the Titanic path with a guided walking tour. !
In addition to the attractions related to the history of the Titanic, we recommend that you visit St. Colman’s Cathedral, an imposing cathedral of Catholic worship consecrated in 1919, and to stroll through the historic center, characterized by beautiful colored houses.

Plan your visit : Easily accessible from Cork (24 min by train or guided excursion), we recommend that you dedicate at least half a day, although a full day would be ideal. If you have limited time, we recommend a one hour guided walking tour to get to know the city as much as possible.

  • How to get there: on the River Lee, 25km drive from Cork (25 min). By public transport, direct train Cork Kent-Cobh line 11 (25 min, each way € 5.05) – Get directions
  • Hours: Always accessible / St Colman’s Cathedral daily 8: 00-18: 00 / Titanic Experience Cobh Museum April to September 9: 00-18: 00, October to March 10: 00-17: 30
  • Ticket price: city free / Cathedral free / Titanic Experience Cobh Museum full € 10.00, reduced € 7.00

15 – Fota Island and Fota Wildlife Park

If you are traveling with children , you cannot miss a day on Fota Island, a small island located in Cork Harbor, which is the port of the city, north of the coasts of Cobh Island. This area is famous for its charming ornamental gardens , the Fota House & Gardens, with numerous plants, paths to stroll and relax and a beautiful Cafe surrounded by greenery.
In addition, on the island you will also find the Fota Wildlife Park, which is the zoo of the city of Cork . This area extends for 28 hectares and is home to various animals, some even endangered. The aim of the zoo is to raise awareness of the animal and plant world, carrying out conservation projects, especially of endangered species, collaborating with various international entities.

Visit with children : the Fota zoo organizes several Fun Family Days Out, or days dedicated to the family, with even discounted tickets (Family Ticket). You can find all the info on the official website.

  • How to get there: in Cork Harbor, east of the old town. Accessible by car from Cork city center (18 km, 20 min). By transport, direct train Cork Kent-Fota line 11 (13 min, each way) – Get directions
  • Hours: Island always accessible / Fota House & Gardens every day 9: 30-17: 30, the various attractions inside have different hours, see the official website / Fota Wildlife Park every day 9: 30-18: 00
  • Ticket price: free island / Fota House & Gardens free / Fota Wildlife Park full € 16.50, reduced € 11.50

Other attractions, activities to do and excursions in the surrounding area
Among other things to see there are numerous museums , such as The Glucksman Art Museum (free offer), the Collins Barracks Military Museum (free) or the Cultural Heritage museum Nano Nagle Place (€ 5.00). Also worth mentioning are the remains of historic fortresses and buildings, such as the Red Abbey Tower and the Berwick Fountain, and of course all the beautiful bridges that connect the historic center with the other districts.
If you are looking for special experiences, consider visiting the historic Franciscan Well Brewery , or discover the world of whiskey and its preparation in the Jameson Whiskey Experience distillery (Info and prices here).
Cork is a crucial hub for visiting the Atlantic Coastway, so you can reach the Dingle Peninsula on guided hikes. Also from Cork there are several guided tours to discover the Cliffs of Moher , the most famous natural attraction in Ireland. For sports enthusiasts, we recommend a kayak excursion on the River Lee .
Other attractions that can be visited in the surrounding area are the port village of Kinsale, (approximately 30 km away) and Cahir Castle and the Rock of Cashel (less than 80 km away).

What to see in one day
The one-day itinerary winds through the historic center and focuses on St Patrick’s Street and the South Parish Walk, two walks that allow you to enjoy the main historical beauties of the city. Unfortunately, there won’t be time to visit museums and galleries, but you can still enjoy Cork’s old charm enough. Below is the list of recommended stops:

  • 9:30 – St Patrick’s Street
  • 10:00 – South Parish Walk, Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Elizabeth Fort
  • 12:30: The English Market
  • 15:00 – Shandon district
  • 16:00 – St. Anne’s Church & Shandon Bells Tower
  • 18:00 – Historic center

What to see in three days
Three days is enough time to enjoy the best of the city. Lose yourself in the many alleys of the sixteenth century, stroll through the elegant avenues full of boutiques and cafes and admire the wonderful views from the top of this wonderful city. Let’s find out the Cork itinerary in 3 days:

  • Giorno 1: Crawford Art Galllery, English Market, Triskel Arts Centre, Elizabeth Fort
  • Day 2 : City Gaol, Fitzgeralds Park, Museum of Butter, Church of Sant’Anna
  • Day 3 : Blarney Castle and Gardens, Opera Lane, The Crane Lane Theater

Plan your stay in Cork: flights and hotels

  • How to get there: in Cork there is the second airport of Ireland, but direct flights are not very frequent, and generally depart from Milan, Verona and Naples. The flight takes about 3 hours and, if booked in time, costs around € 60.00 (compare flights).
  • Where to sleep: better to stay in the center to move more easily on foot (compare the accommodations on Booking). A good alternative for families is the Shandon district, while if you are looking for nightlife, go near the university.
  • How to get around : in the city you can do it on foot or by bus (single ticket € 2.30, day ticket € 5.60); if you intend to take a tour of the Atlantic coast or perhaps visit other attractions such as the Cliffs of Moher, hiring a car is highly recommended.
  • When to go : From June to September, temperatures are more enjoyable and suitable for outdoor activities. It is also recommended to visit it on the occasion of traditional festivals and events such as St. Patrick’s or Halloween.
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