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What to do in Cork City : 10 things to do

The Rebel County is jam-packed with things to do and wonderful ways to while away the hours. Whether it’s a romantic weekend break you fancy, or a jolly holiday for the whole family; try Cork City or County. Cork City boasts a vibrant arts scene and a huge diversity of shops, eateries and more than its fair share of history.

A car from Cork city allows you to step away from the standard tourist offerings and enjoy a more candid look of the Irish countryside and coast. While most tourists are filing into and out of buses, queuing up for overpriced taxis and jockeying for position at major sightseeing attractions such as Blarney Castle, you’ll have the freedom to explore at off-peak hours and see the sites in relative solitude.

1. The English Market

The English Market in the heart of the city is a buzzing hive of activity, with everything for the foodies. A wide selection of produce from local artisans and far off lands ensures a feast for all the senses under one roof. With restaurants and cafes, stalls and shops, the English Market is a perfect destination for a rainy-day-out without ever getting wet!

The English Market
English Market, Cork. Image thanks to ©Tourism Ireland

2. Guinness Jazz Festival

Come to Cork in late October when music and rhythm take over the city. The beloved Guinness International Jazz Festival is anticipating its 35th anniversary in 2013, and has played host to such legendary performers as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, and Stephane Grappelli. What an illustrious list!

Jazz festival in Cork
Guinness Jazz Festival. Image thanks to ©Tourism Ireland

3. Cork International Film Festival

Cork’s own Opera House runs musical and theatrical productions all year round; but every autumn it is home to Cork International Film Festival. Movie connoisseurs are sure to delight in the Festival’s programme which has run annually since 1956. It has become an internationally renowned proving ground for young directors, especially in the category of short and documentary films.

4. Elizabeth Fort

Elizabeth Fort on the city’s southern side is a testament to an age of intrigue and gunpowder. Dating to the 17th century, this fortification has played many roles in the long history of the city, military prison, army barracks and police station. Seasonal craft fairs are now regularly held there.
University College Cork is as grand as its founder; Queen Victoria.

5. Lewis Glucksman Art Gallery

The Lewis Glucksman Art Gallery is situated on the U.C.C. campus and offers fine dining in the on-site restaurant.  With fine art, great food and elegant surroundings, U.C.C. is a haven of refinement.

6. Cobh

Cobh is only 25 minutes’ drive from Cork City, we find the picturesque town of Cobh. It’s a world apart from even a hint of big city life, with Cork’s maritime rich and historical heritage This seaside community boasts a staunch maritime tradition and was even visited by the Titanic before it set sail on its first and final voyage. Cobh’s museum dedicated to this iconic ship really brings its story to life.

Weekenders frequent the harbour to dine on fresh seafood, admire the period architecture and shop in local boutiques. A spread of lively pubs, nightclubs and live-music venues light up after dark.


English Market, Cork. Image thanks to ©Leo Byrne

7. Fota Wildlife Park/Zoo

For the nature-buff Fota Wildlife Park is a must-see, only 11 miles east of Cork City. Fota Wildlife Park is a natural habitat that holds the sort big game animals you would expect to see on safari in Africa. The facility features 40 acres of grassland hosting some 70 exotic species, including giraffes, zebras and even a few kangaroos. Endangered eagles, cheetahs and ostriches are also in the mix. 

Ideal for families, kids and grown-ups alike will revel in the opportunity to get up-close to animals roaming free and mingle with the visitors of the park. Watch out that the ring-tailed lemurs don’t try to steal your picnic! Visit Fota Wildlife Park

8. Youghal Seaside town

Further along the east coast lies the beautiful seaside town of Youghal, home of the Elizabethan adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh. Locals assert the claim that the first potatoes in Europe were planted there and that the first pipe tobacco was smoked there too, by the man himself. With a stunning 12th century church to explore, as well as the still-intact medieval town walls, Youghal yields history and mystery.

9. Clonakilty

Heading west along the coast the golden sands of Inchydoney beckon. Within a stone’s throw of the bustling gateway to the west that is Clonakilty town, the area is a great base for the independent traveller. Take a surf lesson in the azure Atlantic or pamper yourself at the Inchydoney Lodge and Spa. You can’t go wrong if you make for ‘Clon’.


Inchlydoney Beach, Co Cork. Image thanks © Chris Hill

10. Schull Planetarium

Still travelling due west, Schull Planetarium is out of this world! Why not take a boat ride out from Baltimore to Sherkin Island for a session and a dip in Roaringwater Bay. Don’t worry, you’ll be safe. The dreaded pirates have long-gone from that part of the coast!
Whatever you choose to do and see in Cork, you won’t be disappointed!

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