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An aerial view of the North Quays of Cork city, Ireland

Things to do in  Cork

A riverside slice of cosmopolitan Ireland

Cork is a college town in the southwest of Ireland, sitting on an island in the middle of the River Lee—and it’s much more than just a gateway city to the natural beauty of coastal County Cork. It is compact and easy to navigate on foot, offering a cosmopolitan vibe in its hip coffee shops, art galleries, and traditional pubs. Of all the things to do in Cork, don’t miss top landmarks like the English Market and Cork City Gaol.

Top 10 attractions in Cork

Cork English Market

Dating from 1788, Cork English Market is among Ireland’s finest foodie destinations. Set inside a Victorian heritage building with a vaulted ceiling, the market is filled with vendors selling the finest and freshest of local produce, from grass-fed beef and smoked salmon to homemade jam, duck eggs, and fresh fruit and vegetables.More

Jameson Distillery Midleton

At the Jameson Distillery Midleton, travelers can enjoy the Jameson Experience Tour, which includes a look into the distillery in East Cork, where the well-known whiskey was produced until the 1970s. In the company of a guide, visitors explore the preserved distillery interior, and view old kilns, mills, and distilling equipment, as well as a restored 19th-century warehouse.More

Blarney Stone (Stone of Eloquence)

Visitors flock to the ruined 15th-century Blarney Castle to bend over backwards from the battlements and lay their lips on the famous Blarney Stone (Stone of Eloquence). According to local legend, the stone, which is embedded high in the castle walls, imparts those who kiss it with the “gift of the gab,” making them more eloquent, articulate, and convincing.More

Charles Fort

Built in the 17th century, the vast star-shaped Charles Fort was designed to guard Kinsale Harbour. The site of fierce fighting during the 1690 Williamite War, Charles Fort was ceded by the British during the War of Independence in 1921, only to be extensively damaged during the Irish Civil War. The fort is now a designated National Monument.More

St. Fin Barre's Cathedral

With intricate tracery, pointed spires, stone gargoyles, and a trumpet-playing golden angel on top, St. Fin Barre's Cathedral boasts an extravagant neo-Gothic design. The interior features marble mosaics, stained glass, ornate sculptures, and a cannonball from the 17th-century Siege of Cork.More

Elizabeth Fort

Built by the British in 1601 and expanded to its present star-shaped form in the 1620s, Elizabeth Fort has stood witness to many turbulent periods of Cork history. Originally serving as a military barracks, this fort later functioned as a police station before 2014 when the city embarked on a plan to turn it into a tourist attraction.More

Mizen Head

At the tip of a peninsula where Atlantic waves crash ceaselessly into sea cliffs, Mizen Head is one of Ireland’s most spectacular headlands. Mizen Head offers a visitor center and walking trails to explore, and it is home to the 1909-built Mizen Head Signal Station, which sits atop a rock connected to the mainland by a narrow footbridge.More

Drombeg Stone Circle (Druid's Altar)

Also known as the Druid's Altar, Drombeg Stone Circle is one of the most impressive prehistoric monuments in Ireland. Dating back to 1,100 BC, the megalithic site consists of 17 standing stones, which tower 6 feet (2 meters) above ground, and is thought to have been used as a burial or sacrifice site.More

Cork St. Anne's Church

Built in 1722, Cork's St. Anne's Church is known for its large golden fish weathervane, which stands atop its bell tower and can be seen from much of the city. Visitors can climb the tower and try to play a tune on the church's eight bells, which were immortalized in the 19th-century poem, “The Bells of Shandon.”More


Two ruined fortresses stand watch over the harbor of this pretty-as-a-postcard fishing town. Though it’s got beaches, coastal walks, and a handful of historic sites including two forts and a Norman church, Kinsale’s big draw is its reputation for gastronomic greatness; its seafood restaurants are said to be among Ireland’s finest. More
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All about Cork

When to visit

The most popular time of year to visit Cork City (and Ireland in general) is the summer months. The days are long, with sunsets late in the evening, and the season provides the chance for warmth and sunshine. Locals also look forward to the holidays in December, when Cork City feels very festive with decorations and celebrations. Annual events include the Cork Midsummer Festival, the Cork Film Festival in November, and the Cork Jazz Festival in October.

Getting around

Cork has a compact city center that is ideal for exploring on foot. A local bus service is available, but most visitors find that walking between landmarks is an easy option. Bike rentals are also a good option for people looking to cover ground quickly. Renting a car makes sense for those looking to explore beyond Cork City and out into County Cork.

Traveler tips

Cocktail fans may want to check out Cask, a cocktail bar known for pushing boundaries and featuring unique, native Irish ingredients. Cork City also offers food and drink walking tours for visitors who want to explore the many flavors of the city.

People Also Ask

Is Cork, Ireland worth visiting?

Yes, Cork City is worth visiting. Some people skip Cork City in favor of the capital city of Dublin or Galway, but this thriving city on the River Lee has plenty to offer. Check out museums, galleries, historic sites, and a growing food and cocktail scene during a visit.

What is Cork famous for?

Cork City is famous as a college town; it is home to University College Cork. It is also known for historic sites like the Cork City Gaol, Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, and the English Market. Art galleries, parks, and an opera house round out landmarks in Cork.

What can you do in Cork for a day?

In one day, you can explore Cork City on foot. Taste artisan food at the English Market, learn about history at the Cork City Gaol, and marvel at the Gothic architecture of Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral during a visit to Cork. Check out local restaurants or gastropubs to complete the experience.

Is Cork nicer than Dublin?

Yes, Cork is nicer than Dublin—according to people from Cork, that is. People from Dublin would say the capital city is nicer than Cork. Regional pride aside, both are traditional Irish cities with a range of historic sites and galleries plus a developing food and cocktail scene.

Is Cork a walkable city?

Yes, Cork is a walkable city. It has a compact city center that is easy to navigate on foot. Admire views from the many bridges across the River Lee, check out street art, and visit top landmarks such as the English Market, Cork City Gaol, and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

Should I visit Galway or Cork?

Galway and Cork are both gateway cities to the natural beauty of their surrounding counties. Many travelers choose to visit Galway City and also visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. Visitors to Cork often explore the coast of County Cork, including fishing villages like Kinsale and whiskey distilleries in Midleton.


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