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12 of the best things to do in Cork City
Discover all the amazing things to do in Cork City.
Colourful streets, cool coffee bars and strains of trad music spilling out the doors of quaint pubs, you can’t beat the craic in Cork City. Dubbed the real capital of Ireland by proud Corkonians, discover its historical gems and great restaurants where there’s always a friendly face to greet you.

Here are some of the best things to do on a trip to Cork City.

1Cork City Walks

The best way to get a feel for Cork City is to wander around its cobbled streets and narrow lanes. On a Cork City Walk, a trained guide brings the story of this vibrant city to life. During the tour, you’ll discover the rich cultural history of the Rebel County. Make this your first port of call and get familiar with Cork as a local expert points out all the places you just can’t miss.

A couple listening to a guide on a Cork City Walking Tours
Learn about Cork City's fascinating history on a walking tour.
2Cork City Gaol

Step into Cork City Gaol where you’ll travel back in time to learn the secrets of this spooky building. Get a group together for a private evening tour as darkness envelops the towering stone walls. Look out for the lifelike wax statues and explore the eerie cells, listening to the dramatic sound effects that give a glimpse into prison life. Before you leave, stop into the Radio Museum to learn about the nostalgic early days of Irish radio.

Two people walking up a winding stone staircase in Cork City Gaol
Travel back in time at Cork City Gaol.
3Cork Fab Food Trail

Cork is often described as the foodie capital of Ireland with talented artisan producers and talented chefs aplenty. During your visit to Cork, book a spot on the Cork Fab Food Trail. On this tour, experience Cork’s amazing restaurants, charming cafés and gorgeous bars. From contemporary to traditional, you’ll get a flavour-filled insight into why Cork people are so proud of their county.

4Blackrock Castle Observatory

An evening at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory is a truly epic experience. Discover Cosmos at the Castle, an award-winning interactive astronomy exhibition and meet Cosmo, an astronaut who’ll teach you about alien life. Play Comet Chaser, sending you on a mission to save planet Earth in Ireland’s only interactive theatre. 

Go stargazing in the planetarium to see the magic of the Cork night sky and don’t miss Journeys of Exploration where you’ll learn all about Cork’s unique maritime history.

5St Fin Barre’s Cathedral

Standing proudly on the site of a 7th century monastery, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral dominates the city skyline. Built in a Gothic Revival style with three spectacular spires, marvel at the mischievous carved gargoyles, grand stained-glass windows, stone sculptures and the copper gilded Resurrection Angel. Make time to check out the whopping 24lb cannonball from the 1690 Siege of Cork. 

Lush plants outside St Fin Barre Cathedral Cork City on a sunny day
Visit the impressive St Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork City.
6Nano Nagle Place

In the 1700s, Cork woman Nano Nagle was a force to be reckoned with. She opened seven schools across Cork City, set up an almshouse for women, and founded the Presentation Order. Dedicating her life to the poor, she was truly remarkable.

A short walk from St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, visit Nano Nagle Place, a unique museum with interactive exhibits and a collection of fantastic artwork by Irish designers. Have brunch in the on-site Good Day Deli admiring the gorgeous garden views and after, enjoy a takeaway coffee and a leisurely stroll.

Two friends sitting amongst the shrubbery in Nano Nagle Place, Cork City
Take a scenic stroll through the gardens at Nano Nagle Place.
7Shandon Bells & Tower

Close to the Cathedral, check out the Shandon Bells & Tower. Climb the 135 steps to the top of the 18th century tower for breathtaking panoramic views of Cork City. While you’re there, try your hand at ringing the famous Shandon Bells. This is one of the only churches in the world where you can ring the bells unaccompanied, making it a great activity for big and small kids.

Colourful houses behind the Shandon Bridge in Cork City
Cross the Shandon Bridge and see this exciting part of the city.
8English Market

When in Cork, you can’t miss a visit to the English Market. The iconic indoor market has been trading since 1788 and is a foodie paradise filled with handmade cheese, fresh fish, and artisan goods. Browse the stalls for tasty treats and enjoy a warm Cork welcome at every counter. 

Wander around the colourful market where delicious smells waft from all directions and pick up some traditional spiced beef and drisheen (blood sausage) to recreate the taste of Cork at home. 

Two women shopping for fruit and veg at the English Market
Treat yourself to something delicious at the English Market.
9Fitzgerald Park

In Fitzgerald Park, you’ll find a little slice of heaven along the banks of the River Lee. Spanning 18 acres, stroll along its winding paths, admire the beautiful flower displays and soak up the peaceful solitude. Visit the Cork Public Museum, the oldest local authority museum in Ireland, and learn about the history and archaeology of the city and county. 

Drop into the Natural Foods Café for a vegan sandwich or a slice of cake before checking out the bright pink Sky Garden, designed by talented gardener Diarmuid Gavin.

10Cork Opera House

A night at Cork Opera House is the perfect way to round off your stay in Cork City. The building is firmly rooted in Cork history, dating back to 1852 and it is Ireland’s only purpose-built opera house. The beloved cultural institution has a world class programme of events with showstopping opera performances, epic concerts, comedy shows, musicals, and performing arts.

11Restaurants in Cork City

After a day of sightseeing, get dressed up for a wining and dining experience at Market Lane. With a strong emphasis on local ingredients, choose from slow-cooked beef and fragrant curry dishes.

Cork locals say Liberty Grill is the best spot for brunch, and if you’re a burger fiend, get yourself to Son of a Bun. With mac and cheese and their homemade slaw, the sides menu alone is enough to impress and it’s a great place for casual dining with friends.

The menu changes often at Goldie, a seafood lover’s dream, while everyone raves about the sushi at Ichigo Ichie. It books out fast so make sure you plan ahead when visiting Cork City.

Couple having a drink in Cork City
Enjoy amazing food and drink in Cork City.
12Bars and Pubs in Cork City

Drop into Arthur Maynes for a cocktail or two, the cosy candle-lit wine bar was once a pharmacy and it’s one of the city’s hidden gems. For a weekend night out, try 80s and 90s-themed bar Popscene. It’s only a short stroll from Arthur Maynes and you’re guaranteed great fun.

Craft beer enthusiasts should check out the Franciscan Well Brewery, built on the site of an old Franciscan monastery, where you can also try their own brew. Catch a toe-tapping trad session in Sin É and drop into Rearden’s after where you’re guaranteed a warm Cork welcome.

Enjoy a creamy pint at The Oliver Plunkett and Tom Barry’s is a must for summer drinks in the beer garden. If you’re visiting later in the year, plan your trip around the Cork Jazz Festival in October for lots of live acts and plenty of craic.

People sitting in the sun in beach chairs in Cork City
Embrace the relaxed atmosphere in Cork City.
Things to do in Cork City

A charming city where there's so much to see, Cork is one of those places people just keep coming back to. Check out our Cork City destination page and plan your next trip to the Rebel County.

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