The heart of Cork City
The best way to get an overview of Cork is from the top of one of the open-top tour buses. These frequent bus tours give you the lay of the land from the start of your trip, so you can plan your stay and decide on which of the many attractions to visit.
Cork City Gaol and Radio Museum Experience
This is a great choice for a first stop. See what 19th and early 20th century life was like in Cork, both inside and outside of historic prison walls when you visit the Cork City Gaol & Radio Museum Experience. The Radio Museum Experience in the same building has a restored 6CK Radio Broadcasting Studio inside complemented by an audio-visual presentation on Italian engineer Guglielmo Giovanni Maria Marconi and his Irish connections.
Lewis Glucksman Gallery
Follow up your trip to the Gaol with a coffee at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in University College Cork (UCC). This gallery places education at the heart of its activities with screenings, workshops and tours exploring art in greater depth. See how conveniently compact and friendly Cork is with a peaceful stroll through the UCC campus that brings you to the nearby Fitzgerald Park. After your wander in the area, head to the Huguenot Quarter.
Visit The Crawford Gallery, Munster's regional art museum and much loved cultural institution. Dedicated to the visual arts, both historic and contemporary, it has 2,000 works, ranging from 18th century Irish and European paintings and sculptures, through to contemporary video installations. Admission to the Gallery and exhibitions is free.
The English Market
For the food lovers, a visit to this fascinating market with origins that trace back to the times of King James I in 1610. A mix of a traditional Cork fare and exciting new foods from afar feature in this wonderful market with long-standing family-run stalls contributing to its unique atmosphere. Long recognised by locals as a place to meet, eat and shop, the English Market offers tourists and locals a tantalising range of Irish food. Some of the more traditional food include drisín (blood sausage), tripe, spiced beef, buttered eggs and battleboard (dried salted ling).
After dark, the range of attractions in Cork never dims — a night at the Opera House or a relaxed dinner followed by a traditional music session are just some of the options to finish your perfect day.
Indulge in a theatrical night out
Take in a show or performance in one of Cork’s local arts venues. The Triskel Arts Centre hosts astonishing exhibitions and is a regular event space in the old Christchurch building.
For a more luxurious night out, The Cork Opera House is a national cultural institution with a world-class programme of events across the performing arts such as concerts, comedy, drama, musicals, contemporary and classical dance. Or head along to The Everyman, a much-adored intimate Victorian theatre with a vibrant programme and stunning décor.
Shandon, just across the River Lee
Just across the River Lee, the Shandon area of the city is a maze of winding streets just waiting to be explored.
St Anne’s Church
Climb the bell tower at St Anne's Church for a birds-eye view of the city while listening to the famous Shandon Bells. Built in 1722, it is one of the most important early-18th century churches in Ireland and features a barrelled, vaulted ceiling, colourful stained glass windows and a stone baptismal font. The bell tower offers spectacular views of the city and surrounding areas spread below, while visitors also have an opportunity to ring these bells, commemorated in music and verse.
Cork Butter Museum
Afterwards head to the nearby Cork Butter Museum, where you can learn the story of one of Ireland's most important food exports and the world's largest butter market. At one time tens of millions of pounds worth of butter was traded here annually.
Take a food and drink break
Don't miss the locally roasted coffee at Cork Coffee Roasters in Bridge Street, before choosing the perfect spot for lunch in the area. The Liberty Grill on Washington Street, Idaho Café on Caroline Street or the Quay Co-Op, a vegetarian restaurant on Sullivan’s Quay, are some of the local's favourites.
Cork City Walking Tour
After lunch, take a walking tour to hear about Cork's intriguing merchant and maritime past. Go explore the 7th century Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral, just a five-minute walk from the Grand Parade. Find out more of the area's history at Elizabeth Fort and St Peter's Church, both within easy walking distance of the cathedral.
Having worked up an appetite, go for dinner in the city centre at Jacques Restaurant or Paradiso, a much-loved vegetarian restaurant on the Western Road. Step into the warmth of the Mutton Lane Inn or the Long Valley Bar for its poetry and open mic sessions. Kick back and chat with the locals which is the perfect finish to an action-packed short break in Cork City.
There truly is no end to the incredible things to do in Cork City, here's even more great ideas for your next holiday away.
Cork City is an amazing place for a few days away with friends or family. Head over to our Cork destination page and find all the hidden gems and must-sees in the Rebel County.