So, you’re all set for a trip to Ireland. Of course, you’ve planned a stay in Dublin, maybe Galway. But, before you pack your bags consider another vibrant, historical city: Cork. An ideal destination both for vacation and for prolonged stays, this city is full of magic. There are so many things to see that you might feel overwhelmed. But, don’t worry, with this guide on what to do in Cork you’ll have your visit planned in no time!
What to Do in Cork | 15 Must-See Places
With a population of approximately 124,000 inhabitants and great economic development, this is the second-largest city in the country. Cork is only 2 and a half hours by train from Dublin.
In the center of this city, crossed by the Reed River, there are a dozen higher education institutions. Some of these are among the best in the world. Consequently, it is a meeting place and residence for students from all over the world.
It holds museums, parks, buildings, and squares, where the traveler can access more than 800 years of history. To the east, along the shore of Lake Mahon, there is an important growth of industrial and technological parks. Thus, the city is attractive for those who seek not only to study but to develop their professions.
Without further ado, let’s get to know the 10 must-see places in Cork. Buckle up! It’s going to be quite a ride!
Saint Fin Barre Cathedral
St. Finbarr’s Cathedral, on the south bank of the River Reed, is a neo-Gothic construction. It marks the spot of the city’s historical origin. Consecrated to the local saint and patron. Who, during the 7th century founded a small monastery on an area of marshes where the temple is today, In fact, Cork means “marsh” in Irish.
It is a place of worship for Catholics, but it opens its doors to everyone. Tourists can see it whole by paying a fee to support the maintenance of the buildingThe price of the access ticket is 6 euros for adults, 5 for students and 3 for children.
Leaving the cathedral and walking one street down Proby’s Quay Avenue, you will find Fort Elizabeth. The most interesting military stronghold to see in Cork. Built from solid stone in the 18th century by the British, who ruled Ireland until the 19th century.
Within its walls, you’ll learn about the strategic importance it had for the defense of the city over three centuries. It proved useful for both the English colonizers and the Irish independentists. Here, you will also learn of the fate of its most unfortunate prisoners, whose heads were later displayed in spades.
Being located on a hill, you will be able to take panoramic photos of Cork or simply admire the landscape. Admission is free and only guided tours have a cost.
After you visit the fort, take its namesake: Fort Street. Continue in a straight line until you find the University of Cork, the most prestigious in the region. And one of the most recognized nationally. The institution prides itself on being among the best qualified in the world rankings of university centers.
The University offers a wide variety of programs in its faculties in English, Economics, Biomedicine, Biology, Arts, Engineering, among others. It also has an interesting academic offer for foreign students. So it is worth visiting its website if you are contemplating studying a season in Ireland.
The central building dates back to the 19th century and is surrounded by large green areas. Which are the students’ favorite for having a snack, reading, or simply taking a break from classes. So, this is a necessary visit even if it is just to relax and promote your peace of mind.
You’ll likely fall in love with the student environment here. If that happens, we’re here for you! Check out the experiences we have in this amazing city!
Looking for more green and relaxation? To the north of the city, you’ll find Fitzgerald Park. It offers peaceful gardens for relaxation and fields for sports, as well as a small pond in the middle. It is also home to the Municipal Museum, The Natural Foods Bakery café, and the statue of Michael Collins.
The latter was one of the leaders of the revolution that led Ireland to become independent from Great Britain. A historical fact of interest is that the park was named after Edward Fitzgerald, the Lord of the city who organized the Cork International Exhibition in 1902.
Cork City Gaol
Despite its infamous past, this is a place you must see in Cork to gain a better historical understanding. This prison was built in 1796 and was finally closed in 1923. Initially, there was no segregation here. This meant that women, men, and children could be locked together in one cell. Prisoners in Gaol were often hanged publicly. Later, in the 19th century, it became a prison only for women. But, the men who opposed the treaty between England and Ireland to end the War of Independence in 1916 were brought here too.
With this treaty, the Irish nationalists achieved the desired independence from the British crown at last. However, the road to pacification was long, tortuous, and it continued to claim innocent lives throughout the last century.
Nano Nagle Place
If your thirst for History is not yet satisfied, don’t worry! You can also visit Nano Nagle Place. A restored walled convent where you’ll find hidden gardens and graveyards. The building will take you through the story of 18th Century Cork. Particularly, the fascinating tale of Nano Nagle, who worked tirelessly to educate the poor of the city. She was so influential, there is also a bridge named in her honor.
But, that’s not all! You can also enjoy delicious coffee and gourmet food at the Good Day Deli. Here, you can also find the book shop. And it is all in the center of the city, so look no further!
English Market | The Best Shopping Centre in Cork
Heading east now, taking Mardyke promenade and then 22nd street, you will find the famous English Market. This is a picturesque municipal supply station, considered among the oldest in Europe, as it dates back to the 18th century.
Locals and visitors frequent it to buy artisan bread, fruits, vegetables, and fresh fish at bargain prices. But, above all, you cannot miss the opportunity to taste the products for sale. Good prices, fresh produce, and displays of traditional Irish cuisine make this market the best shopping center to see in Cork. Forget about the malls!
Just 300 meters from the market to the north you’ll find Crawford Gallery. It houses a collection of some 4,000 prints, paintings, sculptures, and folk art. These pieces are dated from Greco-Latin Antiquity to the present day.
It is distinguished by maintaining an area dedicated to women artists. As well as by presenting special events and experiences to be able to touch the works. Access to the gallery and exhibits is free. This is an unmissable place to see in Cork!
Church of St. Anne
St. Anne’s Church, located north along Leitrim Street, dates back to the 18th century. And it is famous among Cork sights for its two tall towers. Both preserve the original bells and allow a privileged panorama of the city.
Visitors have the opportunity to ring the bells from the base of the towers. Besides, they will be able to contemplate how the machinery of the clockworks.
St. Patrick’s Street
To close a day of walking and exploring the city, nothing better than St. Patrick’s Street. It is the quintessential shopping area and is undoubtedly one of the places to see in Cork.
In this street with wide sidewalks, you can find fast food outlets, restaurants, and famous pubs. Here, typical dishes such as Coddle (a stew of pieces of sausage and bacon) await you. Along, of course, with refreshing beers. Come see why the Irish are so in love with their brews!
Blarney Castle | A medieval treasure in Cork
Your Cork getaway won’t be complete without a visit to Blarney Castle, located just outside the city. The imposing stone construction was erected more than six centuries ago by the order of Lieutenant Cormac MacCarthy.
In it, visitors will find the famous Blarney Stone. Legend assures that whoever kisses it will instantly receive the gift of eloquent speech. They will also find lush gardens, as well as shops selling Irish wool sweaters, glassware, and gifts. This site is easily accessible by train from the Grand Parade station in the city center.
Camden Fort Meagher
More impressive constructions await you in Camden Fort Meagher. Built-in the 16th century, the facility remained in military use until 1989. The exhibits comprise mostly Irish and British military history. But it also holds one of the few 9/11 exhibits allowed outside the United States.
When you’ve had enough of the museum, be sure to visit the café. With great views of the harbor, it is an excellent place to unwind.
St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church
More churches? Well yes! The fantastic architecture of this church and its inner decorations are quite a sight. Although it is still a place of worship, you can go inside and have a look. Construction began in 1859 and it concluded 7 years later.
The design of the building was in charge of E.W. Pugin, son of the famous Augustus Pugin. The latter is famous for his role in the revival of the Gothic style. So, as you can imagine, this church is reminiscent of the amazing arches and spikes of the period.
For nature lovers, the Fota Island Natural Park is worth a visit. This protected area covers 70 acres and is home to hundreds of plants and animals.
If you decide to have a typical picnic here, in addition to contemplating nature, lemurs and giraffes will come to your table. These animals roam freely in the park and visitors can get close to them. Such a feature makes the site very special among Irish zoos.
You’ll find Fota Park about 30 minutes from the center of the city traveling on the train that goes to Cobh. Keep in mind that you can only traverse it on foot, so you should set aside at least half a day to explore it.
Blackrock Castle Observatory
What if we told you that, from Cork, you can reach places much, much farther? Yes! It is possible thanks to this observatory. The castle that holds traces its origin to the 16th century. Ordered by Queen Elizabeth herself. But a fire destroyed it in 1827. After it was rebuilt, it remained in use by the military until the 20th century. Then, it passed to the hands of private entrepreneurs. And, finally, it became an observatory in the early 2000s.
Now, it is a center of research and technology. You can enjoy many exhibits, including one about life on Earth and outer space! Don’t skip a visit.
Have the best time in Cork with GrowPro
If at this point you are already captivated by the history and nature in Cork, it is time to plan your trip to Ireland. From GrowPro, we help you to make your stay the best experience of your life. How do we do it? Our first option is that you go as a student.
You can access excellent courses of up to a year in duration. And, as if that were not enough, you will have the option of getting a part-time job.
Go to our site, choose your experience and get your personalized quote. Then, one of our Student Advisors will contact you to clarify doubts and help you prepare everything. Are you ready? Dare to take the leap!