Things to do in Cork: Discover Historic Houses, Beautiful Landscapes and More.
Updated On: September 15, 2023
County Cork, located in the province of Munster, is the largest county in Ireland by land area, with its southern border being bounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The charming county is known for its warm, welcoming atmosphere, and rich cultural scene; there’s no shortage of things to do and see.
In this article, we’ll explore the best things to do in Cork, ensuring that you can appreciate the county and all that it has to offer. Whether you’re visiting on a family trip or stopping by for a romantic vacation, Cork is a great place for fun, adventure and exploration.
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Best Things to do in Cork County Ireland
The welcoming atmosphere and the combination of cultural richness, historic landmarks, and natural beauty make Cork a must-visit destination in Ireland. Check out these best things to do in Cork for a worthwhile experience of the county.
Explore Cork City Gaol
Cork City Gaol is one of the most important historical and cultural landmarks in Cork. Built in the 19th century, this imposing structure served as a prison for over a century; today, it operates as a museum, offering a glimpse into the darker side of Ireland’s history.
Visitors can tour the cells and the governor’s house, view the exercise yard, and see various exhibitions that paint a vivid picture of what 19th-century prison life was like. Wax figures and furnished cells help to bring the experience to life, and an audio-visual show delves further into the Gaol’s history.
Bantry House is one of the most renowned historic houses in Ireland. It’s located in the picturesque coastal town of Bantry and offers stunning views of Bantry Bay to the west and the Caha Mountains to the east.
Bantry House is also famous for its extensive gardens, which includes a Parterre, Fountain Garden and many woodlands to explore with idyllic walks and trails. The house welcomes visitors for guided tours and also hosts a range of events, such as the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and the West Cork Literary Festival.
Additionally, accommodation is available in the East Wing for those looking to extend their stay surrounded by magnificent views.
Mizen Head is Ireland’s most south westerly point and a popular tourist destination known for its stunning natural beauty and the iconic Mizen Head Signal Station.
The Mizen Head Signal Station was built in 1909 to warn ships of the dangerous rocks on Mizen Head. Nowadays, it serves as a museum, offering fascinating insights into its past as an essential maritime navigational point.
Visitors can learn about the history of the lighthouse keepers and the several shipwrecks that occurred along the Cork and Kerry coast. The area around Mizen Head is also a site of exquisite natural beauty with its high cliffs, turbulent seas, and wild landscapes.
There are several walking routes around the Mizen Head peninsula offering breathtaking views and a chance to immerse yourself in this rugged coastal landscape.
Things to do in Cork City for Couples
Known as the “real capital” to locals, Cork City is a vibrant urban centre known for its rich history, culture, and gastronomy. Check out these fun and exciting things to do in Cork City and make some great memories with your partner.
Visit The English Market
This covered market dates back to 1788 and is a must-visit for foodies. It offers a wide range of local produce from artisan cheeses and fish to handmade chocolates and exotic fruits, definitely worth the visit for those wanting to impress their palate.
The Jameson Distillery is located in Midleton, which is just outside a short 20 minute drive from Cork City. The distillery offers tours that provide insights into the history and process of whiskey production, finishing off with a tasting session of the world renowned Irish whiskey.
Oliver Plunkett Street
Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork City is lined with many traditional pubs where you can enjoy live Irish music and soak up the atmosphere. Some pubs worth visiting include The Oliver Plunkett, Sin É, An Spailpín Fánach, Canty’s and Le Chateau.
Unique things to do in Cork
County Cork is full of unique finds and experiences, making it a memorable visit of something different. Check out some unique things to do in Cork below!
This town was the final port of call for the RMS Titanic and is also known for the Cobh Heritage Centre, which tells the story of Irish emigration. A great visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of Ireland.
Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a scenic driving route that stretches along the west coast of Ireland, from County Donegal in the north to County Cork in the south. It’s known for its stunning natural beauty, historical landmarks, and vibrant towns and villages that are peppered along the way, including Kinsale, Clonakilty and Skibbereen.
Things to do in cork city for families
Fota Wildlife Park
Fota Wildlife Park is located on Fota Island, which is near Cork. It is a popular visitor attraction that offers a unique opportunity to come up close with a diverse array of animals, including some of the world’s most endangered species.
In addition to the animal habitats, Fota Wildlife Park has a tropical house with exotic birds and reptiles and a large indoor play area for children. The park’s facilities also include a café, picnic areas, and a gift shop.
The park is open year-round, but opening hours can vary depending on the season, so it’s always a good idea to check the Fota Wildlife Park’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Whether you’re interested in learning about exotic animals, contributing to conservation efforts, or simply looking for a fun day out, Fota Wildlife Park offers a memorable experience for visitors of all ages.
Blarney Castle is a historic stronghold located near Cork. The 15th-century castle is renowned worldwide for its legendary Blarney Stone, which according to local legend, anyone who kisses the stone will be endowed with the gift of eloquence, or the ‘gift of the gab’.
The castle itself is set in beautiful grounds, known as the Rock Close, and walking among its ancient yew and oak trees is an enchanting experience. The grounds also feature several other attractions, including a druid’s circle, a witches’ cave, and the wishing steps.
Today, Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Whether you’re drawn to the allure of the Blarney Stone or the beauty of the castle and its gardens, Blarney Castle is a must-visit when you’re in Cork.
Things to do in Cork City for Free
Check out these things to do in Cork for free, no matter the size of your budget, you can still experience the city and learn about its rich history and heritage.
Fitzgerald Park is named after Edward Fitzgerald, who was a previous lord mayor of Cork. It offers beautifully landscaped areas, a large pond, sculptures, and the Cork Public Museum, which houses a collection of art and memorabilia that represents the archaeological and mediaeval history of Cork.
Visit St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is one of the most notable landmarks in Cork. It is located on the south bank of the River Lee and is a splendid example of Gothic Revival architecture, showcasing the talent of the celebrated architect William Burges. The cathedral is open to the public to explore and visitors are also welcome to join the religious services.
If you’re visiting counties surrounding Cork, be sure to check out these other blogs:
Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in Armagh | Things to do in County Down | Things to do in Fermanagh | Things to do in Tyrone | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Families | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Couples | Things to do in Belfast for Couples | Things to do in Belfast for Families.
Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Donegal | Things to do in Sligo | Things to do in Leitrim | Things to do in Louth | Things to do in Cavan | Things to do in Longford | Things to do in Meath | Things to do in Westmeath | Things to do in Dublin | Things to do in Offaly.
Things to do in Kildare | Things to do in Wicklow | Things to do in Laois | Things to do in Waterford | Things to do in Limerick | Things to do in Wexford | Things to do in Kilkenny | Things to do in County Carlow | Things to do in Kerry | Things to do in Tipperary | Things to do in Clare | Things to do in Galway.