Facebook iconTwitter iconInstagram icon

19 Best Things To Do In Cork [Ireland] Full 2019 Travel Guide

Written by:
Cazzy Magennis
/
Last updated:
September 14, 2019
Travel stories
Your guide to the best things to do in Cork, from the bustling city, the castles and the stunning coastline, we cover it all in this brilliant post...
Tinggly badge
Cork Ireland
Note: Some posts may contain affiliate links. Read more here

Cork was definitely one of my favourite places in Ireland. The county is vast and varied with beautiful castles, beaches and more and the city is a student city filled with amazing sites, great bars, good food and a generally great atmosphere. 

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Cork, then look no further. Below I take you through my 19 favourite things to do in county Cork! 

1. Titanic Experience in Cobh 

Cobh is a little port town in Co Cork and it’s brilliant. It’s a great place to visit if you just fancy watching the ships pass by with an Ice Cream but the more significant point of the area is that it’s home to the Titanic Ticket office (the official one) and it was the last place the Titanic stopped to pick up passengers before tragedy struck. 

I love the history of Titanic so this was super exciting for me and it really was a brilliant experience. You get to learn all about the backgrounds of the people who boarded the ship that day and find out what it was like on the ship.

There are some really interesting stories too, but I won’t spoil it for you, you should go yourself. 

The tour takes 1 hour and it’s 10 euro per person (Student discount available). You can pre book online or just turn up, but it does get super busy during the summer months, so I suggest you book online! 

titanic experienec
titanic cobh

2. Lunch in Cobh Town 

As I mentioned before, Cobh in Cork is a lovely town and we visited there was live music in the streets and lots of bars and restaurants serving great food all with a side of Guinness and Irish traditional music, what more could you want!

There is also a pretty cool church to visit that gives you views from the town above and out to sea. 

Fun fact: most of the bars and cafes accept dollars because a lot of American cruise ships stop here. 

Read Also: The Best Places To Visit In Ireland

cobh town

3. Check out Charles Fort at Kinsale 

Kinsale town is a lovely little town in Co Cork with stunning views and some great forts.

We checked out Charles Fort and whilst we caught a very misty day which meant we couldn’t even see the small boats in the water, we could imagine it’s awesome on a clear day. Either way, it was a great place to have our lunch! 

There is also another called James Fort but it’s much smaller and we didn’t check that out. 

Tour option: From Cork you can visit Kinsale and the Charles Fort with this great value tour.

4. Visit Blarney Castle and Kiss the Blarney Stone

Ah, the Blarney stone. This is probably one of the most touristy things to do in Ireland. But you have to do it! 

Blarney Castle is quite beautiful and the actual surroundings are even more beautiful. There are a variety of gardens to explore and a brilliant lake walk. It’s quite a pricey castle compared to other entrance fees at 18 euro, but I do believe it is worth it. 

The queue for kissing the Blarney stone can get super super long, with a wait of up to one hour and the stairways up the castle to the stone are quite narrow and claustrophobic.

So I suggest you visit when it first opens (9am) and you head to the stone first, where there will be very little, if no queue at all. 

Either way, pack a picnic and you could easily spend a few hours here. Without Doubt one of the best and most iconic things to do in Cork. 

Combined tour: If you’re visiting Cork City and would like to visit Cobh and Blarney Castle, then this combined tour has it sorted for you at a great price!

If you’re visiting from Dublin, the same option is available here.

Read Also: The 35 Best Castles In Ireland That You Need To Visit

blaney
blarney stoone
queue for the stone

5. Explore the English Market in Cork City 

I love markets, I really do and when I read that there was an English market in Cork city I got super excited. It’s cute, quaint and filled with fresh local produce.

There are a couple of bars and restaurants in there too so you can get some interesting food or even buy unique souvenirs. 

Bradley and I picked up some food for our BBQ and it was the cheapest meat we bought the entire trip. Delicious too. 

There is no entrance fee into the market, but I can’t guarantee you won’t want to buy something! 

This was one of my favourite things to do in Cork City!

english market cork

6. Finn Bares Cathedral 

Bradley and I have seen a lot of Cathedrals over the years and this is another beautiful one. When we visited Cork city it was actually quite a dreary and wet day, but this cathedral stood tall in the rain and was quite beautiful. 

We didn’t go inside as we ran out of time but you can! 

finn barres cathederal

7. Spike Island day trip 

This is something you can do whilst you are visiting Cobh in Cork. Interestingly enough, this island was used as a prison for petty crimes up until 2004, so you can take a day trip over and explore the remains of the prison and learn about its history. 

Boats leave hourly from 10 am to 2 pm and you’ll probably need 2-3 hours on the island. 

This is one of the really cool activities in Cork to participate in! 

Read Also: The Best Things To Do In Galway, Ireland: Complete Travel Guide

8. Shandon Bells and Tower 

This Bell Tower offers you beautiful views of Cork City and on a clear day, I imagine it’s quite beautiful. However, the mist was crazy when we were there and we couldn’t see much on ground level, never mind from a viewpoint, so we didn’t go up. 

The bell tower has some great bell songs coming from it which is fun, and it’s 5 euro to climb to the top, but I would only do it if there was a view. 

shandon bell tower

9. Elizabeth Fort 

The Elizabeth fort is again in Cork city and it’s quite close to the cathedral so you can stop on  your way. You can climb the fort for views, but again, do it on a clear day!

10. CastleFreke

You cannot visit the insides or up close of CastleFreke as it’s now privately owned. However we drove up towards it and there are a number of walking trails you can take which will give you a pretty nice view of the castle. 

If you’re driving around Ireland in your own vehicle, then I think this is a great place to stop. Put this on your list of places to see in Cork. 

Read Also: What To Do In Northern Ireland

castle cork

11. Inchydoney

This is a small island off West cork which is home to beautiful beaches. If you’re looking for a relaxing and luxurious experience, then stay at the fabulous hotel that's on offer here.

Otherwise, pick a nice summery day (yes, they’re rare) in Ireland and relax at the beach! 

surfing
You can surf here too!

12. Mizen Head

This is Ireland's most south westerly point and it’s home to some stunning views and worth a visit. Some people have suggested the views here are even better than the cliffs of Moher, but I’ll leave that up to you to compare!

The signal station is open 10 am to 6pm through June, July and August and it’s 7.50 for adults with discounted rates for students, seniors and children 

cork coast

13. Visit Castletownbere (Bere island)

So by now I’ve mentioned that there are a lot of cute towns in Cork, well this is another one. Bradley and I stumbled across this place when we were looking for somewhere to stay for the night in our Spaceships Campervan. 

It’s a lovely little town and we enjoyed some food and drinks with live music in one of the pubs. I think it’s worth an overnight stay if you're that way and you can take a day trip to the nearby Bere island which you can see from the pier!

Read Also: The Best Things To Do In Cork, Ireland: Complete Travel Guide

castlenere town

14. Visit Allihies

The Allihies is located on the Ring Of Beara and it’s actually a little coastal town with amazing coastal views. There is some great shops, restaurants and viewing points available and it’s a popular place to stop overnight if you’re road tripping Ireland with your own campervan. 

ring o bere
ahillies village

15. Party in Cork city 

Cork is a student city which means there are lots of chances to have a drink and party. There really is something on offer for every type of vibe. So whether you want Irish traditional music, or jazz music, or listen to the latest hits in a nightclub, Cork has it all! 

If Cork is the only city you will be visiting on your Ireland trip, then you need to try a night out. Definitely ensure it’s on your list of things to do in Cork. 

Read Also: The Best Things To Do In Killarney, Ireland: Complete Travel Guide

16. Dursey Island Cable Car 

Bradley and I actually came across this whilst driving through the stunning Ring of Beara (more on that later) 

You can take a cable car (Europe's only over water cable car) to the island of Dursey island. Whilst there you can walk around, grab a bite to eat or even have an Irish coffee. This is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Cork and I think it’s brilliant. 

You can find out all about it and opening hours here.

beautiful views

17. Drive the Ring Of Beara 

You’ve probably heard of the Ring of Kerry, but not a lot of people make a point of driving the ring of Beara. Well, I can tell you, it’s absolutely stunning, unique with small roads, sketchy with it’s large cliff drops, but altogether beautiful! 

You should 100% rent a car, or your own campervan and drive around the Ring Of Beara, and perhaps even camp overnight if you have time. It’s one of the most scenic drives in all of Ireland and it was one of my favourites. 

Probably the best thing to do in West Cork! 

ring obearea

18. Visit the BlackRock castle Observatory

We didn’t visit this spot when we went to Cork City, but I wanted to include it because it was actually on my list of things to do in Cork. It seems really cool and I’m a bit of star geek and you get to learn about different stars etc.

I think this is a great activity to do with kids if you’re visiting Cork city. 

19. Visit the history of Cork City Gaol

Last but not least, this was also on my radar and I think it’s worth mentioning. The Cork City Gaol is supposed to be excellent and gives you lots of insight into Irish history.

So if you’re a history buff or you just want to learn something new, this pop this on your Cork itinerary. 

You should head to Fitzgerald Park afterwards for a picnic if it’s a nice day. 

cobh pier

Planning what to do in Cork (Ireland): All common questions answered

When is the best time to visit Cork?

Cork is fun all year around, but if you want a chance at good weather and to ensure all the best attractions are open and driveable, then visit in May, June, July, August or September! 

Peak season is July, August, so if you want to avoid crowds, then head outside these months. We still get decent weather in June and September in Ireland if you’re lucky!

Blarney

Getting around Cork 

The best way to get around Co Cork is via your own vehicle. Bradley and I used our SpaceShips Campervan and it was amazing having our own transport so we could create our own schedule.

Also we got to camp in some amazing spots with some amazing views thanks to the convenience of our campervan.

After you consider the expensive price of accommodation in Cork, you’ll see how great value having your own campervan is. 

However, if driving isn’t your thing, you’re other option is to base yourself in Cork city and take tours to the best destinations. I’ve included suggestions above but we always use Get Your Guide for tours as they seem to be the best value. 

Whilst a tour can be limited with where you go, they are great value in Ireland you get a lot for your money! 

How long do I need in Cork? 

You could easily rush your way around all these spots in about 3-4 days, but if you have a little extra time, then I’d stretch it to a week to really experience everything that county Cork has to offer! 

Where is the best places to stay in Cork? 

If you don’t have the convenience of your own campervan in which you can wild camp or try one of the great Ireland camping sites dotted around Cork, then you should probably base yourself in Cork City and day trip from there. 

Or, if you rent a car, you could stay in each of the little towns I’ve mentioned including Cobh which is definitely worth a visit. 

From cute b&bs, glamping pods, 5 star resorts and much more, there is so much to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Cork. You can find them all here. 

  • Airbnb - We use this for all of our homestays in Europe [you get a discount]
  • Booking.com - Use this for the best hotels in Killarney town centre and more
  • HostelWorld - Great for finding cheap deals on the most popular hostels in Cork
  • Couchsurfing - The cheapest way to find places to stay in Cork

Can you book tours in Cork?

Of course! As I mentioned before, if you have no car, you can easily take great value tours from Cork city to all the best spots in the county of Cork.

Whenever we book tours, we always use these 2 sites:

  • GetYourGuide - Usually our top choice
  • Viator - Sometimes have a wider variety of tours on offer

Useful tools for planning your visit to Killarney 

If you’re looking for great value flights to Ireland then try searching with Skyscanner.

We always recommend you have good quality travel insurance, and World Nomads are usually a great choice.

Spaceships Rentals offer high quality and brilliant campervans and motorhomes if you want a taste of #vanlife

For car rental, you can begin with RentalCars.com.

Other useful posts for planning your trip to Ireland

Below are some other great posts that we’ve got that you might find useful to plan your trip to Cork and Ireland in general. 

Got any more tips to add to this guide of the best things to do in Cork? Comment them below!

Happy travels!

Click here to follow us on Instagram and stay up to date with our latest adventures!

Want great value tours in Ireland!?

Leave a comment

Let us know what you think!