Cork Travel Guide

Visiting historic Cork while traveling in Ireland
Cork is the third-largest city in Ireland and has miles upon miles of beautiful coastline looking out onto the Atlantic.  Breathtaking all year round, Cork is a great place to visit — whether it’s to relax or to explore, there are plenty of activities to be found. It’s one of the more popular cities in the country with a lot of good food and pubs. Don’t forget to visit the castle and kiss the Blarney stone (it’s nearby).

Typical Costs

  • Hostel prices – You’ll pay around $20 USD for a night in a shared dorm room. For private rooms, you will pay between $50-70 for a single room, $90 USD for double.
  • Budget hotel prices – A night in a budget hotel will cost at least $50 USD for a single room and will include a private bathroom and maybe an Irish breakfast (read, scone).
  • Average cost of food – Lunch and meals on the go cost around $10 USD, while dinners at a restaurant with a pint begin at around $20 USD.
  • Transportation costs – Bus tickets around the city are $2.25 USD each way.

Money Saving Tips

  • Cook your food – Supermarkets are the cheapest places to buy alcohol in Ireland. If you’re staying a while, you’ll be able to pick up some reasonably priced groceries here too.
  • Have an ISIC Card – To save 20-50% on the cost of admission to museums and other tourist attractions, be sure to present a valid student card.
  • Avoid taxis – While taxi drivers in Ireland are really nice, taxi fares are not. Avoid taking the taxi if you don’t want to pay $10 USD or more everywhere you go, especially since buses or walking are such easy alternatives.
  • Top Things to See and Do in Cork

  • Visit Baltimore fishing village – Take the ferry to explore the islands of Cape Clear, Sherkin, and Heir before going sailing, angling, diving, or whale watching.
  • Hike around Gougane Barra – For a taste of the great outdoors, make a trip to Gougane Barra in inland Cork. Walk around the mountains that surround the lake and view the famous site of St. Finbarr’s island. This area is recognized as a forest park and is full of natural vegetation and animals.
  • Kiss the Blarney Stone – Built nearly six hundred years ago, the castle itself is now a partial ruin, however at the top of the castle lies the Stone of Eloquence, or more famously known as the Blarney Stone where visitors can hang upside down to kiss the famous stone. The gardens around the castle are really nice too.
  • Butter Up – While in Cork, visit the Cork Butter Museum. Here you can learn the process that goes into butter making, a story that goes back as far as the nineteenth century which begins with the Irish practice of preserving butter in bogs.
  • Tour Bantry House – Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Bantry House and Gardens. Dating back to 1740, the house is known for its art collection and display of tapestries. There is also the possibility of a guided tour. Probably one of its most redeeming features however, is the fantastic view over Bantry Bay.
  • The Church of Saint Anne Shandon – Shandon, meaning “Old Fort” in Gaelic, was formed as one of the original settlements in medieval Ireland. Here you can play the famous Bells of Shandon, watch the infamous clock, and view Cork from above.
  • Drink whiskey – For whiskey lovers or just the plain curious, a tour of the Old Midleton Distillery will address the making of Irish whiskey and will offers the opportunity to view the world’s largest pot. You even get to sample some whiskey afterwards!
  • Escape to Doneraile National Park – 400 acres of deciduous trees, herds of deer, and numerous pathways from which to explore make up this National Park. As a prime example of landscape gardening at its best, pockets of land have been fashioned into canals and ponds and can be enjoyed on an enchanting walk.
  • Admire the view at The Mizen Head – Positioned as Ireland’s southernmost point, the peninsula is ideally located beside small fishing villages like Schull and Goleen. While at Mizen Head, make a point of climbing the 99 steps and walk the suspension bridge to enjoy the crashing Atlantic as it smashes against this stunning landscape.
  • Shop at the English Market – Visit the English Market in Cork, and take your pick from a selection of food from all over the world. An enclosed market, its usage dates back to 1786. Besides offering a wide array of world foods to sample, the market also plays host to boutiques and department stores.
  • Visit the Lewis Glucksman Gallery – Located on the UCC campus, this gallery is a major hotspot for students and locals. It also happens to be a favorite for most tourists. There are three display areas, all with rotating exhibits, as well as a basement café with delicious food.
  • Tour the Beamish & Crawford Brewery – This is the most famous ancient porter brewery in Ireland. Just across the street from the Counting House, this architectural eyesore offers an awesome tour. If you pride yourself in being a beer drinker, you will love this place.
  • Attend a festival – Once dubbed the European Capital of Culture, it’s no surprise that there is a range of music, theater, and film festivals held here annually. To name a couple: From June to July is the Midsummer Festival (a homage to the arts), while the Elizabeth Fort Market Festival is held every Sunday, and offers entertainment all day, local handicrafts, and yummy gourmet foods.
  • Explore the Cork City Gaol – During the 19th century, this was home to an array of prisoners. There is a great audio tour, which features a glimpse at the restored cells. Some of them even have prisoner and guard dummies. Beware though, this whole exhibit is slightly morbid.
  • Go on a Cork City pub crawl – There are tons of great pubs in Cork, and every Friday night, there is a crawl that guides you through the lot of them. It’s $13 USD and includes 4 shots.