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Cork Travel Guide: Best Places To Stay, Eat And See

Are you looking for a comprehensive Cork travel guide

Cork City is the second largest city in Ireland after Dublin. Corkonians, however, refer to Cork as the “Real Capital” owing to its history.

For a long period of time, Cork had a sizable seaport. It began on an island in the Lee River’s swampy estuary (where the name Cork comes from the Irish word Corcaigh, meaning “marsh”) and gradually climbed both sides of the steep banks. Viking invaders expanded Cork, which had begun as a monastic settlement, around 915.

Cork was once completely surrounded by fortifications, and remnants of the medieval town center can still be seen on South and North Main streets.

The city earned the nickname “the rebel city” as a result of its support for the Yorkist cause during the Wars of the Roses. Corkonians refer to the city as “the real capital” because of its opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty during the Irish Civil War.

Cork’s city center is now an island sandwiched between two Lee River channels that meet downstream at the city’s eastern end, where quays and docks connect to Lough Mahon and Cork Harbour, one of the world’s largest natural harbors.

Cork Travel Guide: Best Places To Stay, Eat And See

Cork Travel Guide

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As a tourist destination, Cork has something for everyone. Numerous parks, museums, galleries, and other tourist attractions are located throughout the city. The picturesque city center provides easy access to numerous historical, natural, and cultural attractions.

Are you thinking about making a trip to this southern city in the near future? This Cork travel guide will assist you in planning your visit and revealing why Cork City is referred to as Ireland’s “true” capital.

Best Time To Visit Cork

The River Lee Hotel Cork

Temperatures in the southern city of Cork are regulated by the North Atlantic Current, which travels through the Atlantic Ocean. Cork receives significantly more rain than Dublin throughout the year, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in the winter months. If you are planning to visit, make sure to check weather forecasts.

From May to August is the best time to visit Cork. It’s also a good idea to go in the early fall. Cork hosts an abundance of fantastic festivals. Many of them take place between spring and autumn, when Cork is at its most picturesque. The Cork Jazz Festival and the Cork Folk Festival are two fantastic festivals to attend in October.

How To Get Around Cork

Macroom County Cork

Cork, as a major city in Ireland, has a well-developed public transportation system. This simplifies the process of getting around Cork.

If you are planning to visit the city’s major tourist attractions, the city is compact enough that you may be able to walk almost everywhere.

Other places or day trips, like Blarney Castle & Gardens, would require taking public transportation. If you’re visiting Cork soon and want to know how to get around, check out this Cork travel guide to help you out.

  • Walking
  • By car
  • By train
  • By bus
  • Bike share

Where To Stay in Cork

West Cork Model Railway Village, Clonakilty

Cork, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland, is beautiful all year. It is a cosmopolitan college town with affordable dining and a vibrant nightlife.

As one of Ireland’s larger cities, Cork offers a diverse selection of hostels, bed and breakfasts, hotels, and vacation rentals to suit any traveler’s needs and budget.

Here are some of the best places to stay in Cork City.

Kinlay House Hostel Cork

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Cheap dormitory rooms with a bright and lively atmosphere are what make Kinlay House Hostel. Guests could enjoy a walking distance from the Cork English Market as well as the Cork Opera House.

Kinlay House is one of the most flexible accommodations in Cork. It has a variety of rooms to choose from. They have private standard rooms for those who want to enjoy a room for themselves.

If you want to stick to your budget, they also have dormitory rooms offered at a cheap price.

For the latest rate, click here. 

Hotel Isaacs Cork

Hotel Isaac Cork

First on the list of mid-range hotels in Cork is Hotel Isaacs which is one of the best value accommodations in the city. Check out its affordable spacious rooms.Hotel Isaacs is a boutique hotel that offers mid-range rooms for guests who want to stay close to the city center.

The English Market and Shandon Steeple are the closest attractions from the hotel but bus stops leading to other parts of Cork are also nearby. Each room has a full kitchen and a private bathroom.

For the latest rate, click here. 

Hayfield Manor

Hayfield Manor Cork City

If you’re looking for a luxury hotel with a beauty spa and an elegant restaurant, Hayfield Manor is the perfect accommodation for you. They have a variety of luxurious rooms fit for royalties like their guests.

The bedrooms are not only fancy but the toilets as well. The rooms also feature a flat-screen TV and an entertainment system. If you prefer a relaxing afternoon, the hotel also has a pretty garden for afternoon walks and beauty treatments in its spa.

For the latest rate, click here

Where To Eat 

Cork is dubbed the “foodie capital” of Ireland. That alone should persuade you to pay a visit to this charming city.  Many of Ireland’s best and most prestigious restaurants are located in the city.

From cafes and eateries serving food made with the famous Cork butter (visit the museum, too!) and cheese to seafood restaurants, here are some of the best dining places in Cork.

Strasbourg Goose

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A restaurant in Cork known for its unbeatable value for money, Strasbourg Goose should be on top of your must-visit places to eat here.They have the popular three-course menu that costs 21, with a varied menu for each course.

If you avail of this, there’s also an option to trade one course for a glass of wine. Regular customers recommend that you try their seafood offerings as a starter, then go for the steak and finish with a decadent dessert.

The food is delicious and the portions are quite generous, so make it a point to visit this restaurant when you’re in Cork. 

Cafe Gusto

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A classic example of a small place but big in taste, Cafe Gusto serves casual dining fare that are hearty and delicious.

This is the Cork restaurant that’s known for its rolls, salads, and wraps, as well as tapas and hot dishes. Try their filling sandwiches as well as dishes like Italian meatballs or Iberico Chorizo & Chickpea Stew.

Cafe Gusto also serves good coffee and if you’re going here in the evening, you may bring your own drinks for a minimal corkage fee. 

Farmgate Cafe

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Farmgate Cafe is among the best restaurants in Cork for a reason, and it starts with its location. It is in the mezzanine of the English Market, and you can even choose a seat where you can watch the hustle and bustle in the area.

If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, the dining room boasts of artsy walls that feature works by local artists and even poetry. This poetry wall features poems from Irish and international poets, carefully curated by the café.

A lovely place to visit any time of the day, Farmgate  Cafe serves local dishes, using quality ingredients sourced from local producers.

A must-try is their tripe and onions with drisheen, Irish lamb stew, and their hearty sandwiches. 

Where To Drink/Party 

If you’re in Cork for a visit and want to experience the nightlife, you’re in for a treat! Owing to Cork’s university status, expect to see a large number of young, energetic students in search of cheap drinks and a good time!

This is the crowd you want to be around when you’re in the mood to party, and this Cork nightlife guide should assist you in planning your ideal pub crawl. Thus, here are some of Cork’s best drinking and partying establishments.

Costigan’s Pub

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Costigan’s Pub Cork (@costigans.pub)

Costigan’s dates back to 1849 when it first opened its doors for business, making it one of Cork City’s oldest pubs. Visitors to the city often stop by to sample the pub’s extensive selection of gins and whiskeys.

With its prime location on Washington Street, Costigan’s managed to hold on to much of its historic charm. The bar counter, cozy snug, and parlor area with fireplace are all part of the establishment’s offerings.

The Corner House

The Corner House

The Corner House offers a glimpse into more traditional Irish nightlife, which may be too. laid back for professional partygoers. It’s a convenient location for a night out in the Victorian Quarter.

The Corner House has a wide selection of beverages, from wine to craft beer, on its menu. Local bands and singers perform traditional Irish music in the early evenings and into the wee hours of the night. This is a great spot to unwind with a cold beer.

Sin E

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“Sin E” (Gaelic for “this is it”) is a fitting name for this pub, which truly does have it all. With over 150 years of continuous service, this bar is not short on history or character. Downstairs is always crowded, so if you prefer to sit, you’ll want to arrive early.

The atmosphere at Sin-E remains vibrant, with a long-standing tradition of good music and beer to keep things going strong. The bartenders are enthusiastic and attentive as they serve up a wide selection of spirits and local craft beers to their customers. This folk music joint’s relaxed atmosphere makes it easy to strike up a conversation with the locals.

Things To Do In Cork 

Cork City Jail

There are almost innumerable things to do in Cork City. The city is home to a number of Cork county’s most popular tourist attractions.

There is something for everyone, from historical landmarks and world-famous restaurants to museums and bustling little pubs. This Cork travel guide includes a variety of activities that will ensure that you get the most out of your visit.

Fancy the 16th-century art in the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Crawford Art Gallery Cork City

The Crawford Art Gallery holds an array of art pieces from the 16th century until the present. It features paintings, sculptures, and prints on all three floors of the building. While there are permanent exhibits, the gallery also has open doors for special exhibits which are only available for a certain season. It also offers presentations and hands-on experiences.

Revisit the city’s history in Cork Public Museum

Cork public museum

This Georgian House in one of the most popular parks in Cork City hosts a variety of artifacts which could help you take a tour back to the city’s past. The Cork Public Museum exhibits items from the Bronze Era, War of Independence, etc. You can also find examples of Cork silver and needlepoint lace in this museum.

Take a trip to the Cork City Gaol

Cork City Gaol

Of course, Cork City also has unusual tourist attractions which turned out to be one of the best experiences in the city. The Cork City Gaol used to be the city’s home for lawless citizens until it was closed in 1923.

From 1824 until 1923, this prison witnessed a lot of history which is now the main highlight of the guided tours in Cork City Gaol.

It also has a picnic area for families who want to stay after the tour, a souvenir shop for those who want to take home badass pieces of the prison’s history, and a cafe for those who want to take a break.

Be mesmerized by St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral

Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral

Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral is a neo-Gothic cathedral built for the devotees of the city’s patron saint. This cathedral is surely difficult to miss most especially when you’re walking along Dean Street at night.

The three spires of the cathedral and its architectural style give the city’s skyline a mystical touch.

The interior of the cathedral is also as breathtaking as the exterior so whether you’re in Cork City as a pilgrim or as a tourist, the Cathedral should make it to your list of things to do in Cork City.

Travel Tips And Resources

Travel Insurance: I never leave home without travel insurance. My personal opinion is if you can afford to travel, you can afford to buy a travel insurance. All things can happen while on the road and you can never be too sure. And it's something that you'll be glad to have when you need it. For my preferred travel insurance, I use Safety Wing.

What To Wear: If you want some ideas on what to pack for Ireland, check out this packing list guide for Ireland.

Where To Stay: I personally use Booking.com for all my accommodations. Check out for their latest deals here.

Reading Resources: Check out our best reading resources here.