Ok, so you’ve visited Ireland and ticked Dublin off your travel list, but have you visited the ‘rebel city’? Cork is Ireland’s third largest city and lies in the south-west of the country. It is a city steeped in history, beaches, great food, and coffee spots. Plus, the Cork accent is one of the most unique accents you will hear, trust me! But you only have 24 hours to visit Cork? No problem, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading for the best, jam-packed, one day itinerary to truly explore this amazing city.
What’s the best time to visit Cork?
Bearing in mind that Ireland is known for its unpredictable weather, the best time to visit Cork would be June – September. The chances are higher for sunshine during these months, but it’s Ireland after all, so packing for rain is still essential.
The winter months in Cork are relatively quieter than the summer months, plus most of the tourist attractions are open all-year round. So if you are hoping to run away from the hustle and bustle and have a relaxing weekend, then come visit from November – January.
A few facts about Cork:
What vegetable would you most associate with Ireland? I’m hoping you guessed potato! Well rumour has it that the first potato in Ireland was planted in Cork. Sir Walter Raleigh is believed to have planted the first ‘spud’ in Youghal, East Cork. If history doesn’t tickle your fancy, how about a geography fact?
Cork harbour is said to be the second largest natural harbour in the world (after Sydney harbour). History and geography not your thing? How about music and art… Cork is an epicentre for traditional music and arts and is now the host of the hugely popular Cork Jazz Festival and Cork Film Festival.
One Day in Cork Itinerary:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Start your day off with a delicious breakfast at Good Day Deli in the heart of Cork City. Good Day Deli is a sustainable foods cafe serving healthy and organic food made with local produce. There is great outdoor and indoor dining to cater for all seasons. The coffee scene in Cork has been building momentum and the city is now coined by locals as the ‘People’s Republic of Caffeine’. Grab yourself a cuppa in one of the many coffee shops in the city; Filter, Alchemy, Soma, Union Grind and The Bookshelf.
Trace the scenes from ‘The Young Offenders’
The Young Offenders is an Irish comedy about two friends who are Cork natives. Many of the scenes from the show are filmed at the English Market in Cork. Serving the people of Cork since 1788, the English market is known as one of the oldest municipal markets in the world. Full of fresh bread, seafood, wines and chocolates – it is a haven for food-lovers (and people-watchers!)
Picnic at the Cork City Gaol
Now that you’ve grabbed some fresh produce at the English Market, why not picnic at Cork’s most unusual tourist attraction. The Cork City Gaol was the city’s home for lawless citizens until 1923.
A lot of history was witnessed in this prison and there are guided tours to bring you on a journey through the grounds. There is a lovely picnic area for tourists to stay on after the tour and have a bite to eat before they venture onto their next location.
The gift of the gab
A mere twenty minutes drive from the city centre, you will find Blarney Castle. Irish folklore says that if you kiss the legendary Stone of Eloquence, found at the top of Blarney Castle, you will receive the gift of the gab! The gift of the gab? What is that? It simply means you will never be lost for words again. It’s not as easy as simply visiting the castle though. You must climb a narrow staircase to the top of the castle to find the magical stone. Then you need to kiss the stone to get the gift of the gab!
Day activities for all
Family with kids: If you are travelling with kids, Fota Wildlife Park is just a half hour from Blarney Castle. It is the perfect family day out with birds and animals from across the five continents.
Family with teens/couples/solo travellers: Forty minutes from the city centre is the historical town of Cobh. Cobh is a quaint old town in the south-east of Cork. Formerly known as Queenstown, Cobh was the departure point for 2.5 million Irish people who emigrated to America between 1848 and 1950. More famously, this town was the final stop and last port of call for the Titanic. Because of this historical moment in history, Cobh offers the Titanic Experience which is a must-do activity to virtually experience the true story of Titanic.
Finish with fine dining
Frequently coined the ‘Gourmet Capital of Ireland’, finish your day off with an evening trip to Kinsale. Here you will find some amazing restaurants like Man Fridays or the Black Pig Wine Bar.
This colourful coastal town offers sprawling ocean views as you tuck into some of the best seafood in Ireland. Finish the day with a nightcap at the Folkhouse where you can relax and unwind or dance the night away.
Where to stay in Cork
Main Street, Cork, Ireland
For the ultimate luxury in Cork, you will want to book accommodation in Castlemartyr Resort. Now this is postcard Ireland right here because the resort spans over a huge estate and is located next to a castle that is more than 800 years old. Add to that a fantastic restaurant, an 18-hole golf course, and even a carriage tour of the whole estate, and you can be sure you will have an amazing time here.
76 South Mall, Cork, Ireland
Cork city’s most central hotel is the Imperial Hotel. This 4-star hotel offers spacious and luxurious rooms just a minute walk from the centre. An absolutely beautiful building will also welcome you with an excellent spa, plus the restaurant and the bars are excellent. You also get high-brow toiletries with your room and can enjoy Nespresso machines and high-tech TVs. It doesn’t get much better than that.
48 Mac Curtain Street, . Cork, Ireland
Hotel Isaacs is another mesmerizingly beautiful hotel close to the centre of Cork. Here you can choose between well-equipped rooms and spacious suites, and the restaurant has received much praise from many professional reviewers. You can also quickly get to many different golf courses, which is certainly a big plus. All in all, this is a great hotel, there is certainly no doubt about that.
Sheilas Tourist Hostel
Belgrave Place, Wellington Road, Cork, Ireland
Less than five minutes walk from the city centre, you’ll find the super affordable Sheilas Tourist Hostel. It’s just a few minutes from the city centre, so the location is excellent, and the hostel also has a cinema room, a kitchen and a terrace. Great value for your money, and quite a pleasant stay!
Day trips from Cork
Spend a day away at Ireland’s own Alcatraz ‘Spike Island’. Recently opened to tourists in 2015, this island is steeped in history touching on revolution, religion and war. Take a boat across to this dark and fascinating island. Explore the grounds and learn the history of this prison island, fortress and monastery. For a well-earned rest, there is a cafe and giftshop on the island. As you depart the island by boat, keep your eyes peeled for the ‘deck of cards’ houses which can be seen by boat from Spike Island. These houses are beside St Coleman’s Cathedral and are painted beautiful bright colours, which make for some amazing photos.
Lakes of Killarney
One hour drive from Cork city centre, you will find the beloved town of Killarney. The famous Lakes of Killarney is one of the most popular day trips in Cork. You can explore the lakes by boat, or walk around the beautiful surrounding gardens and up to the famous Torc Waterfall. Killarney town is a colourful and lively town with pubs lining the streets and trad music filling the air.
Extra tips for visiting Cork
As mentioned the Cork accent is very unique and Corkonians have developed their own slang and phrases. You will hear words like ‘biores/beores’, ‘feens’ and ‘langers’. If someone in Corks ‘I will yeah’ this actually means they wont! To give you a taste of what to expect here’s a clip of two Cork brothers sharing their Olympic success on The Graham Norton Show.