The 10 BEST TOWNS in CORK for a BREAK in 2024

From perfect bases for family-friendly adventures to hubs of music and art, we highlight the ten best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.

The 10 best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.

Cork is the third-largest city in Ireland and enjoys a reputation as a vibrant and exciting place. In fact, many locals refer to Cork as “the real capital”.

Its merits are numerous and well-documented, but they shouldn’t overshadow what the rest of the county can offer.

That’s why we sought to highlight the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024 for those who want to get away from city life.

10. Baltimore – Michelin-star food

Baltimore is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.
Credit: Flickr / ale

Baltimore is a town popular with tourists who plan to visit Cape Clear, Sherkin, and Lough Hyne.

The town is also an attraction in itself, thanks in no small part to a scuba diving industry that thrives due to the number of shipwrecks in Baltimore Bay.

Foodies love to visit Baltimore, too. Local Turkish restaurant Dede recently earned its second Michelin star in only its third year of business.

Address: Baltimore, Co. Cork, Ireland

9. Union Hall – perfect for exploring

Union Hall is perfect for exploring.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

The 2022 census revealed that Union Hall has a population of only 143 people, but it attracts many visitors during the summer.

Union Hall is a perfect base for the explorers amongst you. Its surrounding hills and woodlands make for excellent walks, and it’s also conveniently located by some of Cork’s best beaches.

Address: Union Hall, Listarkin, Co. Cork, Ireland

8. Youghal – fantastic sports facilities

Youghal is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.
Credit: Ireland’s Content Pool

Youghal is one of the best towns in Cork for a break if you like to get active. The town boasts an 18-hole golf course and pitch and putt, GAA pitches, football pitches, rugby pitches, tennis courts, a family entertainment centre, and a leisure centre.

Youghal is also home to three Blue Flag beaches – Front Strand, Claycastle, and Redbarn – as well as the county’s largest freshwater coastal marsh, Ballyvergan Marsh.

Address: Youghal, Co. Cork, Ireland

7. Mallow – a family-friendly Cork break

For a family-friendly break in Cork.
Credit: Flickr / Julie from Wexford

In the north of County Cork, Mallow served as the base for the North Cork Militia – an IRA unit – during the Irish War of Independence. Today, it is perhaps better known for its wide range of family-friendly activities.

The whole family will surely enjoy Doneraile Wildlife Park, the Blackwater Valley, and Annes Grove Gardens.

Address: Mallow, Co. Cork, Ireland

6. Cobh – Titanic ties

Cobh is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Everyone knows that the Titanic, which has some crazy and interesting facts, was built in Belfast, but the Cork town of Cobh was also an important part of its history. The ship made its last port of call at Cobh before its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912.

123 passengers boarded at Cobh, of which only 44 survived. Titanic Experience Cobh offers visitors an interactive exploration of the ship’s voyage and the stories of its survivors.

Cobh also has ties to another maritime tragedy: the 1915 sinking of the RMS Lusitania. Cobh Heritage Centre houses a Lusitania exhibition, making Cobh one of the best towns in Cork for a break for those interested in maritime history. This is among many of the great things you can do with kids in Cobh.

Address: Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland

READ MORE: Check out where Cobh ranks on our article of the top 10 stunning fairytale towns in Ireland that really exist.

5. Clonakilty – for history buffs

Clonakilty is for history buffs.

Michael Collins – one of the most important figures in Irish history – lived in Clonakilty, and the museum dedicated to his honour is one of the top things to do in Clonakilty. Indeed, if you want you can make a 3-day itinerary on your Michael Collins road trip.

Clonakilty is also well known for its black pudding, and in fact, there’s a black pudding audio guide in the visitor centre. If you head here on an empty stomach, make sure you’ve got dining plans for afterwards!

Address: Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland

4. Leap – a must-visit for music lovers

Leap is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org/ N Chadwick

Those with an interest in the Irish music scene will recognise Leap as the home of Connolly’s of Leap, one of the country’s most essential music venues.

This live music venue closed in 2006 but reopened in 2015 to host some of the best Irish and international artists.

On top of Connolly’s of Leap, the town boasts a handful of other great bars, the Leap Historic Waterfall, and a beautifully maintained community garden overlooking the Celtic Sea.

Address: Leap, Kilmacabea, Co. Cork, Ireland

3. Glengarriff – on the Ring of Beara

On the Ring of Beara.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Located along the Ring of Beara, you could do much worse than to stay at this lovely little town when undertaking the drive.

Maureen O’Hara had a home in Glengarriff, and with its beautiful nearby forests, pristine bay, and small-town charm, we aren’t surprised.

If you do stay in Glengarriff, make sure to make the trip to Garnish Island on Glengarriff Bay. The island boasts a clock tower, a Grecian temple, a Martello tower, an Italian casita, and beautiful gardens when in bloom.

Address: Glengarriff, Cappyaughna, Co. Cork, Ireland

2. Skibbereen – home to the Skibbereen Arts Festival

Skibbereen is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

One of the main attractions in Skibbereen is the Skibbereen Arts Festival, which takes place annually in late July/early August.

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The festival commits to providing a platform for local artists and has also hosted internationally acclaimed artists like Martha Wainwright in recent years.

Skibbereen is also home to the West Cork Arts Centre, a vital resource to the area’s wealth of artistic talents and an incredible cultural font for its residents.

The town is also synonymous with the Great Famine. Interested visitors can learn more about this dark time in Irish history at the Skibbereen Heritage Centre and the Abbeystrowry famine burial pits.

Address: Skibbereen, Gortnaclohy, Co. Cork, Ireland

1. Kinsale – one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024

Kinsale is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

The picturesque town of Kinsale is famous for its brilliantly coloured buildings and its array of great pubs and restaurants. In fact, such is the renown of its food scene, Kinsale enjoys a reputation as the gourmet capital of Ireland.

It also hosts the annual Guinness Kinsale Jazz Festival during the last weekend of October, coinciding with the bigger Guinness Cork Jazz Festival in Cork City, attracting thousands of jazz fans each year.

But food and jazz aren’t the only things Kinsale has going for it. Locals and visitors alike love seaside walks and water sports at its incredible beaches and guided tours of the historic Charles Fort.

Whether it’s your first visit or your 101st, Kinsale truly is one of the best towns in Cork for a break in 2024.

Address: Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland

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