From ringing the Shandon Bells to visiting Mizen Head, here are the top ten things to do in Cork, Ireland, both the city and the county, in your lifetime.
County Cork is a vibrant place in the southwest of Ireland. With a magical coastline, stunning beaches, characterful countryside towns, tonnes of cultural sights, and things to do, it is plain to see why the county is bucket list material.
Wondering what to do in Cork? Wonder no more. With all Cork has to offer, it makes for a fantastic weekend away or summer vacation in its own right, while also acting as a tremendous staging ground for epic, coastal road trips.
If this sounds like your kind of place, we suggest you make the trip! When in the locale, here are the top things to do in Cork, Ireland.
10. Have a picnic in Fitzgerald Park – for a peaceful afternoon
If you’re looking to kick back with the locals on a sunny day in Cork City, you should check out Fitzgerald Park. It’s one of the top things to do in Cork City.
This popular park is home to lakes and manicured lawns, lots of sculptures, and wandering paths, as well as the Cork Public Museum, which makes for a great place to duck inside if the weather turns grey.
Address: Mardyke, Cork
9. Stargaze at the Blackrock Castle Observatory – see the stars
If you’re someone who feels inextricably interconnected with the universe, want to learn a little bit more about the cosmos, or are aiming for a date where stars collide, this is your spot!
Blackrock Castle Observatory is an interactive museum and exhibition space in a castle fort along the water’s edge in Cork City. It has tonnes of outstanding exhibits and workshops on offer.
Address: Castle Rd, Blackrock, Cork
8. Ring the Shandon Bells – make sure your laces are tied
For those of you looking for a unique experience in Cork, make sure to climb to the top of St. Anne’s Church in Cork City and ring the Shandon Bells!
This is certainly not your standard attraction and will be as memorable as it will be breath-taking—and we mean quite literally! Visitors must climb 132 steep steps to the top. Once there, panoramic views over the city will make the climb worth the while.
Address: Church St, Shandon, Cork
7. Visit the historic Cork City Gaol – a must-visit historical sight
Those who are keen to learn a little more about Irish—and more specifically, Cork—history should undoubtedly check out Cork City Gaol.
This popular tourist attraction is undoubtedly one of the top ten things to do in Cork! The former prison present-day museum is bursting with facts worthy of a visit, and its setting also creates quite the atmosphere.
Address: Convent Ave, Sunday’s Well, Cork
6. Relive history with the Titanic Experience – truly one of the top things to do in Cork, Ireland
Another key attraction worth checking out in Cork is the Titanic Experience. This experience offers visitors a unique experience as they approach the recreated Titanic ticket desk that once stood in its place, receive a ticket, and board the Titanic (which is, of course, a museum experience, not a recreated ship!).
This harrowing and memorable experience is sure to be one of the best on offer in Cork.
Address: 1 Olympic Way, Queen’s Road BT3 9EP, United Kingdom
5. Take a trip to Spike Island – an island full of history
Spike Island is a significant sight worth visiting when in the locale. This island is located in Cork Harbour and has an intriguing and diverse history.
In the space of 1300 years, the island mass has transformed from a 6th-century monastery to a grand fortress, then to a prison before becoming an island community. Now in the present day, it is a public museum.
Location: Cork Harbour
4. Learn all about whiskey at the Jameson Experience – perfect for whiskey lovers
The Jameson Experience is an Irish whiskey museum and visitor experience located in Midleton in County Cork.
Those with love for local casks favour this popular attraction. The centre—which welcomes approximately 100,000 guests per year—is an ideal place for those who want to learn more about Irish whiskey.
Address: Distillery Walk, Midleton, Co. Cork
3. See the wildlife at Fota Wildlife – one of the top things to do in Cork, Ireland
This sprawling wildlife and nature reserve is located in Cork on over 100 acres of land.
Carefully created habitats are home to some of the world’s most endangered species, and this not-for-profit charity, independently-funded reserve places conservation at the forefront of its mission.
Address: Fota, Carrigtohill, Co. Cork
2. Soak up the romantic atmosphere at Gougane Barra – idyllic and tranquil
This enchanting island settlement is located just off County Cork. An ancient church that stands on the small island landmass can be enjoyed as a day out or place for a picnic.
This will also be quite the scenic setting to pop the question if you’re looking for one!
1. Witness the scenery at Mizen Head – reach the very tip of the island
Mizen Head is truly one of the top places to see in Cork. It’s got to be the top thing to do in County Cork before you die! This stunning scenic location is, in fact, the most southwesterly point on all of Ireland and is surrounded by dramatic weather-worn cliffs and the crashing ocean below.
A visitor centre and a locally-run coffee shop also exist at Mizen Head, making for a fantastic day trip when in Cork.
Address: Cloghane Mizen Head, Goleen, Co. Cork
There you have it, our top things to do in Cork, Ireland. Which have you done already?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is Cork Ireland known for?
Cork is known as Ireland’s “Rebel County”. This nickname derives from its long history of independence stretching from Viking invaders to the Irish War of Independence. Cork is also home to the Blarney Stone – a local legend which is said to give you the gift of the gab (a colloquial term for eloquence) in exchange for a kiss. Cobh in Cork was also the last port of call for the Titanic before it embarked on its ill-fated journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
2. What river runs through Cork, Ireland?
The River Lee runs through County Cork in Ireland, and it is 90 kilometres (56 miles) in length.
3. What time is sunrise in Cork?
The sunrise in Cork can be as early as 5.13am in June and as late as 8.41am in December.
4. When did Cork win the All-Ireland football?
Cork first won the All-Ireland football in 1890. They won again in 1911, 1945, 1973, 1989, 1990 and 2010.
5. What to do in Cork, Ireland?
There are many epic ways to spend your time in Cork, from restaurants and walks to beer gardens and beaches. Keen to learn more? Read on for our top Cork travel tips!