10 BEST free things to do in Cork 2024 (we tried them all)

When you are heading to a city, you can be forgiven for thinking it will cost an arm and a leg to enjoy anything worth visiting, but you’d be wrong.

If you find yourself in Cork and are looking for a cheap and awesome way to spend your time, then you need to try at least one of these activities. Here are the top ten best free things to do in Cork.

There are, in fact, many free things to do in Cork, some of which you may have heard of and some you may have not.

So, if you want to get a grasp of Cork’s epic history, architecture, art and much more, then make sure to save these places for your next trip to Ireland’s second-largest city.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can see and do for little or no cost. Be sure to brush up on your Cork slang first! Check out the ten best free things to do in Cork below.

Ireland Before You Die’s top tips for visiting Cork:

  • Irish weather is pretty unpredictable. Pack for rain, even if the forecast says it’s dry!
  • Download offline maps so you always have access to navigation on your trip.
  • Rent a car. While Cork is a really walkable city, some of the best things to do in Cork are out of the city, so a car can be the best way to travel.
  • Take some Euros out before your trip. Even when visiting free attractions, it’s good to have some cash available for food and souvenirs.

10. Elizabeth Fort – visit a star-shaped fort

Elizabeth Fort is one of the best free things to do in Cork.
Credit: Facebook / Elizabeth Fort

This 17th-century star-shaped fort is one of the best free things to do in Cork for all the family.

It was, of course, built to defend the city but was then demolished and rebuilt. So, what we see today is the newer version, which is very impressive.

Address: Barrack St, The Lough, Cork

9. Crawford Art Gallery – with over 3000 works to admire

Crawford Art Gallery has over 3000 works to admire.
Credit: Facebook / @CrawfordArtGalleryCork

With a huge range of free exhibitions, including paintings and sculptures dating all the way back to the 18th-century, this is the perfect free thing to do in Cork for history and art enthusiasts.

Address: Emmett Pl, Cork

READ MORE: the best free museums in Ireland

8. Fitzgerald Park – nature in the city centre

Fitzgerald Park is one of the best free things to do in Cork.
Credit: Instagram / @pobeda78

This fantastic park is the ideal place to rest, relax, and recharge beside the flowing River Lee, while still being perfectly located in the city centre.

They host outdoor cinema events and concerts and have children’s playgrounds and even yoga during the summer, so keep your eyes peeled for events happening here.

Address: Mardyke, Cork

7. Cork Public Museum – a museum within a park

Cork Public Museum is in a park.
Credit: Facebook / @corkpublicmuseum

Located in Fitzgerald Park, also listed here, this museum is a great stop off when wandering around the park.

Here, you’ll learn about the archaeology and history of the Cork region, which is a great way to get to know the area.

Address: Fitzgerald Park, Mardyke, Cork

5. Shandon Bell Tower – a view worth the climb

Shandon Bell Tower is one of the best free things to do in Cork.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

Not only will this get the heart pumping as you climb the 132 steps to the top; you’ll then be greeted by a fabulous 360-degree view of Cork City.

Climbing to the top of the Shandon Bell Tower will definitely be worth it – and your Fitbit will thank you!

Address: Church St, Shandon, Cork

4. Red Abbey – a one-of-a-kind in Cork

Red Abbey is one of a kind.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

When in Cork, you need to check out Cork’s oldest surviving structure and one of the best free things to do in Cork.

Dating back to the 13th-century, this is the only remaining evidence of Cork’s medieval history. So, it certainly is a special place to spend some time admiring.

Address: Ballintemple, Cork

3. Nano Nagle Place – dedicated to a heroic lady

Nano Nagle Place is one of the best free things to do in Cork.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

This oasis is where the hero Nano Nagle is proudly celebrated for being a pioneer of Catholic education.

She was the kind of woman that had done such great things for the community, despite prohibitions in her day. Thus, there is no doubt that if she were alive today, she would be presented with a Nobel Prize.

Here, you can discover the 18th-century walled convent, manicured gardens, and heritage centre, as well as the free lunchtime concerts, if you are in luck.

Address: Douglas St, Cork

2. The English Market – a must-see in Cork

The English Market is a must-see in the city.
Credit: pixabay.com / @Nils95

One of the oldest of its kind in the world, The English Market is well and truly worth a browse.

You’ll find artisan producers, one-of-a-kind vendors, and a big selection of fish and fresh meat.

Address: Princes St, Centre, Cork

READ: The English Market Cork: history & visit info

1. Blackrock Observatory – gaze at the stars in Cork

Blackrock Observatory tops our list of best free things to do in Cork.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

There may be a charge of €6.50 to get into the castle itself, but don’t be fooled.

There are always free stargazing events and space education seminars, so this is the perfect free thing to do in Cork if you or your family have a keen interest in science and space.

Address: Castle Rd, Blackrock, Cork

READ MORE: the best family-fun activities in Cork

So, avoid the admission prices here, there, and everywhere by checking out a few of the best free things to do in Cork. Save those euros to treat yourself when the day is over.

Your questions answered about the best free things to do in Cork

If you still have questions, we have you covered! In this section, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions and popular questions that have been asked online about this topic.

How many days in Cork are enough?

From Kinsale to Blarney to Cork City and beyond, there is so much culture to experience in Cork. People typically see what they need to in around three days.

What is the coolest area of Cork?

At the start of 2023, The Sunday Times tipped Cork’s Victorian Quarter as the coolest neighbourhood in the county.

Is the Blarney Stone free?

No, admission into Blarney Castle is not free. Tickets cost €20 for adults, €9 for kids, and €16 for students and seniors.

READ MORE: Our guide to visiting the Blarney Stone

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