Is Cork city worth visiting?
Don’t be fooled by it’s diminutive size. There’s a lot of fun things to see and do in Cork City in just two days. There’s everything from culture and delicious local food to historic sites and gorgeous green spaces. Cork has something to interest all ages and I think you need at least two days to do everything.
I only booked a trip to Cork to see Jack Johnson play live. So I was surprised to find a lovely city to keep me entertained apart from the gig.
How to spend two days in Cork?
Crawford Art Gallery
With a mix of contemporary and traditional works on display, there’s something for everyone at Crawford Art Gallery. I thoroughly recommend going on a free art tour to gain a further insight on the main pieces of art, the building and Cork City itself. If the sun is shining, head to the courtyard and dine alfresco at their cafe. If you’re still craving more art, visit The Glucksman.
The English Market
Rick Stein said The English Market is the best covered market in the UK and Ireland. Who am I to argue with Rick Stein! Cork is known as the culinary capital of Ireland too.
You’ll find local produce as well as food from afar and stalls to takeaway so you can have a picnic in the adjacent The South Parish Walk Gran Parade park. I’d definitely recommend eating at the Farmgate cafe located on the first floor. They serve traditional Cork dishes (Irish black pudding English black pudding) where you can really admire the 18th century market and people watch below.
Ring the Bells of Shandon at St. Anne’s Church
As Cork’s most famous building, visiting St Annes church is a must. Not sure how the locals put up with the amateur off beat noise, but ringing the bells of Shandon at St. Annes Church is so much fun and not to be missed. There’s sheet music to help you and a variety of songs to choose from including Amazing Grace to Hey Jude. After that, climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze, so much so they provide a hard hat!
Blackrock Castle Observatory
Built in 1582, Blackrock Castle Observatory still holds much of its charm which you can learn more about on the tour which takes you to the roof. There are also video stations which explain all things related to space. You’ll also get to step inside an inflatable igloo structure where you’ll get a guided talk on the stars via projection. After your visit, enjoy tasty food at the Castle Cafe which has seating outdoors and it’s lovely conservatory.
Triskel Arts Centre
If you love independent film, then Triskel Arts Centre is a must. This 1700’s neo-classical church showcases films from around the world you won’t see at regular cinemas and often have themed film seasons.
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Saint Fin Barres Cathedral
My favourite piece of architecture in Cork is the Gothic, Saint Fin Barres Cathedral.
Day two – Is Blarney Castle worth seeing?
There are many day trips from Cork City you can choose from, but I think Blarney Castle is top of many people’s list. And quite rightly. I’d recommend getting there early and heading straight for the line to kiss the Blarney Stone which can get as long as an hour’s wait. Legend has it if you kiss the Blarney Stone you’ll get the gift of the gab! There’s two people to help you get into position so you can lean back. And they do clean the stone in case you were wondering like I was!
The castle gardens are beautifully landscaped and definitely worth taking a stroll around with your camera. Watch out for the leprechauns…
You can easily get from Cork city centre to Blarney Village via bus. Check out the timetable for Cork bus station for more information.
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An alternative day trip from Cork – Kinsale
Kinsale, which is a town on the southern coast of Ireland, is also worth visitng if you have time. Its small enough to walk around and perfect for some fresh air by the sea. Wander around the brightly coloured buildings, boutique shops and enjoy an Irish breakfast, complete with Irish black pudding at Food U. Kinsale can also be reached by bus.