This two-day itinerary will guide you towards many of the cultural, historic and characteristically Cork attractions of the city and then take you down the harbour to the historic port of Cobh. The city’s attractions are all very walkable, or you could pick up a City Bike from one of the many stations around the city.
And remember - Cork can be a quirky, sometimes eccentric and always surprising city that rewards explorers, especially those who take the time to dive a little deeper.
Start your morning with breakfast or just a stroll through the English Market – one of the finest indoor food markets in Ireland or the UK. You can walk on to the Crawford Art Gallery for a proper breakfast (or mid-morning coffee) at the gallery cafe. It’s a beautiful, art-filled Georgian room, with award-winning food, at the heart of this intriguing gallery of historic and contemporary art.
Or – for weekend brunch, try Ali's Kitchen in Rory Gallagher Place – chef Ali Honour has created a fine, contemporary menu in this bright and airy bakery and café.
Then - Visit St Peter’s Church – On the old North Main Street, historic St Peter's Church has become a bright exhibition space (with an inviting coffee dock) featuring an ever changing roster of events and exhibitions, focused mainly on the rich social history of our harbour city.
Stroll Up to Shandon - this ancient part of the city is just ten minutes’ walk from St Peter’s. Here, you can visit the Cork Butter Museum, telling the history of this great mercantile port through the export that made us famous around the world – Cork butter.
Afterwards – Just cross the street to the famous Shandon Bells, climb the tower, ring the bells and enjoy spectacular, panoramic views out over the city and our river. Generations of Cork people and visitors to our city have savoured these unique views and the call of the centuries-old eight-bell carillon. Now it’s time to add your own sounds to the city.
Lunch – For something a little different and unexpected, just below Shandon, on Pope’s Quay, you will find the bijoux Iyers Cafe, a small, family-run, pure vegetarian café serving authentic South Indian food and snacks, made fresh daily. Rated by many food critics the best Indian cuisine in Ireland, Iyers is a little revelation.
For Something Sweet Afterwards - Call to Shandon Sweet Shop. It’s the last of Cork’s traditional candy makers and still crafting the traditional handmade sweets which have delighted Cork’s kids (and big kids) since the 1920s. Father and son team Dan and Tony Linehan will look after your sugar cravings with handmade Bullseyes, Bon-Bons and Lemon Drops.
Afternoon – Stroll up the North Main Street, along Cork’s historic spine towards Barrack Street, and visit the perfectly preserved Elizabeth Fort – a 17th Century Star Fort with great views out over the city.
Continue On – just five minutes’ walk from Elizabeth Fort to the imposing Gothic architecture of St Fin Barre's Cathedral – take the tour of this great Gothic confection in stone and listen out for the mighty pipe organ.
Then - call in to Tom Barry’s Pub on Barrack Street for a hot port by the fire, a coffee or a craft-beer in the gorgeous, walled beer garden – the regulars will tell you it’s the best pub in Cork (and they could be right). There’s also artisan pizzas from the pub’s own wood-fired oven.
Early Dinner – In Paradiso Restaurant – this award-winning vegetarian restaurant is one of the gems of Cork cuisine. A must-visit for those who love great food, cooked with the finest, regional and seasonal ingredients.
To end your night - enjoy a show at the The Everyman theatre or visit the Triskel Arts Centre for art-house movies, exhibitions and events.
After Breakfast - Take The Train – to the historic harbour town of Cobh. It’s a fun, 35-minute jaunt by local train down the harbour with great views all the way to the little Victorian train station on the quays.
Join The Titanic Trail and learn more about the history of this port, the harbour, and how the doomed liner made its last call here on its maiden voyage. This two-hour tour will also feature the history of Cobh as a great embarkation point for countless thousands of Irish emigrants leaving their native shores for North America. So many sad farewells were said in this little port that it was known as “The Harbour of Tears”.
After walking the trail, find a spot for lunch (The Quays Resturant is right by the water and has spectacular views of the vast cruise liners which dock in Cobh in the warmer months).
After Lunch – Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, housed in the restored old town train station. This fascinating visitor centre tells the history of Cobh and the harbour, as a naval base for the British Empire, a point of embarkation for emigrants during and after The Famine and a great mooring place for the classic liners of the age of steam. There is a genealogical service with many resources for those interested in exploring their Irish roots.
Late Afternoon – Return to the City and find a place to have a bite just down from the train station in our Victorian Quarter on McCurtain Street. There is a wealth of great places to eat, from traditional Fish n’Chips, to burgers and BBQ and fine dining at Greene's Restaurant, where you will find contemporary cuisine in genteel Victorian surroundings.
And finally - hit the Cork Heritage Pubs trail. You will find authentic, quirky and lively pubs across the city centre. Find a quiet corner to look back on your day on the harbour, or join in the craic with the locals and regulars. If your fancy is traditional music in an authentic setting, check the Lee Sessions listings for what’s on around the city.