Explore the City or seek new experiences in the country and along our ancient, epic coast. Eat, drink, enjoy. This three-day itinerary lets you mix it up, feel the heartbeat of the city, connect with the green spaces around it and dive into the Big Blue that’s always waiting, due south.
Morning In The City – Breakfast in the English Market – try the Farmgate café or restaurant, on the mezzanine floor above the busy stalls and arcades – soak up the energy and atmosphere in Ireland’s most famous covered food market – keeping the locals fed and chatting since 1788.
Or - visit Ali's Kitchen, where chef and baker Ali Honour serves up great breakfasts and brunches (along with gorgeous cakes and buns and main plates throughout the day). A great option on Sundays.
10am Yoga In The Park – The detox before the re-tox? In Summer months, the Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre runs morning outdoor Yoga sessions in the very charming, riverside Fitzgerald’s Park (check their website for details). There’s also two popular cafes in these Victorian pleasure gardens, the Riverview and the Natural Foods Bakery. After your stretch, refuel with a coffee and a bun.
Or – On Saturdays, try a unique experience - row a currach or small, traditional Irish fishing boat - on the Lee with the Naomhoga Chorcai rowing club – for just €10 you can learn to row and pull up the river from the Marina to the city.
For a less strenuous afternoon, go Vintage Shopping – Get the Cork Vintage Map (which you can download Here or pick up in most cafes, markets, hotels and visitor spots) for the best of what the city has to offer in vintage and vintage inspired clothing, accessories, flea markets, vinyl shops and gifts. It’s also got lots of locally-based stylists for those looking for a quick make-over.
If there’s a gang of you and you love designer clothes, stylists and quirky design - don’t miss Brocade & Lime – on the historic (and a little Shabby Chic) Cornmarket Street. This designer clothes and beauty emporium is a bijoux jewelry box which keeps revealing new compartments. The hidden rooftop courtyard holds a retro beauty parlour, where your hair and makeup can be styled to the past era of your choosing. And on the top floor, there’s the “Hour Glass” roof garden, an intimate Victorian-themed party venue. You could easily lose an hour or two, with a glass of bubbly, in here.
A Quick Glass Or A Dish – Just across the market from Brocade & Lime, you will find The Woodford Saloon Bar & Dining Room. This old vaulted wine and whiskey warehouse has been a place for food and drink in one form or another since 1750. It’s a great space, relaxed and open during the day, very busy and vibrant at night.
Take time out for a little refueling (the food is mostly locally sourced and can come in bite sizes) before it’s time to get back and get ready for the evening to come.
The city’s Victorian Quarter, centred on McCurtain Street, offers variety and plenty of it. Traditional bars such as Dan Lowrey’s Tavern, great gastro pubs like Gallaghers or the bold and stylish new addition to Cork’s nightlife, Cask. This new cocktail bar and café is housed in a former antique shop and is now offering Treats, Beats & Eats. Glad Rags are advisable but not compulsory.
From MacCurtain Street, you can hit nearby Sin E (“Shin Eh” if you are asking for directions) on Coburg Street for music and craft beers or just follow the Cork Heritage Pubs Trail for some of the best the city has to offer.
Hit the Road – Brunch at Divas Deli & Bakery – a 40 minute drive south from the city, around the harbour, to the tiny village of Ballinspittle. And it’s worth it when you arrive at Divas, a bakery and café that opens for brunch at 11am on Sundays (and a little earlier during the rest of the week).
It’s set amid rich farmland and scores of family farms, so most of the ingredients are fresh, local and organic. Farmers and fishermen deliver daily and the eggs come from a local farm. Think urban flavours in a charming rural village setting.
Once the eggs benedict is dispatched, it’s just a mile to Garretstown Blue Flag Beach – one of the best beaches in Cork for surfing. It has a Surf School and you can rent boards or take a lesson. Or there’s a proper coffee stall if you would rather watch other people get wet.daily and the eggs come from a local farm. Think urban flavours in a charming rural village setting.
Kinsale – It’s a ten minute drive from Garretstown to Kinsale, the ancient fishing town that was historically fought over by the great European powers, before being finally conquered by an army of restaurateurs.
Corkonians will argue over endlessly over whether the famous Fishy Fishy seafood restaurant does in fact have the best Fish n’Chips on our coast (we all have our personal favourites). Those who look for slightly humbler but equally loved Fish n’ Chips will head to nearby Dino’s (on the Pier Road). You can take your battered fish in wrapping paper and find a lunch spot on the harbour wall.
Highlights of Kinsale include a walk along the Scilly coast path (ask a local for directions) from the town to the gorgeous Bulman Pub, set in its own harbour and offering great food along with pints on the harbour wall. And then a walk up the hill to Charles Fort – a spectacular 17th Century Coastal Star Fort, high on a cliff commanding the entrance to the harbour, with to-die-for views from the battlements and bastions. Great for wildlife watching, views and photos.
You can spend a fabulous afternoon and evening in picturesque, historic Kinsale, taking in the sights and the great bars, shops and restaurants and either stay locally, head back to the city or keep exploring on down the road.
Morning - Cobh By Train – Leave the car behind and take the train from Kent Station to Cobh. It’s a slowish-paced 35 minute ramble by rail down the harbour to the old hillside town, famous for being the Titanic’s last port of call.
Get Off The Train – And On The Water - Hire a Self-Drive Boat (for small or larger groups) and head out into the harbour, sailing the same waters the Titanic once saw and bobbing around the giant cruise liners which call into Cobh every spring and summer.
Back to the City For Tapas – Return by train, stroll back into the city and find the Iberian Way Tapas Bar & Deli on Douglas Street. It may not look like much, just a little shop/deli with some tables on a quiet, narrow street, a little off the beaten track. But Ireland’s most famous restaurant critic, Tom Doorley, reckons they could offer the “best tapas in Ireland” saying; “the croquetas are amongst the best I’ve had anywhere, ethereally gossamer light”.
The Iberian Way is run by Borja and Raquel, it’s very charming and sometimes very busy so call and book ahead if you are going in the evening.
After Your Tapas - visit one of the most un-spoilt, seriously authentic pubs in Cork, Callanan’s Bar on nearby George’s Quay (a five minute stroll from the Iberian Way). It may feel like you have time-travelled back to the 1940s, but it’s very friendly, great craic and usually full of interesting characters.
They occasionally do live Bluegrass Sessions, so you may get lucky with the music. It’s also the very best place in Cork to play the old (possibly Victorian in origin) pub game of Ring Toss – a variety of Darts which has been a uniquely Cork City pub pastime for generations. Just ask Rob behind the bar for “the rings”.