Life’s busy, with far too little time to de-stress, detox and reconnect. You may only have a week to get away. Spend it in our maritime haven. Relax, explore and connect with the countryside, our epic coast and our charming, sometimes quirky, always surprising city.
This five-day itinerary is perfect for families, for couples or for independent travellers looking to see a lot, but in a relaxing, fun and adventurous way.
Arrive in Cork City – travel 36km due north(ish) to Ballyvolane House. Stay in luxury accommodation in the historic country house or go Glamping in one of the three or four person bell tents in the grounds. It’s a fully catered, luxury camping experience with all meals, drinks, and afternoon tea laid on in the main house.
You are not exactly roughing it, but you are escaping to a peaceful, rural idyll in beautiful parkland on the banks of the storied Blackwater River. It’s claimed to be Ireland’s finest salmon run, a legendary place amongst anglers the world over.
And while you may not have the skills to cast flies for the King of the River, you can go after no-less sporting rainbow trout in the estate’s lakes. If you are unused to fishing with the fly rod, experienced instructors are on hand for beginners.
There are lots of activities and experiences for kids and adults in the grounds, but you may just want to spend your first one or two days just finding some peaceful spaces and decompressing
Explore the house and gardens. Ballyvolane estate, like much of the rolling, rich farmland of East Cork, can seem to stretch over the hedgerows and off over the blue horizon to the sea. There are ancient, old-growth woods to explore, coppices, treehouses, formal gardens, lakes and wild corners. Go lose yourself for a few hours.
Leaving Ballyvolane in mid-morning, travel south 20kms to Midleton, an old County Cork market town, where you will stop for an early lunch at the Farmgate Resturant & Country Store.
The Farmgate Midleton, together with its sister restaurant in the City’s English Market, is an award-winning, Cork classic. The produce is local and the menu is full of hearty Irish dishes. There’s a country store where you can find regional delicacies to take onwards with you.
After early lunch at the Farmgate, travel on for 15 minutes to the acclaimed Ballymaloe House, home to a country hotel, guest cottages, a world famous cookery school and much more. You can visit the shop and café, or stay the night and enjoy the many activities and amenities (including a heated outdoor pool) around this classic Irish country house.
However - If you prefer another night under canvas, there’s the nearby yurts at Inch Hideaway Eco Camping, a natural adventure playground for kids and those a little older.
Inch Beach Surfing – spin down to nearby (15 minutes) Inch Beach and take a lesson with the Swell Surf School – it’s a beautiful, wild beach with great waves and stunning scenery.
Travel 15km east along the Atlantic Coast to the quiet harbour village of Ballycotton and take the Ballycotton Lighthouse Tour – climb aboard a boat out to an island and then climb the stone steps of the 150-year old Lighthouse, high up to the lantern balcony for stunning coast and sea views. It’s one of only two lighthouses on the entire Irish coast painted in black.
Travel back towards the city, stopping off at Fota Wildlife Park (if there are kids in the party) for an amazing wildlife experience, from giraffes to meerkats and (almost) everything in between.
It’s in a stunning setting on Fota Island in Cork Harbour, an award-winning destination. For other visitors, there’s the fabulous grand Regency country house, Fota House, with its formal gardens, parkland, arboretum and café.
Finish the Day In The City – with a late evening Urban Kayaking experience, floating down under Cork City’s many bridges, past the docks and out into the harbour, rated by The Sunday Telegraph Travel Magazine as one of the Top Ten Urban Kayaking Experiences in the World.
It’s a magical way to combine the wild and the urban, paddling slowly down the Lee, past Blackrock Castle with its sentinel swans, to the mouth of our historic harbour.