Top 5 things to do in Cork

Cork, photo by William Murphy

The Irish countryside and the small villages or towns scattered over it offer many things to do for an enterprising traveler, but still, it’s the larger cities that just won’t let you be bored for a second, even if you tried. As the second largest city in Ireland, Cork is up on the same level as Dublin when it comes to things to do to keep you busy (although both Dubliners and Corkonians will disagree on this subject). Whether you’re a solo traveler, traveling with a group of friends or with your family, there will be tons of activities for you to do in ‘the real capital’ (as the inhabitants often call their city). So here are out picks for the top 5 things to do in Cork.

Visit the museums

Cork prides itself on its unusual museums, one of the most famous of which is the Cork City Gaol. A tour of the old prison will definitely make the hair on your back stand, especially if you decide to take the tour at night (available only October through May). On Shandon Street, you can find the offbeat Butter Museum, dedicated to one of the chief industries of Munster.

Buy some delicacies at the English Market

English Market, photo by Jessica Spengler

The English Market is a Cork institution, one of the oldest markets in Ireland and perhaps Europe as well. This elegant indoor market was established in the 18th century, and has been functioning ever since, braving famine, plague, wars and revolutions. People still buy their staples at the market, but in the past few decades the English market has begun attracting specialty stores where you can find all sorts of delicacies from Ireland and abroad.

Eat at a restaurant

Cork has tons of excellent dining options, especially if you want a taste of authentic Irish cuisine. Vegetarians and vegans have a wide selection of eateries to choose from, and many of these places will be just as tempting to meat eaters as well! The Ivory Tower and Jacobs on the Mall cater to a more exclusive clientele who is willing to spend more on quality cuisine, but places like the Scoozi or Idaho Cafe are more relaxed and offer simpler (but just as delicious) fare.

Get out

Kinsale, photo by jf1234 on Flickr

Cork is a great base of exploration for the attractions located nearby, like Blarney Castle or Kinsale and Cobh (two of the most fascinating heritage towns in Ireland, with beautiful harbors and many things to see). Blarney is home to the famous kissing stone, which will grant your wishes in exchange for a smooch. Whiskey lovers should pay their respects at the Old Middleton Distillery, where the famous Jameson whiskey used to be distilled, and having a tasting is definitely one of the top 5 things to do in Cork!

Experience the culture

Cork is one of the capital of Irish culture, and there are few months in the year when there isn’t a festival going on (Cork hosts the The Jazz Festival, Cork Arts Fest, and the Film Festival), and there are always some cultural events happening in the city, from concerts to exhibitions and talks. Watch a play or a concert at the Opera House or Everyman Palace Theatre, and visit the exhibitions at Lewis Gluckman Gallery.

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