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A trip to Cork offers so much variety, from memorable foodie experiences and breath-taking coastal views to history and heritage, and plenty of shopping opportunities. From Cork City to the towns of Cobh, Kinsale, Clonakilty and Midleton, there is so much to explore in the area that you best give yourself a few days to experience everything that ‘The Rebel County’ offers.
Exploring Cork City
When it comes to exploring the many famous sights and sounds of Cork City, make the English Market your first port of call. Opened in 1778, Rick Stein declared the English Market as “the best covered market in the UK and Ireland.”
The Crawford Art Gallery and Cork City Gaol are both worth exploring, while Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral and the Church of St Anne at Shandon are among the most-visited attractions in the city. Be sure to make your way to the tower at the top of St Anne’s and ring the Shandon Bells while you enjoy an amazing panoramic view over the city.
If museums are your thing, then the Cork Butter Museum offers something a little different, showcasing the story of Ireland’s most important food export.
While there is so much to see and do in Cork City, the small towns that surround the city and shape the coastline are, for many, the real beauty of the area. The town of Cobh is famous for being the last stop on the maiden voyage of Titanic, with the popular Fota Island Wildlife Park just north of Cobh on Fota Island.
Foodie fans, look no further than the town of Kinsale, the gourmet capital of Ireland. When visiting Kinsale, be sure to stop by the Old Head of Kinsale, and if you’re a golfing fan, tee off at the Old Head Golf Course, one of the most scenic courses anywhere in the world.
Continue south and explore the coastal towns of Clonakilty (birthplace of Michael Collins) and Rosscarbery, while the picturesque town of Skibbereen, with its boutique shops, is well worth visiting. Head to the town of Baltimore where you can go dolphin watching, and use this as your base to set off exploring the great local food markets and produce available in West Cork.
No trip to Cork would be complete without a journey to Ireland’s Teardrop and Mizen Head, the most southern point in Ireland. Leave Mizen Head and enjoy more spectacular coastal views as you drive the 200km Sheep’s Head Way at Sheep’s Head Peninsula, before continuing along the coast to Bantry Bay and the Beara Peninsula. While in this area, take time to visit Bantry House, Glengarriff Nature Reserve and Garinish Island. Hop onboard Ireland’s only cable car at Dursey Island as you visit Cork’s most western island, a signature visitor attraction along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Castles, Whiskey and Ancient Cork
Cork is home to a selection of famous castles and monastic sites, with Blarney Castle, Blackrock Castle, Castlemartyr Castle, Charles Fort and Mallow Castle all worth exploring. Blarney Castle is one of Ireland’s most famous castles, with thousands of visitors climbing the steps each year to kiss the Blarney Stone, and, with it, get the ‘gift of the gab’! Take a step back into Ancient Ireland at the stone circles in Kealkill, while the early Christian site at Ballyvourney has several ancient ruins to be explored. Whiskey fans, be sure to pencil in a trip to Midleton and the Jameson Distillery for the ultimate Irish whiskey experience.