Ireland is beautiful, but when most people think of Ireland, they think of Dublin. Don’t forget about Cork though, the second largest city right along Ireland’s south coast. This city has an amazing history, not to mention all the wonderful sights to see and things to do right along the coast. You certainly won’t ever find yourself feeling bored when one of your road trips brings you along through Cork.
What to Visit in Cork
Visiting the City Gaol is a great way to see the inside of a jail without actually going to jail. Let’s face it: this jail is a lot cooler than any other jail out there too. The City Gaol is a fortress prison that was founded in 1824, and is the perfect place for day trips. It sits at a little bit of a higher elevation, originally meant to contain typhus outbreaks, and functioned for 99 years.
There’s some great history to this jail, with a history of 40 escapees in 1923, and museum-like tablets showing you more about the lives of the prisoners and guards. You can even step into one of the old jail cells, something that you definitely can’t do everywhere you visit.
The English Market is right in the heart of Cork, with a great fountain right at the center—definitely a good place for taking a picture. But beyond the photo opportunities, look around you to see the roofed market, which is one of the world’s oldest municipal markets. It’s been around since 1788, but rest assured that all the artisan breads, fruit, and seafood are all completely fresh. These specialties are some of the items that make this place special, along with the delicious coffee and beautiful appearance.
If you’re not convinced, know that many of the leading restaurants in Cork get their produce straight from this market. You can find things to cook here for yourself, or can try out some of the regional delicacies like drisheen, otherwise known as blood sausage. There’s no better time to try some of the delicious food in Ireland than when you visit the market.
You only have to take a trip of under 10 kilometers from Cork to get to Blarney Castle, and well, everyone has wanted to visit a castle at some point in their life. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a Medieval castle built in the 15th century and which has been preserved since then. If you want, you can even go up to the battlements to kiss the Blarney Stone—according to tradition, anyone who kisses the stone will be given the gift of eloquence.
There’s more to do than just kiss the stone though. You can take a look around the castle to check out the themed gardens. Just be careful of the poison garden that grows wolfsbane, ricin, mandrake, deadly nightshade, and poison ivy, and take a look at some of the trails in the area as well.
Fota Wildlife Park
When you visit Cork, you have such an amazing opportunity to take a look at some amazing animals in the 70-acre Fota Wildlife Park. These animals are all free to roam around as much as they can in their natural environment, where you can both observe and interact with them. When you sit at your picnic table then, you just might have a few ring-tailed lemurs join you, and may need to be careful to keep your food away from the giraffes!
This park is special because it’s not just something that you drive through. You’ll be walking around the park, so make sure that you wear some shoes that you can move in, and that you put aside enough time to really see all the sights.
Originally, Spike Island was a defensive location, and it worked as an artillery fort in 1793 when France declared war on Britain. It was then a part of the British Isle, but now you can see all the guns on show, and can tour the entire complex. You can even hear some of the stories of the famous prisoners. Just take a nice ride out on the water to enjoy the time off of the land.
Wild Atlantic Way
When you’re in Cork, which is right along the coast, there’s no way that you can miss out on Wild Atlantic Way, one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. When you take this route, you can see all of nature around you, including the ocean and the countryside. You can even see the beautiful villages and ancient monuments, and see the way that the sea has changed these places over the court of the years.
If you’re looking to truly experience Cork and Ireland, there’s no better way to do that than to take a trip along Wild Atlantic Way.
Sometimes, you need some time to relax and see the sights, even when you’re on vacation. There’s no better place to take a breath than n Fitzgerald Park, which is one of the most relaxing places right on the outskirts of Cork. You can see the original pavilion and ornamental fountain, and even take a look at the beautiful gardens. Don’t think this is only a photo opportunity though, since you can take a look at the Cork Public Museum while you’re here, and stop for some coffee and treats at the nearby café. There’s even a skate park and a water-lily pond for you to see.
The River Lee is sort of everywhere in Cork—or it’s at least around many of these places that we’ve already talked about on our list. It has a great many hotels and rooms for you to stay at when you’re not sight-seeing, and frames many of the beautiful places in Cork.
There’s so much that you can do when you visit Cork, and this isn’t even the complete list! Check out the University College, which is considered the best place to study in Ireland, and go around to see some of the amazing churches. You can do so much in this town to make lots of memories, take many pictures, and come home feeling relaxed.