Whether you're living there or planning a little family getaway, Cork is packed full of amazing things to do with kids that are free.
If you are looking for things to do with kids in the rain, in the summer, or in the sunshine, the Cork International Hotel has put together their list of free things to do with kids in Cork.
1.DEFEND THE CITY AT ELIZABETH FORT
The five pointed star fort is famed for its fantastic views of the city. Explore the 17th-century fort and its history as a military barracks, prison and police station. Admire the views from the boardwalk and make use of some great photo opportunities with the stocks! Throughout the year, there are talks, walks and real life medieval demonstrations as well as volunteers and local historians who are happy to share the tall tales from the Fort.
2. ST FIN BARRE’S CATHEDRAL – CORK CITY
Located right next door to Elizabeth Fort and dating back as far as the 7th century, the Cathedral is a wonder to look at with its gargoyles and whimsy. Local legend says that the golden angel on the eastern side of the cathedral will blow its horn when the Apocalypse is due to start. Its outdoor labyrinth is also always a hit with children.
3. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO COBH
One of Cork’s best loved towns, there is no shortage of things to do in Cobh. Arrive by car, train, on the Cobh Connect Bus or in the summer on the new Ocean Escapes ferry from Cork city. Marvel at the Cobh Cathedral, snap some photos of the iconic ‘Deck of Cards’ Houses, stroll along the promenade, let the kids roam free on the playgrounds and wonder at the enormous cruise liners in the port. Trips to Spike Island and the Titanic Experience are a small fee, but well worth a visit too.
4. DAY TRIP TO VISIT THE DONKEYS
Fall in love with these amazing creatures at the Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll outside Mallow. With over 1,800 donkeys and mules to meet and pet on the sanctuary’s fantastic picturesque grounds, it’s a great way to spend a day. There is no admission fee and free parking but you can leave a small donation on your way out to assist with the donkeys’ care.
5. FITZGERALD PARK – CORK CITY
Stroll along by the River Lee and enjoy some peace of mind and quiet in this wonderful park in the City Centre. There’s a fantastic pirate themed playground for kids, an amazing cafe shop that uses only locally sourced natural ingredients, a free-entry public museum that exhibits Cork’s rich history.
If you are visiting during the Summer months, this park is also home to numerous events, including Saturday morning Yoga in the park, outdoor cinema screenings, street theatre festivals, concerts and the Laya City Spectacular.
6. BLACKROCK VILLAGE – CORK CITY
This old fishing village just outside the city centre is renowned for its Castle Observatory which now offers visitors an award winning science centre incorporating the ‘Cosmos at the Castle’ exhibition. The village itself is quaint and offers a riverside walk, local cafes, pubs and more. On Sundays, the village hosts a weekly Farmer’s Market where you can try Cork’s famous O’Conaills hot chocolate.
7. SHANDON BELLS – CORK CITY
The oldest working bell tower in Europe, this is a sight you can’t miss when you are in Cork. The tower is part of an 18th-century church that inspired a classic folk song. Locally known as the four-faced liar, children will enjoy figuring out that no two of the tower’s four clocks tell the same time! For a nominal fee you can climb through the belfry to see the spectacular view of the city from the top, and even play a tune on the bells! In and around the tower, visitors learn about local dairy farming traditions and techniques at the Butter Museum, while the area’s narrow lanes are dotted with vintage alehouses and a few modern cocktail bars.
8. GET ADVENTUROUS AT FARRAN FORREST PARK
Farran is a small Park that has a lot to offer. There are walking trails, playground and a deer enclosure. A local Zip-lining company also offers a fun packed and thrilling treetop experience (fee for this). The National Rowing Centre is also located within the park on the lake shores and is used for national and international competitions, lending a great buzz to the forrest throughout the summer.
9. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK – CORK CITY
Enjoy a cultural walk through the stone corridor in UCC where you will find Ogham stones dating from 300-600AD. Pop into the Visitor Centre for a fun-filled guided tour which takes in the Honan Chapel, the President’s Garden and the Crawford Observatory. Learn the fun legends, fantastic folklore and unique history of the university. Visit the onsite Glucksman Gallery and shop and partake in a free family workshop on Sunday afternoons from 3-4pm.
10. HEAD TO THE BEACH
Cork boasts some of the most spectacular coastline in the whole country, from summer to autumn, many of these beaches are perfect for a stroll, sand-castle making, kite-flying, fishing, crabbing, football, frisbee and more. No matter the weather, you can enjoy some family time and many of these beaches are also serviced by local artisan food trucks and coffee cabins such as the Ramblin’ Sole, Soul Fix and the Seven Heads Pizza. May we suggest you start at Garryvoe Beach or the Warren Beach in Rosscarbery?
11. SPEND AN AFTERNOON IN KINSALE
A trip to Cork is not complete without a visit to Ireland’s favourite seaside town. Just 25 minutes drive from Cork International Hotel, this bustling picturesque town is a haven of activity with walks, parks, playgrounds, beaches, forts, pubs, shops, arcades and ice-cream parlours.