Over the past few years we've become quite accustomed to the humble staycation, as we explored everything this gorgeous green isle has to offer! From stunning clifftop views and drives to gorgeous quirky towns and villages full of history, we have culture, scenery and craic to spare!
And one of our favourite spots for a weekend getaway? The stunning rebel county of Cork! With its city full of fun-filled bars, top notch restaurants and quirky tourist attractions and beautiful countryside villages and scenic landscapes, it has everything to offer every tourist. Check out our top picks for things to do in th city - including a few off-the-beaten track things you may not have heard of before!
Shadon bells in St. Anne’s Church
An unexpected gem in the heart of the city that you wouldn’t find unless you had researched beforehand, St Ann’s church is an iconic part of Cork’s landscape. More commonly referred to as Shandon, it’s famous for its unusual salmon-topped spire, an ode to the fishing trade that thrived in Cork City’s harbour.
But hidden up in the steeple in a historical journey of the church itself and the famous Shandon bells – which you can actually play! Tourists have the opportunity to ring out a tune across the city on the church bells, with a song book and instructions provided – a seriously unique and fun experience in the rebel county!
Crypts beneath Triskel Arts Centre
Triskel Arts Centre is a deconsecrated church that has been turned into an arts centre, right in the middle of the city. A cultural hub, they host art showings, concerts, shows and many other live events, with the gorgeous 1700s neoclassical Georgian church serving as their auditorium.
But the most interesting part? The crypt below the old church!
Housing many of Cork’s most prominent 1800 families – including a number of Cork mayors – the crypt can be seen from a glass viewing box that was put in during the 2009 renovations. From there, you an see two unearthed graves and more burials beneath the viewing box floor. There were a number of family mausoleums discovered there as well as a human heart in a box marked ‘1549’. The box wasn’t discovered til 1863. This unique space is definitely worth the visit if you’re in the city centre!
Vibes and Scribes
This one is for the book lovers! Your head may have been turned by the admittedly gorgeous Waterstones on Patrick’s Street, but if you head off the beaten track a little down to the river on Lavitt’s Quay, you’ll find a gorgeous independent bookstore called ‘Vibes and Scribes’.
The store has two entrances – one to its secondhand store where you’ll find amazing deals and one to its main store that features stunning editions of your favourite books, the most gorgeous literary knick knacks and all the books you could ever hope to read! Definitely one to check out if you love books.
Originally built in 1724 as Cork’s custom house, this stunning gallery is a treat for art, history and architecture lovers alike! A national institution, wandering these halls you’ll be treated to visual arts, both historic and contemporary, as well as the gorgeous stained glass windows, magnificent staircases and a cute café. Their collection comprises over 3,000 works, ranging from eighteenth-century Irish and European painting and sculpture, through to contemporary video installations.
But the biggest treat is just to the left as you come in the front door. Transport yourself to Ancient Greece and Rome in this stunning gallery with their collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican Museum in Rome. Admission to the gallery is free, so this is really not one to miss.
University College Cork
Not just for the students! UCC is an amazing campus with some seriously stunning sights. The iconic Quad is the most scenic spot on campus, and it’s often likened to Hogwarts with it’s castle-like structure, inspired by Middle-ages architecture. Established in 1849, the university only took on 115 students in its first year, opening the school with an inaugural ceremony in the great hall – also known as the Aula Maxima, a place where students now take exams and university events take place. Duck into the imposing building to see both Aula Maxima and the ogham stones housed there -just don’t step on the Quad’s grass, or you’ll fail all your exams!
While on campus be sure to check out the Honan Chapel, a quirky and gorgeous little chapel in which only UCC graduates can get married in. The tiling on the floor will blow your mind, and rubbing the nose of the George Boole bust outside the library will give you good luck in your exams!
Right across the road from UCC, this charming park is best seen in spring and summer when it’s a riot of colour! The rose gardens and unusual structures around the park will keep you entertained while you sip at your coffee from the park’s Natural Bakery. Stop into the museum on site as well to get a comprehensive history of the city and all the local history.
Cork City Gaol
Feel like getting creeped out and learning something at the same time? Cork’s old city goal is right across the water and over shaky bridge from Fitzgerald’s Park. Overlooking the whole city, the spooky structure has been turned into an interactive museum that chronicles the building’s fascinating and dark history.
Learn about the inmates housed there form amazing tour guides and how the goal ran day to day – from what food they ate, to what prison sentences were served there. The expert team will be able to answer all your questions and give you a truly memorable experience in this hidden gem.
The English Market
Fancy a wander for the afternoon? If you’re shopping around Cork, you have to stop into the English Market, especially if you’re a foodie. Artisanal foods, banter with butchers and a gorgeous café that allows you to overlook all the mayhem of the market below, this beautiful spot is quintessential Cork and a must-see.
Other gorgeous shops to check out are Unbound on Bridge Street for gorgeous handmade items and quirky home ware and Wild Design inside the shopping centre on Paul’s Street for beautiful prints, jewellery, clothing and more.
Nano Nagle Place
Once an old convent, Nano Nagle Place has been reimagined as a heritage centre, celebrating the story of Nano Nagle and the city in which she worked to educate and care for the poor. Visitors can learn about the Presentation Order and all the wonderful work they do in the community and abroad to carry on Nano’s extraordinary charity while enjoying a tranquil and absolutely stunning environment. Check out the beautiful gardens and café while you’re there and learn a little something new!
Franciscan Well Brewery
Like pizza? Like beer? Then the Franwell is absolutely the place for you. An iconic Cork pub, this is known for its onsite brewery serving up delicious craft beers – but don’t worry, they also serve ciders and wines and soft drinks! But the major star of the show here is their pizza oven out in the funky and welcoming beer garden. Made with local ingredients, the pizzas are the perfect pair to your Franciscan Well beer, making for a gorgeous afternoon or evening chilling in their garden!
Some other great food spot sot check out in Cork are Fionbarra’s beer garden for a great lunch option in a quirky beer garden, Arthur Mayne’s wine bar for some delicate cheeseboards perfectly paired with excellent wines and Market Lane for some truly fine dining.
Enjoy your visit to the rebel county!