My Town: Cork

Classic architecture building with a clock tower reflected on water at night under a moonlit sky.

City Hall in Cork by night

City Guide to Discover Cork

No trip to Ireland is complete without spending at least 48 hours in Cork, its second largest city. Not only does it offer a riveting history  – having started as a monastic settlement which adopted a rich trading culture – travellers are also met with diverse entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities to sink their teeth into. After a couple of days exploring this unique urban spot, you’ll want to recommend it to everyone.

Both within Cork itself and just a short drive away, are plenty of ways to spend thrilling days…


Consecrated in 1870, the historic St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is still standing tall centuries later. Known for its iconic spires and exquisite architecture – as well as for its regular services and events held throughout the year – it’s a brilliant place from which to begin exploring Cork’s incredible heritage.

Group of vintage-dressed men next to an exhibit from the cork public museum.

Keep the history theme going with a trip to Cork Public Museum, which houses some compelling collections showcasing the city’s rich past. Situated within the glorious Fitzgerald Park, we’d suggest following this up with a picnic or walk around the tranquil grounds, taking a break from Cork’s lively centre to see the ponds, wildlife, sculptures and more that this scenic spot offers.

Historic stone castle with towers surrounded by manicured lawns and trees under a blue sky.

Cork City Gaol

Another very unique way to get to know Cork throughout the ages is by visiting Cork City Gaol. This historic location prides itself on its immersive nature. Visitors can enjoy an audio tour in up to 13 languages, an array of interesting exhibitions and more as they follow in the footsteps of 19th century prisoners.

Finally, an unmissable addition to spending 48 hours in Cork is a trip to the remarkable medieval stronghold, Blarney Castle. Home of the Blarney Stone – which, according to legend, grants those who kiss it the Irish “gift of the gab” – this much-loved location is highly-rated on Tripadvisor and dubbed a “national treasure” by locals.

Ancient stone tower surrounded by lush greenery in a tranquil park setting, viewed from two different angles.

Blarney Castle


Jam-packed with traditional stalls and high street stores alike, some time spent shopping is a must during 48 hours in Cork.

Dedicate some hours to traversing the city’s modern side by visiting St. Patrick’s Street. Redeveloped in 2004, it’s since been awarded the title of Ireland’s best shopping street twice. You’ll be sure to find everything you need here, as well as a vibrant atmosphere, thanks to the buskers that play a mix of traditional Irish music and contemporary songs to entertain visitors.

A triptych showcasing the vibrant atmosphere of a market: diners at a café, the historic facade of the english market entrance, and an interior view featuring a fountain and shoppers.

The English Market

For a more culture-focused shopping experience, head to The English Market. Packed stall-to-stall with amazing trinkets and tchotchkes, along with delicious local produce as far as the eye can see, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices on offer. It’s open all week except for on Sundays and bank holidays, so plan accordingly.

Food and Drink

A fantastic food and drink culture is at the heart of all the best cities, and Cork is no exception. After picking up some purchases at The English Market, visit Market Lane. This quaint restaurant uses local products from the market itself in its food, creating bespoke and organic dishes that suit every budget.

A traditional pub interior with a large wooden cabinet displaying an array of bottles, accompanied by classic furnishings and lighting.

The Old Town Whiskey Bar at Bodega

Also neighbouring The English Market is The Mutton Lane Inn, which delivers atmosphere, history and excellent service with each pint. Part of the Cork Heritage Pubs group and one of the oldest hotels in Ireland, it’s part of a larger pub trail which charts the historic drinking haunts once beloved by writers, artists, performers, traders and more throughout the city.

Esquire journalist, Sam Parker – who considers Cork Europe’s “best-kept culinary secret” – further recommends Greenes. Located in the city’s Victorian Quarter, this gourmet locale offers an exceptional array of modern Irish cuisine. Book in advance to make sure you get a table: this place is worth every penny.

Three images of gourmet dishes artistically presented on white plates.

Greenes, Gourmet Locale

If you’re willing to take a short drive to satisfy your stomach, give the old fishing town, Kinsale, a visit. Famous for its food culture and situated on the famous Wild Atlantic Way, this historic hotspot has plenty of winsome restaurants, cafes and bars. Standout recommendations include the family-owned restaurant Fishy Fishy and Michelin-worthy joint, Bastion, which has almost exclusive five-star recommendations across a variety of review websites.

Those looking to combine their foray into Irish food culture with a place to sleep should also check out Blue Haven Hotel. This hotel has a whiskey and cocktail bar, fish market bistro and more, making it a key contributor to Kinsale’s dining culture.

Where to stay

Historic red brick building with a turret under a vibrant sunset sky.

The Metropole Hotel

Choosing the right hotel to call home during 48 hours in Cork can take your trip to a whole new level. With that in mind, make sure to consider The Metropole Hotel: a breathtakingly beautiful, historic property located in the city’s Victorian Quarter. Just a stone’s throw away from Cork’s best attractions and steeped in elegance throughout, a couple of nights here will make your Irish getaway feel even more special.

Fernhill House Hotel

Alternatively, opt for somewhere a little outside of the city and add some variance to your urban itinerary. If you choose to book a room at Fernhill House Hotel, for instance – a gorgeous property based in the middle of the county’s captivating countryside – you can balance out the hustle and bustle of days in Cork with quieter, calmer evenings traversing the hotel’s gardens and surrounding wild areas.

A split image contrasting an elegant bedroom interior on the left with a charming hotel facade adorned with flowers and an american flag on the right.

The Blue Haven Hotel, Old Bank House

Or – if foodie-friendly Kinsale appeals – there are some lovely places to stay in the fishing town. Just a thirty-minute drive away from Cork itself, you’ll find Blue Haven Hotel – a four-star boutique building with a gourmet edge. Alternatively, there’s the Old Bank House, a historic Georgian guest house adjacent to many of Kinsale’s star attractions. Both properties have the added plus of being close to some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, including Sandycove Beach – giving you the option of spending some time by the sea during 48 hours in Cork.

With such handsome hotels to choose from, the only issue will be choosing which one to go for… but we can help, there. Get in touch if you’d like more information or planning advice, and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.


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