Rich in history and tradition yet increasingly urbane and sophisticated, the ever evolving city of Cork is a vibrant place with a unique blend of contemporary style and old world charm.
Pedestrian laneways and narrow streets, small boutiques, galleries, gourmet food shops and a host of interesting pubs and clubs fan out across the city. Cork is renowned for its culinary flair, vibrant and edgy cultural scene and was the European Capital of Culture in 2005. It was listed by the Lonely Planet Guide as one of their top ten cities for 'Best in travel in 2010'. A strong festival programme attracts the best of film, jazz, folk, literary and musical talent year round. You certainly won't be short of things to do!
As Cork City is surrounded by water, the area is awash with activities such as cruising, whale watching and sailing. If the pastime of people watching appeals, a host of waterfront cafés and bars afford the perfect vantage point. And should you be in the mood for a little pampering, most hotels offer revitalising spa and beauty treatments or perhaps you'd prefer to tee off at one of the famous parkland or links golf courses in the area.
After dark, the range of attractions in Cork never dims. Greyhound racing, a night of theatre, a relaxed dinner in one of the city's superb restaurants followed by a traditional music session are just some of the options on offer to make the perfect end to you perfect day.
Here are our Top Attraction, Hotel & Restaurant Recommendations in Cork, as prepared by intern Mathieu.
Hayfield Manor hotel :
Located near the city center, Hayfield Manor Hotel is a fabulous 5 star hotel set within a wonderful walled garden. Rooms of the manor are spacious and each of them are unique and warmly decorated in a traditional irish manor style. Their luxurious spa is a paradise in which to relax and unwind. Orchids restaurant offers a gourmet menu in a sumptuous setting.
The River Lee Hotel :
The 4-star River Lee Hotel is a luxury modern building on the banks of the River Lee. 5 minutes walk to the city center, this establishment is the ideal way to enjoy a night in Cork before relaxing in the Spa or or keeping up your fitness in the gym.
Jurys hotel :
Jurys 3 star hotel is an affordable option which offers you all the comforts you will need during your city centre stay. The location is excellent and offers great value for money.
Restaurants & Bars
Isaacs restaurant :
Located on McCurtain street near the Everyman Palace Theatre, Isaacs restaurant offers you seasonal ingredients on a refined menu for over 20 years. Described as one of the most original and authentic restaurants because of its 18th century warehouse setting, Isaacs restaurant is an affordable fine dining experience in the heart of the city.
Café Paradiso :
Café Paradiso is a vegetarian restaurant, a must for Corkonians as well as for those from all over the world. It has been named the best restaurant in Ireland according to Tripadvisor’s viewers. Even if you’re not especially a lover of vegetarian food, this cuisine is an explosion of pure taste which enlivens the senses.
Crane Lane Theatre :
Located in the center of Cork, the Crane Lane Theatre is a welcoming bar, where locals congregate to spend some memorable times drinking wines, beers while dancing and singing with friends, and listening to musical acts.
The Oval Bar :
Like The Crane Lane Theatre, The Oval, also located in the heart of Cork, in the historic South Main Street directly across the street from the tudor-inspired Beamish & Crawford brewery. Still in its original condition, this traditional Irish bar combines good music and Irish beers.
Cork City Gaol :
Cork City Goal was one of the most terrifying prisons in Ireland. From now on, you can enter and visit this spectacular structure in the heart of Cork to feel how strange this place is and was. This prison is also famous because it welcomed only women from 1870 to 1923. Judged unhealthy, Cork City Gaol prison closed in 1923. Since 1993, this museum is an unmissable attraction in Cork.
Blackrock Castle Observatory :
Located near Cork, 2 km from the center, Blackrock Castle is a fortification on the banks of the River Lee. Elizabeth 1st decided to build a castle to protect and reassure Cork citizens from potential invaders from the sea. Nowadays, this castle is an Astronomy Observation Center open every day 10 to 5 (except Sunday) where you can discover the stars and talk about the universe with amateurs and passionate astronomers.
English Market :
Since 1788, every day, the English Market is a meeting place where producers and consumers exchange local products, from fresh fish, oysters and others shellfish to irish spiced beef, bread, vegetables, cheese, and other typical irish treats. Do not leave this market without visiting the second floor where you will find many restaurants worthy of a visit. When you do drag yourself away be sure to leave by Mutton Lane and drop in to the atmospheric pub of the same name and reward yourself with a refreshing local and delicious alternative to Guinness ; either Beamish or Murphys.
University College Cork (UCC) :
The University College of Cork is a world class university and the alma mater of Fresh Eire Adventures founder Padraic. Some 17,000 students take its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Founded in 1849, under the Queen’s Charter which established similarely designed Universities in Belfast, Galway and Dublin, the University is now a center of excellence in fields such as Law, Marine Research, Linguistics and Engineering.
Lewis Glucksman Gallery :
Inside the University College of Cork, the Glucksman Gallery is an institution that promotes the visual arts. The gallery was created to increase interactivity between artists and the public. The Glucksman Gallery was honoured to receive « Best Public Building of Ireland » architectural award in 2005.
The Butter Museum :
This quirky attraction invites you to turn back time to understand how the city of Cork was the biggest butter exchange in the World. In the heart of Cork, learn about butter-making and the evolution of Kerrygold butter, the most famous in Ireland, and perhaps the world.
Beamish Brewery :
Established in 1792 by William Beamish, the Brewery produced an exclusive stout for 400 years until 2009, « Beamish ». Really appreciated by consumers, and not unlike Guinness, this beer in now produced inside the nearby state-of-the-art Heineken Brewery.
The old brewery, currently a museum, open its gates (8€) where you can learn about the evolution of Beamish in relation to Guinness Beer and also show you all the materials they used in the manufacturing process.