We finally made it to Cork! I say finally because my first ever Irish friend (who I met when I au paired in the USA) lives in Cork. She has come to visit us in Dublin, and well let’s just say, it took us over a year to reciprocate by going down to visit her. Shocking, I know. We finally booked a little leave and took a Friday off so that we could travel down and explore a bit of Cork and what it has to offer. We quickly found out that 3 days is in no way enough time to fully explore all that Cork has to offer – there is just so many ways you can go about seeing this county!
How to get there:
- We took the goBus from Dublin to Cork. It is a 3 hour bus drive down to Cork at only EUR28 return. You could take the train which is only 30 minutes quicker for almost double the price.
- The bus leaves from Dublin City Bus Stations (Busarus) and drops you off in the city center in Cork, at Parnell Place.
Where did we stay:
- I found a great deal for a bed and breakfast option in Blarney, at the Muskerry Arms. There are busses going from Cork City to Blarney every hour. Blarney is a small town, the main stop is right outside the hotel.
How did we get around:
- We took busses between Cork city and Blarney; it is quite handy that if you have a leapcard – you can use this on public transport in Cork!
- We also had my dear friend who lifted us around while we were there – Thanks, Amy!
DAY 1 – FRIDAY
We decided to go down early in the morning on Friday, instead of after work. This was purely from a cost point of view, there didn’t seem much point in travelling down the night before just to sleep there. So we got up early and arrived in Cork at around 11am.
Cork city is quite unique in that the center of the town is effectively an island. The River Lee runs through it. the main city center is on this island and you probably wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t have an husband who is obsessed with reading maps like mine is.
From the bus drop off we walked down Oliver Plunkett Street – which is a main high street in Cork, lots of shops etc. It is also the name of one of Rob’s High School friend’s so we felt we had to see it for him. 🙂
We then made our way to white street car park which is known for its various street art. I have to say that by this time it was properly raining in Cork and I may have not given the art as much of a solid look and more a quick ‘walk-by’ because I was wet and cold. Regardless, it is worth a look.
Because it started pouring down with rain, we cut the street art viewing short and walked to the English Market to find some warmth and some much needed lunch. The English Market is a must stop for any foodie, or anyone interested in finding some food. We went to the restaurant on the top floor that sits above with a view of the market below called Farmgate. we just grabbed a light lunch and coffee although there is a more fancy menu and seating area on the other side.
The great thing about the rain in Ireland is that it doesn’t often stay for too long, so straight after lunch we were able to continue our walking tour of Cork. We walked down the Grand Parade towards the national monument, over the river towards Saint Finn Barre’s Cathedral.
This cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. It towers above you, almost making it hard to get a good pic! we walked around the cathedral and found a small labyrinth around the back, which I promptly walked – ofcourse.
While exploring the cathedral grounds, I caught a glimpse of street art that was bright and colourful down the alley behind the cathedral, so happy I found it, really such a rad art piece.
After Saint Finn Barre’s we tried to go across town to the Butter Museum (yes friends, there is such a thing!) but it was closed – pro tip from our mistake: check the opening times of museums and tourist spots over winter: they are often closed or have shorter opening times! Since we were fairly close to the bus stop to Blarney, we decided to go out and check in.
We spent the evening at the Muskerry Arms, not only was it a comfy bed – but there is a lively bar and restaurant too. The great thing about this spot is when you want to go to bed – you don’t hear the pub at all from the bed room! Which I was super impressed and relieved to find out.
DAY 2 – SATURDAY
On Saturday, straight after breakfast we walked over to Blarney Castle and Gardens. It was great that we were able to get to the castle early, before all the bus tours arrived. It also left us pretty much the whole day to really explore Blarney Castle and Gardens. I wrote a whole post about our experience about kissing the blarney stone, and all the wonderful things you can see here.
After our full day exploring Blarney, we stopped by the Blarney Chocolate store for some treats to enjoy with our afternoon tea. As well as a quick visit to the Blarney Woolen Mills which is basically a huge tourist shop with irish trinkets and gifts. Sorry but shopping really isn’t something I enjoy while on holiday!
In the evening, Amy drove us through Cork to see the Christmas lights, and we went to a great restaurant in Cork City – Market Lane, on Oliver Plunkett Street. Great food, healthy glass of wine and even better company. We sat in a high booth table near the bar, as it was a very busy night and they fitted us in without reservation, but I think we had the best spot in the house – it is a beautifully decorated restaurant. The food was really good too!
DAY 3 – SUNDAY
Our last day, this trip really flew by! We made our way back to the Butter Museum in the city and I have to say this quirky spot was such a treat to visit. There is alot of history with the butter trade in Ireland, and how dairy farmers expanded from milk to butter products. The interesting part for me was learning all about the marketing they had to do when they started exporting butter to other countries – the marketing nerd in me was very intrigued! It costs EUR4 to enter and you watch a short video which explains a lot of the history, then you get to wander around the museum. They have some peat bog on display too – not as big as the one at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin but still fun to visit. The best part was showing Amy, an irish gal who has lived in Cork all her life, all about the Butter Museum that has been outside her front door all this time! Another reason to explore your city, you just never know what gems the tourists will find!
We then headed out to Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’) which is steeped in more Irish history. Cobh is also on an island in Cork City’s harbour. It is also the last port call for the Titanic in 1912. 123 passengers embarked at Cobh, and only 44 survived. Aside from the history of the Titanic, it is a quaint fishing town, with multi-coloured buildings that line the coastline. It is a cool little town to visit, the perfect day trip to end our trip to Cork.
We went to the Titanic Memorial Gardens, as well as did the Titanic Experience. I found the titanic experience to be interactive and engaging. They issue you with a name of a passenger on each of your tickets, and you go through what it must of felt like for the passengers waiting to board the Titanic, how they lived on-board, what they ate as a final meal and what they might have experienced as the ship started to sink.
At the end of the tour you get to go to a large wall and search the name of the passenger on your ticket to learn more about whether they survived or if they did not. Tickets costs EUR9.50 and the tour lasts about 45 minutes.
After that, we had lunch in Cobh before heading back to the bus to make our way back to Dublin. Cork definitely needs a bit of a longer stay, and possibly we need to consider renting a car so that we can really see a bit more. But one thing is for sure, we haven’t seen all Cork has to offer – and we will be back – but it was a great first trip to Cork nonetheless!
Total cost of the trip (for two): EUR469.00
- Transport (bus down; and public transport): EUR76.00
- Accommodation & Pug Sitter (two nights): EUR216.00
- Food: EUR100.00
- Entertainment: EUR57.00
A huge thank you to Amy, who was so generous with her time, lifted us about town and even sneakily paid for a few things too! We loved visiting you, and can’t wait to come back and explore more of your city with you.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO CORK – WHAT SHOULD WE SEE ON OUR NEXT VISIT THERE?
Live Simply & Travel Slow,
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I love Cork! But now, it’s also my second home. 🙂 I’ve lived in Cork for a short time, but have been there so much! Shandon is a beautiful area – is there still the crafts centre there? It was sort of dying when I was there in 2008… I used to go a lot because a guitar/fiddle maker had his workshop there.
The next time you visit Cork you need to visit Clonakilty!! It’s out in West Cork along the coast and is a fantastic little town, with lots of activities, nice pubs, lots of music, restaurants etc, and the West Cork area is – in my opinion – one of the most beautiful regions of Ireland.
Thanks for the tips Susanne, we recently did a trip to West Cork and it was out of this world – so beautiful!
I have visited Cork but did not plan before hand and wasn’t sure what to do there! Definitely going to save this post for my next trip, didn’t realise there was so much to do and see.
Also, funnily enough my boyfriend loves maps, is it a lad thing?! haha.
Thanks for such an informative post!
Sarah | thetalesoftinyboots.com
It’s definitely an adventurer thing – you have to love maps to some degree! haha hope you get back to Cork to see a few more of the sights, there is even MORE in the rest of the county of Cork!!