Cork can be a wonderful place to either start or finish a tour of Ireland. It’s the most noteworthy city near the southern tip of the country, and thus marks a nice start or end point on a road trip that can take you through some of the region’s most beautiful and interesting areas.
Alongside Dublin and Shannon, Cork is the third Irish city to have an international airport, so it’s actually a fine place to fly into if you’re going straight to Ireland from abroad. And while the airport isn’t quite at city centre, it isn’t far from some of the things you’ll want to see and do. In fact, it’s quite close to what could soon be one of the city’s main attractions. Tramore Valley Park has been in development for years now as a sprawling outdoor area built for the public. Currently the park is underused and much of it remains closed. But portions are accessible and in the very near future it will be one of the better city parks in Western Europe. It’s a nice place to stop by after a long flight, as you can stretch your legs and get a feel for the sprawling green landscapes of Ireland.
Once you’ve stretched yourself out a little bit (hopefully once the park is fully open in all its anticipated magnificence), you’ll probably want to head to your lodging. Increasingly, that means simply making your way to an Airbnb or some similar rented property that could be anywhere in the city. If you’re only in town for a night or two however and want to indulge a little bit, another option could be The River Lee hotel – arguably the most well regarded in Cork. This is a beautiful, modern, four-star hotel where you can relax in absolute comfort, as well as in close proximity to some wonderful sightseeing opportunities. University College Cork is within walking distance, and the Cork Public Museum, featuring some of the most important archaeological finds from this ancient region is also right there.
When you’re all settled in you’ll want to start knocking a few attractions off your list The specifics will of course vary depending on the length of your stay and your own priorities – but the top option will usually be Blarney Castle, just outside of the main part of town. This is one of the most famous castles in the UK and Ireland, and home of the famous Blarney Stone, which is said to give luck and even eloquence to those who kiss it. It’s a stunning ruin, still imposing in its own way, and for a lot of international travelers the represents the very core image of this part of the world’s history.
You may well want to check out the city centre as well, where you’re best served wandering about the pretty old streets and finding a few attractions along the way. Bishop Lucey Park is a popular draw in this area, as is the National Monument (quite a stunning structure when viewed up close), and the Crawford Art Gallery. Because places like these are all in fairly close proximity you can do a fairly effective sightseeing tour in a single morning – or perhaps an afternoon after you make time for Blarney Castle in the morning.
Toward the end of the day you might consider crossing the River Lee and enjoying a little bit of the casino culture that’s sprung up in the city. While it’s true that the online casino sector has blossomed into a thriving industry in Ireland, some of the best brick-and-mortar establishments in the nation exist in Cork. The Macau Sporting Club and Victoria Sporting Club, both just across the river from the busiest portions of the city, can make for a fun few hours, even if you’re not an experienced card player or casino enthusiast.
And of course if you’re looking to wrap up an evening in this quaint Irish city, you should probably look into the various pubs at your disposal. This is Ireland after all, a nation perhaps better known for its drinking establishments than any other in the world. Sin é might be the best option if you’re going straight from a casino, but in town, Larry Tompkins Pub and Main Street’s The Oval are places to seek out.
This should give you a good general idea of how to spend a day or two in Cork during a trip to Ireland. It’s a charming and fascinating city that certainly shouldn’t be missed.