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Visit the Rebel City this summer: spend a long weekend in Cork

From the best places to stay to the quirkiest places to eat, make the most of a city break in Cork.

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There’s so much to explore in the Republic of Ireland’s second city it’s no surprise the locals joke about it being the real capital of Ireland. Cork is a foodie paradise, with a plethora of vegetarian haunts, as well as coffee houses, cocktail bars and traditional Irish pubs. It’s all a good craic as they say, and alongside enjoying hearty meals you can walk the university grounds, visit Cork City Gaol and ring the Shandon Bells at St Anne’s Church.

Food and drink

Well worth dedicating a morning of your time to, The English Market is a produce village of dreams. Jam-packed with fresh meat, fish and vegetables, you can easily lay your hands on anything from steamed mussels to specialist cheeses and freshly baked bread. Maybe not the Michelin starred restaurant you had in mind, but this is real Irish produce showcased at its best.

If you don’t mind walking and talking give the Cork Tasting Trail a go. It’ll take around three hours and costs €62 but you do get an extremely focused tour and you’re able to cherry pick information from your expert guide. Taking you to places that are off the beaten foodie track, you’ll experience tasty treats, cultural titbits and some good Irish charm along the way.

If a sit down meal is more your thing, head to Itchigo Itchie or Miyazaki. Japanese cuisine might not be the first thing that springs to mind on a trip to Ireland, but visiting one of these restaurants really is a no-brainer. Itchigo Itchie is the ultimate foodie experience, with its 12-course seasonal menu costing around €120. If you’ve planned to treat yourself on this city break, than this is definitely the place to indulge.

Places to explore

A trip to Cork is not all about food. It’s true – Irish people love food and they’re extremely proud of any produce and dishes native to the Emerald Isle, but there’s so much more to discover on a city break in Cork. 

If you enjoy shopping, a stroll down Oliver Plunkett Street is a must. This street, believed to be over 300-years old, is jam-packed with family businesses, bars and coffee houses. Many businesses are currently in their third generation of trading and set up back in the days when the street was called George’s Street.

Away from the main city centre, you can find Cork City Gaol, an imposing royalist structure which previously housed 19th-century prisoners. A fascinating place to wander round, it features wax figures and audio-visual aids to help you imagine what it would have been like in the 1800s. You’ll also find a radio museum, in memory of the Broadcasting Station which was once located in the gaol. 

For a truly unique experience, head to St Anne’s Church to ring the famous Shandon Bells.  For spectacular 360-degree views of the city ascend the 132-steps to the top of the tower. From here you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the city, and for the more modern explorer, the perfect selfie opportunity. If you want to ring the Shandon Bells, you can find both the prices and opening times on their website

Accommodation in Cork

There’s accommodation to suit everyone’s budget in Cork. You’ll find quirky AirBnB apartments, guest houses and the most luxurious hotels, including the River Lee and Imperial hotels; both of which are great business and social destinations for locals and visitors alike.

You can find a range of places to stay within walking distance of Cork’s most popular bars and restaurants, so transport needn’t be a problem when you’re staying in the city. The most central hotels will keep you a mere four miles from Cork Airport.

Fly from Cornwall 

You can fly direct to Cork from Cornwall Airport Newquay between May and October. During these months flights to Cork operate twice weekly with Aer Lingus.