Whether you’ve lived your whole life in Cork or have never been there before, chances are there’s something cool to do that you didn’t know about.
Forget what the old printed guidebooks are telling ya – they’ll list off all the popular touristy spots sure, and that’s not saying they’re not worth visiting. The English Market and Kinsale harbour are a must, but don’t you want to try something a bit…different?
We’ve done some digging and questioned the hell out of all our Corcaigh mates in order to find some unique experiences that will make your trip unforgettable.
Consider this the actual guide to Cork:
1. Stroll around Nano Nagle Place
Nano Nagle Place is a newly restored 18th century walled convent, gardens, heritage centre & design shop in the centre of Cork city – you’d never know from strolling by that behind the front of the building lies a peaceful garden and a healthy restaurant cafe.
Free lunchtime concerts sometimes take place, so keep an eye out.
2. Spend an afternoon seaweed foraging
When the tide is low you can go on a guided seaweed foraging walk to discover Ireland’s many, many seaweeds, such as Kelp, Carrageen Moss, Sea Spaghetti and Pepper Dulsce.
You’ll learn how to identify them and how to cook with them – and of course, you’ll be tasting them all.
3. Catch a gig at Crane Lane Theatre
Part of the Cork Heritage pub trail, the Crane Lane Theatre is located in the remains of an old Gentleman’s Club in the dead centre of Cork City and has been the scene of many a notorious event over the last 100 years.
Music is on seven nights a week and the craic is mighty.
4. Learn how to shuck oysters
Have you ever tried to shuck an oyster? Denis Cronin from the beloved Cronin’s Pub will show you some tips and tricks to get this technique right, and you will taste some of the finest fresh, live oysters sourced from Haven Shellfish in nearby Oysterhaven Bay.
Enjoy on their own, or with a little squeeze of lemon or tabasco sauce alongside a glass of local craft beer or glass of prossecco. YUM.
5. Hike up Mount Hilary
An Airbnb Experience, your host will guide you on a hike up Mount Hillary for a wonderful three hour experience out in nature with fabulous views of the country side and the river Blackwater.
Walk through fir trees and keep an eye out for local wildlife, with refreshments provided afterwards.
6. Kayak around Cork Harbour by night
See a different side of Cork city as you float around on the River Lee as the stars come out.
Your group will guide you under the bridges of the beautiful River Lee before gently moving down under Patricks Bridge, past the Marina and onwards towards Blackrock Castle. Gorge.
7. Relive the Irish Independence in a 1916 walk
Visit 16 local sites in the town of Cobh from the Irish War of Independence, in this 80 minute walkled by an Irish historian.
See the location of ambushes where the Cobh rebel volunteers took on the might of an Empire, visit the safe houses where national rebel leaders, like Pearse, Connolly, Casement and De Velara stayed and see training halls, barracks and places of detention.
8. See UCC’s Ogham Stone collection
UCC’s collection of Ogham Stones in the North Wing of the Quadrangle is well worth a wander over to.
These are ancient gravestones, each one marking the burial place of a distinguished person in a Celtic tribe, a chieftain or a bard, and date from the second or third century of the Christian era – the period before Saint Patrick came to Ireland.
9. Walk the old railway line to Crosshaven
Most of the lovely river walk from Carrigaline to Crosshaven occupies the Crosshaven railway track.
The track closed in 1932 and was recently redeveloped by locals to become a charming four hour walk that takes you along the shoreline with views of Cork harbour.
10. Visit the famous Seal Island near Bantry Bay
Take a ferry to Garinish Island and you’ll pass by Seal Island on your way – the colony is comprised of up to 250 seals resident in Glengarriff Harbour.
The seals are very used to the Ferry’s and you will see them basking on the rocks, posing for photographs and swimming around without a care in the world!
11. Gaze in wonder at St Finbarrs Oratory
A tiny romantic church sitting on an ancient island in Gougane Barra forest park will take your breath away.
Just behind the Oratory are the remains of St Finbarr’s monastery from the 6th century, with beautiful old stations of the cross above the ancient prayer cells.
12. Become a beekeeper for a day
Learn all about the Northern European Honeybee, Apis mellifera Mellifera, in this fascinating full day trip that lets you be a beekeeper for a day.
Find out what plants they are foraging and why on that specific day, discover facts about the colony structure and pop on a protective suit to do some guided bee keeping, followed by some honey tasting.
13. Jump off the coast of Cork
This adventure journey involves a combination of adventure swimming through some of natures wonders such as sea caves, blow holes and sea arches.
Check out the ‘Devils Hole’ at the end of ‘No Light Tunnel’ and explore ‘Rocky Bay’ having swum through the ‘Blue Arch’.
14. Climb the Shandon Bell tower for a view
Okay, this might be in the guidebooks but even some locals in Cork city haven’t done this. Climb 132 steps and see spectacular 360 degree views of the city at 120ft.
View the internal workings of the clocks, the ‘Four Faced Liar’ and see the 18th Century bells in the Belfry. The church is one of the oldest in the city, built in 1722.
15. See how to make craft beer… And then taste some!
You’ll begin by discovering the rich history of the site on which Franciscan Well Brewery is built, dating all the way back to the 13th century!
See where they make the beers that go straight to our tap, and experience just how they make the beer that fills your glass.
Finally, you will learn about the collaboration with Jameson Irish Whiskey and get to taste a selection of our beers, paired with Jameson’s new Caskmates products. Most importantly, the tasting will take place in the room where it all began!
We think we’re going to need more time in Cork. Fact.