No trip to Ireland is complete without spending at least 48 hours in Cork, its second largest city. Not only does it offer a riveting history – having started as a monastic settlement which adopted a rich trading culture – travellers are also met with diverse entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities to sink their teeth into. After a couple of days exploring this unique urban spot, you’ll want to recommend it to everyone.
Spending 48 hours in Cork
Both within Cork itself and just a short drive away, are plenty of ways to spend thrilling days…
Consecrated in 1870, the historic St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is still standing tall centuries later. Known for its iconic spires and exquisite architecture – as well as for its regular services and events held throughout the year – it’s a brilliant place from which to begin exploring Cork’s incredible heritage.
Keep the history theme going with a trip to Cork Public Museum, which houses some compelling collections showcasing the city’s rich past. Situated within the glorious Fitzgerald Park, we’d suggest following this up with a picnic or walk around the tranquil grounds, taking a break from Cork’s lively centre to see the ponds, wildlife, sculptures and more that this scenic spot offers.
Another very unique way to get to know Cork throughout the ages is by visiting Cork City Gaol. This historic location prides itself on its immersive nature. Visitors can enjoy an audio tour in up to 13 languages, an array of interesting exhibitions and more as they follow in the footsteps of 19th century prisoners.
Finally, an unmissable addition to spending 48 hours in Cork is a trip to the remarkable medieval stronghold, Blarney Castle. Home of the Blarney Stone – which, according to legend, grants those who kiss it the Irish “gift of the gab” – this much-loved location is highly-rated on Tripadvisor and dubbed a “national treasure” by locals. Get a taste of what you’ll be in for with this virtual tour.
Jam-packed with traditional stalls and high street stores alike, some time spent shopping is a must during 48 hours in Cork.
Dedicate some hours to traversing the city’s modern side by visiting St. Patrick’s Street. Redeveloped in 2004, it’s since been awarded the title of Ireland’s best shopping street twice. You’ll be sure to find everything you need here, as well as a vibrant atmosphere, thanks to the buskers that play a mix of traditional Irish music and contemporary songs to entertain visitors.
For a more culture-focused shopping experience, head to The English Market. Packed stall-to-stall with amazing trinkets and tchotchkes, along with delicious local produce as far as the eye can see, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices on offer. It’s open all week except for on Sundays and bank holidays, so plan accordingly.
Food and Drink
A fantastic food and drink culture is at the heart of all the best cities, and Cork is no exception. After picking up some purchases at The English Market, visit Market Lane. This quaint restaurant uses local products from the market itself in its food, creating bespoke and organic dishes that suit every budget.
Also neighbouring The English Market is The Mutton Lane Inn, which delivers atmosphere, history and excellent service with each pint. Part of the Cork Heritage Pubs group and one of the oldest hotels in Ireland, it’s part of a larger pub trail which charts the historic drinking haunts once beloved by writers, artists, performers, traders and more throughout the city.
Esquire journalist, Sam Parker – who considers Cork Europe’s “best-kept culinary secret” – further recommends Greenes. Located in the city’s Victorian Quarter, this gourmet locale offers an exceptional array of modern Irish cuisine. Book in advance to make sure you get a table: this place is worth every penny.
If you’re willing to take a short drive to satisfy your stomach, give the old fishing town, Kinsale, a visit. Famous for its food culture and situated on the famous Wild Atlantic Way, this historic hotspot has plenty of winsome restaurants, cafes and bars. Standout recommendations include the family-owned restaurant Fishy Fishy and Michelin-worthy joint, Bastion, which has almost exclusive five-star recommendations across a variety of review websites.
Those looking to combine their foray into Irish food culture with a place to sleep should also check out Blue Haven Hotel. This hotel has a whiskey and cocktail bar, fish market bistro and more, making it a key contributor to Kinsale’s dining culture.
Where to stay
Choosing the right hotel to call home during 48 hours in Cork can take your trip to a whole new level. With that in mind, make sure to consider The Metropole Hotel: a breathtakingly beautiful, historic property located in the city’s Victorian Quarter. Just a stone’s throw away from Cork’s best attractions and steeped in elegance throughout, a couple of nights here will make your Irish getaway feel even more special
Alternatively, opt for somewhere a little outside of the city and add some variance to your urban itinerary. If you choose to book a room at Fernhill House, for instance – a gorgeous property based in the middle of the county’s captivating countryside – you can balance out the hustle and bustle of days in Cork with quieter, calmer evenings traversing the hotel’s gardens and surrounding wild areas.
Or – if foodie-friendly Kinsale appeals – there are some lovely places to stay in the fishing town. Just a thirty-minute drive away from Cork itself, you’ll find Blue Haven Hotel – a four-star boutique building with a gourmet edge. Alternatively, there’s the Old Bank House, a historic Georgian guest house adjacent to many of Kinsale’s star attractions. Both properties have the added plus of being close to some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches, including Sandycove Beach – giving you the option of spending some time by the sea during 48 hours in Cork.
With such handsome hotels to choose from, the only issue will be choosing which one to go for… but we can help, there. Get in touch if you’d like more information or planning advice, and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.
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