A trip to Ireland can mean many different exciting opportunities.
But it’s not complete without taking in some of the country’s main cities!
Naturally, Dublin is highest on many travelers’ lists. It’s the most famous city in Ireland after all. And one that many of us imagine personifies Irish culture and history.
And you should absolutely go to Dublin given the opportunity.
It’s a wonderful place! Equipped to exceed even the highest of expectations. However, because it tends to receive less attention in general, I wanted to focus instead on the town of Cork.
Situated in the southern part of the country on a small body of water called Lough Mahon, lies the town of Cork.
It’s a pretty city, known these days as a university town. It’s grown up from a settlement originally founded in the 6th century, which makes it just as fascinating from an historical perspective as any other city or region in Europe.
There are a few things you must do if you’re able to visit Cork…
The Top 5 Things to Do in Cork, Ireland
1. Explore St. Patrick’s Street
In most major European cities, you can find one or two streets that are particularly lovely to walk down. You know, like the primary shopping districts, where you can really get a sense for a city’s character.
In Cork, that’s St. Patrick’s Street hands-down. While it hasn’t always been a particularly noteworthy place, it was recently redeveloped, and is now considered to be a very nice area – perhaps the best in the city!
It’s also just a short walk away from the English Market, which is another great place for tourists.
2. Visit Blarney Castle
The saying “luck of the Irish” has been commercialized almost to the point of parody.
I mean, we even have clovers in our cereal you guys! And you’ll notice that Irish characters in movies tend to refer to their inherent lucky streaks. The “luck of the Irish” has even been counted (alongside pots of gold and leprechauns of course) as a popular theme in online gaming as well!
Indeed, you might be surprised how many slot arcades on the internet rope in Irish themes to make players feel lucky. It’s not hard to imagine some of this driving actual Irish citizens crazy.
However, the country does have some very real traditions revolving around good fortune. The most interesting of them is at Blarney Castle. This is an ancient castle just outside of Cork, and the location for the world famous Blarney Stone – the namesake of countless pubs!
Legend has it that kissing the stone – for which you must partially dangle out of the castle tower – brings luck.
3. See St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
Many of us think of Irish cities and imagine towering cathedrals and beautiful churches. Which totally makes sense to be honest.
With a deep, rich tradition of Catholicism, Ireland has indeed set the standard for many of the world’s greatest cathedrals – and St. Fin Barre’s in Cork is a terrific example of this.
While it’s not actually the most ancient structure in town, it is a somewhat humbling site. There has been worship taking place on the cathedral’s grounds since the town’s original founding in the 6th century.
The cathedral as you can see it today, however, was built in the 19th century. It’s a French-Gothic construction, as beautiful on the inside as the outside, and a lovely stop on a sightseeing tour of the city.
4. Have A Pint At Charlie’s Bar
Recommending a pub in an Irish city is a little bit of a gamble. There are always so many options to choose from!
The larger and more historic cities have numerous legendary drinking establishments. So, you never know what might appeal most to someone else! But Charlie’s Bar is a fairly safe bet.
Described in one wonderful guide to Cork as a Cork institution. It’s a spectacularly cozy place to spend an afternoon or evening in the city. I recommend it because it’s open all day, situated near the river, has live music and a real fire inside for cooler days!
5. Walk Through The University
As mentioned, Cork is viewed now as a university town, which of course means that University College Cork plays a vital role in defining the city!
It happens to be a beautiful school to explore as well. With nice old buildings and paths along the River Lee. The modern student centres will probably make you want to go back to school again and study in Cork for a semester!
Like seriously, where can I sign up?
So, the next time you’re thinking of places to visit in Ireland, think of the beautiful little town of Cork! It’s not to be missed.
Is Ireland on your bucket list? Have you been before?
Let’s have a chat in the comments below!