Best Things to Do in Cork, Ireland

If you are looking for a place in Ireland to stay for a long period, then Cork is a great option. It is just a few hours from Dublin but is much more affordable.

The locals are also very friendly, and I felt instantly at home during my stay. From shopping on St. Patrick’s Street to tying one off while watching the rugby match, Cork is a wonderful visit for any solo traveler.

Transportation to Cork

As the second-largest city in the country, it has the second-largest airport. If you are already in Dublin, then you can:

  • Rent a car to drive the two and a half hours.
  • Take the train for under three hours. They serve alcohol if that influences your decision.

However, there are no direct trains from Galway to Cork. All roads lead to Rome and all trains go through Dublin.

Quintessential Must-Sees Sights

Kiss the Blarney Stone

Blarney Castle is a stone‘s through from Cork. A direct drive from city center is less than 20 minutes and the bus is a leisurely 35 to 45 minutes.

As legend goes, kissing the stone will grant you flattery skills and eloquent speech. However, no one told me that puckering up to this blessed rock would entail dipping over the castle’s edge.

In addition to rubbing your lips on the limestone worn-smooth by thousands of visitors, the medieval castle and its grounds are something to behold. Even in winter, you can appreciate the gardens and landscape. Great place for Instagram and travel photos.

My favorite part, however, was not the beautiful exterior but, rather, the dungeon and caves below. Hey… I have a thing for jails and small spaces; what can I say?

Ring of Kerry Tour

A ring as in a loop, not a ring tha you put on your finger. The 111-mile circular route includes scenic views, waterfalls, national parks, a statue of Charlie Chaplin, and narrow (and terrifying) roads.

The tour makes stops in adorable villages along the way. Encouraged by the band of 30-something travels on the tour with me, I started with Irish coffee and then had a pint or shot of whiskey at each stop.

Select tour providers combine the Ring of Kerry with the Cliffs of Moher. However, I suggest you go all the way to Galway so you have the chance to check out the fun there!

Cork High & Bottle Deep

Like most places in Ireland, Cork is filthy with bars and pubs. The locals are super friendly, so I highly recommend stepping out for a pint if you’re looking for company.

Bars in Cork to check out:

  • Franciscan Well – The city’s original craft beer brewery dating back to 1219.
  • The Mutton Lane Inn – Obscenely dark, this tavern can be difficult to find but worth the deter from St. Patrick’s Street.
  • Gallagher’s – This gastropub was a great place for me to work, eat, and drink. The atmosphere is more chill and refined than other nearby spots.
  • Jim Ashman’s – Here is where I found my people. Mostly filled with locals in their 40s and 50s, this bar is pack with Irish authenticity.
  • Sin E – While upstairs has plenty of seating, most crowd downstairs in this intimate pub. It’s a great place to catch live local music while being shoulder to shoulder with the musicians.

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