It's easy to know you've sailed into warm waters when the city's crest and motto mean "a safe harbor for ships." Cork, Ireland, has the second-largest natural harbor in the world and is the third largest city on the island. Cork is known as the "Gastro Capital of Ireland" for its food scene. Visitors to Blarney Castle can kiss the Blarney stone to see if it will grant them some "luck of the Irish." You will find timeless beauty and flavors of the heart in Cork, regardless of which route you choose.
There is no shortage of fun in this bustling city. There's something for everyone here, so whatever your taste, you'll find something you can get your hands on. Discover the highlights of this destination by reading on.
English Market has been a trading center since 1788, where local artisans sell their fresh produce. Locally raised meats and fresh produce are available here, along with artisan cheese and bread. You can also sample beef stew with potatoes and vegetables at a traditional restaurant on Oliver Plunkett Street. When you travel into Cork by train, you'll find artisan cheeses, smoked meats, and plenty of cozy cafes at English Market.
Your Ireland cruise should include visiting St. Patrick's Street, Cork's main shopping street. Here, you can shop for ethically made jewelry and handicrafts at pop-up shops like Wild Design. There is a wide range of home decor and pottery in traditional Irish shops such as Kilkenny Shop. Irish-made goods of high quality are common here.
Cobh Heritage Center, conveniently attached to the local rail station, is one of the best places to learn more about the city if you don't know much about it. As part of its history, the Centre chronicles Cobh's emigrants' joys and hardships, which previously existed as Queenstown. There's a restaurant where you can relax and grab a bite after your self-guided tour, which takes about an hour.
The area around Cork has seen plenty of development since as early as the 1600s, making it one of Ireland's oldest cities. Some of the churches and bridges in Cork are still in use today. In the 19th century, immigrants made their way to the nearby seaside town of Cobh, which was once called Queenstown. The Titanic started its tragic journey from Cobh, where the fated ship was boarded by its last passengers. Cobh, home to the Titanic Walking Tour, commemorates the ship's tragic loss of life in 1912 with several attractions, including the Titanic Experience. Old Gaol and Victorian architecture are among the most notable features of Cork.
Walking is an excellent way to enjoy the beautiful city of Dublin, the third largest city in Ireland. Take a tour of St. Finn Barre's Cathedral and the Old Gaol, where original 19th-century cells tell fascinating stories of the 19th century. While you're at Cork port, you may also want to visit the following places:
A Cobh cruise stop at Fota Island offers the perfect afternoon excursion for nature and wildlife lovers. In addition to exotic animals such as giraffes, leopards, red lemurs, kangaroos, tigers, and rhinos, the Fota Wildlife Park is home to a wide variety of other wildlife. Visiting this park is a great way to get up close and personal with these unique animals and contribute to preserving their habitat. On this island, you will find a wildlife park, a golf resort, and historic gardens.
The colorful history of Spike Island as a defense and fort, then as a military prison until 2004, will captivate you. You'll see preserved artillery and frightening prison artifacts during a guided tour of the prison grounds. You'll need about half a day to see it all, so make sure you leave plenty of time. Ferry rides along the Cork Harbor are included with Spike Island tickets.
Learn the stories of Cork's ancient royal rulers and discover the universe we live in at Blackrock Castle. Educational and historical exhibits are suitable for all ages at the Blackrock Castle Observatory, The Space for Science. The castle, founded in 1582 as a stronghold, became the home of Cork's maritime courts. A science museum was opened there in 2007 after it was reopened.
The St. Patrick's Bridge spans the River Lee and dates back centuries. A key component of Cork's trading heritage, it has played an important role. The 167-foot-long (51-meter) bridge was first constructed in 1789 butwas severely damaged by flooding in 1789 and 1853. It was rebuilt in 1859. Butter merchants on the north side of the river needed a convenient link from their docks and warehouses to the city center, which is why St. Patrick's Bridge was built.
You must kiss the Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle and Gardens when visiting Cork. The castle at Blarney is one of Ireland's most famous. The Blarney Stone is said to give eloquence to those who kiss it. It is not easy to kiss the stone. To reach Blarney Castle's coveted stone, you'll need to climb up some steep, narrow stairs and lean backward, upside down, at a dizzying height (don't worry, someone will hold you). It's still possible to climb Cork Castle for stunning views over Cork's beautiful countryside, even if kissing a stone isn't your thing. There is also a great deal to see in the extensive gardens.