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Our steps are heading to Cork, Ireland, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Cork is one of the most impressive cities in the world and the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin. With its stunning scenery, vibrant culture, and diverse range of attractions, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular destination for tourists. 

From ancient castles to modern galleries, Cork has something for everyone. 

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Cork, then this guide to the top 15 tourist attractions in the city is for you. 

Make sure you’ll see the entire collection in Framey App, including addresses, opening hours, and contact information! 

1)  St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cork, Ireland. Located on Bishop Street, the cathedral is open daily from 09.30 am to 5.30 pm, welcoming visitors worldwide. It holds a special place in the hearts of Cork’s residents, as it is where Cork’s patron saint founded his first church and school.

Designed by the famous architect, William Burges, the cathedral’s striking exterior and interior design are a testament to his artistic vision. He also designed the stained glass, sculptures, mosaics, furniture, and metalwork that can be found inside. The foundation stone was laid in 1865, and the building was consecrated in 1870. The cathedral’s late 13th-century pointed Gothic style is evident in its triple spires, portals to the west front, and an abundance of external stone-carved details.

Made entirely from Cork limestone and marble, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is of major international significance as one of the key buildings of Burges and 19th-century architecture in Ireland. 

Guided tours of the cathedral take place every hour from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm, and there is no booking required. Visitors will surely appreciate the cathedral’s beautiful architecture and historical and religious significance.

2)  The English Market

The English Market is a must-visit destination in Cork City. Situated in the heart of the city with a beautiful fountain at its center, this quirky roofed food market has been in business since 1788. Owned by the Cork City Council, it is one of the oldest municipal markets in the world. Visitors can enjoy a range of artisanal bread, fresh seafood, and delicious fruits amongst other specialties on offer.

What makes this market stand out is its history. It gained international recognition in 2011 when Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visited it on her first-ever state visit to the Republic of Ireland. The English Market has come a long way since it opened, and today it caters to all kinds of visitors, whether you want to grab a coffee, sample some local fare, or enjoy freshly prepared meals and snacks.

There are a range of stalls to choose from, so you can find something that suits your taste. Farmgate Restaurant is a popular choice, and it offers local cuisine in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Seating is limited, so it’s a good idea to arrive early to avoid the crowds.

The English Market is located on Princes Street, off St. Patrick’s Street and Grand Parade, and it’s easily accessible from all parts of Cork City. With its historic charm and delicious fare, the market will surely make for a memorable visit.

3)  St. Patrick’s Street – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

One of the most vibrant areas in Cork, St. Patrick’s Street is a bustling hub that has been the main shopping district for centuries. Initially created in the 18th century by wealthy merchants, this street still remains the perfect spot for anyone looking for a little retail therapy. A quick walk from the famous English Market, St. Patrick’s Street is known locally as “Pana” and boasts many fantastic shops, making it one of the top places to shop in Ireland. Among them is the upscale department store Brown Thomas, which is popular with both locals and tourists alike.

While shopping is undoubtedly the main attraction, there’s more to St. Patrick’s Street than just spending money. The people of Cork are known for their sociability, and visitors will often see groups of friends and families simply hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. This is especially true during fine weather when locals and tourists alike flock to the area to soak up the sunshine and soak in the sights.

As you stroll down St. Patrick’s Street, you’ll notice a variety of architectural styles that reflect the changes that have taken place over the past couple of hundred years. St. Patrick’s Bridge, which was first built in 1786 and has been rebuilt several times since then, can be seen at one end of the street. All in all, a trip to Cork would not be complete without a visit to this bustling, historic street that has been the heart of the city for centuries.

4)  Shandon Bells, St. Anne’s Church

Shandon Bells, St. Anne's Church

Shandon Bells, St. Anne’s Church

If you want to get a panoramic view of Cork City, a visit to St. Anne’s Church is a must. Located across the River Lee on the north side of the city, St. Anne’s Church is a beautiful structure dating back to 1722. But the most famous feature of the church is its Shandon Bells tower. The church still uses its original 18th-century bells, which have become one of the city’s most popular attractions.

St. Anne’s Tower is a stunning landmark on the city skyline. Its distinctive facing of red sandstone on the north and east sides and white ashlar limestone on the south and west sides are truly remarkable. Visitors have the opportunity to climb to the first floor to ring the bells, view the internal workings of the clocks, see the bells firsthand, and enjoy stunning 360-degree views of Cork City and beyond from the balcony.

To get to the balcony, visitors must climb 132 steps. Although it might be a bit tiring, it’s worth it to see the spectacular views of the city. If you’re lucky enough to be there during a bell-ringing session, the experience is even more special.

Nearby, you can visit the Cork Butter Museum in O’Connell Square. This museum is housed in the old Cork Butter Market and follows the long history of Irish butter making. The collection of vintage butter wrappers is quite extensive and makes for an interesting display.

If you’re planning a trip to Cork, a visit to St. Anne’s Church and the Shandon Bells Tower should be on your list. 

The address is Church Street, Shandon, Cork.

5)  Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre is an interesting historical attraction that provides a glimpse into Ireland’s past. Located near St. Anne’s Church, the prison was first opened in 1824 and used to house both male and female prisoners who committed crimes within the city’s borders. In 1878, it became an all-female prison, which remained until the imprisonment of male opponents of the 1920 Anglo-Irish Treaty.

The prison was in use until 1923 and was later abandoned and fell into a state of disrepair. However, the building was eventually restored to its former glory and opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 1993. Today, visitors can explore the prison cells and learn about the stories of the prisoners who were incarcerated there.

One of the highlights of the Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre is the evening tours. These private tours offer a more atmospheric and unforgettable experience for visitors. As you walk through the eerie corridors and dimly lit cells, you’ll feel like you’re transported back in time to when the prison was in use.

Whether you’re interested in history or simply want to experience something different, the Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre is well worth a visit. 

Don’t miss the chance to learn about Ireland’s past and explore this unique attraction.

6)  Fitzgerald Park and Cork Public Museum

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the bustling city center, Fitzgerald Park is the perfect destination. This tranquil oasis was named after Edward Fitzgerald, who was responsible for organizing Cork’s International Exhibition in 1902. The park still features the original pavilion and ornamental fountain from that era.

In addition to the beautiful gardens, which feature a water-lily pond and sculptures, visitors can enjoy a skate park and a café. One of the highlights of the park is Daly’s Bridge, which is known locally as the “Shaky Bridge” due to its somewhat wobbly appearance. The bridge, which was built in 1926, connects to Sundays Well Road and offers stunning views of the river.

But that’s not all Fitzgerald Park has to offer. The park is also home to Cork Public Museum, which is located in the former “Shrubbery House.” This museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of Cork. Among the many interesting exhibits are collections of silver and ceramics, as well as displays relating to the city’s past.

So if you’re looking for a relaxing day out, be sure to check out Fitzgerald Park and Cork Public Museum. You won’t be disappointed.

7) Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

One of the most iconic attractions in Cork is undoubtedly Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone. This medieval fortress was built more than six centuries ago by Irish chieftain Cormac MacCarthy and has since become famous as the home of the world-renowned Blarney Stone. It is said that those who kiss the stone are blessed with the “gift of the gab” – the ability to talk their way out of anything!

Visitors can climb to the top of the battlement to kiss the stone, and take in stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. But the castle is more than just a stone – the massive stone building houses many other intriguing features, including spooky dungeons that are sure to give you a shiver down your spine.

After exploring the castle, take a wander through the stunning gardens, where you’ll find a host of other mystical attractions, such as the Wishing Steps, Badger’s Cave, the Witch Stone, and the Witch’s Kitchen. And if you’re looking for the perfect souvenir, don’t forget to stop by the adjacent Blarney Woollen Mills, where you’ll find an impressive range of Irish gifts, including beautiful sweaters and sparkling crystals.

Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone are located in Monacnapa, Blarney, Co. Cork, and are an absolute must-see on any visit to the area. Don’t miss your chance to kiss the stone and soak up some of that famous Irish charm!

8)  Crawford Art Gallery

Art enthusiasts should visit the Crawford Art Gallery while in Cork. It is home to a fascinating collection of art, ranging from paintings to sculptures, prints, crafts, stained glass, and ceramics. The sculpture galleries contain Greco-Roman casts by Antonio Canova and Irish and European sculptures, from the 19th century to modern works.

One of the main highlights of the gallery is its extensive collection of paintings. It boasts works from the 16th century up to the present, and there is a special exhibit dedicated to female artists. It’s a great opportunity to admire different styles and eras of art and gain insights into Irish art history.

The Crawford Art Gallery also offers various creative events, including presentations and hands-on experiences, so visitors can try their hand at creating art. The Crawford Gallery Cafe is another attraction worth checking out, offering delicious meals and coffee for both tourists and locals.

Located at Emmett Place, Centre, Cork, the Crawford Art Gallery is easily accessible from the city center. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and offers free admission, making it an affordable option for tourists looking to soak in Irish culture and art. Don’t miss out on this Cork attraction!

9)  Ballycotton Cliff Walk – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

The picturesque fishing village of Ballycotton located a short 40-minute drive from Cork, is the perfect escape for seafood lovers and beach enthusiasts alike. But that’s not all – Ballycotton is also home to one of the most breathtaking trails in Ireland: the Ballycotton Cliff Walk.

The Ballycotton Cliff Walk is a magnificent five-mile trail that runs along the cliff tops, stretching from Ballycotton Village to Ballyandreen Beach. This trail is a favorite among hikers and walkers, as it offers spectacular views of the rugged coastline and the surrounding countryside. The journey takes approximately five hours to complete, making it a perfect day trip from Cork.

As you walk along the path, you will be treated to a beautiful landscape that alternates between rolling meadows of the East Cork countryside and the dramatic cliffs that overlook the beaches below. The trail is well-maintained and offers various vantage points to take in the stunning scenery, so make sure to bring your camera!

In summary, the Ballycotton Cliff Walk is a must-visit attraction for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Ireland. So grab your walking shoes, pack a picnic, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure along the spectacular cliffs of Ballycotton.

10)  Kinsale

Kinsale, a charming little town located about a 30-minute drive from Cork, is a hidden gem on Ireland’s southwest coast. This historic deep-sea fishing and yachting town used to be a medieval fishing port and boasts a rich history that visitors can explore.

One of the most popular activities in Kinsale is the heritage town walks. These guided tours take visitors through the town’s narrow winding streets and alleyways, offering glimpses into Kinsale’s past. Another highlight is the annual gourmet festival that takes place every October, where visitors can sample some of the region’s finest foods and wines.

For history buffs, neighboring Summercove is home to the 17th-century Charles Fort, an impressive military fortress that has played a pivotal role in Ireland’s history. Visitors can tour the fort and learn about its significance in the region.

But Kinsale isn’t just for history lovers. The town is also home to a wine museum, where visitors can learn about the region’s wine-making traditions. And with its stunning location on the coast, Kinsale offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing and yachting.

Whether you’re interested in history, food, or outdoor adventure, Kinsale has something to offer every type of visitor. Its scenic beauty and charming atmosphere make it a must-see destination in Ireland’s southwest.

11)  Blackrock Castle Observatory – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

For all science and space enthusiasts, a visit to the Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork is a must-see attraction. Built in 1828, this castle-like structure situated on the banks of the River Lee, is a treat for the eyes with its sturdy fortifications and numerous battlements.

Owned by the Cork County Council, the castle is home to an observatory and visitor center, featuring a range of exhibits and interactive experiences. The planetarium and cinema offer visitors an immersive experience in the world of astronomy and space exploration.

The observatory also hosts a range of temporary exhibits throughout the year, exploring themes related to science, nature, and space. In addition, special events and talks take place regularly, allowing visitors to engage with experts in their respective fields and explore the mysteries of our universe.

A trip to Blackrock Castle Observatory promises to be a unique and enriching experience that both adults and children alike will thoroughly enjoy. 

Plan a visit to this castle-turned-observatory located at Castle Road, Blackrock, Cork, and prepare to be awed by the wonders of the universe.

12)  Cobh

Cobh is a town steeped in history, located just a short 25-minute drive southeast of Cork City. Once known as Queenstown, Cobh was the final port of call for the ill-fated Titanic on its maiden voyage in 1912. Nowadays, it is a popular docking spot for cruise liners from around the globe. Millions of Irish emigrants who left their homeland to start anew in North America and other destinations during the 19th and 20th centuries departed from this very port.

St. Colman’s Cathedral, built in 1868, is the crowning jewel of Cobh’s skyline. This impressive structure dominates the town and is an iconic symbol of Cobh’s heritage. The Titanic Trail, a walking tour that lasts an hour, is a must-do experience for those visiting Cobh. It is a fantastic opportunity to delve into the town’s Titanic connections and to discover the personal stories of those who set sail on the ship’s fateful journey.

Its rich history is well represented in its museums, including the Cobh Museum and the Queenstown Story Heritage Centre. For a more immersive experience, head to the Titanic Experience, where visitors can relive the tragic events of the Titanic’s voyage.

Cobh is an exceptional destination that offers an unforgettable journey into Ireland’s fascinating past. With so much to see and experience, it’s easy to understand why this charming town continues to draw visitors from across the globe.

13)  Fota Wildlife Park – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

For animal lovers, Fota Wildlife Park is a must-see destination. Located just a few kilometers east of Cork City, this 70-acre park is home to a variety of animals that roam freely in their natural habitat, making for a unique and interactive experience for visitors.

One of the highlights of the park is the opportunity to interact with the animals up close. Visitors may find themselves sharing a picnic table with ring-tailed lemurs, or watching giraffes wander through the central enclosure. It’s important to note that feeding the animals is not allowed, but observing and enjoying their natural behavior is encouraged.

Unlike many safari parks, Fota is not a drive-through experience. Instead, visitors are invited to explore the park on foot, taking their time to observe the animals and soak up the natural surroundings. The only caveat is that a visit to the park requires a good amount of walking, so it’s best to plan for at least half a day to make the most of your visit.

With its diverse array of wildlife and interactive experiences, Fota Wildlife Park is a top attraction for visitors to Cork. 

Be sure to put aside some time to visit this unforgettable destination.

14)  Elizabeth Fort

One of the most iconic landmarks in Cork, Elizabeth Fort offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich history. The 17th-century fort, which sits on the River Lee near St. Finbarr Cathedral, is a testament to the resilience of the people of Cork and their determination to protect their city.

Built-in 1601 to fortify the city walls of Cork, Elizabeth Fort played a key role in the Siege of Cork in 1690, when it was used to fend off Williamite soldiers. Today, it stands as a remarkable testament to the city’s history and offers visitors a chance to explore Cork’s past.

Visitors can take a guided tour or listen to an audio guide as they explore the fort’s walls. From the top of the fort, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the River Lee. Best of all, admission is completely free.

Step back in time with a visit to Elizabeth Fort and experience the fascinating history of Cork firsthand.

15) Red Abbey – Best Tourist Attractions in Cork

One of the most interesting and historic structures to visit in Cork is the Red Abbey. This beautiful Augustinian abbey dates back to the 14th century and is located right in the city center, just off Douglas Street.

Even though only the tower remains of the original structure, it is still an impressive sight to see. The 20-meter bell tower is one of the oldest reminders of the Anglo-Norman settlements in Cork and serves as a beautiful testament to the rich history of this ancient city.

The original abbey was a thriving monastery that was in use until the 17th century. After its use as a monastery, the building was transformed into a sugar refinery, which unfortunately burned down.

Today, the Red Abbey is a protected Irish National Monument and serves as a fascinating attraction for tourists visiting the city.

With so many wonderful tourist attractions, it’s no wonder Cork is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. From historic landmarks and picturesque parks to museums and castles, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful city. 

But don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself by installing  Framey App and checking out your friends’ holiday photos from Cork and other amazing destinations around the world. 

Who knows, you might just get inspired to plan your next trip! 

So what are you waiting for? Start exploring today and make some unforgettable memories with Framey!

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