Ah, Cork! There’s no place quite like it, as every local will happily tell you … and this writer. I may no longer be a local, but will happily boast about my home county whenever I can. For a relatively small city, you will find excellent food, drink and entertainment on almost every street. The county, in general, has a huge amount to offer – I’m only getting started with this post, trust me – but here are some tips for a fantastic weekend in the city.
THE ENGLISH MARKET
There is one thing that will become fairly evident throughout a trip in Cork – food is a huge part of the culture here; from the produce to the final dish, this a place that takes great pride in what they offer. The English Market is an excellent example of this; from poultry to cheese, smoked salmon to olives, you will find some of the best of what Cork has to offer here … including the people. Whether you love food, or not, time spent here is worth it for the architecture alone.
Explore the county from a different side with a tour of the harbour and coastline surroundings with a sea safari experience. Tailor the tour to suit your group and choose from stops in seaside towns of Cobh and Crosshaven, BBQs and even dolphin and whale watching.
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK
When the sun is shining, the grounds at UCC are perfect for picnics and exploring. Guided tours are run daily, where you can learn about the extensive history of the University including the collection of Ogham stones on display. The onsite Glucksman Gallery is worth a visit, with regular art exhibitions running throughout the year.
Brunch is always on the cards when it comes to weekends away especially you’ve spent the evening pub crawling from Cask to Frank Barry’s. The Sextant serves brunch from 11 on Sundays, providing all the remedies for sore head – Bloody Marys included and riverside views included. 1 Albert Street, 021 484 0673
What was once a pharmacy – over 120 years ago – has been home to the hugely popular wine and tapas bar over the last number of years. The interiors have been kept largely the same with prescription books and medicines adding to the decor. Aside from the extensive wine list, Arthur Mayne’s tapas menu offers a selection of delicious light snacks that they serve until 11PM – and a shorter menu of meat and cheeseboards served until 1:30AM. 7 Pembroke Street; 021 427 9449
While Takashi Miyazki is getting ready to open a sit-down restaurant in the city, make sure to pay a visit to his takeaway joint on Evergreen Street. There are only six stools but if there’s one free, sit down and fully enjoy the experience. Love and dedication are evident in every dish, from dashi broth noodle soups to sushi rolls. This place is not to be missed. 1A Evergreen Street, 021 431 2716
Sticking to a very common, and much respected, theme throughout Cork’s restaurant scene, the menus at Greene’s are all about supporting local. Menus are created accordingly, by using what is available according to the seasons and the result is always something special. Head chef Bryan McCarthy has also opened Bao Boi on Barrack Street serving steamed Taiwanese buns -it's quickly becoming a hotspot in the city. 48 MacCurtain Street, 021 455 2279
If you’re a fan of excellent coffee, you’ll be guaranteed to get it with all the passion included at Filter on George’s Quay. Chat with your barista about your likes and dislikes when it comes to your coffee and they’ll recommend a suitable brew from their rotating selection of beans on the bar. 19 George’s Quay, 021 455 0050
The husband and wife duo at Idaho are passionate about what they do; Richard mans the front of house, while Mairead whips up the delicious food. There’s a lasting impression left after a visit to Idaho, you’ll see that too when you visit. Aside from excellent coffee and food, they are strong advocates for supporting local businesses in the city. 19 Caroline Street
Hidden down a side alley from The English Market, with a striking mural to guide the way, Mutton Lane is probably one of the oldest drinking spots in the city. Known for being a stop off for many traders from the market, you’ll no doubt hear a story or two if you stay long enough. The candlelit surroundings add to the buzzing atmosphere – the perfect place to enjoy a good pint. 3 Mutton Lane
Taking inspiration from the surrounding nature and all that it has to offer, Cask creates a new cocktail menu every 12 weeks. Think warming and comforting for the winter months to refreshing and light for the longer summer evenings. They even run cocktail master classes from Monday to Wednesday evening, should you want to channel your inner mixologist and get behind the bar. 48 MacCurtain Street, 021 450 0011
If you’re looking to treat yourself or a loved one to a night away in Cork, then Hayfield Manor is just the spot. While the extremely comfy beds, fine dining and range of spa facilities might entice you to stay indoors for the whole weekend, the hotel is within walking distance of the city, meaning you can get the best of both worlds on your trip
Everything about this AirBnB makes it the perfect excuse to visit the city. Located a short walk from the city centre, with amazing views and excellent facilities, you might well choose to spend your evenings by the fire when you touch down.
Both the train and bus stations are central, so if you do opt to leave the car at home you’ll be within walking distance of everything in Cork City. Make sure to pre-book your tickets on irishrail.ie, aircoach.ie or buseireann.ie.
Flying in from overseas? The 226 from Cork Airport will bring you right to the bus terminal.
Hiring a car? Enterprise run weekend deals from as little as €15.99 a day at selected sites. This doesn’t include the likes of Easter and Christmas, understandably, but for the rest of the year you’re guaranteed to get yourself a great deal if you don’t have your own car, or even if you want to do a day trip from the city.