Ireland’s largest county is that of Cork. It is famous for its role in Ireland’s fight for independence and so therefore known as the ‘Rebel County’.

A brilliant mix of urban and country, there is an endless supply of things to do in Cork, whether you prefer the outdoors, or would rather sit down with a drink. You’ll find something for yourself here and thus here’s our pick of the top things to do in Cork this summer. 

Ireland on a budget countryside

Things To Do in Cork This Summer

1. Bustling Cork City 

To begin with, Cork city is an obvious place to visit, even just if passing through. This university city, is one of the largest cities in Ireland, after Dublin and is full of great shops, lively pubs and a very welcoming atmosphere. There is a multitude of things to do for visitors with all tastes, from history fanatics, to foodies. 

2. Lively Pubs

Cork is famous for having the best pubs in Ireland. Or maybe I just made that stat up. Either way, it really is home to some smashing old man pubs, late night venues and trendy bars with insanely large beer gardens that people flock to the minute there’s even a shimmer of sunshine.

Tops spots include Electric on the South Mall (perfect in summer with great cocktails and a top meeting spot in the sunshine), Sin E (if you’re looking for a cosy atmosphere with live trad music), Sober Lane (if you’re a broke student or up for a mad night) and Franciscan Well for those craft beer lovers!

3. The English Market

A popular site to hit is the English Market. This 18th Century Market is owned by the City Council, and is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. Selling only the best of local produce, from fruit, pastries, cheese, and fish, it is a beautiful place even just for a walk through.

Wander through the colourful and decorate stalls, all surrounded by elegant columns and covered over by a wonderful ceiling.

If you are a fan of the movie or TV show ‘Young Offenders’, you can check out the fish stall where they film, and have their signatures upon the wall beside it. Of all the top things to do in Cork, this is a MUST!

the english market cork

4. Historic UCC

University College Cork is another gorgeous spot. Established back in 1845, it has played host to many famous alumni such as Cillian Murphy, Graham Norton, Jack Lynch and Fiona Shaw, as well as many, many more.

The architecture here plays true to its 19th-century history, while also having added some more modern elements.

Walk through this university, taking a look at the many historic points, such as the Stone corridor, a covered walkway filled with Ogham stones, dating back to the second or third century, or Crawford’s Observatory, which dates back to the 1880s, and contains many different astronomical instruments. 

If you’re on the look out for other historic buildings in cork, plan to stop at some of these ancient castles around Cork.

ucc cork


5. Spooky Cork City Gaol

Finally, Cork City Gaol is well worth a visit, if you are interested in the atrocious conditions the prisoners found themselves in one hundred years ago. The tour itself brings to life the cruelty of their penal system, with one of the most common of crimes at that time being poverty.

The gaol closed back in 1923, and was reopened in 1927 as a radio station. This in turn closed in the 1950s, but the Governer’s House has since been converted into a museum on the station. One of the most unique things to do in Cork by a long shot. For tickets and pricing, click here.

cork city gaol

visiting cork city

6. Restaurants That Buy Local

One of the things we love most about Cork city, and county, is how proud the people are of where they come from. This can be clearly seen in the way they always source local produce and cook with local ingredients.

Be it eating some Rosscarbery Black Pudding in Fenn’s Quay, Ummera Smoked Salmon at Greene’s Restaurant or tasting some Carrigaline Farmhouse cheese over a glass of wine at Arthur Mayne’s Wine Bar – you’re in for a real treat in Cork!

Special shout out to Pilgrims (located in the small town of Rosscarbery about an hour outside the city) that serves up a seasonally crafted ever-changing daily menu, using 100% locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes based on whats available so you’re always in for a surprise!

gubbeen cheese cork

7. The Unique Ewe Experience 

Created by Sheena Wood and Kurt Lyndorff, the Ewe Experience is a one of a kind combination of art and nature. This interactive garden is the only one like it in Ireland.

Filled with sculptures, and artwork alike, you can follow this nature trail through Sheena and Kurt’s  actual garden, which they open to the public over the summer months. This unique mix of art and nature has created an outdoor natural history museum of sorts. 

The gardens tell a story of four different themes, water, time, environment, and ancient earth. Relax and explore as you take the time to leave your world behind and step into this new one.

Follow the pathways, bridges and corners, through this creative land, and don’t forget to check out the breathtaking waterfall, where you can truly become one with nature. 

As Sheena is an artist, and Kurt is a writer, the artwork throughout the garden is created by them, making it all that bit more impressive. It is definitely a place suited to all, and one I would have to recommend.  For more info on visiting and opening hours, check out their website.

READ NEXT: Top Things To Do in West Cork This Summer

the ewe experience

ewe gardens cork

8. The Titanic Experience, Cobh 

Cobh is a town like no other. What used to be known as ‘Queenstown’ during the reign of Queen Victoria, it is now known for being the Titanic’s last stop before its eventual demise. For a history fan, this is the perfect stop. 

cobh colourful houses

Filled with numerous museums on the legendary ship, including ‘The Titanic Experience’, which is a popular hotspot for tourists to get a look at what it would have been like as a passenger on the ship over one hundred years ago. 

During this tour, you will be given a boarding card with details of one of the 123 passengers that boarded the Titanic at that stop. You will be able to see the conditions on board and view the differences between that of third and first-class passengers.

You will even be able to get a sense of what it was like during the sinking itself through a cinematic experience. Finally, you can check out the story room to see if the person on your boarding card survived or not.  

titanic experience cobh

9. Whiskey Tasting at Jameson 

If whiskey is more your style, then the Jameson Experience in Midleton is for you. Learn about everything, from the process of the distillery, about the hard-working people responsible for making this famous drink, and engage in the rich heritage of the original distillery itself. Afterward, quench your thirst by getting your very own taste for the whiskey. 

Other tours here include whiskey tasting where you can compare the four unique whiskeys that Jameson has to offer.  There is also the ‘Distiller’s Apprentice Tour’ where you can get a more in-depth look at the distillery, both unique to the Midleton site and Pot Still Whiskey.

You will also learn about the maturation process and get to taste the different whiskeys in the end as well. The final tour you can do is the behind the scenes look. This is a two-hour tour, where you will be shown the grounds of the distillery and the key buildings. You will, once again, get a tasting experience, which accompanies each tour. 

places to visit in cork / jameson

jameson midleton

10. Go Wild at Fota Wildlife Park 

Now, no trip to Cork is complete without a day spent at Fota Wildlife Park. These one hundred acres of land are home to a countless supply of animals from all over the globe. 

Originally a privately owned estate, it was eventually sold and turned into a wildlife park, which was officially opened in 1983. Enter through the gates of this realm filled with nature and biodiversity, and prepare to be amazed.

This is a place like no other. A short fence separates you and most other animals, be is giraffes, lions or zebras, or sometimes just a short body of water.

fota wildlife park cork

things to do in cork

Walk amongst the pelicans, peacocks, and many other animals. Visit the Asian section and see the magnificent lions, tigers and bears. 

From red pandas to elephants, kangaroos to bisons, you will be more than entertained. You can spend a whole day here and never be lost for something to do.  

Want to stay the night? Check into the beautiful Fota Island Resort and Spa.

Enjoy the fun things to do in Cork!

So, there you have it. I’ve spent many a summer down here on Ireland’s most southern coast, and have so many wonderful memories, from all over the county. I can guarantee, if you visit Cork, your only regret will be that you didn’t have enough time.

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