Hostelworld Guide for Cork

city hall at night

Cork's vibrant nightlife is only one of the many reasons to visit, but it does give you a great chance to rub shoulders with the locals, who can often be heard referring to the city as 'the real capital of Ireland'. Straddling the River Lee, it is Ireland's second largest city and has something for everyone. Whether you're there for a short visit or a longer stay, Cork has interesting exhibitions, ancient historical sites, great shopping areas and a huge number of bars and restaurants to keep you busy and entertained. Friendly and fun, this southern city is also known for its large number of annual festivals.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Cork Airport is 8km south of the city. A shuttle service runs every half hour from outside the arrivals hall to the city centre. The trip takes 10-15 minutes and the service is available 7 days a week.

By train: The city has a regular rail service, connecting Cork to the rest of Ireland. Services run from Kent Station, which is walking distance from the city centre.

By bus: Frequent bus services run from Cork to all over the country. The main bus depot is located in the city centre at Parnell Place.

Getting Around

On foot: Cork is an easy city to get around on foot. The city centre is compact, with a lot of the main shopping areas open to pedestrians only. Many of the main places of interest are also within walking distance of each other.

By bus: There are frequent bus services to all the city's suburbs. The short trip between the city centre and Kent Station is also covered by the buses.

By taxi: The main taxi rank is located on St. Patrick's Street and offers late night services. Taxis can also be flagged down across the city.

 Cork facts

Name: Cork is sometimes called the 'Rebel City'.

Location: Cork city is located in County Cork on Ireland's south coast.

Population: Around 350,000 people live in and around Cork city.

Area: The city covers an area of just over 37 square kilometres.

Founded: Cork began as a monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St. Finbarr.

Changeable is the best word to describe Cork's climate. It gets a lot of annual rainfall but, at the same time, is one of the sunniest cities in Ireland. This city can also be quite foggy, especially in the morning. The wettest and coldest month is usually January, which has an average temperature of 5.5º C. December and February are also cold months. Warmer weather does appear though, with June to August being the warmest months. Highs average out at around 16º C.

cork climate

 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: Euro
Electricity: 220 Volts AC/50Hz, 3-pin plug
Area Code: +353 (Ireland), 021 (Cork)
Emergency Codes: Ambulance 112/999, Fire 112/999, Police 112/999
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time
Central Post Office: Oliver Plunkett Street
Main Tourist Office: Cork Tourist Information Centre, Grand Parade


USA: +353 (0)1 668 8777
Canada: +353 (0)1 234 4000
Australia: +353 +353 (0)1 664 5300
South Africa: +353 (0)1 661 5553
UK: +353 (0)1 205 3700
Germany: +353 (0)1 269 3011
Spain: +353 (0)1 269 1640
Italy: +353 (0)1 660 1744
New Zealand: +353 (0)1 660 4233**
France: +353 (0)1 277 5000

*All embassies are in Dublin
**Number is for General Consulate

Hostelworld Guide for Cork

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Cork Coffee Roasters, 2 Bridge Street A great place to start the day, the beans used in all the blends here are hand roasted in Cork. The counter is small and the shop popular, so expect to queue. A tasty selection of pastries and cakes are also offered. Open 7 days, Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 9am-5pm.

 Veggie good food

The Quay Co-Op, 24 Sullivan's Quay This restaurant offers a huge range of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Service is cafeteria style and portions are large. It's a popular spot and can get very busy at peak times. Vegans and veggies with a sweet tooth are well catered for too, with a really impressive range of dessert options provided. Open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm.

Café Mexicana, Carey's Lane Tacos, enchiladas and burritos can all be sampled here. Specials include combo meals and an offer on Sangria by the glass or pitcher. There's an interesting interior, with Mexican-themed tiles replacing the everyday placemat. Open 7 days, 12pm-10.30pm.

L.A. Bagels, 97 Oliver Plunkett Street Serving up the best, and most varied, bagels in the city. L.A. Bagels central location makes it an ideal spot to stop for a quick lunch. Grab a window seat and enjoy a spot of people watching as well.Open weekdays 8am-5pm. Weekends 9am-5pm

Café Gusto, 3 Washington Street A great place to get sandwiches, bagels and wraps, Café Gusto also offers a selection of milkshakes and smoothies at low prices. Soya options are provided and daily specials are also available. With this cafe's loyalty card, when you buy 10 coffees you get one free. Open Mon-Sat 7.30am-6pm.

Old Oak Bar, 113 Oliver Plunkett Street This is a great spot to enjoy a pint and watch sports, with a number of screens dotted throughout the bar. You can also check your email here, as the bar offers WiFi coverage. A popular live music venue, it hosts many different types of acts, from rock bands to traditional Irish music. It's also located beside another popular live music venue, Cyprus Avenue. Open 7 days, Mon-Thurs 12pm-1.30am, Fri-Sat 12pm-2.15am, Sun 1pm-1am.

Fred Zeppelins, 8 Parliament Street A great rock bar and live music venue, Fred Zeppelins sells discounted pints from 4pm to 8pm on Monday to Thursday. It's a popular spot with a dark interior, loud music and plenty of places to sit. You can test your rock star skills every Tuesday at the bar's Guitar Hero competition. Open 7 days, Mon-Thurs 4pm-11.30pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-12.30pm, Sun 4pm-11pm.

Mutton Lane, 3 Mutton Lane Tucked down a tiny lane way off the city's busiest shopping street, Mutton Lane provides a day time sanctuary while at night the candles and fairy lights only serve to make it even cosier. Mon-Sun 10.30am-11.30pm

 Gay / Lesbian Cork

Cork is home to Ireland's oldest gay venue. Often called the centre of the city's gay community, Loafers (26 Douglas Street) has been operating for more than 20 years.

An Bróg, 74 Oliver Plunkett Street Popular with a younger crowd, An Bróg has four bar areas and a foosball table. Here you can test your knowledge at the weekly table quiz every Monday night. It also operates as a late bar and there's a DJ 7 nights a week. There are great value specials on draught pints until 9pm. Open 7 days, Mon-Sat 11.30am-2pm, Sun 4pm-2am.

Bodega, Peter's Market, Cornmarket Street Housed in an old market building and covering two floors Bodega is one of Cork's most popular late bars. Revelers dance the night away to a mix of dance and commercial hits underneath it's stylish decor. Free in before 11.30.Friday & Saturdays 9pm-2.30am.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

St Anne's Church and Bell Tower, Church Street Get a great view over the entire city by climbing the tower at St Anne's, Shandon. The 40 meter ascent takes you up a narrow, winding staircase. On the way, ring the church bells as you pass but don't forget to don the protective gear provided. Open Mon-Sat, Oct-Feb 11am-3pm, March to May 10am-4pm June-Sept 10am-5pm; admission €5.

Cork City Gaol, Convent Avenue, Sunday's Well This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Cork. Follow the audio tour and walk in the footsteps of prisoners who spent time here in the gaol until it finally closed in 1923. Famous prisoners included Countess Markievicz and the writer, Frank O'Connor. Open 7 days, March-Oct 9.30am-5pm, Nov-Feb 10am-4pm; admission €8.

Blackrock Castle Observatory, Castle Road, Blackrock Help unravel the mysteries of the cosmos during a visit here at the Blackrock Castle Observatory. In the interactive theatre, visitors are asked to undertake a mission to save the earth from a rogue comet. This high tech exhibit asks for a good bit of audience participation and is a lot of fun. Open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 11am-5pm; admission €6.50.

 The gift of the gab

Blarney Stone, Blarney Legend has it that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you'll be blessed with the celebrated 'gift of the gab'. Visitors from all over the world flock here to climb up the castle and try it out. Once you've kissed the stone, make sure to take some time and walk around the beautiful castle grounds. Open Mon-Sat May-9am-6.30pm, Jun-Aug 9am-7pm, Sept-9am-6.30pm, Oct-April 9am-5.30pm/sundown; Sundays summer 9am-5.30pm, winter 9am-sundown; admission €12.

March - Cork St. Patrick's Festival Hundreds of people participate in the Grand Parade on St. Patrick's Day. Many other events also take place across the city to celebrate the life of Ireland's patron saint.

May - Cork International Choral Festival Celebration and competition mix at this festival, which takes place over 5 days. National and international choirs hold concerts, with over 5,000 people taking part.

May/June - Cork Pride Week During Cork's gay pride festival, there's a parade as well as exhibitions, films and other events. The city's gay clubs host a series of theme nights.

June - Cork City Marathon Covering a route of 26.2 miles, this popular marathon finished up on St. Patrick's Street in the city centre and attracts plenty of participants and onlookers.

June/July - Cork Midsummer Festival A three week spectacular, this festival showcases local, national and international performing arts and artists. Events suitable for the entire family are held both indoors and outdoors.

July - Cork Week Taking place every two years in Crosshaven outside the city, this is the biggest international sailing regatta in Ireland. There are six different race courses, with people from all over the world participating.

September - The Cork Art Fair This is a great day out, showcasing art from national and international artists. The contemporary creations on offer include painting, sculpture and more.

October - Cork Jazz Festival Jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald have graced the stage here. Running for years, this festival gives you a great chance to sample smooth jazz in great company.

November - Cork Film Festival Running for over 50 years, this festival now attracts national and international attention. You can watch both big budget and independent films here. A lot of Irish productions are also showcased.

November - Cork Arts Fest This week-long festival is organised by Cork Institute of Technology. A wide range of cultural events are held across the city celebrating everything from film to comedy to puppets.

Hostelworld Guide for Cork

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

Shandon The Shandon district is home to some of the main attractions in Cork, including St. Anne's Church, the Shandon Craft Centre, the Firkin Crane cultural centre and the Butter Museum. The area also has many smaller shops and cafés so it's well worth the short walk from the city centre.

 Somewhere beside the sea

Kinsale Picturesque and extremely popular, Kinsale is a medieval town found 30km from the city centre located at the mouth of the River Bandon. Here you can check out the boats lined up along the marina, take a harbour cruise or go on a guided walk through the historic areas. The 16th century Desmond Castle, which now houses the International Museum of Wine, is also a good place to visit. The narrow streets are filled with craft shops, gift shops, cafés, and a number of galleries.

Blackrock Starting out as a small fishing village, Blackrock has since been absorbed by the city but still manages to hold on to its village feel. As well as the Castle Observatory, it boasts a variety of speciality shops and a bakery café that are well worth a look. From here, you can also walk along by the waterfront.

The Huguenot Quarter Originally settled by French Protestants, this area of Cork city centre is rich in history and has a good, lively atmosphere. A favourite haunt for the city's buskers, the quarter is comprised of many narrow streets and laneways. It is filled with small quirky shops, chic boutiques, restaurants and cafés.

Blarney This pretty village, 15km outside Cork, is one of the most visited places in Cork and also in all of Ireland. It is hugely popular with tourists, both because of the castle and because of the Blarney Woollen Mills where Irish gifts such from Aran sweaters and Waterford Crystal are on sale.

St. Patrick's Street As well as being Cork's main street, this is also the city's main shopping area. It tends to get very busy with shoppers, largely due to its enticing mix of big name brands, chain stores and places to eat and drink. Entertainment in the form of buskers and other street performers can also be found here.

Coal Quay Market, Cornmarket Street So named because of its historical association with Cork's coal suppliers, Coal Quay Market is made up of various stalls lining the street. Everything from alternative clothing to watches to jewellery to flowers can be found here. Open Saturdays, 9am-4.30pm.

 Old market value

Old English Market, Between Grand Parade and St. Patrick's Street Trading since 1788, the Old English Market is one of Cork's most well-known attractions. An indoor market consisting of a warren of different counters, there's a huge selection of foodstuffs on offer. Don't forget to check out the Market Street Parade, which is filled with small shops. It's a great place to find vintage and retro clothes, as well as yarn, jewellery, crafts and gifts. Open Mon-Sat 8am-6pm.

Merchant's Quay Shopping Centre, Merchant's Quay Located beside the main bus station, Merchant's Quay Shopping Centre houses a variety of department stores and smaller shops across two floors. There is also a good selection of cafés and coffee shops. Open Mon-Thurs 9am-6pm, Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 2pm-6pm.

Shandon Craft Centre, John Redmond Street In the Shandon Craft Centre, there are a variety of different shops where you're free to watch the craftspeople at work or browse their creations. Musical instruments and Blarney Irish Crystal are on offer here.

 Budget Tips

 A Day in Cork...

Visit the Crawford Art Gallery This gallery is home to an interesting collection of pieces by local, national and international artists. Over 2,000 works of art make up the gallery's permanent collection. On the second floor, some of the most interesting displays are dedicated to Irish writers. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm; admission free.

Wander through the Cork Public Museum At one time the Cork Public Museum, built in 1845, was home to the Beamish family. Located in Fitzgerald Park, the museum now houses some of Ireland's most important archaeological discoveries. Open Mon-Fri 11am-5pm, Sat 11am-1pm, 2.15pm-4pm, Sun 3pm-5pm (Apr-Sept); admission free.

Stroll around the Lewis Glucksman Art Gallery This gallery is found on the UCC campus close to the main entrance on Western Road. Modern art and film feature heavily in the displays here. There's a café on the ground floor. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm, Thurs 12pm-8pm, Closed on Mondays; admission free.

 A walk in the park

Soak up the sun in Bishop Lucey Park Located towards the end of Grand Parade, Bishop Lucey Park is a popular hangout spot, especially on fine days. It's a small oasis where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Take a walk there and you'll see contemporary sculptures by Cork artists dotted around the park.

See the city in miniature at the Cork Vision Centre The Cork Vision Centre, found on North Main Street, houses a large and very detailed scale model of the city. Gallery space is also available and the centre hosts a wide range of exhibitions throughout the year. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; admission free.

Start your day by walking around Shandon. Ringing the bells at St. Anne's will definitely wake you up. There are many other things to do too, like visiting the Butter Museum.

From there you can go to the Cork City Gaol (pictured below). It's a great way to learn more about the prisoners who were held there and about the history of Cork.

adayin pic gaol

Crossing the Lee, head back to the city centre to find somewhere for lunch. Whether you're looking for a sandwich or a full pub lunch, you'll have lots of choices.

Catch the no. 2 bus from the main bus station at Parnell Place and head to Blackrock. Visit the Castle Observatory and take a stroll along by the waterfront.

When you get back to the city centre, walk from Parnell Place to the Old English Market. Sample the food for sale or check out the retro clothing on offer.

Exiting the market, follow Grand Parade until you get to Bishop Lucey Park. There you can wander through the park or rest on one of the many benches provided.

From South Mall, head up Prince's Lane to get back to St. Patrick's Street. There are lots of dinner options only a short walk away, including Café Mexicana.

After dinner, wander down to Oliver Plunkett Street. In a few minutes you'll find yourself at the Old Oak Bar, where you can enjoy a pint and live music too.

To finish off the day, why not head down the street to the late bar, An Bróg where a DJ spins tunes 7 nights a week.

Hostelworld Guide for Cork