Where to stay…
Surround yourself in complete tranquillity, and not to mention Ireland’s gorgeous greenery, by booking a room at the Fota Island Resort – which is located on a little island, just 15 minutes from the city. This hotel and spa is perfect for whiling away hours – whether it’s by relaxing in the hotel’s heated swimming pool, booking in for a head, neck and shoulder massage or wandering through the estate’s forest paths to the Irish Heritage Trust’s Fota House, which now serves as an art gallery. You’ll also find the Fota Wildlife Park on the 780-acre grounds, just in case you fancy mingling with some giraffes.
Where to eat…
Where do we start? If food is your favourite thing ever (and it is ours), then you’ve come to the right place. Make sure you enjoy at least one meal at Farmgate, the mezzanine eatery at the English Market.
Irish lamb stew, sausages and mash and seafood chowder are all on the menu – with all meat, fish and veg sourced by farmers who hold stalls at the market. The best bit is guzzling up your hot soup while overlooking the busy shoppers from the balcony.
The Ivory Tower serves up local delicacies like Wild Salmon with Whiskey – as well as Tempura, Sushi and, our favourite, a desert of poached rice and peanut dumplings with chocolate spice.
Fellinis, found on the cobbles of Carey’s Lane, is a cute little cafe that doubles up as an old vintage shore – and is the best tea shop in town.
Where to shop…
Like any good city, Cork’s packed with all the high street stores – and you’ll find everything from Oasis and Accessorize to Karen Millen and Coast on the central shopping strip. Look a little closer and you’ll also spot the local vintage-inspired stores like Brocade & Lime.
Where to drink…
Cocktails monopolise the menus at most of Cork’s bars – but finding the right one can be tricky. We recommend hitting Market Lane for the Whiskey Sours and Mojitos, while An Spailpin Fanac (‘The Migrant Worker’) – one of Cork’s most homely pubs – is ideal for a Guinness or vino around the fire with some locals. If you have a big night planned, Reardens will be blasting out Britney and Rihanna until the early hours.
Ten minutes away from the city centre stands St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral – a stunning Anglican building which exudes a French Gothic-slash-medieval air. Dramatic steeples and spires rise high into the clouds and the eerie stone gargoyles look over the doorways.
For a small entry fee (€5), you can explore the extravagant hall, which often houses the work of local art students.
The star-shaped Charles Fort near Kinsale Harbour, just 30 minutes south east of Cork, was resurrected in the late 17th Century to stop invasion – and has become one of the area’s most loved historical sites.
Tours are available on request or you could stroll at your own leisure, stopping for a seafood lunch at the on-site café, before wandering further towards the World’s End and Sandycove bays for the water views.
For more information on Ireland’s year-long celebration, The Gathering, or to plan your visit log on to www.ireland.com.
Return flights to Cork with Ryanair start from £48. Rooms start from €129 at the Fota Island Resort.
Photograph Credit: James Fennell, Andrew Bradley, Karen Edwards