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Getting the opportunity to visit Cork is like being told you have the opportunity to go to a real life Willy Wonka Chocolate factory minus all the suspiciously disappearing children and strange small orange men. You take it. The southernmost city on our green isle has a wealth of things to do, amazing food and great craic and ceol. Below is the definitive list of things to do if you really want to claim you have ‘done’ Cork city.
The English Market
If it’s important enough for Queen Elizabeth to have visited on her state visit back in 2011, you know it’s worth checking out. Artisan food stalls, a beautiful balcony restaurant and plenty of fun with the vendors, The English market is a must visit. Stop by the fish stall to see some seriously sinister looking fish and hear some of the best accents Cork has to offer. (Bonus; you may recognise it as the place where Conor MacSweeney’s mother works in Young Offenders).
Famous for its Shandon Bells, this is one of Cork’s best known spots both at home and abroad. You haven’t truly been to Cork until you’ve heard the Shandon bells. Or in this case, rung them! The Church now offers a €4 tour of its bell tower that takes you through some of the buildings history, allows you to ring the bells and culminates with a stunning skyline view of Cork city at the top of the bell tower. Bring coats if you plan to go all the way to the top. It gets breezy!
University College Cork
Well worth the 15 minute walk out from the main street, UCC’s campus is a stunning combination of old and new. Constantly buzzing with tousirts and students alike, the campus is alive with life and action. Beautiful old buildings and the gorgeous President’s garden – best seen in late summer and spring – make for a picturesque walk and you can even avail of a walking tour that takes place between February and October. Brimming with history like the Ogham stone display and past student, George Boole’s statue, it’s not one to miss.
Franciscan Well Brewery
Stop by this charming pub/brewery if you have a free afternoon to day drink. Do a tour of the brewery and sample their famous Rebel Red or Blarney Blond in their cosy beer garden that’s always full of life (and tourists). A handmade pizza by their Italian chefs will line the stomach and satisfy the post-drinking cravings. The riverside walk to get there is well worth the trek for the buzz and atmosphere of the place alone.
The Shopping Streets
For the shopaholics, there’s plenty of high and unique fashion that the second city has to offer. Opera Lane is the famous retail hub of Cork with brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, H&M and River Island. Further down Patrick’s street is Brown Thomas and don’t forget the boutiques scattered down Drawbridge Street and Cari’s Closet on Carey’s Lane. Wandering the side streets behind Patrick’s street will give you the best chance of coming across some of the beautiful and unusual boutiques that Cork has to offer. Finding somewhere to recharge and put your bags down for a while won’t be a problem either with all of the nearby cafes and restaurants with delicious cuisine from around the world. Check out Paul’s street and French Church street for some of the best spots!
By Fiona Murphy