Happy 2022, all! What a year this week has been, right? 2021 was one hell of year or perhaps year of hell… but I’m positive that 2022 will bring bigger and brighter opportunities for everyone. This is our year, people! Did you guys make any resolutions? One of mine was to try and squeeze in as much travel as I can, when I can. It’s been kind of hard to get the motivation to do anything, let alone travel, these days as it gets so gloomy and dull out. But that’s what will make little trips and days out worth it – kicking yourself in the bum and making yourself go out and see something or meet friends etc. Coming off of my Helsinki trip, I’ve been on such a buzz to get back traveling that I definitely want to try and squeeze in a few more days trips, weekends away and mark off some bucket list destinations.
Of course, with me being me, I couldn’t slide into 2022 without taking a little day trip somewhere. This past weekend I took a day trip to a city in Ireland which I haven’t had the pleasure to explore enough of in my life – Cork City! Cork City is situated at in the south of Ireland, in Munster province. It is the second largest city in Ireland and is located along the River Lee. When I was younger, my family were big into our annual ‘staycations’ and a couple of times we made our way down to County Cork – Bantry, Mallow, Cobh etc and each time was as cool as the other. And the same can be said for today – I have visited Cork twice in the past couple of months and I have been as equally encapsulated by the charm of the city. It’s a handy city to get to from Galway with companies like Citylink giving a direct service to the city and airport. So, I took full advantage of their service during the summer and spent a few weekends and weekdays exploring the city.
Below, I am going to run through some recommendations I’d make about going to Cork and things I’d suggest doing and seeing – Enjoy
Being the second largest city in Ireland, Cork is quite well connected to the rest of Ireland and some 45 European destinations via Cork Airport which is the second busiest airport in the Republic of Ireland. Cork also plays host to Cork Kent Station which connects Leeside with places like Limerick, Kerry and Dublin, all of which have their own airports. The main train route is the Cork to Dublin Heuston service. Personally, I think the train is lovely because you get to see Irish landscapes pass you by with the big windows. There is a vast connection network that links a lot of towns and cities, especially in Munster, to Cork City, which make it a very accessible place to get to via rail.
When I travel from Galway, and being an employee of the company so my opinion is totally not biased, I take Irish Citylink. Taking the bus, similar to the train, gives you the opportunity to take in some sights along the way. The Galway to Cork with Citylink goes through Limerick, Buttevant and Mallow, as well as passing by Bunratty Castle, which is so impressive to behold. Dotted along the route is ruins of old houses, castles and monuments which is very exciting for any history lovers. In the past number of years, significant investment in motorways and roads in Ireland has made the journey to a lot of towns and cities easier to get to, including Cork. Knowing I can get there in less than 3 hours by bus makes it more enticing for me to go and explore the county a lot more.
Cork is also a port city, similar to Galway and Dublin. Boats and cruises are alternative modes of transport to get to Cork. Down the road in Ringaskiddy, there is a direct cruise line to Roscoff, France. I’ve never taken this service before but I reckon it’d be a fun way to get to France, if you’re a fan of sailing.
If you’re a fan of hills and bridges, Cork will be a treat for you. A couple of months ago, on my first trip in a LONG time to Cork. I got off at St. Patricks Quay and the place is stunning. Bridges and hills surround you and its just lovely. Getting around the city of Cork is easy enough. By foot, you can find yourself getting lost in the narrow streets and down by the river. This past weekend, the weather was crisp and a bit sunny so, hopefully when you visit, it’ll be equally as sunny! Most of the tourist spots and city landmarks are within walkable distance. At the same time, a lot of the surrounding sites are accessible by local transport i.e city buses and train. The train service in Cork can connect you from the city to places like Fota Wildlife Park and Cobh.
Besides local bus services like Bus Eireann, private coach companies offer great services around Cork like Cobh Connect and West Cork Connect offer services to as far as Skibbereen and Bantry. So getting around Cork City and County is quite the convenient feat!
Another fun way to get around Cork besides walking is biking! City bikes are really fun and a nice way to see a lot more things. Something that is a 20 minute walk can be seen quicker if you hop on a bike. I saw a few bike stands around Cork City and although I haven’t taken them myself, it is definitely something I’ll try when I am down there next time.
Personally, I enjoy walking around Cork. I got to see some beautiful architecture, nature, tourist sites and shopping centres and just some really nice parts of the city and county by foot
Things to Do
The first time I went to Cork (after a long time) back in 2021, I wasn’t too sure of things to do in the city. I knew of things like Midleton and I’ve been to West Cork before to see family and the sites. The only real things I knew of Cork City was that it was in the South of the country and that it was close enough to Cobh. I was pleasantly delighted to see an art scene, nature, historic sites and adventure tourism activities around the place. The few things I’ve done in Cork have been great, for example:
- Crawford Art Gallery: The last couple of times I visited Cork, I found myself in the Crawford Art Gallery. Located in the centre of town, around the corner from the River Lee. I went there back in 2021 because I was intrigued to see their current Rembrandt exhibition, showing the etching work of the famed Dutch artist. I have only seen a few works of art by Rembrandt in person like the oil work “Judith” at the Prado Museum in Madrid. One of my things I decided in 2021 was to become more culturally intelligent so, taking in the works of Rembrandt is incredible. Also in the Crawford Gallery, as soon as you walk in, is a room of marble statues. I think marble work is incredibly fascinating work. Dedications to Greek and Roman times, scholars and heroes are all depicted in this hall.
Most recently, I had the pleasure to experience the Phantom and Phantasies Exhibition by Harry Clarke. The work of this man is so detailed and his style of art is so cool! I stood staring at some of the pieces for a while and was amazed by the detail! So I highly recommend anyone to check out this Gallery space as it is quite something!
- Fota Wildlife Park: This park, Close to Cork City, is a place that has left lasting memories for me from my childhood. My family took a trip there when my sister and I were younger and I stumbled upon my first peacock who extended his tail feathers, giving me a heart attack and thus began my fear of birds! Besides this, the park itself is magnificent. The conservation they do as well is commendable. I try to support wildlife parks and zoos that focus on conservation and this one is great. Taking the train from Kent Station towards Cobh, the train has a stop at Fota so it is super convenient to get there! For animal and nature lovers, I strongly recommend taking a visit to this park!
- Outdoor Activities: Cork is on the edge of the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, positioned along the River Lee and near some amazing parks and woodland. There is a lot of exploring and adventure to be had in this county. As it is a coastal county, water activities are popular things to do here – Surfing, Kayaking, River Cruising etc. The city itself is dotted with parks like Glen Amenity Park, the Kilberry Park and Comcille Park, all lovely spots for a walk or some outdoor snacking! There is a lot of golf spots and pitch and putt centres around also, if you fancy something fun in the Rebel County.
- Shopping: Like most cities, Cork has a great shopping scene. There are a good few shopping centres dotted around the city. Douglas Village Shopping Centre, Merchants Quay, Cornmarket Centre and many stores along Saint Patricks Street like Brown Thomas, Dunnes Stores, Dubray Books etc. I took a stroll into a few shops, to take a look, and it was so hard not to just splash all my cash in Cork and spend all around me. For anyone who likes a spot of retail therapy, Cork has a lot of lovely places to pick up a few bits.
- Nearby Towns – Especially Cobh: As stated in the Fota Wildlife point, the train from the city makes its way to Fota, Littleisland and Cobh. Recently, I went to Cobh. I went when I was younger on the family trip but it was nice to go back and experience the town again. Cobh, also known as Queenstown lies about 25 minutes from Cork City and is on the Great Island in Cork Harbour and plays host to Ireland’s only cruise ship terminal. When entering Cobh by train, you’re met with exceptional views of the bay. When you look out, you can get a view of Spike Island (older monastic settlement and Bastion Fort). Cobh was the last port stop for the Titanic on its voyage to America in 1912 and it is so interesting to have such a distinct part of history associated with this Irish town. Its the fun thing about Cork, they have a lot of monuments all over the towns and City that you can just tell it is steeped in history. The towns of Cork are so colourful and some have great vantage points to get amazing views!
Food and Drink
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that a majority of my trips are surrounded by delicious foods and especially good coffee. Cork is no exception. I was like a blood hound on my trip there in 2021 looking for coffee and food. I was glad to find some good places and see some places that would be definite must-stops on my next trip to Cork. Here are some places I tried and would like to try:
- Rebel Coffee: This was the place I stopped for coffee when I met my friend in Cork. A bright red coffee shop to reflect the nickname and colours of County Cork. They make a delicious latte as well as lovely mochas and hot chocolates. It is situated on a narrow street which would remind you of rural Italian streets.
- Burritos & Blues: This place was bustling every time I passed it on my walks through the city. Young people chomping down on burritos, few beers, good atmosphere. It seems like a really fun place to eat and I’m sure you’d meet a lot of people there also!
- Idaho: A little place near Brown Thomas that serves really good coffee and have some bangin’ scones! I am a sucker for a good scone with good Irish butter. So, pop in if you’re feeling peckish.
- Elbow Lane Brew and Smokehouse: Just the sound of this place sounds good. And seems like the kind of place where elbows on tables is encouraged! I’ve seen their menu and damn… looks mouth watering, so I’d consider going here on my next trip there!
- Coffee Cove: A place I went into when I was in Cobh and to hear “We’re up the walls!” was very nice for an artisan coffee shop to say! They have a delicious sandwich selection and an even nicer looking treats counter! Walking past it just makes you hungry!
- Boru Coffee Shop: Whenever I pass down to St. Patricks Quay, I always pass Ború but have yet to venture in! It looks like the kind of place that takes great care of the coffee they make. The exterior has a lovely patio to sit and watch the world go by! I’ll make it a point to go on my next trip though!
The south part of Ireland is a place I’ve spent time sporadically as a child but now that I am older and I enjoy discovering more of Ireland, I find it so fun to go to places like Cork. I am glad I went twice recently and I plan to go to Cork city and county a lot more. The city is beautiful and people from Cork are really some of the loveliest people, so I recommend making some friends when you’re visiting! Not only are they lovely but the Cork accent is amazing to listen to!
When traveling to Cork, I recommend planning ahead of time the places you wish to see. Do you want to see more of the city or surrounding places like Cobh or Blarney? Do you want to go to Spike Island? It’d be wise to have an action plan before heading there so that you’re not wasting time and miss out on some of the things you’d like to see.
Another thing would be, as with all of Ireland, to pack accordingly. Irish weather is very temperamental. Sunny one moment and raining the next, so I recommend at least taking a rain coat and umbrella with you. I’d also bring a pair of walking shoes. Cork has some steep inclines, especially if you wish to see the Shandon Steeple and Church or St. Colman’s in Cobh, there’ll be a lot of steps involved! And be sure to take a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated as you explore!
So! This concludes my first blog post of 2022. As with my Helsinki post, I am still cautiously planning some cool trips I wish to take in 2022. Some trips may be done within Ireland (Still living that Staycation life) but, with everything going to plan, I want to go abroad more and knock a few destinations off of my hit list!
Keep an eye on my socials for updates on some upcoming trips, you’ll be overloaded with pictures soon!