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In my first year in Ireland, I decided that all this green land deserved to be visited and since the distances are not so bad I started to travel by train or bus. My first stop was Cork.
Cork is located in the southwest and is the second-largest city in Ireland, from Dublin I took the bus and after a couple of hours, I arrived in this beautiful city. I do not know why, or perhaps why, with the exception of Dublin, we do not hear about many other Irish cities, but I honestly did not expect to find such a beautiful, lively, colourful and young city. The city centre is medieval, crossed by the River Lee and numerous bridges that give the city a beautiful atmosphere during the day and even at night where the reflection of the lights in the water colour the city. The nightlife is very lively and lively thanks, of course to the multitude of pubs and restaurants, but also and above all because it is a very young city.
How many days should you spend in Cork?
I went to Cork for a bank holiday weekend so I arrived Friday night and I went back to Dublin on Monday evening so I spent two and half days and they are necessary if like me you want to go somewhere outside the city centre. I took the bus in front of the Connelly station in Dublin and in 2h and 30 I was at the bus station of Cork.
Things to do in Cork city
The best way to visit Cork city centre is by walk starting from the principal square you can reach the top attractions with a beautiful walk between shopping street, traditional pubs all of these surrounded by bridges, hills with colourful houses and street artist that will escort you in this tour.
The first stop during your walk has to be for breakfast at the English market. In the principal street, inside a big 700’ building you can find a really nice, always open, gastronomic market. It was opened around 1788 and it has a long and troubled history, an example? it survived a civil war and a couple of fires. We can find every type of food, from traditional and local food to cuisine from all over the world moving to meat, fish, vegetables and fruit: a true paradise for gourmets.
And why this should be the breakfast stop? Well, I fell in love with the cafe upstairs. This cafe has a view over the entire market to enjoy the breakfast and also the people at the market moreover I had the best scones ever, it was tasty and absolutely delicious.
Up and down the hills you have to stop at the Cork City Gaol, it was the penitentiary, even if it seems more like a castle, and for a couple of euros, you can visit the inside and learn more about this place. The City Gaol has been renewed and now it gives you a really excellent idea of how it was in the past.
On top of a hill, we can find the Church of St. Anna and its tower. I recommend not only to visit the church but also to climb the tower because the view of all Cork from above is incredible, a complete view of the city and all its streets and while you climb you can also ring the church bells.
Curiosity? The tower has four clocks one for each facade and, as the people of Cork say you don’t have to trust them because all four clocks mark different times.
At some point in your walk, you will be thirsty and what better place than the Franciscan Well Brewery? The pub was built on the site of an ancient Franciscan convent dating back to 1219 and today is a really nice brewery with a garden where you can stay outdoors, lots of tasty beer types, but also a delicious pizza. This is the perfect stop after a day’s walk.
Things to do in County Cork
After visiting the city of Cork I decided to take the train and in about 30 minutes between beautiful landscapes and small towns, I reached the city of Cobh.
The city is a small jewel built on a hill with in the middle of it a large majestic cathedral, all-around small and colourful houses and an incredible blue ocean; it is thanks to this ocean that the city is also famous. In fact, in the port of Cobh the Titanic sailed in 1912 as the last port before sailing to the Atlantic, 123 passengers embarked in this port and only 44 survived. Aside from the sad story of the Titanic, I really liked this town. I have to admit I was lucky also because I found a sunny day and I think it is very important to visit this city with the sun both for the colours and because with the sun and everything is more beautiful. I suggest you stop and have lunch in one of the many restaurants with ocean views and good fish food.
If you like to reach Cobh by train check https://www.irishrail.ie/en-ie/
2. BLARNEY CASTLE
I liked everything about this short trip, but my favourite and the curious thing I did was the Blarney Castle. It is located about 8 km from Cork and is easy to reach by bus, the castle is famous for the huge colourful and beautiful garden with mazes, waterfalls and strange stones that have the nose and face of a witch, but it is mainly well known for the Blarney stone in fact the legend says that if you kiss the Blarney stone you will get the gift of eloquence. To reach the stone you have to go to the top of the castle and you will not only find the stone but also a beautiful view of the landscape all around the castle; to kiss it you have to lie on your back, hold on to the iron bars and tilt your head; a person of staff will help you. I know kissing a stone is not very hygienic, everyone kisses the same stone and everything but, in my opinion, this was a strange but nice thing to do and try and who knows, maybe it can work.
If you like to reach Blarney Village by bus check https://www.buseireann.ie/
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Looking for activities and tours in Cork? I suggest you check out Get Your Guide. To find out more follow the link below and be inspired :)