Vibrant Cork has something for everyone, whether you want to get immersed in history and culture, attend a lively festival, or relax in stunning surroundings...
Like much of Ireland, Cork has a rich and diverse history which wasn't always quite as tranquil as its grandiose old buildings and idyllic riversides might seem today. Once a monastic settlement founded by St Finbarre (from whom the cathedral in the city earned its name), Cork was for much of its history entirely enclosed within a great wall as the city's inhabitants fought against Cork's largely hostile neighbours. In the 20th century, the city's defences against hostility were maintained, with Cork significantly involved in the War of Independence.
Today, only a handful of monuments and some remnants of the city's walls and gates remain as a testament to Cork's tempestuous past. Despite this history, Corkonians are largely friendly and welcoming to visitors, proud of their heritage and vibrant culture. In 2005, Cork was granted the title of European Capital of Culture, a status which both celebrated and encouraged the development of such institutes and events as the Cork School of Music, the Crawford College of Art and Design, the Cork Opera House, the Cork Jazz Festival and the Cork Film Festival, to name but a few. Cork's numerous other arts and theatre institutes host festivals, plays, performances and exhibitions throughout the year. As might be expected of a destination with such an exciting cultural calendar, accommodation and travel prices vary depending on the time of year, so it may be worth considering which events are of particular interest to you before booking your trip.
Cork also has a great culinary scene, with specialist food stalls often erected in co-ordination with major festivals. For those interested in gastronomic history, foods traditional to the area include tripe, drisheen and crubeens, although such dishes are admittedly not to everyone's taste! Modern palates might be better entertained by the range of local produce and artisan cheeses and breads on offer at Cork's English Market.
Most visitors travelling directly to Cork from Europe find the city most easily accessible by plane. Find out your options...
Ireland's fourth busiest airport, Cork Airport (ORK) operates more than 60 Cork flights a day to 68 flight destinations.
To reach Cork from the UK, consider Ryanair which flies from Liverpool, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands. Alternatively, Aer Lingus flies from Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Jersey.
When your flight touches down, you will want to know that your onward journey is going to be easy and convenient. Here are your options...
The airport is located just 8km away from the city centre, in an area on the south side of the city known as Ballygarvan. A number of taxi companies and bus services are available to transport passengers the short distance into the city.
Alternatively, visitors may prefer to hire a car from one of the car hire kiosks located within the airport. Cars can be hired at very reasonable rates and are not only a quick and easy way to reach the city but also allow visitors the opportunity to explore other sights and attractions in the area around Cork and Southern Ireland during their stay. Car hire may be cheaper if you book ahead and can sometimes be combined with flight or accommodation offers.
Vibrant Cork has a wealth of attractions, shops and eateries just waiting to be explored. But where should you stay?
The great thing about Cork is that it is a very compact city, meaning that wherever you choose to stay, you won't have to travel far to fit everything in.
The city boasts a range of accommodation and includes everything from high-end, luxury hotels to more budget beds. Opting to stay in the city centre is a good bet for those wanting to be in the hub of everything. Its unique position- situated on an island on the River Lee - will mean you really experience a city break with a difference.
Staying in the city centre will give you great access to all the main sights such as St Finbarre's Cathedral, the English Market and an abundance of museums, galleries and theatres. Known for its culinary prowess, in Cork you will also find a variety of eateries on your doorstep with something to suit every palate. And of course you can't come to Cork without kissing the famous Blarney Stone!
Those wanting to stay slightly out of the city may prefer to choose an area such as historic Shandon which is close to North Mall across the northern river channel. If you wish to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside of areas such as Kerry, then car hire is highly recommended.