1. Stroll the English Market
Given the turbulent 800 year relationship between England and Ireland, it's somewhat surprising that one of the top attractions in Cork is called the English Market. History aside, this old Victorian era food hall has great atmosphere and fantastic eats.
2. Be Everyman and catch a show
The Everyman Palace Theatre has a richly decorated interior and sumptuous red velvet chairs and curtains. If there is a show on, definitely catch it. You're in for a treat.
3. Check out the Film Festival
Cork even has its own film festival every November. Many of the films have a local flavor. My friend Aoife actually screened her short film Oscar, a documentary short about a devoted dog and his sea-ferry captain companion at the Cork Film Festival so we had a chance to walk the red carpet ourselves.
4. Stroll through University College Cork
University College Cork is one of the top universities in Ireland. It also happens to have a gorgeous campus. Take a stroll around and explore the old observatory, the grey brick buildings of the quad, and see old runes on display that are hundreds of years old.
5. Dine in style at Cafe Paradiso
Dublin can be a bit challenging for vegetarian foodies. Not so in Cork. Cafe Paradiso, the top vegetarian restaurant in the country proves that vegetarian cuisine can be both imaginative and delicious. Even those that normally eat meat (like us) seek this place out.
6. Get treated to a pint by a local
"Ah, go on, so!" I love the characters you find in the pubs in Ireland and this is particularly true in Cork. I asked this guy (I soon learned that his name was Tom) if the seats next to him were free and he proceeded to talk my ear off for an hour and insisted on buying us a pint of beer. He slapped a 50 EUR note into my hand and wandered off to the loo. What a hoot. Tom was a typical Cork man with the gift of gab.
7. Pay tribute to Depeche Mode at Cafe Depeche
Down near University College Cork is a small coffee house with a singular theme. It's all about Depeche Mode. Their music plays all day and their album covers grace the walls. I'm not sure if the barista was even alive when the band got together but no bother, We love Depeche Mode!
8. Join the craft brew revolution at Franciscan Well
Franciscan Well is one of the original brews in Ireland that started what seems to be a craft beer revolution. Stop by the brewery in Cork City for a mighty fine pint and perhaps a pizza if you're feeling peckish.
9. Lock yourself up at Cork Gaol
We trekked up a hill above Cork city for a visit to Cork Gaol. Wax figures stood guard and videos cast upon the wall told stories of what life was like in the prison where hardened criminals met with debtors. Even some Irish revolutionaries spent time here. It was fascinating to stroll around and take in a bit of history. If these walls could talk...
10. Take a Titanic day drip to Cobh
If the weather is fine, a day trip to Cobh from Cork city is just the thing. Take the train into town, climb the hill, and imagine waving farewell as the Titanic steamed out of port on her fateful maiden voyage. There is a museum in the train station devoted to Titanic and other ships that passed through these waters. The Lusitania also met her end just offshore.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do that make a trip to Cork City worthwhile. Many people pass the place over in favor of a drive through the wild West Cork countryside but Ah, go on, so. Stay a while.
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