Cork is home to an impressive range of attractions and activities, and you’ll be spoilt for choice when you plan an itinerary for your visit to the area, with so much to do and see.
You can explore the stunning scenery and heritage towns around Cork, as well as the beautiful beaches nearby, and whatever your interests, you’ll be surrounded by attractions you’ll love.
Of course, the most exciting tourist attraction in the Cork area is the stunning Fota Wildlife Park, set in 100 acres on beautiful Fota Island. You can meet animals from all over the world, at home in conservation habitats that are created to promote global biodiversity, including the Sumatran Tigers, Asiatic Lions, Gibbons, Giraffes and Rhinos. With two excellent cafes, play areas all around the park and a great range of activities and events throughout the year, Fota Wildlife Park is a wonderful day out for the whole family.
After you’ve enjoyed your visit to Fota Wildlife Park, you’ll discover many other fantastic tourist attraction in and around Cork. Here are our top ten things to do in Cork: let us know which is your favourite!
In And Around Cork: Our Top 10 Things To Do
1. Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens
Take a step back in time when you visit Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens on Fota Island, near Cork. This is a wonderful example of a Victorian Manor House, and you can find out how life was experienced here for the gentry and the servants.
Discover the Victorian Working Garden, including orchard, pit houses and working glasshouses, and explore one of the finest collections of landscape paintings outside the National Gallery of Ireland. Take a tour of the house or garden, or join one of the many children’s tours and events, to find out the secrets of this beautiful place.
2. Titanic Experience Cobh
Located in Cobh Town, Titanic Experience retraces the steps of the last 123 passengers to board the fated Titanic from Heartbreak Pier, desperate to journey to New York. You will experience what life was like on board, and see how this differed for third class and first class passengers.
A unique cinematographic experience relives the disaster, and you can find out what happened during the rescue attempts and during the enquiries that followed, as well as whether individual passengers survived the tragedy.
3. Spike Island
Get a unique glimpse into Ireland’s darker history as you discover the Island that has been home to a 6th century Monastery, a 24 acre Fortress and the largest Victorian convict depot in the world.
Take a boat tour from the harbour in the heritage town of Cobh, and find out more about this fascinating – and sometimes spooky – remnant of Ireland’s past.
4. Jameson Experience Midleton
Ireland is famous for great whiskey, and Jameson was made in Dublin for more than 200 years before moving to Midleton, Co. Cork. You can peep behind the scenes at this important distillery to find out more about how this classic drink is produced, and enjoy premium whiskey tasting.
Children are welcome on the tour, but must be accompanied by adults – and, of course, cannot take part in whiskey tastings.
5. Cobh Heritage Centre
Visit the Cobh Heritage Centre, situated in a beautifully restored Victorian railway station in Cobh, to immerse yourself in the history of the area, including the Irish Emigration story, the tragedies of the Titanic and Lusitania, and to trace your ancestors.
Explore exhibits that reveal what it was like to live aboard a convict ship, and learn more about Irish naval and military history in the area. Look out for cultural events, held here throughout the year.
6. Blarney Castle
Blarney Castle is a world landmark and home to the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that once you’ve kissed the stone, you’ll never be lost for words again! Discover this beautiful, historic castle and it’s impressive gardens all year round, as well as the unique Rock Close, a special walk in the grounds that was landscaped in the eighteenth century to conjure legend and romance.
There is certainly magic in the air, here!
7. Cork City Gaol
Cork’s magnificent gaol is often mistaken for a castle, although life was certainly not luxurious for the prisoners housed here! Explore the historic cells, complete with wax figures and original graffiti, and watch the audio-visual show to discover more about this fascinating building, which was renowned as the finest gaol in 3 kingdoms when it was opened in the 1800s.
The gaol closed in 1923, and in 1927 the building became home to Cork’s first radio station, 6CK, which is remembered in the Radio Museum that is now located here.
8. University College Cork (UCC)
Discover the historic UCC campus, including the Crawford Observatory, Stone Corridor, President’s Garden and Lewis Glucksman Gallery. This Cork Institution is a great place to while away an afternoon in Cork, with new audio tours available to make the most of the history and culture on site.
The visitor centre is open 9am – 5pm on Monday-Friday and 12 – 5pm on Saturdays, but the Lewis Glucksman Gallery is closed on Mondays.
9. St Fin Barre’s Cathedral
St Fin Barre’s Cathedral is an Anglican Cathedral, designed by William Burges and consecrated in 1870, on a site which had been important for Christian worship since the seventh century.
You can attend a service here, or tour the Cathedral to discover the beautiful floor mosaics and historic bells, and find out how this impressive building plays its part in the religious life of the city.
10. Titanic Walking Trail
The Titanic Trail Guided walking tours of Cobh provides entertaining and enjoyable guided walking tours, presentations and lectures. The historical walking tour of the town is a fabulous way in which to understand the variety of heritage that seeps from every building and doorway along the short route. In the evening the Ghost tour explores the darker side of the Cobh’s folklore retelling ghostly tales of hauntings and the sinister.
Tours operate every day and group tours to Spike island can be arranged with advance booking.
Families can explore together the real facts about Titanic and its last port of call. A great family night out can be enjoyed sharing the Ghost stories and tales of haunted buildings that proliferate in the town
However, you choose to spend your time here, we know you’ll have a wonderful time in Cork and will want to return again and again to explore more of this beautiful area. Here at Fota Wildlife Park, we have a host of fascinating animals and plants to share with you, and we know you will enjoy your visit to our park as well as the opportunity to explore the rest of Fota Island and the surrounding Cork area.
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