Official tourism website for Cork, Ireland

Urban Exploring

You may have just enjoyed (or are setting out on) a break along the coast or in the countryside, now you have a day to do some urban exploring, to see and experience the laid-back charms of our compact, steep-hilled, ancient port city.

Cork has always been an Atlantic City – orientated to the sea, born out of trading with the continent in the late medieval period and built and enriched by arrivals and settlers from Britain and all over Europe’s Atlantic coasts.
In just 24 hours, you can get to the heart of our city.

Day 1


Breakfast - at the Farm Gate Café & Restaurant in the English Market (from 8.30am) – start your day with good food and a great view of the City’s much-loved English Market. Choose from a more casual breakfast at the counter or a table in the restaurant, both on the mezzanine floor above the food and produce stalls.

Or – weekend brunch in Perry Street Market Café just off Cork's main shopping area, St. Patrick Street or Cafe Velo on George’s Quay – both good Sunday options.

English Market Stroll – Monday to Saturday - you don’t have to go too far from your breakfast table to get the best of Cork. Mornings are the perfect time to enjoy what TV-chef Rick Stein rates as the "best covered market in the UK and Ireland". As the city comes to life, it’s not so busy as it can get in the afternoon rush.

Many of the food and deli stalls are still laying out their produce and you can pause to enjoy a coffee and a sweet treat as you wander the aisles and arcades. Leesiders have loved the English Market for two centuries and more. It’s our place to shop, meet and chat, our quirky old market at the heart of the city. Make sure to take your time, talk to the stall-holders, ask them about their produce and get a few samples!

See Cork From Above (and from the 17th Century) – From the English Market, cross over the pedestrian bridge on the river and climb the short (but steep!) hill to Elizabeth Fort on Barrack Street. It’s a perfectly preserved 17th Century Star Fort, commanding views over the entire city. Walk the walls, see the great cannons and enjoy the panoramic views from the bastions. There’s a little lane beneath the walls of the Fort leading down to the river. It is Keyser’s Hill, believed to have been the first ”street” in Cork, named by the Viking raiders who pulled their longboats up the Lee and settled there in the 9th century.



Fitzgerald’s Park – From Elizabeth Fort – it’s a 20 minute stroll to the charming, riverside Fitzgerald’s Park. It was laid out by our Victorian city-fathers, but there’s now a very 21st century adventure playground for kids, room to picnic (the park has a café with coffee, salads and sandwiches if you haven’t brought your own from the English Market) and you can stroll across Cork’s famous “Shaky Bridge”. Generations of kids (and Big Kids) have enjoyed bouncing on this suspended walkway to make it “shake”. Try it, you can’t help but smile.

The Bells Of Shandon – Once across the bridge – walk back towards the city along Sunday’s Well. You might want to stop off at the historic, castellated Old Cork City Gaol for a tour, or continue straight on to the Shandon Bells in the tower at St Anne’s Church, an iconic part of city’s skyline since 1722. You can climb the tower to play pop songs on the bells, and go higher for great views over the city. The celebrated Bells of Shandon are the soundtrack of our city. Now it’s time to add your own sounds.  

From Shandon - It’s a 15-minute stroll to the Victorian Quarter of McCurtain Street, where you will find plenty of options for a late lunch or early evening meal, Fish n’Chips from Lennox’s or The Fish Wife, BBQ & Burgers from White Rabbit or Son Of A Bun, or choose modern Irish & European in Issac’s Restaurant. You can just stroll this Victorian street, sample and choose your pleasure.



Finish your day with something really special, a uniquely Cork experience, an evening’s Urban Kayaking under the bridges and down the river to Blackrock Castle.

The Sunday Telegraph Travel Magazine has rated it one of the world’s Top Ten Urban Kayaking Experiences. The double-kayaks, with guides, are perfect for beginners and you will get a unique view of the quays, the old docks and the greenways of the Marina as you float serenely down to the harbour.  

Never miss an event or new attraction in Cork.