There are so many beautiful places to visit in Ireland that it’s easy to feel spoilt for choice! Our tours and vacations are designed to enable you to see the best of the area you choose, but we are always asked for recommendations of our favourite places to visit.

One of the most popular areas of Ireland is Co. Cork, where locals and tourists are surrounded by a wonderful variety of attractions and natural beauty spots. Our breathtaking tour of the Wild Atlantic Way offers a beautiful journey through this historic area and it is simply steeped in beautiful places with fascinating pasts. Here are our top 25 things to do in Co. Cork, although we must confess that there are many more contenders that just missed the list! Talk to us if you have specific requirements or wishes, and we can tailor our advice to you.

  • 1. Mizen Head

Mizen Head
(Photo: Mizen Head, photographer Max Fischer)

Make your way to the southernmost point of Ireland, the Mizen Head. A stop at the Visitor Centre allows you to discover how the first transatlantic telegraph transmissions were made from this point, and uncovers the history of the Fastnet Lighthouse with its stunning views.

 

  • 2. Ballydehob and Schull

Schull
(Photo: Schull Harbour, Cork, photographer Chris Hill)

Explore the coast with a visit to Ballydehob and Schull, both traditional seaside towns along the southern coast of County Cork.

 

  • 3. Bantry House and Gardens

Bantry House and Gardens
(Photo: Bantry House & Gardens_stepped view 2, photographer Chris Hill)

A trip to County Cork would not be complete without a visit to Bantry House, the ancestral home of the Earl of Bantry. You will be enthralled by the fairytale gardens that surround this stunning historic building, offering a truly beautiful experience from April to October.

 

  • 4. The Beara Peninsula

Beara Peninsula
(Photo: Beara Peninsula, photographer Arthur Ward)

The Beara peninsula is renowned for being the most scenic route in Ireland, and is home to the Chough, one of the rarest birds in Ireland. The following entries in our list all feature as top picks in Beara.

 

  • 5. Ballycrovane Ogham Stone

Ballycrovane is the tallest ogham stone in Europe, standing at 5.3 metres high. Set in a beautiful spot overlooking Kenmare Bay, the stone bears the inscription 'MAQI DECCEDDAS AVI TURANIAS’, which is translated as "Mac Deich Uí Turainn" or "son of Deich descendant of Turainn". This is an ancient monument that is believed to date back to the bronze age, having had the ogham added at a later date.

 

  • 6. Teddy O’ Sullivan’s Pub

Cork Food
(Photo: Cork Food 2013, photographer Tony Pleavin)

For a traditional Irish pub experience, head to Lauragh and pop into Teddy O’Sullivan’s Pub, now run by Helen, Teddy O’Sullivan’s niece. Known locally as Helen’s Bar, the popularity of this rustic pub is in part due to the good local food and beautiful views, and in part to the welcome and friendliness of Helen herself.

 

  • 7. Aillihies

Allihies Beach at Sunset
(Photo: Aillihies Beach at sunset, photographer Chris Hill)

Aillihies, the furthermost village on the Beara peninsula, is a picturesque beach and a fascinating link back to the Copper industry, which was very important to this area. A visit to the copper mine museum will enable you to explore the effects of the industry on this small village, and to find out more about what was the richest copper mine in Europe for more than seventy years.

 

  • 8. Derreen Gardens at Lauragh

flowers

Open from 10am - 6pm all year round, this beautiful mature woodland garden offers sixty acres of tree ferns and exotic rhododendrons that date from 1870, created by the descendants of the fifth Marquess of Lansdowne. You can expect to see Sika deer, red squirrels and even the Irish hare, while the houses of the Derreenies, the fairylike inhabitants of the garden, provide a wonderful incentive for children to explore.

 

  • 9. Dursey Island Cable Car

Seal
(Photo: A seal looking at the camera, Photographer Failte Ireland)

Ireland’s only cable car is located on Dursey Island, offering fantastic views across the Dursey Sound from 250 meters ( 800 ft) above the sea. The coast is home to seals, dolphins, whales and rare seabirds, and visiting in the morning or early afternoon is recommended to ensure that you will be able to access the Island if visitor numbers are high.

 

  • 10. Cobh Town

Cobh Townscape
(Photo: Cobh townscape, Co. Cork, photographer Failte Ireland)

The following three entries on our list will allow to you discover more about the incredible history of this beautiful country, from which more than 6 million people emigrated between 1848 and 1950. Over 2.5 million of these adults and children departed Ireland via Cobh, which was the most important port for emigration at this time.

 

  • 11. Cobh Heritage Centre

Cobh Port of Cork
(Photo: Cobh, Port of Cobh, photographer Chris Hill)

Whether you’ve lived in Ireland all your life or have never visited before, you’ll learn something new at this fantastic heritage centre. You can find out more about the Irish Emigration story, see Irish naval and military history unfold and travel back in time to trace your ancestors on this historic journey.

 

  • 12. Titanic Experience Cobh

Titanic Experience Cobh
(Photo: Titanic Experience Cobh 4, photographer Lee Byrne)

The infamous Titanic made its final stop at Cobh Port, and this museum is set in the White Star Line Ticket Office that was crucial to many thousands of White Star Line passengers who began their new lives from here. You can immerse yourself in history as you take a virtual journey aboard the Titanic for her maiden voyage to New York. Discover what life was like on board for third and first class passengers, and experience the tragedy as the ship sinks in an atmospheric cinematographic experience.

 

  • 13. Beara Peninsula Guided Food Tour ( Manning’s Emporium)

Mannings Emporium Bantry
(Photo: Mannings Emporium, Bantry, West Cork, photographer George Karbus)

It’s easy to see why Manning’s Emporium is such a popular food store, cafe and tapas bar, as it makes the most of local and artisan produce that looks as good as it tastes. Manning’s Emporium has been in the Manning family since 1948, and is well worth a visit to sample the best culinary delights in the region.

 

  • 14. Whale Watching off Baltimore

Whale Watching
(Photo: Whale Watching, photographer Padraig Wholly)

Since the early 1990s, the Irish coast has been recognised as a whale and dolphin sanctuary. This makes it an ideal area to observe these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, and the boat trips that leave from Baltimore harbour commonly offer opportunities to see Fin Whales and Minke Whales, as well as occasional Humpback Whales.

 

  • 15. Night Kayaking in Lough Hyne

Kayaking at Lough Hyne
(Photo: Kayaking at Lough Hyne, photographer Lukasz Warzecha)

You’ll remember your trip to Cork forever when you take a night kayaking trip in Lough Hyne. Trips are run by Atlantic Sea Kayaking, who offer experienced guides to this beautiful and atmospheric area, best experienced from your own kayak as darkness falls.

 

  • 16. Charles Fort, Kinsale

Charles Fort, at Kinsale, offers stunning views of Kinsale town and harbour as you step back in time and explore. This historic star-shaped fort dates from 1678, and is associated with some of the most important events in Irish history.

 

  • 17. Lusitania Museum at Old Head Signal Tower

Lusitania

Dating from the Napoleonic wars, the Old Head Signal Tower was built as part of the coastal defence and communication system more than 200 years ago. Now home to the Lusitania museum, dedicated to the RMS Lusitania, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915, this is an important landmark that gives an insight into this historic and beautiful area.

 

  • 18. Clonakilty Town and The Michael Collins House

Michael Collins Statue
(Photo: Michael Collins Statue, photographer cc)

Clonakilty is a friendly seaside town just a short distance from some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches and home to The Michael Collins House. Find out more about one of the most significant figures in the creation of the modern Irish State as you explore the place where he was born.

 

  • 19. Cape Clear Island

Cape Clear
(Photo: A scenic view of Cape Clear in Co. Cork)

Cape Clear is the southernmost inhabited island in the country, eight miles off the coast of Cork, and is a haven of relaxation and wildlife. Explore the island to discover megalithic standing stones, a 12th century church ruin, a 5000 year old passage grave and the 14th century O’Driscoll castle.

 

  • 20. Visit Jameson Distillery

Jameson Experience Midleton
(Photo: The Jameson Experience, Midleton 02, photographer Eleanor Keegan)

The Jameson Experience, at Midleton, Co. Cork, is an excellent opportunity to find out exactly how this Irish classic is made, and taste testing is often the best part of the visit for guests aged over 18!

 

  • 21. Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle and Rock Close
(Photo: Blarney Castle & Rock Close, photographer Tourism Ireland)

Home to the famous Blarney Stone, found at the top of the tower, Blarney Castle dates back almost six hundred years. Built by Cormac McCarthy, one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains, this is a world renowned landmark that is great fun to explore.

 

  • 22. Spike Island

spike island aerial view
(Photo: Spike Island aerial view, photographer Failte Ireland)

Just a short ferry ride from Cobh, Spike Island has a fascinating history, including a 6th century monastery, a 24 acre star-shaped Fortress, the World’s largest Victorian convict depot and many historic Island homes. An excellent day trip for all ages.

 

  • 23. Fota Wildlife Park

Fota Wildlife Park
(Photo: Fota Wildlife Park, photographer Failte Ireland)

Fota Wildlife Park is home to many exotic species, including the Indian Rhino and the Asiatic Lion. The focus is on conservation and education, and the whole family will enjoy discovering the thousands of animals and plants in the park.

 

  • 24. English Market, Cork

English Market Cork
(Photo: English Market, Cork, photographer: Failte Ireland)

According to Rick Stein, the English Market in Cork is the best covered market in the UK and Ireland. This is a great place to discover local and artisan foods, and immerse yourself in the bustle of this exciting city. Opening hours are 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.

 

  • 25. Barleycove Beach

Barleycove Beach View
(Photo: Barleycove Beach View, no photographer listed)

Barleycove beach is one of the most dramatic beaches in Ireland, perfect for strolling in the sand dunes or trying out new watersports.

 

 

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