by University of Limerick International Student Ambassadors Katelyn Dietz and Patty Maglalang
Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, and fittingly there is far too much to see and do in just one day. But if you find yourself only getting to visit this beautiful county for a short while, here’s our guide to a perfect day in Cork!
Blarney Castle and Gardens
If you come to Ireland and don’t kiss the Blarney Stone, did you really see Ireland? But with far more than just a stone to kiss, this destination is a must-see while you’re here. Before you hit the castle grounds, make a pit stop at the Blarney Woolen Mills for the cute cafe that sells delicious scones, donuts, tarts, and hot meals. After a quick bite, head on over to Blarney Castle and Gardens where you can spend hours exploring the vast estate for just €11 for students. You should obviously climb the steep spiral staircase of the castle to kiss the legendary Blarney Stone at the top, but the adventure doesn’t stop there! The castle grounds include gardens, a lake walk, a manor, a mystical rock garden, and endless beautiful and peaceful trails. We even befriended locals who have season passes to walk around every day, so it’s clearly an experience that never gets old.
Time will fly by while you’re here but your day in County Cork has just started. Now, it’s time to fill up your afternoon with the exciting things Cork City has to offer!
St. Patrick’s Street/Patrick Street & Oliver Plunkett Street
After you’ve had a lovely outdoor jaunt in Blarney, drive or bus just a half an hour to Cork City to quench your shopping addiction with the best name-brand shopping along Patrick Street (sometimes called St. Patrick’s St) and the Merchant Quay Shopping Centre. For some smaller boutiques and quaint cafes and restaurants, just hop one street over to Oliver Plunkett Street for a bite to eat. Be sure to keep your ears open for the musicians of Cork’s vibrant busking scene!
Whether you want a nice warm meal prepared for you or all the ingredients for your own home-cooked meal, duck into the largest covered market in Ireland. Fresh meat, veg, and spices of every shape and size can be found amongst the seemingly endless kiosks, whether they be exotic or the pride of Irish farms. If your recipe calls for it, the English Market will have it – and for stellar prices! If you weren’t hungry walking in, you definitely will be when you leave!
O’Conaill’s Chocolate Shop
For any and all chocolate lovers out there, this hidden gem is not to be missed! O’Conaill’s has a whole assortment of delicious desserts, but they’ve absolutely mastered the art of hot chocolate. Design your perfect sweet beverage for about €3-€5: pick and mix your flavors of chocolate, add essential oils, aromatic spices, marshmallows, extra chocolate chips, and other various toppings. We recommend the milk & dark chocolate mix or milk chocolate with orange oil, or you can just ask the staff to surprise you, they seriously know their cocoa! A perfect place on a chilly or rainy day (which Ireland has plenty of) where you can hang out for awhile and sip on the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had.
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
Just a short walk from the city center is St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. No need to go to France when there’s a mini Notre Dame right in Ireland, and the photos you get here will surely be some of the best of your trip. Built in the 19th century for the Church of Ireland, its Victorian Gothic style is unlike most cathedrals found in Ireland. For just €3 to support the upkeep of this historic site, you can take all the pictures you want, learn about its history, and admire the intricate details of the architecture and stained glass. Be sure not to miss the incredible pipe organ!
The Franciscan Well & Pompeii Pizza
The sun will probably be setting on this incredible day of the sights, sounds, and tastes of Cork, but just a short walk from the Cathedral is our local-recommended pub and dinner spot! It’s a bit tucked away so it’s perfect for some off-the-beaten-path craic with the brewery’s delicious beer and a wood-fire pizza or two from Pompeii’s Pizza right out back! We highly recommend the Parma Ham and the Mushroom pizzas, and for just €20 we got enough to fill all 5 of our group, so you’ll have plenty left over for a pint or two! Anyone who says Ireland doesn’t know how to do pizza obviously hasn’t found this hidden gem!
We hope you enjoy your perfect day in County Cork, but whether you follow our guide or strike off on your own, we’re sure you’ll have an amazing adventure!
Katelyn and Patty