DUBLIN: Cork is different. At least that’s
what those who live in Cork will tell you. It’s not an
exaggeration to say that the locals in Ireland’s second city
reckon they have had all the luck. Not only do they live in a place
surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in Europe
(West Cork truly is a gem), but their city is populated by some of
the wittiest, smartest, best-looking people in the country. Ask
them, they’ll tell you.
Seriously though, Cork does have a lot going for it.
A small, picturesque island city, surrounded on both sides by
the river Lee, it’s a pedestrian-friendly place and most visitors
start off wandering along the river banks to get a sense of it.
Foodies, however, should first head to the English Market, which is
a veritable treasure chest of artisan cheeses, meats and freshly
caught fish. As appealing as the produce is the banter of the local
tradesmen: Corkonians have a great sense of humor and love nothing
more than to have the chats with visitors. The market is also a
beautiful example of Victorian architecture — all vaulted
ceilings and high columns. On a sunny day, take your food to Bishop
Lucey Park for an alfresco lunch in the (all too infrequent)
For a sense of Cork’s history, visit the Cork Public Museum.
Housed in a Georgian Mansion overlooking the river, it spans the
years from the Stone Age right up to Cork’s favorite sporting
son, ex-footballer Roy Keane. Cork is not a city filled with art,
but one must-see stop is Crawford Art Gallery, home to a wonderful
permanent collection of Irish art, including work by Jack B. Yeats,
Sir John Lavery and Nathaniel Hone.
Much of the joy of Cork lies in wandering the streets and
finding one of the many wonderful cafés and bakeries. It’s fair
to say a sweet tooth is a local characteristic, and the area around
Oliver Plunkett Street and Patrick Street is full of places to
satisfy it. For something more highbrow, head to recent Michelin
star winner Ichigo Ichie, in the city center. Run by a Japanese
head chef who pioneered kappou-style dining in Ireland, it’s
worth booking a few days (or weeks) in advance in order to get a
Of course, most visitors to Cork city use it as the gateway to
West Cork, which is no surprise since it’s one of the most
beautiful parts of Ireland. It’s a land filled with lush
countryside, hidden bays, spectacular beaches and Michelin star
restaurants. The first stop on any itinerary should be Cobh, about
30 minutes south of Cork city. It was where the Titanic made its
final stop before its ill-fated journey, and there’s a
fascinating museum that features everything from mock-ups of the
cabins to an interactive reenactment of the journey.
Further west, the grandeur of West Cork opens out. From the
charming foodie-favorite of Clonakilty, dotted with colorful
houses, organic markets and a cosmopolitan, expat population, to
the picturesque coastal village of Ballydehob (which has its own
Michelin Star restaurant, Chesnut), which is filled with food and
music festivals during the summer months.
Baltimore and Schull are two other perennial favorites.
Baltimore is the perfect place to base yourself if you fancy a boat
trip to the nearby Sherkin and Cape Clear islands, and the busy
fishing port has a maritime charm all its own. Head to one of the
cafés overlooking the harbor and grab a cup of tea or an ice cream
and watch the comings and goings.
Schull, further west, is quieter and more rugged, with
spectacular views of the West Cork coast. Come during the annual
regatta and prepare to be regaled by tales of the sea by the
participants. Whether you choose to believe them is up to you,
however! The town is also home to Ireland’s only planetarium,
built by a German visitor who fell in love with the place. Further
west are equally gorgeous towns; the likes of Crookhaven, Bantry
and Glengarrif. Your best bet is to rent a car and drive the coast
road, stopping off at the towns and villages that take your fancy.
There’s an undeniable magic about this part of the world, which
is why so many visitors end up living here.
Dazzling Dublin: The city with a small-town feelBeautiful Belfast:
48 hours in Northern Ireland’s capital city
Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
Celtic class: The magic of Cork