Your Guide to Visiting Cork City

You’d never guess Cork City is the second-largest city in the Republic because the downtown area is close together and very walkable. It has a small town feel with a bit of city hustle and bustle as well as all the main conveniences of urban life. Throughout the city streets you will find shops, restaurants, cafés, nightclubs, business offices, and, of course, Irish pubs. Though some places are more touristy than others, a place wouldn’t be able to stay in business if some locals didn’t go there as well.

The city itself is near the coast so it’s a quick bus, train, or car trip to enjoy countryside or coastline. Cork is known as Rebel Country for the quirky and individual attitudes of its residents and that is shown by the unique and lively social environment. 

If you or someone you know is planning a visit to Cork City, Ireland, this is the post for you! But be sure to read to the end because I include links to several other blog posts I’ve written on the subject that you’ll likely find helpful and interesting. Also, if you used any of my posts to help you plan your trip, I’d love you to comment with your feedback.

♥ The style here is bright, colourful, personal, practical, and form-fitting. 

Practicality is not for everyone, but with the changing weather in Cork a bit of sensibility goes a long way. Leesiders are not afraid to show their form, but it’s more about flattering than showing skin. Ultimately, it is each person’s personal style that drives their outfits. You can see anything from stiletto heels to Converse sneakers on the streets of Cork City. Every person I know has his or her own style and it shows. I really enjoy how colorful the outfits can be and it’s fun to see people in party dresses for a night on the town having fun with others who are in jeans. Just today, I saw someone in Converse sneakers with fishnet stockings, a denim mini, and a rock band tee – and because she was true to her personal style, she made it work.

♥ What to Wear?

For blending in with the locals and not looking like a tourist, it’s all about layers since the weather changes pretty quickly throughout the day. Fashion trainers (especially Converse), boots (winter) or sandals (summer), denim jeans or a skirt, a well-fitted water-resistent coat, purse that can survive rain, and have an umbrella handy. Don’t be afraid of colour. Don’t be afraid of leggings or tights.

Avoid: If you want to blend in, do NOT wear white running shoes with shorts, khaki pants or jeans. Skip wearing things printed with ‘Ireland’ or ‘Dublin’. Few Corkonians wear baseball hats so that is something you’d want to leave at home if you want to blend in with the locals. Fanny packs are also a tourist-only accessory. For the most part though, being a tourist in Cork isn’t a bad thing. People are much more likely to stop and offer to take your photo or give you directions if you ask as it is a small city.

♥ My five essential items to have in Cork City:

  1. Comfortable shoes – you’ll do a lot of walking in Cork,
  2. Portable raincoat or purse-sized umbrella – rainy weather sneaks up on you,
  3. Versatile and flattering cardigan or fleece – it can get windy/chilly,
  4. Reusable grocery tote – food stores charge for plastic bags and it’s useful at English Market,
  5. Energy – we have a thriving nightlife Wednesdays through Saturdays

♥ Did you forget something in your luggage? Here are my top three shopping picks for inexpensive clothing/socks/accessories:

Penney’s, H&M, Dunnes – though there are numerous second-hand clothing shops in Cork City too! Also the local charity and second-hand shops have great variety, though as a tourist you may not have the luxury of doing laundry and I’m a stickler for always washing my second-hand purchases before wearing them.

♥ Thrifting & Vintage Shopping:

Cork City has so many great local charity and second-hand shops. Mother Jones or the Vintage Quarter for funky stuff on the weekend. I always seem to find a great children’s book at GORTA on North Main. For furniture, definitely Irish Cancer Society on Coal Quay or the shop in the Marina complex. I’ve had great luck at all these places.

♥ Best cocktails/mocktails: Deep South, Bodega, Edison, and Suas are favorites.

♥ Must-See Top Three:

  • Browsing The English Market (then picking up cheese, bread, pate, and drinks then walking to Fitzgerald Park for a picnic lunch)
  • Irish Coffee at Le Chateau or Hot Chocolate at O’Conaill’s (accept no substitute, these spots are institutions here)
  • Ringing the bells at St. Anne of Shandon and climbing to the top of the bell tower for the view

♥ What I wish every visitor/tourist knew…

As mentioned before, the city centre is very walkable. Nearly everyone jaywalks, but definitely look in every direction before stepping off the curb.

One of my favorite places to bring visitors for lunch is Long Valley Pub on Winthrop (between Patrick and Oliver Plunkett). The spiced corned beef salad sandwiches there are delicious, filling, and under €6. Sit in the snug if you want some privacy.

For a step back in time and a nice drink, visit the Hi-B Pub on Oliver Plunkett across from the GPO.

Cork City has seven wool/yarn sellers and three knit nights per week.

Sometimes you just want to eat a cupcake and watch the world go by and when that happens, go to Fellini’s Tea Room in Cork City Centre or Miss Katie’s Tea Room in Blarney. Or Healy’s bakery in the English Market if you want a cupcake on the go.

I feel very strongly that Fenn’s Quay has the best fruit (raisin) scones in the City (Gabriel Byrne agrees). For a rainy mid-morning pick-me-up, go there for an Americano (one free refill included) and a fresh scone with Irish butter and their house-made jam. They also do a mean early dinner which I recommend to tourists because the menu is inspired by local/regional/fresh ingredients.

I have other posts you may like to read too, like this one about Brunch spots and this one about parking and this one with visitor FAQs and this one with a long list of favourite spots in Cork City and lovely photos. But I also hope some of my readers who’ve been to Cork (or who live here too) will comment with their favourites.


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