This guest post has been burning a hole in my pocket for an entire year! Rachael originally wrote this post to queue up for when I had my big liver surgery last year, but time got away from us so I’m delighted that now it is being shared with you.
My friend Rachael Faught is an award-winning, rainbow-haired Los Angeles-based freelance writer and social media manager. Following a successful run as the main contributor for The Place: Los Angeles, a visitor’s guide for everything L.A., Rachael is focusing on her blog, Glass of Win, her personal adventures in food, travel and life as a geek girl extraordinaire.
While I have had the good fortune of spending quality time in Cork City, I know that many visitors only have only one to a couple of precious days to explore the heart of the Rebel County. One of my favorite days during my most recent visit to Cork was getting reacquainted with the city with Dan, an American traveler I’d met on a Ring of Kerry tour. Between another friend and my recommendation, Dan had taken a few days out of from his Dublin base to come check out Cork. I joined him throughout his first day, cramming in as much as possible, which is the inspiration for this post: A Day in Cork City!
09:00 – 23:00 (9am-11pm)
Keep up, we’ve got a busy day ahead of us!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Idaho Café, the 2013 recipient of Best Cafe in Ireland, is serving up breakfast baps (above), scones and pastries, piping hot porridge, gourmet coffee and tea and other breakfast using quality local produce and Irish ingredients. Let owners and chef Richard and Mariead Jacob get your day in Cork off to a bright and tasty start.
10:00-12:00 Crawford Art Gallery (Emmet Place – http://www.crawfordartgallery.ie)
An integral structure to Cork since its position as the Cork Custom’s House in 1724, the Crawford Art Gallery is a must-see for art lovers and Irish culture enthusiasts. Most enjoyable at the gallery is that Irish artists are prominently featured and through their art visitors learn socio-economical, political and personal history. Bonus: the museum is 100% free to the public!
Innovative and bold, with a smattering of Southeast Asian and Creole influences, Fresco Bistro is great for fresh made paninis, soups, salads and other midday bites to give folks that boost into the afternoon.
Time for a more leisure pace; take it easy and let your lunch digest as you stroll along the University College Cork campus. As Fresco Bistro is on the campus, there is no need to dither away time with maps and GPS, and the expansive Fitzgerald Park adjacent to the campus offers more natural beauty in this urban setting. If the weather is being fussy, pop in at The Cork Public Museum.
Looking for a fab piece to take home for your wardrobe? Every time I wear one of the items of clothing I purchased in Ireland, I am reminded of my visit. My personal favorite shops to browse are Amity and Prime Time for boutique finds, and for budget-conscious finds but still supporting Irish companies, go for Pennys and Dunnes. Shopping not on the agenda? Take a walk up Shandon, one of the most historic parts of the city, with panoramic views of the city centre, the famous Church of Saint Anne, and The Cork Butter Museum.
16:00 Tea/Coffee at Electric (41 South Mall Street – http://www.electriccork.com)
Tea is serious business in Ireland, and best indulged when you have time to savor it and enjoy either fine company or scenery. Whether you take your tea with milk, lemon and sugar, or plain, tea at Electric will take care of both, as it sits alongside the River Lee.
No point in expending all of your energy so early, there is still plenty of evening left to experience more of your Cork adventure. A lesson I learned my first time around in Ireland: take a pre-dinner rest! Drop off all the excess whatnot: items from the shop, anything you may have picked up, etc., set your alarm for a good hour to ninety minutes, and lay down. Plenty of rest during a trip is also essential (and oft ignored) to stay on top of your health. You don’t want anything cut unexpectedly short due to fatigue or any vacation virus that may plague before your trip is even over!
18:30-20:00 – Dinner at Fenn’s Quay (5 Fenns Quay, Sheares Street fennsquay.net)
Acclaimed restaurant Fenn’s Quay will make you feel at home and give you a meal worthy enough of rethinking of ever leaving Cork again. In the words of head chef Kate Lawlor, “…we use only the best produce from the best local suppliers and treat them with care and attention to detail.” From the carefully selected meat, to the freshest of fish, and all the perfectly picked produce of the season, Fenn’s Quay will give you the finest, coziest and friendliest meal in all of Cork.
20:00-23:00 Pub Crawl (Tom Barry’s, The Hi-B, Sin É, The Long Valley)
Alternate: The Everyman Palace Theatre (15 MacCurtain Street www.everymanpalace.com)
Pub Crawl: While there are so many pubs in Cork to pick from, I’ve selected my four favorite for their unique character. Tom Barry’s offers magnificent beer garden with outdoor fireplaces to cozy up with your one; The Hi-B is not unlike the sitting room of a quirky but lovable friend of the family (and the owner, Brian O’Donnell is the stuff of Cork legends); Sin É is home to traditional music all year ’round, packing in the crowds of devoted locals, foreigner newcomers and visitors alike; The Long Valley has been in its city centre location since 1842, serving pints with Victorian flare and a very laid back atmosphere. Whether you’ll have a pint of Murphy’s, a half pint of Bulmer’s, some ginger and Jameson, pub enthusiasts will get their fill in Cork.
Tom Barry’s: 113 Barrack Street | The Hi-B Bar: 108 Oliver Plunkett St (City Centre)
Sin É: 8 Coburg Street | The Long Valley: 10 Winthrop Street (City Centre)
Alternate: The Everyman Palace Theatre
One of Ireland’s leading mid-sized theatres, the Victorian-era built 650 seat Everyman Theatre offers an eclectic mix of plays, operas, musicals and concerts, though I personally feel the productions by Irish playwrights offer the most culture for visitors. Grand any time of the year, The Everyman is a smashing way to close out your evening in Cork City, Ireland.
Whatever you end up doing, the best I can suggest is: eat local, explore local and enjoy local. Happy days!