Updated: February 2019
In this post, we’re going to be sharing with you our list of fun things to do in Cork for families. Whether you’re visiting for just the day, a long weekend or making this stop part of your longer visit to Ireland you’ll be sure to find something of interest for your family on this list.
We came to Cork after visiting Killarney, prior to taking an international flight across the Atlantic to America. We only wish we’d have visited sooner. Cork is just a couple of hours by train from Dublin and shouldn’t be overlooked when visiting Ireland.
List: Things To Do In Cork For Families
#1 Visit The University
Founded in 1845 is the University College Cork. The campus was previously connected to Gill Abbey Rock, the monastery and school for the patron saint of Cork, Saint Finbarr. The history and heritage of the people of Cork are embedded into the modern day of the University, nothing makes that as clear as the College motto “Where Finbarr Taught, Let Munster Learn”.
We chose to visit University College Cork on a Sunday. If you plan to visit the University as a family during your trip to Cork then where possible I encourage you to do the same. The reason being is that the weekend makes the campus lovely and peaceful. Providing you with endless photo opportunities.
Believe me when I say that you’re going to want to take photos. As the grounds of the University feature some of the most beautiful flower beds I’ve ever seen. If all that wasn’t enough the University also lies on the south channel of the River Lee and encompasses some fantastic works of art.
#2 Eat At The Old English Market
Please don’t assume we’re terrible tourists for being British and going to the English market in Cork. It is, in fact, one of the most popular tourist attractions in County Cork. So much so I really believe it should be one of the top things on your list of things to do in Cork for families.
The Old English Market opened in 1788 as Cork Corporation decided to introduce covered food markets at the centre of the city. This decision had been influenced by the change that English city markets had done in previous decades.
Filled with the most amazing foods I’ve ever seen in my life the market has plenty to offer. With two caf?s (one of which is upstairs providing a marvellous view of the market below). Located in the centre of Cork City and stretching from Princes Street to the Grand Parade getting to the Old English Market is very simple.
#3 Learn About The History Of Irish Butter At The Butter Museum
When thinking about things to do in Cork for families I had to fit in some education. An what could be more educational (and random) than learning about the history of Irish butter. The butter museum is one of the smallest museums we’ve ever visited in Europe. While I’m not surprised, after all, it is a rather niche subject, it’s one that’s steeped in Irish history making it well worth the visit.
Inside you’ll find an informative video about the most famous brand of butter in Ireland, Kerrygold. While the content may have been rather dated, it still provided us with the knowledge we previously never had.
The museum is split over two floors and post the introductory video we’d encourage you to explore the upstairs. Here you’ll learn more about the Irish managed to reform the butter Industry between the 1950’s and 1970’s.
If you’re travelling to Cork County with kids (or crafty adults!) then there are some great activities back on the ground floor including printing your own butter wrapper. There is also a section in which you can practice churning your own butter the traditional way.
#4 Ring The Bells At St Anne’s Church
Built-in 1722 is the Church of St. Anne and almost 300 years on it remains one of the most important early-18th-century churches in Ireland. Located in the Shandon district of Cork at the end of a maze of winding streets at the top of a hill, the church is very much a landmark of Cork.
Standing 50 metres high and offering spectacular views of the city, visitors can climb the narrow stone steps to the bell tower, topped by a 3-metre goldfish weathervane. Once at the top you can commemorate your climb by ringing the bells.
A selection of sheet music is available for would-be campanologists (bell-ringers), who tackle the eight famous bells, weighing six tonnes.
#5 Kiss The Stone At Blarney Castle
Highlighted as one of the greatest things to do in the whole of Ireland, is a trip to Blarney Castle. Where you’ll kiss its famous stone which has a traditional power of conferring eloquence on all who kiss it.
After kissing the famous stone head out and explore the rest of the Blarney castle and it’s surrounding gardens. Construction here started in 1446 by the MacCarthy of Muskerry dynasty. Although it’s believed there was previously a wooden house build here as early as 1200. In the long and rather public history, the castle has changed hands multiple times. However, it’s currently owned by Sir Charles St John Colthurst.