This list of things to do in Cork for couples will complete your romantic getaway to one of the most beautiful cities in Ireland.
Unlike Dublin, the real treats of Cork are outside of the city in the countryside. However, this list will include a mix of the two to cater for those of you who are visiting the region for a long weekend or those who can only make a pit-stop in the city centre for the day.
We personally visited the region of Cork during a wider trip around Ireland which saw us visit Killarney, a stop on the Ring of Kerry and Dublin, because, Dublin!
Table of Contents
- 1. Cork University
- 2. The Old English Market
- 3. Butter Museum
- 4. Fitzgerald Park
- 5. Elizabeth Fort
- 6. Ring The Bells At St Anne’s Church
- 7. Kiss The Stone At Blarney Castle
- 8. Go On The Jameson Experience Whiskey Tour
- 9. Ballycotton Cliff Walk
- 10. Glenview Gardens & Fairy Trail
- 11. Go On A Day Trip To The Cliffs of Moher
- 12. CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory
- 13. Triskel Arts Centre
- 14. Model Railway Village
- 15. Inchydoney Beach
1. Cork 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. The Old English Market
No trip to Cork city centre is complete without a trip to The Old English Market. Formerly Cork Corporation, the market was opened back in 1788 to introduce new foods to the locals of the city, a move which had proved popular over in England.
If you’re looking for things to do in Cork for couples, then eating some delightful foods from one of the two cafés or market-stalls here should definitely be on your list.
3. Butter Museum
It’s not very often you get to visit a museum entirely dedicated to butter.
One of the smallest and certainly most niche museums Helen and I have ever visited, the Cork Butter Museum explains the historical importance of butter in Ireland.
The museum is open daily, and while you’re not going to spend much more than an hour here, tickets are just €4.00 per person.
4. Fitzgerald Park
Just a short walk from the University College of Cork is Fitzgerald Park. Named after the former Lord Mayer of Cork, Edward Fitzgerald in 1901 the park is designed to offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The 18-acre park is filled with a range of beautiful trees and colourful flowers, set alongside historical statues and sculptures. While inside the park be sure to visit Dermot Gavin’s Sky Garden, which won gold at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in 2011.
5. Elizabeth Fort
If you’re looking for free things to do in Cork for couples then be sure to put a trip to Elizabeth Fort on your list. Originally built for defence purposes, the building took on other roles as times evolved.
Consider learning more about the history of the fort on a guided tour that leaves the visitor centre at 1pm daily.
6. 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.
7. 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.
If simply kissing a stone seems all rather mild to you then you’ll be glad to know that there’s a little thrill to it.
As the stone itself is set in the wall below the battlements. Therefore in order to kiss it, one has to lean back from the parapet walk, holding an iron railing.
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.
8. Go On The Jameson Experience Whiskey Tour
One of the best things to do in Cork for couples looking to learn more about the Irish whisky trade is the Jameson Whisky Experience.
Here you’ll come face to face with the largest pot still in the world and have the opportunity to see a new micro-distillery in action and experience the live maturation warehouse. An, of course, they’ll be a chance to drink some whisky.
9. Ballycotton Cliff Walk
There are a vast number of walks in the countryside of Cork, however, one of the most popular is the Ballycotton Cliff Walk.
This beautiful scenic walk takes you 3.5km one way (so you’ll either need to walk back or find another mode of transport) from Ballyandreen to Ballycotton.
10. Glenview Gardens & Fairy Trail
Popular with both locals and tourists alike is Glenview Gardens & Fairy Trail. This 3-acre garden is home to a number of unique plant species, a woodland fairy walk and even a hobbit house.
Entry to the gardens costs just €5.00 for adults and €3.00 for children, making this an affordable afternoon out in Cork during the summer months.
11. Go On A Day Trip To The Cliffs of Moher
Nothing is quite as romantic as a trip to the nearby Cliffs of Moher. Consider hiring a car and driving from Cork yourself, or going on a guided tour that includes a stop here among other major sights.
These 14km long cliffs run along the edge of Burren in County Clare, famous for their folklore stories and modern-day Instagram shots a visit to Ireland is not complete without a stop here.
12. CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory
Just 2km from Cork city centre on the banks of the River Lee is the CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory. Built 400 years ago as a defence fort for the city, the castle has been transformed into a unique science centre.
Entry into the castle (which costs €6.00 for adults) includes two tours which run multiple times a day. The Cosmos at the Castle tour and the Journeys of Exploration tour – I recommend going on both where you can.
13. Triskel Arts Centre
Located in the heart of Cork City, Triskel Arts Centre was founded in 1978. The centre housed in a three-storey restored townhouse includes an auditorium, gallery and workshop which hosts a variety of drama, film, visual art, literature and education.
Check the centre’s programme in advance to find out if there’s an exhibition or performance which interests you, during your visit to Cork.
14. Model Railway Village
This family-run model railway village allows you to step back in time and see life, as it was in the 1940s. Handmade to a scale of 1:24 the village depicts the railway line which served local towns from old West Cork.
The Model Railway Village is open daily and has extended opening hours in the summer. Tickets cost just €8.50 per adult with a 10% discount available when booked online.
15. Inchydoney Beach
Just a few miles from the town of Clonakilty is Inchydoney Beach. This blue flag beach is one of the most beautiful in Cork.
If you’re looking for adventure then Inchydoney Beach is perfect. With multiple surf shops offering surfboard rentals and lessons.