If you have more than a few days in Ireland and want to explore beyond the Dublin area, you will probably go through Cork. You can enjoy the best things to do in Cork and also use the city as a base to explore the area. Here are a few easy day trips ideas from Cork City.
Best day trips from Cork City
I selected a few places you shouldn’t miss, all within one hour’s driving or so from Cork city. You can choose between colorful villages, unique experiences, impressive coastline, and traditional villages.
Kinsale – a lovely colorful village
The drive from Cork city to Kinsale doesn’t take more than 35 minutes. It’s an easy day trip, but there is plenty to see in the area, so take your time and enjoy the place.
The main attractions of Kinsale are the colorful streets and houses. Let yourself wander and discover the small shops, enjoy the coffee shops or pubs, and update your Instagram with some color.
When you’re done with Kinsale, there are two old forts to be discovered next to the town: Charles Fort and James Fort.
Old Head of Kinsale
A few kilometers away from Kinsale, you’ll find a very scenic landscape at the Old Head of Kinsale. If it’s not too windy, make sure to reserve half an hour to visit this place. The Old Head is a small peninsula, almost entirely occupied by a golf club. Of course, if you’re into golf, playing here is a great idea.
Kinsale is also the start point to the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the most scenic coastal routes in the world.
Cobh – one of the best day trips from Cork City
Cobh is another sea town with colorful houses, but here the main attraction is its sea-related history. The Titanic Experience in Cobh is something you shouldn’t miss whether you’re a fan of the movie or not.
Add to that an impressive cathedral, a boat trip to the local Alcatraz on Spike island, and a very interesting Cobh Heritage Center, and you have a full day ahead. I must also mention that Cobh is only a 30-minutes drive away from Cork and it is very well connected to the city by public transport.
This is the longest trip on the list. Adare in county Limerick is almost 1,5 hours away from Cork City. I added Adare to the list because it’s officially “the prettiest village in Ireland”. In a country full of pretty villages, that is saying something.
Adare village is rather small, but as you might expect in Ireland, you can visit a castle, relax in the park, stroll the weekend market and, of course, play some golf. The signature of Adare is within these spectacular traditional roofs. Expect quaint houses with beautiful gardens and plenty of opportunities to update your Instagram again.
Rock of Cashel
One hour north of Cork City, on your way to Dublin, you can stop to visit the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary County. The site has an amazing collection of surviving buildings, even from the 12th century.
You can see the round tower, the ruins of the Romanesque chapel, a Gothic chapel, and a 15th-century castle. It takes about an hour or a little more to see everything. The site is open every day from 9 AM to 3:45 PM, so try to get to Cashel before lunch to visit the place at your leisure.
Tip: the best view of the Rock is from the parking lot.
Beaches in the Clonakilty area
Clonakilty is a small town in southern Ireland, an hour’s drive away from Cork City on the Wild Atlantic Way. Clonakilty has a very good Friday market at Emmet Square and a model railway village. In addition, some of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland are fairly close to Clonakilty, so take your peak.
You can choose Inchudoney beach or the Long Strand for endless sand dunes and great surfing. The Warren Blue Flag beach and the Red Strand beach offer rock pools and family-friendly bathing sports. Don’t forget Duneen Beach, one of the smaller but most beautiful white-sand beaches.
These are just a few ideas. There are plenty of secluded beaches to be discovered, each one charming in its own way.
Blackrock is only a few kilometers from Cork city, so you can even walk here. It was originally a defense structure protecting Cork harbor. Today, it hosts the Blackrock Observatory, as well as a restaurant.
You can plan your walk by the River Lee to get to Blackrock before lunch and try that restaurant too.
The most visited place from Cork city is Blarney Castle. It’s a short 20 minutes drive from the city, so half a day is probably enough if you just want to visit the castle.
Blarney Castle has an interesting 600 years history, but it’s mostly known for the Blarney Stone. Legend says that if you kiss the Stone of eloquence at the top of the castle’s tower, you will gain eloquence forever. You need to lean back from the parapet to reach the stone, but some would go to greater lengths for the gift of eloquence.
Anyway, stone or not, Blarney castle is interesting to visit, and it has some beautiful gardens and parkland around it. The site is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and an adult ticket costs 16€. Like many other estates in Ireland, like Malahide Castle and Gardens or Kilruddery House and Gardens, Blarney castle also offers annual memberships.
If you want to stay closer to Blarney Castle, the Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel is a great, cozy option to explore the grounds at your leisure.
Final thoughts on the best day trips from Cork City
I just put together a list with some beautiful places close to Cork City – easy to do-it-yourself trips. If you want to explore further from Cork, the GetYourGuide organized tours below are always a good idea.
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