Cork is Ireland’s second-biggest city but if you ask the locals, they will cheekily tell you it is the ‘real capital’ of the country, and with plenty of attractions, landmarks and things to see and do, they may just be right.
When planning a family holiday, it is important to get the right balance and keep everyone happy, and Cork’s rich cultural heritage, sandy beaches and wide range of restaurants and bars should ensure nobody goes home wanting!
Cork is a seaport and so benefits from long stretches of top-quality beach, which is bound to be popular with the kids on a sunny day.
Barleycove Beach, a Special Area of Conversation, is probably the most well-known and is famed for its large sand dunes.
Other favoured locations include Garretstown Beach, which is a short drive from Kinsale town, along with the Warren Beach in Rosscarbery and Owenahincha Beach near Clonakilty.
One of Cork’s most iconic buildings is St Anne’s Church Shandon, which is home to the Shandon Bells.
Anyone who makes their way to the top of the steeple will be rewarded by being allowed to select a tune and play it on the bells at the top.
The steeple itself is also well known as being called the Four Face Liar, as it has an incorrectly timed clock on all sides.
Fota Wildlife Park
Always popular with children, Fota Wildlife Park is a fantastic day out for the entire family.
The park is 20 minutes outside of Cork and has lots of exotic animals, many of which are not seen in Europe.
Lions, squirrel monkeys, ring-tailed lemurs, giraffes and Columbian black spider monkeys are just some of the exciting creatures taking up residence, lots of which get to roam freely around the park.
It is also well known for having an excellent education centre that specialises in teaching primary and secondary school students the benefits of conservation methods.
The importance of wildlife preservation is taught through activities and courses as well as a summer camp held over the school holidays.
The Blarney Stone
While technically not in Cork, the Blarney Stone is one of the region’s most popular tourist attractions, having drawn millions of holidaymakers over the years.
Located at Blarney Castle, a 5 mile journey from Cork, it is said to impart the ‘gift of the gab’ to those who kiss it – in other words, eloquence in speech.
Made from bluestone (the same material as Stonehenge) it is situated at the top of the castle and visitors must dangle off a parapet backwards to lock their lips on the famous landmark.
Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of safety measures and an assistant on hand to ensure you are completely at ease when doing this!
The English Market
Cork takes pride in its English Market and with its wide selection of top-quality fresh produce, local delicacies and international spices and flavours, it is not difficult to see why.
An enclosed market area, it is the perfect place to buy ingredients for your meals (if you’re goingself catering in Cork, that is!) and pick up some souvenirs for friends and family, as well as enjoy a quiet coffee and some retail therapy.
Based out of Princes Street, the market specialises in meat and fish, but also has cheeses from nearby dairies, fruit and veg, Cork specialty tripe and drisheen, and much, much more.