The Cork Shandon Tower can be seen from a distance.
Travel in Cork, Ireland. The Cork Shandon Tower can be seen from a distance.
The River Lee with the famous Cork Shandon Tower in the distance at sunset. Photo by Stephanie Mork

As I perused the stalls for the best vegetables to put in my potato and leek soup, I smiled to myself as I listened to the lovely Irish accents of the men behind the bakery counter next to me.

 Some of my favorite things about Ireland are the food and the accents. I found that one of the best places to enjoy these treasures was at the English Market in Cork, Ireland.

Travel in Cork, Ireland

Cork is the second biggest city in Ireland, after Dublin, and is known to its citizens as ‘The Real Capitol of Ireland.’ It sits on the southern tip of the country and is only a short distance from the coast.

Cork is a city full of history and much of it is still visible in the city today. It was founded by Saint Finbarr as a monastic settlement, only to later be turned into a Viking port. 

This allowed the city to rise as an important trading center for Scandinavian trade routes, which helped it grow into the second largest city in Ireland. 

The Beautiful Rive Lee 

The River Lee, which goes through the city in two different directions, is one of the defining features of Viking Cork.

After studying abroad at University College Cork for five months, I had a pretty good idea of where the best places to eat, drink and visit were in Cork. 

The Friendly People and Delicious Food 

Irish people are some of the kindest and genuine people I’ve met, and I find the culture and its customs endearing.

The vegetable soup, brown bread and black tea are endless. Perfect for a cozy afternoon on a rainy day, which tends to happen a lot.

For the record, having good craic in Ireland means having a good time. Not doing drugs. I had some of the best craic going to pubs and listening to live music, going hiking near the sea, eating scones and tea and frolicking on the cobblestones in the rain. 

How can you not fall in love with a country where there are sheep dotting the hillsides and kind old men that want to chat with you over a pint of Guinness?

The English Market 

The English Market in Cork is an indoor market that provides everything from fresh ground beef to hot tea and 50-cent scones. 

All of the meat, produce and bakery good are fresh and affordable, the venders are very kind and wandering around the fresh produce and bakery items is one of the best ways to spend a Saturday morning.

Hiking is a great way to escape the crowds.
Salt spray and ocean breeze make for a dreamy seaside hike in Ballycotton, County Cork. Photo by Stephanie Mork

Cork is one of the best places for pub hopping as well. One of the main streets, Oliver Plunkett Street, is overflowing with great pubs for all [legal drinking] ages. 

An Spalpain Fanac is just off Oliver Plunkett Street, but worth the couple extra minutes walk for the local atmosphere, good beer and live music every night of the week. 

This pub is what one might imagine Ireland is like with its local Cork charm; it’s the real Irish deal.

Irish Breakfast 

A trip to Ireland is not complete without staying at a bed-and-breakfast to receive genuine Irish hospitality and get the most important meal of the day, a full Irish breakfast. 

My favorite B&B’s are the Blue Dolphin on Western road, right next to UCC and the Auburn House on Wellington Road just a stones throw from St. Patrick’s Street.

A typical Irish breakfast is served at each of these B&B’s which includes but is not limited to: porridge, fried eggs, scones, bacon or sausage, Irish soda bread, fried vegetables and tea. 

Usually this could be enough to eat until about 2 pm in the afternoon. A breakfast fit for a king!

Saint Patrick’s Street in the center of the city is home to some of the best shopping in Cork. 

There are shops and cafes for every interest and for those who don’t like shopping there are places to walk and sit near the River Lee with a cup of hot tea in hand. 

On every street, there are cafes, restaurants, and pubs that are all worth a stop in. Let’s just say Ireland wins for hospitality and brewing a good beer.

Blarney Castle is a famous stop in Ireland.
Kissing the Blarney Stone at the top of the castle in County Cork will give you the gift of eloquence. Photo by Stephanie Mork

The world famous Blarney Castle is not far from Cork City and is a must when visiting Cork. 

Strolling through the gardens on a mild day while taking in the rich history and cozy atmosphere of the land is the best way to spend an afternoon. 

Kissing the Blarney Stone at the top of the castle is an unforgettable experience, and as the story goes, you will receive the gift of eloquence.

There is much to see in County Cork as well, from castles in Kinsale to distilleries in Middleton and cathedrals in Cobh.

Best Places to Visit 

The surrounding area is full of historical landmarks and picturesque landscapes that make it worth it to leave the city for a day or two.

The best places to visit in the surrounding area are Charles Fort, the Jameson Distillery and the Titanic museum. 

There are also tiny towns like Ballycotton that offer hikes by the sea that are not clogged with tourists, but only fresh air and salt spray.

Cork is often overshadowed by Dublin and the ever-famous Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, but it is my favorite place to visit in Ireland. 

Charm oozes from the brightly colored doors and hundred-year-old cobblestones. The breweries are flowing with some of the best beer in the world and the bakeries are heated by the steam of the puffiest, flakiest scones. 

With all of its culture and activity, I’d say Cork truly is the real capital of Ireland.

If You Go to Cork:

Author Bio: Stephanie Mork is a freelance writer from Minnesota that is passionate about travel and has spent many months living and working overseas.  She currently also works at an adventure camp in Wisconsin.  Follow her adventures on instagram at stephmork.


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