County Cork can be found in the south of Ireland and is famed for its stunning scenery, rugged coastline and numerous cultural and historic attractions. Being the largest county in Ireland, it’s jam-packed with sights for you to explore. Here we give you a brief insight into 7 of the top attractions that you definitely shouldn’t miss!
Blarney Castle is a prime example of a medieval fortification and can be found in Blarney, just 8km northwest of Cork city. The castle you see here today is over 600 years old, but in fact a wooden castle which was previously built on this very site dates back as far as 1200AD!
The Blarney Castle which was built by the once King of Munster – Cormac McCarthy is now one of the top attractions in Ireland. People flock from all over the world to kiss the famous Blarney Stone, which can be found at the top of the castle.
For more on Blarney Castle visit the official Blarney Castle website
The magnificent star shaped Charles Fort can be found at the edge of the harbour just outside the pretty town of Kinsale in County Cork. This 17th century fort is one of the largest and best star shaped military fortifications in the country. The fort was specifically designed to resist attack and features two bastions overlooking the harbour and three bastions facing inwards towards the countryside. The fort is open all year round and a guided tour will give you an in depth knowledge of its layout and history.
For more visit the Heritage Ireland Charles Fort page
Fota Wildlife Park
Fota Wildlife Park is located in Cobh about 24km south east of Cork city in the south of Ireland. The wildlife park is a fantastic destination for a family day out and features over 30 mammals and 50 species of birds, many of which roam freely in the park’s 75 acres. The park also features a children’s play area, train tours, a jeep safari, a restaurant and picnic areas. If you want to see the wardens feeding the animals, then visit the park either early morning or later afternoon. Watch the cheetahs being fed at 4pm each day in the ‘Cheetah Run’ – the only one of its kind in Ireland. This is highly entertaining and you’ll get the see the cheetah ‘work’ for its food.
For more visit the Fota Wildlife Park website
Cork City Gaol (Jail)
A visit to Cork City Gaol will take you back in time to see what life was like in an Irish prison from pre famine times to the establishment of the state in the 1920′s. The castle-like building is located in an area called Sunday’s Well, which is about 2km north west of Patrick’s Street in the city centre. Wander around the gaol’s furnished cells which feature life size wax figures of the inmates. While at the gaol, visitors can also explore the Radio Museum which is located in the Governors House. Soon after the gaol closed, Radio Eireann set up a brodcasting station here called 6ck. The museum gives an insight into the early days of broadcasting in Ireland.
For more visit the Cork City Gaol website
Bantry House & Gardens
The impressive Bantry House & Gardens are located overlooking beautiful Bantry Bay in south west Cork. Built about 1700, this is one of the finest historical houses in Ireland so it’s definitely worth a visit! Pick up an information leaflet at reception and take a self guided tour of the House once owned by the Earl of Bantry. Today, the Earl’s descendants and their family still live here. Visitors can wander around the beautifully manicured gardens or relax in the charming tea room.
For more visit the Bantry House & Gardens official website
Cobh Heritage Centre
The Cobh Heritage Centre is located in the colourful harbour town of Cobh, which can be found 24km south east of Cork city. Cobh is best known as being the departure point for up to 2.5 million Irish people who emigrated to America in the early 19th century. The Cobh Heritage Centre which can be found in the old Victorian Railway Station is the first port of call for visitors to the town. Here you can learn more about the emigration which took place in Cobh, as well as the story of the Titanic and Lusitania – two ships that docked in Cobh before their fateful journey.
For more visit the Cobh Heritage Centre website
West Cork Model Railway
The West Cork Model Railway can be found in the picturesque town of Clonakilty in West Cork. Step back in time when you visit this miniature world and get a glimpse of life in 1940′s Ireland, when the West Cork Railway line served the west Cork towns of Clonakilty, Kinsale, Bandon and Dunmanway. The Model Railway Village also features an impressive children’s playroom. During the summer months and on weekends during the winter, visitors can take a delightful tour of Clonakility and its environs on a road train tour.
Visit the West Cork Model Railway website for more
These are just some of the top attractions to visit so make sure to put them on your list when you visit County Cork. Have you been to any of the above attractions? Why not tell us what you thought? Feel free to add more Cork attractions in the comment box below.
If you need accommodation for your visit to Cork, check out our Cork hotels page.