Cork 20

Cork - Ireland

Ireland’s lyrical port city has seen settlers and sailors come and go, but the quality of its culinary, design and art scene has remained constant, says Imogen Lepere

Travel Time 1hrs 30min

Why go?

Port cities often have a quirky charisma and Cork has it in spades. It was once a stop-off point for adventurers on their way to the West Indies and the local accent has a Trinidadian twang, while local slang (known as ‘gammin’) is redolent of Hindustani, which the Royal Munster Fusiliers brought back from India. The effects of the 2008 recession are fading, and this petite city is realising its potential. The centre is on an island in the River Lee and is punctuated by fascinating waterways where dilapidated warehouses are being transformed into stylish apartments and restaurants. In June, Live At The Marquee brings international singers to an intimate pop-up venue at the Docklands while the Midsummer Festival gathers an eclectic mixture of artists throughout the city.

What to do

Cork is known for its food markets but the English Market is head and shoulders above the rest. Named after the Protestant or ‘English’ corporation that controlled the city until the 1840s, the vast building has tiled floors and latticed ironwork. Expect oysters that taste like a kiss from the sea, St Tola’s goat’s cheese, tripe, tender lamb, smoked salmon and pork in more forms than you thought possible. Explore the brightly painted streets of Shandon and climb the tower at St Anne’s Church which offers an excellent view of the city’s appealingly faded Georgian architecture. With mosaic floors designed to look like rivers, the Honan Chapel at University College Cork is one of the finest buildings from the early 20th-century Arts and Crafts movement, but to truly celebrate Irish creativity you can’t beat the Crawford Art Gallery http://crawfordartgallery. ie. Its 2,500 works range from antique statues to contemporary treasures by artists such as Dorothy Cross, plus its café is one of our favourite spots for coffee and cake. The pedestrian streets of the Huguenot Quarter are a pleasing muddle of bookshops, vintage clothing and independent restaurants, ideal for an afternoon amble.

Where to stay

With its ivy-clad brickwork and walled gardens Hayfield Manor 00 35 32 14 84 59 00, has the charm of a country house with the convenience of a city-centre postcode. Rooms are furnished in mahogany antiques and gold brocades, while the indoor pool is a haven of calm. Opposite the towering City Hall, Clarion Hotel 00 35 32 14 22 49 00, is a smart, contemporary choice, while River Lee 00 35 32 14 25 27 00, is modern with a lively terrace restaurant. Bedrooms are sleekly minimalist and the spa uses local products such as Atlantic sea salt. Although a 20-minute drive outside the city, no list of Cork hotels would be complete without a mention of local institution Ballymaloe House 00 35 32 14 65 25 31, The breakfasts alone are worth the journey. Expect warm scones with whipped butter, kippers smoked on site and stewed fruit from the garden, all served in a sunny breakfast room with windows looking out over the produce.

Where to eat and drink

Surrounded by farmland, lonely stretches of coast where freezing water nourishes meaty shellfish, Cork’s natural larder is known as the best in Ireland. Over its 30 years Jacques 00 35 32 14 27 73 87, has built up a loyal network of suppliers. Highlights include cured salmon with Kinsale beer jelly, turnip and Knocklara cheese gratin and fresh mussels. It’s rare to see a vegetarian restaurant with such a strong following among carnivores as Cafe Paradiso 00 35 32 14 27 79 39, Dishes such as celeriac, blue cheese and leek timbale with mushroom purée explain why. Farmgate Café in the English Market offers a menu almost completely made with ingredients from fellow vendors or local farmers. They take pride in ‘forgotten’ dishes like Drisheen, an Irish blood sausage, best enjoyed with local black stuff, Murphy’s Stout.

Time running out?

Book a cookery class at Ballymaloe. Darina Allen’s cookery school come farm come idyllic tapestry of kitchen gardens is a high point of Cork’s culinary scene.


Travel Information

Travel Information

Currency is the euro. Time is the same as the UK. Flight time from London is 1 hour 15 minutes. A return flight from London emits 0. 15 tonnes CO2, the cost to offset is £1. 11, visit

Getting There

CityJet flies from London City Airport to Cork.

Aer Lingus has several flights a day from London Heathrow airport to Cork.


Cork Guide is the official tourist board. Their website is packed with useful hints and tips, as well as event listings." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">

Average daily temperatures and rainfall

Min Temp3345710121210854
Max Temp881012141719191713109

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