Cork's rivalry with Dublin is legend, with locals calling it the 'real capital of Ireland', or, from those with a more mischievous air, 'The People's Republic of Cork'. And one of the best things about Cork is that there are plenty of folk here with a mischievous air - and a song in their hearts, or on their lips even. Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Cork offer both traditional luxury and contemporary city centre properties.
Cork's youthful energy comes partly from its rebellious traditions and partly from its university, which injects new blood and ideas into the city on a regular basis. This makes for vibrant nightlife and a great live music scene. And even Dubliners might agree that Cork is Ireland's foodie capital. Visitors should visit the markets as well as sampling some of what's on offer in the slew of cafes and restaurants.
It's Cork's traditional charms which will really draw you in, though. Originally built on marshland, Cork's main thoroughfares were once channels of the River Lee. Some of modern Cork's main streets, including St. Patrick's Street, the South Mall and the Grand Parade, where you can still see moorings, began as canals - which is why they're so wide.
This complementary relationship with the river has shaped the city's layout - the very centre of town used to be an island. And this is where you can find the glorious Georgian parades and tiny streets crammed with pubs, shops and cafes.
It's been mentioned, but you should really see Cork's market. A port city, Cork once made a packet providing butter to English ships. As well as butter, Cork has wonderful cheeses, sausages, breads, and Cork even makes its own stouts, to rival Dublin…
Some of Cork's other, more formal attractions, are the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, with its small but excellent collection, St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork City Gaol - don't worry, it's not a prison anymore - and the Blackrock Castle Observatory.
If you're looking for a good spot for a stroll and an explore, head to Shandon. As well as having good city views and plenty of galleries, restaurants, cafes, boutiques and antique shops, Shandon also has those famous rows of much photographed narrow houses.
Cork, County Cork
Large contemporary yet welcoming hotel in the centre of Cork that works for both leisure and business travellers. Spacious rooms are tastefully decorated and many boast stunning views over the River Lee from large picture windows. Contemporary bistro, plus inhouse spa with fitness centre & 20m pool.
Cork, County Cork
Hayfield Manor has all of the elegance of a country house hotel in its own secluded grounds yet it is only minutes from Cork city centre. Stylish & luxurious bedrooms and suites, plus gourmet dining, spa and gym. Family friendly too. An indulgent spot from which to explore County Cork.