County Cork

Photo of County Cork

About County Cork

Many visitors to Cork don't realise how big this county is, and how beautiful its dairy green hinterland is. They're more interested in the dramatic wind buffeted coastline, with its fork of peninsulas reaching out into the Atlantic. The colourful little fishing villages dotted along this coast are are a big draw, full of pubs with warm, musical atmospheres as well as hearty food and drink. Along calmer stretches of coastline are long sandy stretches, many of which have become holiday resort towns and some of the best places to stay in County Cork if you're looking for a beach break.

Then of course there's Cork city, vying with Dublin to the title of Ireland's real capital - of culture, of cuisine and of lifestyle. A city with plenty of traditional Irish charm, but also a lot of youthful energy. And some great markets - this was once the European capital of butter production.

County Cork for the Beaches

Cork's western, coastal region is by far the most visited. Baltimore and Schull are probably the most popular holiday resorts, but if you're looking for a quieter stretch of beach try the wilder islands of Clear or Sherkin.

Eastern County Cork

County Cork's dairy farms are famous, but there's more than just cheese and butter here. Fresh local produce has inspired Cork city's culinary success, and there are some excellent cookery schools in this part of the county.

North County Cork

Best known by anglers, it's got several long rivers providing plenty of fish in a beautiful, green setting. This is the best kind of destination for Zen and the art of fishing!

Around Cork city

See the cathedral, the old town and the beautiful centre, then head out to Kinsale and visit the old forts and the harbour. Kinsale is also a good destination for golfers, there's the Old Head of Kinsale course, and surfers.

Blarney, with its castle and famous kissable stone, is also just outside Cork city.

Cobh in Cork Harbour is also worth a visit, not just for the views but also for two great museums, 'The Queenstown Story', which explores the stories of the mass, famine related emigrations, and the 'Titanic Trail' - Cobh's was the last port of call on the famous ship's fateful voyage.

What Not To Miss

  • Spend an afternoon visiting the historic Blarney Castle & Gardens. Head off on a tour of the castle and be sure to kiss the stone - legend has it that this will endow the kisser with the gift of the gab! Their lovely extensive gardens are also a super spot in which to enjoy a picnic afterwards.
  • St Fin Barre's Cathedral is one of Cork's most iconic spots. Built in a wonderful French Gothic style, there's a marble altar mosaic and colourful stained glass windows depicting tales from both the Old as well as the New Testament. An impressive sight.
  • Hop on a ferry from Cobh and go visit Spike Island, brimming with 1300 years plus of Irish history. Take a tour around the 1850s prison cells (when this was the largest prison in the world), go see Ireland's largest artillery gun park or wander around the several military and social history musuems.
  • Fota Wildlife Park, set in 70 acres on the scenic Fota Island, is Cork's most visited attraction. It doesn't feel like a zoo, with completely free roaming animals and birds including kangaroos, lemurs, lions and giraffes, whilst there are also a number of endangered species such as the European Bison. A great family day out.

Use our guide to the best places to stay in County Cork and start to plan your visit.

    For rural luxury

    • Liss Ard is one of the best places to stay in County Cork if you want a rural hideaway that's luxurious yet family friendly. Here you'll find contemporary rooms, superb cuisine and countless activities to keep everyone happy.

    For Cork city

    • The River Lee Hotel is a large hotel, right on the river, as the name suggests, with a contemporary yet welcoming feel. It's modern but elegant, with the feel of an especially tasteful business hotel, including a great spa as well as fitness centre.
    • Hayfield Manor is almost as central, yet feels a world away: a county house hotel in its own secluded grounds. There's gourmet food here on offer in two different restaurants, plus a spa and family suites - making this a great place to treat yourself, or your whole family.

    For A holiday cottage or apartment

    • If you think you'd be best served by a self-catering option then browse through the wide variety available with our partner, booking.com.

    Travel Information

    • It's best to visit Cork in the summer months, with July (the hottest month) experiencing an average temperature of 16°C and also being the month of the least rainfall.
    • However, this is peak season and so expect there to be more tourists than if you were visiting at another time of the year. Be sure to book ahead as the best places to stay in Cork will get filled up pretty quickly!
    • Visitors can fly into Cork Airport, 3 miles south of Cork city centre. Ryanair provides flights from London Stansted and Gatwick, whilst Aer Lingus goes from Heathrow, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
    • From the airport, you can reach the city centre (Parnell Place Bus Station) by taking Bus Éireann's direct Air Coach Service (route 226A). These run every half an hour and are available from 5am until midnight.
    • For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.

      Still not sure?

      Best Hotels in County Cork

      • Hotel Isaacs Cork 47 rooms from £77

        Originally an Edwardian tobacco factory, now a boutique hotel, set in the heart of Cork. A collection of rooms and apartments mix contemporary and traditional styles resulting in a clean and simple aesthetic. The multi-award-winning restaurant Greene's is the real draw and worthy of a visit alone.

        Foodies  -  The multi-award winning Greene's restaurant is the real draw serving up modern Irish cuisine
        Local exploring  -  A boutique base in the heart of Cork's theatre district
        Local markets  -  Make a stop at the English Market, Ireland's most famous covered food market
        Sights nearby  -  Visit one (or both) of the Gothic cathedrals in the city
        Check Availability
      • The Garryvoe Ballycotton, County Cork 85 rooms from £81

        A family-run hotel boasting a spectacular location on the coast in County Cork. Reception rooms are grand and traditional complete with antiques and roaring fires. The innovative restaurant turns-out impeccable dishes; while rooms are contemporary and indulgent. Superb.

        Country Escape  -  With a beach within walking distance and plenty of beautiful countryside to explore this is the perfect rural escape
        Local markets  -  Sample local produce at the Midlteon Farmers’ Market
        Great walks  -  Head out on long blustery walks along the coast
        Swimming Pool  -  Indoor pool with dedicated children's hours
        Check Availability
      • Bayview Hotel Cork, County Cork 35 rooms from £84

        An elegant cliffside hotel set on a picturesque peninsula. Smart rooms are traditionally dressed with antiques, soft hues and large windows to enjoy the superb views. The formal restaurant uses local produce in innovative gourmet dishes and there's a traditional bar too. A luxury coastal stay.

        Country Escape  -  With excellent walking opportunities, lovely sea views, and hearty cuisine this is ideal for a rural break
        Local markets  -  Head to the Courtyard Craft & Exhibition Centre to shop for local artworks and crafts
        Cooking classes  -  Take a cookery course at the renowned Ballymaloe Cooking School
        Great walks  -  Enjoy long blustery walks along the coastline
        Check Availability
      • The Montenotte Cork 126 rooms from £100

        A contemporary harbour side property offering both style and luxury. Individually designed rooms feature floor to ceiling windows, pops of colour coming from the soft furnishings and sink-into beds. The glamorous Panorama Bistro and Terrace offers superlative cuisine specialising in seafood.

        City Style  -  An uber chic hotel complete with trendy bar and harbour views.
        Sights nearby  -  Make a trip to the medieval Blarney Castle located just outside Cork.
        Local markets  -  Visit the vibrant covered English Market.
        Swimming Pool  -  Indoor pool
        Check Availability
      • Liss Ard House & Lodge Skibbereen, County Cork 25 rooms from £95

        With luxury accommodation split amongst three different locations you can choose Country House, Garden Mews or Lake Lodge. Rooms are contemporary and sleek, and Liss Ard is very family friendly with numerous activities on site. Cuisine is governed by "slow food" rules. Perfect for a country escape.

        Child friendly  -  Liss Ard has extensive family facilities, including qualified child minders
        Fishing  -  The estate includes Lough Abisdealy and boats can be provided
        Country Escape
        Great walks  -  Woodland and riverside walks on the doorstep
        Recommended by  -  I Escape, Mr & Mrs Smith
        Check Availability
      • The River Lee Hotel Cork, County Cork 182 rooms from £95

        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.

        Sights nearby  -  Situated right in the centre of Cork, just 10 mins walk from the Opera House
        Views  -  All rooms have great views either over Cork or the River Lee
        Spa  -  Award winning Urban Escape Spa
        Recommended by  -  Tablet
        Check Availability
      • Knockeven House Cobh, County Cork 5 rooms from £95

        This period B&B is tucked away just outside of the Irish coastal town of Cobh. Inside, there are pretty heritage details, from the open hearth to the Victorian cornice ceilings. A grand staircase leads to spacious guestrooms with hand-selected antiques, perfect for a romantic getaway.

        Romantic Break  -  With sumptumous fabrics, a quiet location and attentive hosts, this hotel is perfect for a couples' weekend away
        Hideaway  -  Set just outside of the pretty coastal town of Cobh, this B&B is a great choice for an opulent hideaway holiday
        Local exploring  -  Located close to the coast and the charming town of Cobh, there is plenty to explore local to this hotel
        Sights nearby  -  Visit the nearby historic coastal town of Cobh, the last port of call of the Titanic
        Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide
        Check Availability
      • The Castle NR SKIBBEREEN, County Cork 11 rooms from £114

        An impressive family owned castle boasting a spectacular location overlooking Castletownshend harbour. Elegant rooms are traditional in style with heavy antique furniture - the best have four posters - rich hues and oak panelling. A relaxing spot to completely unwind.

        Total relaxation  -  A luxury property set in a tranquil spot overlooking the peaceful waterfront of Castletownshend harbour.
        Sights nearby  -  Visit the fascinating Knockdrum Stone Fort.
        Great walks  -  Take long walks along the coastal paths.
        Seaside  -  Ideal for a seaside holiday.
        Check Availability
      • The Imperial Hotel Cork 125 rooms from £124

        An elegant hotel located in the heart of Cork. Spacious rooms are contemporary in style standing in contrast with the opulent rooms downstairs. A handful of superlative dining options offer everything from fine-dining to tapas. The spa is utterly spoiling and worthy of a visit alone.

        City Style  -  A glamorous city centre property complete with atmospheric bar and restaurant and spoiling spa.
        Local markets  -  Sample local produce at the indoor English Market.
        Spa
        Romantic  -  Good for couples.
        Check Availability
      • Perryville House County Cork 26 rooms from £113

        Charming townhouse B&B. Bedrooms feature mahogany four-poster beds and furniture, elegant bathrooms and French windows. Tearoom serving breakfast and afternoon snacks. Walking distance from the port and cobbled town.

        Families  -  With a charming tearoom and garden, insightful history walks, colourful marina and cycling routes
        Fishing  -  Equipment rental from Mylie Murphy's
        Great walks  -  Dermot Ryan's Heritage Town Walks
        Sights nearby  -  Desmond Castle
        Check Availability
      • Dunmore House Co. Cork, County Cork 30 rooms from £121

        A luxurious hotel offering a spectacular location on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Bright contemporary rooms are decorated with soft hues and simple light wood furniture; the best have private terraces. Boasting its own golf course and a wide range of outdoor pursuits. A superb country escape.

        Riding  -  Ride along the beach on one of the hotel's horses. There's also stable space for those who want to bring their own horse
        Active Holiday  -  Situated on the coast and boasting its own golf course this is a perfect escape for those who like to keep active
        Golf  -  Play a round on the hotel's own 9-hole course
        Fishing  -  Deep sea fishing and angling for Bass are both locally available
        Recommended by  -  Great Small Hotels
        Check Availability
      • Casey's of Baltimore Co. Cork, County Cork 14 rooms from £126

        An enticing combination of fresh contemporary accommodation and a traditional seafood restaurant and pub. Have a locally brewed beer beside a crackling fire before retreating to your spacious rooms complete with spectacular coastal views. The perfect spot to explore West Cork from.

        Foodies  -  The restaurant serves superb seafood with locally caught produce while the traditional pub offers up its own brewed beer
        Local exploring  -  A charming base from which to explore West Cork
        Fishing  -  Sea fishing is available nearby
        Sailing  -  Hire a yacht and set out to sea
        Check Availability
      • Castlemartyr Resort County Cork 103 rooms from £136

        A luxury family-friendly offering set within 220 acres of spectacular countryside in County Cork. Spacious rooms are traditionally styled and feature indulgent marble bathrooms complete with White Company products. A spoiling spa, golf course and choice of restaurants complete the picture.

        Country Escape  -  A sprawling estate offering luxury accommodation and outdoor pursuits abound. An indulgent rural escape
        Golf  -  Play a round on the property's own Ron Kirby designed 18-hole links style course
        Great walks  -  Take a walk along one of the three marked trails (the hotel's resident dogs will happily accompany guests)
        Spa  -  There are 10 treatment rooms and a couples's suite, plus vitality lounge, pool, sauna....
        Check Availability
      • Hayfield Manor Cork, County Cork 88 rooms from £138

        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.

        Restaurant  -  Fine dining in Orchids Restaurant plus Perrotts Garden Bsitro for more casual meals
        Sights nearby  -  Close to all of Cork's attractions including the University and Shandon Chruch.
        Spa  -  Wide selection of Elemis treatments available at the Beautique Spa
        Local markets  -  Cork's famous English Market is only 1.5km away
        Recommended by  -  Fodors, Frommers, Kiwi Collection, Small Luxury Hotels, Michelin Travel, CN Traveller
        Check Availability
      • Longueville House County Cork 20 rooms from £195

        A family-run country estate perfectly offering both old fashioned luxury and a laid-backed friendly atmosphere. Traditional rooms feature large sash windows, chintz fabrics and antique furniture. An exemplary restaurant follows the farm-to-fork ethos. The perfect rural escape.

        Country Escape  -  A glorious rural property complete with log fires, hearty cuisine and picturesque countryside for long walks.
        Great walks  -  Find miles of scenic trails waiting to be explored.
        Fishing  -  Fly fish on the hotel's private beats.
        Full of character
        Check Availability
      • Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa West Cork, County Cork 67 rooms from £196

        A luxury hotel and spa boasting a spectacular location set on the rugged and beautiful coastline of West Cork. Plush rooms are contemporary in style and boast enormous floor to ceiling windows to take in the fabulous views. The third floor restaurant is exceptional and spa utterly spoiling.

        Spa breaks  -  A spoiling spa set in an outstanding location amidst the natural beauty of West Cork.
        Surfing  -  Nearby Inchydoney Beach has perfect conditions for surfing.
        Great walks  -  Embark on long walks along the rugged coastline.
        Swimming Pool  -  Indoor pool
        Check Availability
      • Ballyvolane House Co. Cork, County Cork 6 rooms from £213

        Long run as a country house hotel the experience is clear. Superlative and warm service, old-world style and delicious laid-backed dining. Find a host of country pursuits to keep all entertained in the surrounding area. The ideal rural escape.

        Country Escape  -  A traditional country house set in beautiful grounds.
        Great walks  -  Embark on scenic walks through the rugged countryside starting straight from the front door.
        Cooking classes  -  Take a class at the famed Ballymaloe Cookery School.
        Fishing  -  Spend a day Salmon fishing on the River Blackwater.
        Check Availability
      • Ballymaloe House Midleton, County Cork 29 rooms from £187

        A beautiful country house widely known for its professional cookery school. Offering an unsurprisingly good restaurant and numerous on sight activities including golf, tennis and a heated outdoor pool. The interiors are traditional without being fussy. The perfect country escape.

        Country Escape  -  A country house that has it all - excellent food, cosy lounges, pretty surrounds and numerous activities.
        Cooking classes  -  Learn to make Irish soda bread with the property's baker.
        Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor pool
        Full of character
        Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide
        Check Availability
      • Glenlohane County Cork 3 rooms from £204

        Traditional, pretty, private, country house B&B, set in scenic parkland and in the heart of County Cork is a real home from home; curl up by the log fire after a day out, plan your next adventure with the owners in the kitchen by the aga, relax, it's your home.

        Country Escape  -  Set on a bucolic country estate in Ireland's scenic southwest, book this hotel the next time you need to escape the city
        Romantic Break  -  With well-appointed rooms and a peaceful, secluded location, this hotel is perfect for a romantic weekend away
        Local exploring  -  There are endless excellent day trips to do close to this B&B; ask your hosts for recommendations
        Great walks  -  Explore the country estate where the B&B is located on a long walk; head to the stables and see the farm animals
        Recommended by  -  Good Hotel Guide
        Check Availability