Introducing Cork City
Ireland's second city is first in every important respect, at least according to the locals, who cheerfully refer to it as the 'real capital of Ireland.' The compact city centre is surrounded by interesting waterways and is chock full of great restaurants fed by arguably the best foodie scene in the country. Its location is also something of a blessing, on the doorstep of the scenic mecca that is the southwest but also within easy reach of lesser known idylls in East Cork and West Waterford.
The River Lee flows around the centre, an island packed with grand Georgian parades, cramped 17th-century alleys and modern masterpieces such as the opera house. St Patrick's St runs from St Patrick's Bridge on the North Channel of the Lee, through the city's main shopping and commercial area, to the Georgian Grand Parade, which leads to the river's South Channel. North and south of St Patrick's St lie the city's most entertaining quarters: webs of narrow streets crammed with pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops.
A flurry of urban renewal has resulted in new buildings, bars and arts centres as well as a general tidy-up of the main thoroughfares. The best of the city is still happily traditional, though – snug pubs with live music sessions most of the week, excellent local produce in an ever-expanding list of restaurants and a genuinely proud welcome from the locals.
Best places to stay in Cork City
Should you see or skip Europe's top icons?
Europe is filled with landmarks that need no introduction. Often they’re destination-makers in themselves. At other times, the hassle and cost and crowds leave you wondering if they justify their hype.
Cork City destination guides
City snapshot: Cork City, Ireland
Population: City - 119,418; County - 361,877Visitors per year: 204,300 international visitorsLanguage: English, with strong musical liltUnit of currency: EuroCost index: pint of beer €4.50 (£4.20/US$6.00), hotel double/dorm bed per night €60-€100 (US$80-132/£55-92), short taxi ride €8 (US$11/£7.
Top places to steal a kiss
Like they say, it’s all in the lips – so pucker up for everything from passion to cinematic history at these super-smoochy destinations. Paris, France Our 'pecking order', so to speak, would be incomplete without the City of Lights and Love. Heck, we could come up with a separate list just featuring places to pucker up in Paris.