Must see attractions in Cork City

  • Top ChoiceSights in Cork City

    Cork City Gaol

    This imposing former prison is well worth a visit, if only to get a sense of how awful life was for prisoners a century ago. An audio tour (€2 extra) guides you around the restored cells, which feature models of suffering prisoners and sadistic-looking guards. Take a bus to University College Cork (UCC), and from there walk north along Mardyke Walk, cross the river and follow the signs uphill (10 minutes).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Cork City

    English Market

    The English Market – so called because it was set up in 1788 by the Protestant or ‘English’ corporation that then controlled the city (there was once an Irish Market nearby) – is a true gem, with its ornate vaulted ceilings, columns and polished marble fountain. Scores of vendors set up colourful and photogenic displays of the region's very best local produce, including meat, fish, fruit, cheeses and takeaway food.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Crawford Art Gallery

    Cork's public gallery houses a small but excellent permanent collection covering the 17th century through to the modern day, though the works on display change from year to year. Highlights include paintings by Sir John Lavery, Jack B Yeats and Nathaniel Hone, and Irish women artists Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone.

  • Sights in Cork City

    St Fin Barre's Cathedral

    Spiky spires, gurning gargoyles and elaborate sculpture adorn the exterior of Cork's Protestant cathedral, an attention-grabbing mixture of French Gothic and medieval whimsy. The grandeur continues inside, with marble floor mosaics, a colourful chancel ceiling and a huge pulpit and bishop's throne. Quirky items include a cannonball blasted into an earlier medieval spire during the Siege of Cork (1690). The cathedral sits about 500m southwest of the centre, on the spot where Cork's 7th-century patron saint, Fin Barre, founded a monastery.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Cork Butter Museum

    Cork has a long tradition of butter manufacturing – in the 1860s it was the world's largest butter market, exporting butter throughout the British Empire – and the trade's history is told through the displays and dioramas of the Cork Butter Museum. The square in front of the museum is dominated by the neoclassical front of the Old Butter Market, and the striking, circular Firkin Crane building, where butter casks were once weighed (it now houses a dance centre).

  • Sights in Cork City

    University College Cork

    Established in 1845 as one of three 'queen's colleges' (the others are in Galway and Belfast) set up to provide nondenominational alternatives to the Anglican Protestant Trinity College in Dublin, UCC's campus spreads around an attractive collection of Victorian Gothic buildings, gardens and historical attractions, including a 19th-century astronomical observatory. Self-guided audio tours are available from the visitor centre.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Blackrock Castle

    Blackrock Castle is a restored 16th-century castle that now, rather incongruously, hosts a small hands-on science centre, an inflatable planetarium and a pleasant courtyard cafe. Kids love it and the view from the tower is worth the jaunt. It's on the south bank of the River Lee, 5.5km east of the city centre; take bus 202 from Parnell Pl to Blackrock Pier, from where it's a five-minute walk.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Elizabeth Fort

    Originally built in the 1620s, and serving as a garda (police) station from 1929 to 2013, this small star-shaped artillery fort once formed an important part of the city's defences. Newly opened to the public, it offers an insight into Cork's military history, and there are good views across the city from the ramparts. Guided tours (per person €3) at 1pm provide additional context.

  • Sights in Cork City

    St Anne's Church

    Shandon is dominated by the 1722 St Anne’s Church, aka the ‘Four-Faced Liar’ – so called because each of the tower’s four clocks used to tell a slightly different time. Wannabe campanologists can ring the bells on the 1st floor of the 1750 Italianate tower, and then continue up the 132 steps to the top for 360-degree views of the city.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Cork Public Museum

    Located in a Georgian mansion with a modern extension, this museum recounts Cork’s history. The diverse collection of local artefacts tells the story from the Stone Age right up to local football legend Roy Keane, with a particularly interesting exhibit on medieval Cork and the growth of the city. There's a good cafe around the back.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Lewis Glucksman Gallery

    This award-winning building is a startling construction of limestone, steel and timber, built in 2004 by Dublin architects O'Donnell and Tuomey. Three floors of galleries display the best in both national and international contemporary art and installation. The on-site Bobo cafe is excellent.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Stone Corridor

    This covered walkway on the north side of University College Cork's Victorian Gothic main quad houses Ireland's biggest collection of Ogham stones, carved with runic inscriptions dating from the 4th to the 6th century AD.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Holy Trinity Church

    The Holy Trinity Church was designed by the Pain brothers in 1834 in the honour of Father Theobald Mathew, whose statue sits just south of the River Lee North Channel. He was one of Cork’s most famous figures, the ‘Apostle of Temperance’, who went on a short-lived crusade against alcohol in the 1830s and 1840s – a quarter of a million people took the ‘pledge’, and whiskey production halved.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Old Butter Market

    Cork had the largest butter market in the world during the 1860s, exporting butter as far as India, South America and Australia. The Butter Exchange was in Shandon and you can still spot dairy motifs throughout the area: look out for the cow's head above the arched entrance to the Old Butter Market (now closed). The history of the market is covered in the Butter Museum next door.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Radio Museum

    The National Radio Museum is part of the Cork City Gaol which, after its closure in 1923, housed a radio station from 1927 until the 1950s. The change of use is reflected in the museum where, alongside collections of beautiful old radios, you can hear the story of radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi’s conquest of the airwaves.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Statue of Father Mathew

    The imposing statue on St Patrick's St, just south of the River Lee North Channel, is of Father Theobald Mathew, the 'Apostle of Temperance', who crusaded against the ills of alcohol in the 1830s and 1840s with such success that a quarter of a million people took the 'pledge' and whiskey production was cut in half.

  • Sights in Cork City

    St Peter's Cork

    Housed in an old church, this cultural centre and gallery space houses a heritage display charting the history of Cork as well as changing exhibitions of local art, ceramics and fascinating historical photographs. There's also a cafe and tourist information desk.

  • Sights in Cork City

    City Hall

    Built in Georgian style in the 1930s to replace the original city offices, which were burnt down by renegade British forces in 1920, Cork's impressive City Hall dominates the South Channel of the River Lee.

  • Sights in Cork City

    Red Abbey Tower

    Overlooking a small public square, Red Abbey Tower is Cork's only surviving medieval building, and all that remains of a 14th-century Augustinian priory.