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17 Amazing Day Trips in Cork
Living in Cork for three months was one of the most adventurous and magical times of my life. As Ireland’s second-largest city and foodie capital, Cork is decorated with vibrant streets that lead to historic landmarks and fantastic restaurants. With so much to offer, its accessible location makes Cork a great city for taking day trips to explore more of the country.
During my time in Ireland, we took day trips in Cork every weekend. From visiting the seaside town of Kinsale to roaming lush green paddocks in Dingle, these 17 amazing day trips will take you through the magic of the Emerald Isle.
Below is a list of the best day trips in Cork that you can take by car or train.
1. Ring of Kerry and Killarney National Park Tour From Cork
The Ring of Kerry is a must while in Ireland, and is only about two hours away from Cork by car. This guided tour takes you through the Ring of Kerry’s scenic drive, Killarney National Park and its incredible landscapes, along with traditional Irish villages and beaches.
2. Cliffs of Moher Day Tour from Cork
Considered the most iconic landmark in Ireland are the Cliffs of Moher. Marveling at these mighty cliffs is a very special experience, but so is the journey to get there. This guided tour is fantastic because it stops through great areas along the way, like the Burren, Bunratty Castle, and the lovely town of Doolin for lunch.
3. Dingle Peninsula Day Tour from Cork
When you visualize Ireland’s stretches of green paddocks, you’re likely thinking of the Dingle Peninsula. Visiting this area is a must, with panoramic ocean views and infinite isles of green. This guided tour takes you through what’s considered as one of the most beautiful peninsulas in the world, as well as the town of Killarney, Dingle, and Inch Beach.
4. Culinary Tour in Cork
Foodies rejoice! While in the foodie capital of Ireland, take a private tour that walks you through Cork’s culinary standouts such as the Coal Quay Market, and the historic English Market. Sample favorite foods and meet local traders.
5. Jameson Experience with Whiskey Tasting (Skip the Line)
If you’re a fan of whiskey, you’re in luck. The Jameson Distillery is located just outside of Cork in the town of Midleton, and has been producing whiskey for more than 200 years. This tour lets you skip the line for a tour of the distillery, whiskey tasting, and full briefing around the history of Jameson.
6. Scenic West Cork to Mizen Head Day Trip from Cork
Head to the gorgeous cliffs of Mizen Head on a guided tour along the scenic Wild Atlantic Way. Visit Mizen Head and its lighthouse, along with the colorful town of Bantry and the Gougane Barra National Forest Park.
7. Fastnet Rock Lighthouse & Cape Clear Island Tour
If you’re looking to get out on the water, then this tour is a great option to check out. Explore Cape Clear Island and its historic castle and church, and sail by the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. This tour departs from Baltimore, which is about 90 minutes by car from Cork City.
Best Day Trips in Cork By Train or Bus
If you don’t have a car and you’re wanting to explore on your own, there are several great day trips you can take by train or bus. Below are a few that are easy to navigate from Cork and very worth checking out.
8. Blarney Castle Day Trip in Cork
Visit Cork’s most noteworthy castle and kiss the famous Blarney Stone for the gift of gab! Blarney Castle is one of the top attractions in Cork and its grounds are gorgeous to walk around. From Cork, there’s a bus that travels there directly and takes about 25 minutes.
9. Dublin Day Trip from Cork
You can get to Dublin by train in about three hours, and if you leave early enough you can have a full day of exploring Ireland’s capital. While there, visit Trinity College, tour the Guinness Storehouse, and stroll around St. Stephen’s Green Park. Cap off the day by popping into the famous Temple Bar for a pint before heading back to Cork.
10. Cobh and Spike Island Day Trip from Cork
Spike Island is a historic landmark that once was an island prison. Yep, think of it as the Alcatraz of Ireland. Take a day trip from Cork by visiting Cobh, Cork’s neighboring port town, and check out the Titanic Experience while there. From Cobh, hop on a ferry to Spike Island.
Best Day Trips in Cork By Car
Ireland is undoubtedly best explored by car, with so many hidden gems and stretches of green paddocks throughout the country. I’d highly recommend renting a smaller car while there since the roads are extremely narrow.
11. Kinsale Day Trip from Cork
The town of Kinsale is somewhere we found ourselves going back to multiple times, I absolutely love this place. This quaint harbor town is right on the water and lined with vibrant-colored buildings and the cutest storefronts. Explore the town and visit the Old Head of Kinsale for cliffside ocean views. It only takes 30 minutes by car, making it a perfect day trip from Cork.
12. Limerick Day Trip from Cork
The lovely city of Limerick is about 90 minutes by car from Cork. It’s home to medieval monuments, beautiful parks, and Ireland’s Munster rugby team. Visit King John’s Castle while there and catch a rugby game at Thomond Park.
13. Kilkenny Day Trip from Cork
Kilkenny is one of Ireland’s historic medieval towns that houses the incredible Kilkenny Castle built in 1195. Stroll the Medieval Mile starting from Kilkenny Castle (and don’t miss the rose garden) to St Canice’s Cathedral, founded in the 6th century.
14. Clonakilty and Inchydoney Beach Day Trip from Cork
Clonakilty is another one of Ireland’s charming towns that was named “Best Town in Europe 2017.” Explore this energetic seaside town and relax at the beautiful Inchydoney Beach. Less than an hour away from Cork, Clonakilty is known for its welcoming locals, music scene, and fantastic cafes.
15. Baltimore Day Trip from Cork
Baltimore is a gorgeous sailing town that people flock to during warmer months. It’s lined with beautiful summer houses and breathtaking views of nearby islands such as Cape Clear. Its beauty makes it worth visiting even during winter months. Plus, you’ll find locals going for a swim in town lakes year-round.
16. Galway Day Trip from Cork
Galway is one of Ireland’s more urban destinations that claims an artistic and vibrant culture. It’s home to the Galway International Arts Festival, the Galway [Horse] Races, and several other events throughout the year.
17. Explore the Wild Atlantic Way
Another amazing way to spend a day trip from Cork is hopping in the car and driving along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s one of the most scenic drives in the world, with a spectacular coastline that stretches across cliffside villages and emerald hills. The entire road spans about 1,500 miles, so drive as much as your heart (or gas tank) desires.
How Do I Spend A Day In Cork?
Since you’ve traveled all the way to Cork, exploring the city itself is a must! Plus, you may want to eat your way through the city as it is the foodie capital of Ireland after all. Here’s a suggested itinerary of how to spend a day in Cork.
- Wake up and grab a coffee at The Bookshelf or tea at Tara’s Tea Room
- Explore the main shopping area, St. Patrick’s Street
- Have breakfast at Good Day Deli at Nano Nagle Place and explore the museum afterwards
- Wander the gorgeous grounds of University College Cork and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral
- Have lunch at the historic English Market and browse local vendors
- Spend the afternoon either strolling Fitzgerald’s Park, touring the Cork City Gaol, or visiting the Blackrock Castle Observatory
- Have dinner at Greene’s for fine dining, or Franciscan Well Brewery for laidback vibes and great pizza
- Cap off the night by going to the best pub in Cork with live music and phenomenal Irish atmosphere, Sin É
Is Cork city worth visiting?
With so much to see and do in the city and its surroundings, Cork is absolutely worth visiting. From its foodie-centric culture to its historic landmarks and neighboring castles, Cork is a city that’s a must to travel to.
How many days in Cork is enough?
You should spend at least three days in Cork to explore the city and experience its culture. Plus, there are so many day trips in Cork to take while you’re there! You could easily spend a week in Cork.
How walkable is Cork?
Cork City is very walkable, and you can get to almost anywhere by foot in under 30 minutes. If you want to explore more of Cork County, you’ll need to take the train or rent a car.
Where To Stay In Cork
There are a lot of really great hotels that have popped up in Cork in recent years. From trendy boutique hotels to dreamy Irish manors, below are a few gems I’ve found in Cork.
The River Lee (budget): We stayed at this hotel and loved it. The River Lee is centrally located and has a great pool, restaurant, and modern interiors.
The Montenotte Hotel (mid-range): The rooftop and continental breakfast buffet are enough reasons to stay at The Montenotte Hotel. The hotel is gorgeous and the views, spa, and rooftop restaurant are all top-notch.
Hayfield Manor (luxury): Stumble into an Irish daydream by staying at the Hayfield Manor. This luxury hotel is simply divine with its courteous staff, pristine gardens, and grand spa.
Conclusion: Day Trips in Cork
I hope after reading this you have several ideas of how to take day trips in Cork. Getting around the city is simple, and there’s really no wrong answer when deciding between guided tours or traveling by train or car. However, traveling by car will give you more flexibility in exploring gems that are off the beaten path.
A friendly reminder that you’ll drive on the opposite side of the road in Ireland than you would in America. It takes some getting used to, but you’ll get the hang of it!
Ireland is such a magical country to discover, and I know you’ll very much love it there.