What to Do in Cork City for Free

Cork City is steeped in rich history with a range of architectural delights dotted all over the city, many of which are within walking distance from the hotel. If you are interested in learning about the history of this beautiful city then Maldron Hotel South Mall is the perfect starting point. Cork City is steeped in history and interesting sites and the great news is so many of them are free, including the Christmas Festival Glow 2022 during the festive season as well as the best beaches in Cork.

Here are our top 10 free things to do in Cork City:

1. Ardú Self Guided Walking Trail

The Ardú street art is injecting a burst of colour, vibrancy, and life into Cork City Centre. Seven of Ireland’s most respected and renowned street artists were invited to create key city-centre locations, in response to a theme inspired by the 1920 Burning of Cork. Find work by Deirdre Breen at Wandesford Quay, Maser at The Kino, James Earley at Henry Street, Peter Martin at Kyle Street, Shane O’Driscoll at Harley Street, Aches at Anglesea Street, and Garreth Joyce at Liberty Street.

The self-guided audio tour includes 7 murals in total and can be taken at your own leisure throughout the city.

2. Crawford Art Gallery

The Gallery hosts a wide range of free exhibitions – open daily. There is a permanent collection of over 4,000 pieces ranging from 18th Century Ireland and European painting and sculpture, through to contemporary video installations. At the heart of the collection is a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican Museum in Rome.

7 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

3. Fitzgerald Park

Pack a picnic and stroll along by the River Lee and lose yourself in the peace and tranquillity of this lovely park in the City Centre. During summer months there is a Saturday morning Yoga class in the park as well as some outdoor cinema screenings and concerts.

You can also stroll across Daly’s Bridge known locally as “The Shakey Bridge”. It’s the only suspension bridge in Cork city and was constructed in 1926 and restored in 2020. The bridge brings you across to Sunday’s Well where you can see some lovely city residences. Cork Public Museum is also onsite.

30 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

4. The Shandon Bell Tower

Climb the 132 steps of Shandon Bell Tower, ring the bell and you can take in the panoramic 360-degree view of Cork City from 120ft. You’ll be sure to spot things you will recognise and some you’ll question. It’s a must when in Cork.

15 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

5. The English Market

Stroll through the English Market while soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the local traders telling their tales. The Market is the set for the Irish Comedy “The Young Offenders”, fans will recognise many of the stalls in the markets and also many sites around the City in Opera Lane, The Shakey Bridge in Fitzgerald Park.

5 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

6. The Nano Nagle Centre

Visit the Nano Nagle Centre and stroll around the walled gardens, heritage centre & design shop. There are many free lunchtime concerts running here. The centre is also home to the Good Day Deli open serving drinks and snacks.

10 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

7. St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral

Visit St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral built in the late 1700’s, a Gothic revival three spire cathedral steeped in history. Designed by William Burges, the Cathedral has many features including the high columns of the nave made of Bath stone. The walls are lined internally with Cork Red Marble and the stained glass windows illustrate scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The organ inside dates back to 1889, there is a cannonball dating from the siege of Cork in 1690 and many more artefacts to admire.

10 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

8. Blackrock Observatory

Sit back and gaze at the stars in Blackrock Observatory. There are free talks and events often happening here, make sure to keep an eye on their website. There is a lovely 8km flat walk you can do from here taking in the view of the Port of Cork in Blackrock and Rochestown.

50 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

9. Elizabeth Fort

The 16th century Elizabeth Fort was first built to defend Cork City, it was demolished and rebuilt in the 1620s which you can see today. The fort was built as a defensive structure is set on a hill offering stunning views across the City, including the Shandon Bells and Saint Fin Barr’s Cathedral.

Located just a short 5-minute walk from the English Market in The Grand Parade. Just cross over the Nano Nagle Footbridge and continue up Barrack Street. Elizabeth Fort is located right beside Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

14 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

10. The Lough

The Lough Lake is a beautiful spot to kick a football about, read your book or just watch the world go by. There is a 1km loop which you can walk around and watch the swans and ducks swimming and enjoy nature. There is a kids’ playground onsite also. During the summer you will see some of the locals enjoying “Ceili at the Lough” in the evenings.

20 minutes’ walk from the hotel.

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