If you are on a sightseeing mission in Cork, time may be your only issue because the county has no shortage of attractions to revel in. Luckily, there is a myriad of tours of the city that will ensure you milk every second out of your trip to Cork.
From gorging on local farmhouse cheese, to wandering Patrick’s Street (affectionately known as “Pana” to the locals) to relaxing in a pub after a long day of sightseeing, there’s so much to see, do and experience in Cork.
Whether you’re in the Rebel county for a whole week or just a weekend, this selection of the best tours of Cork city and the surrounding areas will help you make the most of your visit.
Cork’s Best Guided Tours
Getting to Cork: Cork International Airport has daily flights from many UK and European airports, as well as a transatlantic flight from North America. The 10-minute journey to Cork city centre can easily be made using the airport bus or by taxi/car hire. Cork also has excellent rail links throughout Ireland, with Kent station located just a 10-minute walk from the heart of the city, but if you’re travelling on a budget, then a bus is often your best bet. Travel times by road vary, but a trip down from Dublin via the M8 motorway takes around 2.5 hours.
Getting around Cork: Cork is a compact city and is easy to get around on foot, by bike or by public transport.
Where to stay in Cork: Maldron Hotel South Mall. This Cork city hotel is a comfortable and convenient home base for families travelling to Cork. Located smack bang in the middle of the South Mall, this hotel is a short walk to the city’s main attractions, including restaurants, parks and family-friendly activities. Featuring spacious rooms and comfortable beds, it’s equipped with all the essentials for a great stay in Cork city.
From guided walks around the best attractions in Cork city, to boating around the beautiful harbour, there’s something for everyone. Whatever you’re looking for, our round-up of the best guided tours in Cork below has you covered.
1. Cork Walking Tours
Like many Irish cities, Cork is a place best enjoyed on foot and you’ll want to hold off for a nice sunny day, if possible, to really make the most of this walking tour. Make sure to wear sturdy walking shoes and bring an umbrella in case of showers.
You’ll start your stroll at the English Market, before embarking on a trip through the maze of lanes that make up Cork’s historic Huguenot Quarter. From here, it’s just a short walk before you stumble upon the city’s main cathedral, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral.
Cork Culinary Tour
Given the city’s growing reputation as a foodie haven, it’s no surprise that there’s an “eat your way through…” tour of Cork city. Fab Food Trails has a great grasp of what tourists want out of their Cork food tour, focusing on the English Market, artisanal food producers, and of course, the best pub grub the city has to offer.
Local culinary aficionados lead this Cork tasting trail, offering plenty of samples, plus meet-and-greets with chefs, cheesemongers and bakers along the way. (Heads up: If you’re looking for the best off-the-beaten-path local food stops, you’ll also love Kinsale Food Tours.)
Cork Ghost Tour
Love a good ghost story? It’s been long reputed that there are things going bump in the night all over Cork city.
If you’re up for creeping around the most haunted locations in Cork, then a ghoulish walking ghost tour is the one for you.
Cost: Adults €15
2. Cork City Sightseeing Bus Tours
We usually advocate walking as the best way to get to know Cork. But when you’re on a tight schedule this isn’t always the most practical way to make the most of your time here.
In this case, we recommend buying a ticket for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Cork, which is valid for a full 24 hours and includes stopovers at the Cork City Gaol and University College Cork.
As well as the more centrally-located attractions we’ve mentioned before, the Cork Hopper also makes the following pit stops outside the city:
- Blarney Castle. Kiss the Blarney Stone and receive the “gift of the gab” for the next seven years!
- Cobh. This pretty port town, with its colourful houses, is where millions of Irish emigrants have departed over centuries and the Titanic Experience is located.
- Fota Wildlife Park. This is one for every animal lover’s bucket list!
Cost: Adults €15, children €5
3. Cork Taxi Tour
Ditch the bus and experience Cork in style with a private taxi and your own personal driver and guide! You can tour Cork city and its famous landmarks, hidden treasures, ancient historic sites and everything in between.
The tour departs and returns to your hotel and you also have the option of choosing whether you’d like to venture a little further afield, to picturesque towns like Kinsale or Youghal. Alternatively, you can let your driver suggest an itinerary for you.
Cost: You’ll need to fill out an enquiry form for a price estimate.
4. Jameson Distillery Tour
Few things are guaranteed to get a whiskey fan more excited than a trip to a distillery. And if you’re bus bound or have a designated driver handy, the Jameson Experience in Midleton is a guided tour like no other.
This working distillery has been making whiskey here in Cork since 1975 and welcomes visitors from all over the world looking to understand more about Cork’s whiskey heritage. Jameson offers a variety of tours at different price points, with expert guides capable of answering even the most complex whiskey-related questions.
Due to high demand, it’s probably a good idea to book your tour in advance.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 10:00am to 5:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00am to 7:00pm, Sunday from 10:00am to 5:30pm
Cost: Adult tour tickets start at €22
5. Spike Island Tour
Once a 6th-century monastery, and then home to some of the most notorious convicts in Victorian history, Spike Island is just a short ferry ride from Cobh.
Spike Island attracts thousands of visitors to its shores every year looking to tour the star-shaped fortress and its prison cells. Step back almost 200 years and discover the stories of the men, women and children who were tried and served their sentences in this prison.
Cost: Adults €22, family tickets available for €50
6. Cork City Boat Tours
Always wanted to be the captain of your own boat?
Cork Harbour Boat Hire based in Cobh offer self-drive boat tours so you can see all the major highlights of the harbour (including dolphin spotting at Roche’s Point) from a whole new perspective. Feel the wind in your hair, feel the spray on your face and breathe the salty air – this Cork tour is a truly unforgettable experience.
Cost: Starting at €39
7. Day tours from Cork City
With so many world-class things to see and do in Cork, planning a day trip away from it may seem like a strange thing to do. But what you might not have realised yet is that you can also use Cork as a hub to explore other exciting touristy hotspots around Ireland.
Many of the best Irish villages, castles and famous landmarks can be included in one-day trips from Cork. Some scenic day trip ideas include the following: