- Visit Fitzgerald’s Park: This spot has something for everyone; families, friends, couples or if you’re looking for a great place to go for a peaceful stroll. There are a few different sections to the park, the playground (which is built to look like a fort), the gardens (which are by the water and probably the most relaxing part of Fitzgerald’s Park), the relatively new Sky Garden (which is fantastic if large, silver, mirrored spheres are your thing) and last but certainly not least the stage area. On a quiet day the graceful arch of the stage cover is almost like a giant, curved, pure white pebble, dropped in the middle of Cork by some unknown massive bird. On a busy day when there is an event on, it is a hive of activity with people of all ages sitting on the grass in front of it, enjoying the entertainment and no doubt the buzz that is exclusive to such extensive hordes of people.
You can also pop into the Cork Public Museum which is home to a largely archaeological collection, with artifacts all the way from Ancient Egypt, to medieval objects found right here in Cork.
- Walk through the English Market: I’ve no doubt that any travel guide will recommend the lovely English Market to tourists visiting the city. However I would also urge native Corkonians to take a stroll through. I think we’re all guilty of dashing past the stalls when you’re taking a shortcut from Grand Parade to Oliver Plunkett street in the rain (I certainly am) and noticing nothing besides the strong smell of seafood coming from the southern side of the establishment. Taking even fifteen minutes to wander around will engage your sense of smell, sight and hearing in the warmest and friendliest of ways. Stop by The Roughty Foodie for an almighty array of preserves or, if you’re more inclined to go for a sweet treat, try Healy’s Bakery just inside the Grand Parade entrance. I have it on good authority that the Healy’s Bakery Chester cake is, in fact, the best around.
- Visit a Gallery: If you are of the artistic persuasion, you need look no further than the Crawford Art Gallery. With a cornucopia of events, collections and exhibitions to choose from (all available for perusal at crawfordartgallery.ie) you won’t be let down by this Cork gem, modestly tucked away in Emmet Place, a thriving, lively confluence at the end of high-street shopping hub, Opera Lane. For the hip(ster), cool kids, the Triskel Arts Centre is your place of destination, ETA: before it was cool. Have a look at the website, see if anything piques your interest. Until the 27th of August there’s going to be an audio visual installation created by Danny McCarthy running in the Gallery and while I cannot tell you about this specific installation, I can tell you that McCarthy’s work is always interesting and thought-provoking, and I can also vouch for the outstanding experiences I have had in the Triskel Arts Centre. Not all of their events are free, such as concerts and cinema tickets (yep, they have a cinema, a beautiful, old fashioned, classical cinema) but I can’t recommend the venue as a whole enough. It is also home to the very cleverly named duo ‘gulpd’ and ‘plugd’, the former being a top-notch coffee shop and the latter an immensely cool vinyl record shop. Highly recommend a visit.
- Visit the UCC Campus: As a very recent leaver of University College Cork I am full of the feels for said campus. It’s free to wander around and explore (although I wouldn’t recommend nosing about the lecture theaters on weekdays, very embarrassing affair to have 200 people simultaneously turn around to see what eejit is either late or in the wrong lecture) and I highly recommend taking in the stunning architecture of the Quad and surrounding Wings, the historic Honan Chapel, the lively Amphitheater and the riverside walk that guides you from the main gates to Gaol Cross, winding past the Glucksman Gallery (while very modern still blends in with the more natural, historic setting because of the use of wood paneling and curved edges) which is also another fantastic free attraction. You will have your pick of cafés on campus (the Glucksman does some of the best scones I have ever tried) but for the best coffee and customer service in the city head to Café Depeche on Washington street, less than a five minute walk from the main gates. A close second would definitely be Doppio Coffee on College Road but more on that later, in a ‘Five Best Cups of Coffee in Cork’ post! Rounding it up, UCC would epitomize my ideal place of study and I think having a wander about the campus would be one of the loveliest ways to spend a few hours. 5. Get a Good Look: This is a simple one to finish with. Cork City is situated in a valley, beyond the North River you’re basically into the Misty Mountains (minus the hobbits). So natural there are plenty of vantage points to get an aerial view the gorgeous city you’ve just explored and no doubt fell in love with. My personal favourite “viewing spot” (it’s not officially so called) is in Sunday’s Well, where there’s a gap in between two houses with some fencing in front of it as it’s about a seventy foot drop into the River Lee. On a clear day you can quite literally see for miles. But don’t take my word for it, walk up there and see for yourself!