If Cork isn’t on your staycation list, then it should be. As Ireland’s largest county, in Cork you’ll never run out of places, restaurants, and beaches to explore.
On a recent trip, my family enjoyed the charm of Kinsale, the historic town of Cobh, and the golden beaches dotted around this stunning county.
There’s so much to the beautiful People’s Republic of Cork, we know we’ll find ourselves returning time and time again.
Read on to discover some of fantastic things to do across the county of Cork, where to stay and eat, travel tips and more.
Cork Family Staycation Travel Guide:
Where to Stay in Cork:
Cork International Hotel
For our trip to Cork, we stayed at the four star Cork International Hotel. With reasonable rates and a central location it’s a perfect base for exploring Cork with a family. The hotel is 10 minutes’ drive from Cork City Centre, just 20 minutes from top Cork attractions such as Fota Island and Blarney Castle, and it’s the nearest Cork City hotel to Kinsale.
Cork International Hotel is really kid-friendly too, with plenty of lounging areas in the lobby, a cinema room, and games on the 1st floor. The rooms sizes are generous and our two boys enjoyed two king size beds during our stay.
What to Do in Cork:
Kinsale Day Trip
The historic seaside town of Kinsale marks the beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way. Walking around the town of Kinsale alone is worth the trip. Take to the narrow streets, lined with colourful buildings, and browse the many shops, for gifts, crafts, paintings, as well as art galleries and book shops.
There is so much to do and explore in Kinsale, from beaches, Dolphin & Whale Watching Trips, gourmet restaurants and golf. During our visit to Kinsale, we stumbled upon the Giles Norman Gallery. His black and white landscape photos show Ireland at its very best.
If you’re a seafood fan, lunch or dinner at Kinsale’s iconic seafood restaurant Fishy Fishy is a non-negotiable. The award-winning restaurant is run by husband and wife team Martin and Marie Shanahan. Their passion is clear from every plate that they serve, and the fish is so fresh it nearly jumps off the plate. There are plenty of kid-friendly seafood and non-seafood options available too. Booking ahead is recommended.
Cobh Day trip
Cobh is a seaport town located 30 minutes drive from Cork city. Many people will be most familiar with Cobh as the Titanic’s final stop, before its maiden (and final) journey. Located in the Former White Star Line ticket office, the town’s Titanic Experience is provides an incredible insight into the Titanic and its sinking. With plenty of experiential exhibits, the kids were engaged and excited throughout our time there.
Located across the road from the Titanic Experience is Seasalt Cafe and Deli. Priding itself on its use of seasonal, fresh, and locally sourced ingredients, it’s the perfect place for a coffee stop, breakfast, brunch or lunch.
While you’re in Cobh, take a quick ferry ride out to Spike Island. The island’s strategic location within Cobh harbour meant that over the years it has been used for defence and even a prison. A guided tour is a great way to get an overview of the island’s fascinating history – including all the gory details of prison life, rebellions and attempted escapes.
Fota Wildlife Park
A mere 20 minutes from Cork city centre, Fota Wildlife Park is one of the county’s most popular tourist destinations. The 100-acre wildlife park located on Fota Island, near Carrigtwohill, is a full of natural delights for the kids (and adults!) to marvel over. If you can, try to time your visit to one of the cheetah feeding times. Discounts for kids are available and there’s free entry for kids under three years.
After a trip to Fota, a visit to the nearby Bramley Lodge Cafe for lunch comes highly recommended. Located just minutes from the gates of Fota, Bramley Lodge is the perfect pitstop. The menu is full of wholesome, traditionally home-cooked using the finest locally sourced ingredients. There was steak and seafood options for Gilmar and I, and plenty for the kids too. Plus, Bramley’s flock of hens kept them amused.
Day Trip to Inchydoney, Clonakilty
If you’re planning a trip to West Cork during your time in Cork factor in a detour to Inchydoney beach, just ten minutes outside the colourful town of Clonakilty. The Blue Flag beach is renowned as one of the most family friendly beaches in West Cork. It’s also as one of the most beautiful, with vast expanses of golden sand and dunes.
During your trip to Inchydoney be sure to pay a visit to the highly regarded four-star Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa. We skipped the spa treatments (this time around), but made the most of the hotel’s bistro, Dune’s. As we had come to expect from seaside restaurants in Cork, the seafood was the star of the show here. Signature dishes include Local West Cork Seafood Chowder, a stunning Seafood Platter, Local Garlic Crab Claws and the very popular Fish and Chips.
We hope you enjoyed this whistle stop Cork Family Staycation Travel Guide. Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips for our next visit.
Want more inspiration? Check out out Galway staycation guide here.