Just over an hour’s flight from Manchester, Cork promises plenty of fun and adventure without having to travel far at all. A small city by most standards, it’s wonderfully digestible and won’t overwhelm, with all its must-see attractions conveniently close to each other. This makes Ireland’s ‘real capital’ the perfect destination for a family city break.
To get your adventure on the Emerald Isle off to a flying start, here are a handful of must-do’s that’ll keep kids of all ages smiling on your Cork city break.
Cork City Gaol
If the Horrible Histories series has told us anything, it’s that kids can’t get enough of gruesome and spooky journeys into the past. Cork City Gaol is the perfect attraction for curious young minds. This 19th century prison remains entirely intact, and once housed all the men and women who committed crimes within Cork’s city walls. Today, you can tour the cells and corridors freely, with interactive exhibits giving fascinating insights as you go.
Just west of central Cork, Fitzgerald Park is the city’s most serene and beautiful public space. These landscaped gardens are the perfect place to stop for a picnic, where you can enjoy some downtime as the kids have fun in the playground, themed to look like a traditional Irish castle. At the top corner of the park, the famous Shakey Bridge is the ideal setting for some family photos, before you all compete in a game of Pooh sticks along the River Lee.
Rumley’s Open Farm
In the rolling green countryside just south of Cork, Rumley’s promises an afternoon they’ll never forget. Not only can kids get up close with their farmyard favourites; pigs, cows and donkeys – but the farm’s more exotic residents include camels, monkeys and coatimundis. They can even pet the meerkats – before having fun on the zipwire, enjoying a tractor ride or getting lost in the maize maze. Entrance is as little as €34 for a family of four, making Rumley’s a great-value day out.
Triskel Arts Centre
As the city’s cultural hub, there’s always something happening at Triskel Arts Centre. Its onsite facilities include the beautiful Christchurch building, a recently restored former church that hosts many of the centre’s larger-scale events. When you book a family trip to Cork, don’t forget to check their packed-out schedule as there’s sure to be something child-friendly going on. They frequently host ‘Workshop for Toddlers’, where little ones can get in on everything from story time to arts & crafts sessions. Adults and older kids alike will love catching some live music at the venue – particularly if you manage to see some Irish folk acts.
Cork Public Museum
Situated on the edge of Fitzgerald Park and housed within a beautiful Georgian building, the Cork Public Museum details the city’s rich history. The earliest exhibits date right back to bronze age finds, including the oldest pick and shovel found in Ireland. This is followed up by medieval relics, before exploring Cork’s role in the fight for Irish independence. When you’re all done learning, the museum’s Riverview Café is a wonderful place to replenish before you head on to your next attraction.
If your kids have an active imagination, they’ll absolutely love Glenview gardens. Nestled away in West Cork, this 3-acre space hosts everything from a sunken white garden to an Italianate canal and a Japanese orchard. Within its woodland area, you’ll race around hunting the fairy houses that are hidden between the trees, while playful minds will be wowed by the Hobbit house. Buried into the earth, it’s exactly as described in J.R.R Tolkien’s novels. After you’ve settled for a bite in the picnic area, finish off your visit by spotting colourful and exotic birds in the Aviary.
Back in the 16th century, the citizens of Cork pleaded with Queen Elizabeth I to build them a fort at the edge of their harbour, to protect them from potential invaders. She obliged, and Blackrock Castle has stood on the banks of the River Lee for over 400 years. Perfectly intact today, both kids and adults will enjoy touring the castle’s grounds, brushing up against centuries-old walls as you go. But that’s not all. Since 2007, Blackrock has been the home of a space observatory and interactive astronomy centre, the latter of which is open to the public. Kids can even have their messages beamed out across space by a radio telescope. A visit here is both a journey to the past and an adventure to the edges of our universe.
With all these great attractions, a family break in Cork promises to be unforgettable. Get planning yours today with flights to Cork from Manchester Airport.