Steeped in history, Cork boasts a vibrant atmosphere and electric personality, making it one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations.
With so much to see and do in ‘The Rebel City’, we’ve put together a one-day walking tour, which takes in some of the city’s most famous attractions and popular sites.
The route covers a large area of the city, so make sure to pack comfortable walking shoes!
Cork City Gaol
The first stop on our walking tour is Cork City Gaol. Situated on Convent Avenue, about 2km north of Patrick’s Street, the impressive building boasts a castle-like facade and is an imposing structure which once housed Cork’s prisoners.
Opened during the 1820s, the prison was designed to house both male and female prisoners who had committed crimes within the city walls. In addition, Irish republicans like Constance Markievicz and Frank O’Connor were also imprisoned here during the Irish Civil War.
The building functioned as a prison until 1923, after which time it became derelict before undergoing an extensive renovation and reopening as a museum.
Visitors to the prison can take part in a guided tour or simply walk around the beautiful grounds or admire the stunning architecture. Either way, Cork City Gaol is well worth a visit.
University College Cork
Next on our walking tour, we’re off to University College Cork (UCC), which is a 20-minute walk from the gaol. Upon leaving the prison, turn left on Convent Avenue and walk to the end of the road. When you reach Sunday’s Well Road, turn right and continue walking for 200m before turning left onto Mardyke Walk and crossing Daly’s Bridge, aka The Shakey Bridge.
Cork’s iconic Shakey Bridge has been used by students and residents for generations and offers visitors lovely views of the river below.
Once over the bridge, continue walking straight on Mardyke Walk, before turning left on Western Road. Continue on Western Road for 200m before taking the first left walking onto Goal Walk. After the bridge turn left and continue straight until you see and a gated entrance to the college on your right and walk inside.
You are now in UCC’s famous Quadrangle, one of the most picturesque courtyards in the country. UCC offers visitors walking tours of the campus, where they can visit the Aula Maxima, the Ogham Stones Corridor, the Main Quadrangle and the refurbished Crawford Observatory. There’s also the option to join the George Boole tour, which is an interactive tour showcasing the university’s history.
General guided tours run between February and October and start at 3pmMonday to Friday and 12 noon on Saturdays.
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
A short walk from the college you’ll find St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. Leaving from the Quadrangle, take the unmarked lane that’s situated between the UCC Library and the O’Rahilly Building. Walk along this path until you reach College Road. Turn left on College Road before continuing straight for 1km. Continue on straight on Gillabbey Street before turning left onto Bishop Street, the cathedral will be on your right-hand side.
Made from Cork limestone, St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is a Neo-Gothical cathedral designed by English architect William Bruges. Named after Cork’s patron saint, the place of worship holds more than 1,260 sculptures, a particularly ornate pulpit and a 24-lb cannonball – a historical artefact kept from the Siege of Cork in 1690.
A five-minute stroll from the cathedral, visitors will find Elizabeth Fort. From the cathedral walk down Bishop Street and turn right onto Dean Street, before continuing straight onto Fort Street. Once you reach Barrack Street, turn left and walk 30m before turning left onto Keyser’s Hill.
Elizabeth Fort has been a fortress, a prison and even a Garda station, but since 2014 it has been redeveloped into a heritage site and attracts more than 30,000 visitors each year. A hidden gem, tourists can enjoy panoramic views of Cork city from the top of the fort’s walls.
The fort’s walls and certain rooms are open to the public six days a week from Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00 and Sunday 12:00 to 17:00, with free admission to all.
Next up on the tour is a visit to the National Monument and Cork’s main thoroughfare, the Grand Parade. From Elizabeth Fork, continue straight up Keyser’s Hill and turn left onto French’s Quay. From here walk straight for 200m before turning left to cross Nano Nagle Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue straight before turning right onto Grand Parade.
The National Monument is 48 feet high and can be easily spotted at the end of Grand Parade, near the river. The monument was erected to commemorate Irish patriots who died between 1798 and 1867 and was installed where a monument to King George ll once stood.
The English Market is a quick 3-minute walk from The National Monument and is found near the top of Grand Parade. Synonymous with Cork city, the market has enjoyed many famous visitors throughout the years including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll.
Fans of local produce and artisan food are in for a treat. The English Market boasts stalls from some of the region’s finest food producers.
Visitors to the market can purchase fresh meats, fish, herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables as well as sauces, oils, chocolates, cakes and cheeses and pastas – there’s truly something here for every palate.
Crawford Art Gallery
After the English Market, it’s time to visit the Crawford Art Gallery. Found in the north of the city, visitors must walk towards South Mall Street and continue straight on the road before turning left onto Cook Street.
Once on Cook Street walk straight for 200m and continue for another 100m after the street joins Opera Lane. At the end of Opera Lane, turn right onto Emmett Place, the gallery should be directly in front of you.
Originally built to house Cork’s Custom House, before being entrusted to the Royal Cork Institution, the Crawford Art Gallery has always been an important fixture throughout Cork’s history. Today, the impressive building is home to Munster’s finest art collection.
The gallery’s permanent collections of almost 4,000 works, includes 18th-century paintings and sculpture from across Ireland and Europe, as well as contemporary video installations
Visitors should know that the museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00, with late openings on Thursdays until 20:00. The museum also opens on Sundays and bank holidays from 11:00 to 16:00.
Collins Barracks Military Museum
The final stop on our tour of Cork city is Collins Barracks Military Museum. To visit the museum, head north on Emmet Place before turning right on Lavitts Quay and crossing the St. Patrick’s Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue straight up St. Patrick’s Hill and Audley Place before turning right on the Old Youghal Road. Continue on the Old Youghal Road for 400m and the barracks will be on your left-hand side.
Named after Cork’s most famous son and the Irish Republic’s first commander-in-chief Michael Collins, the barracks has witnessed Ireland under British rule, embroiled in civil war and as an independent nation.
The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s military history and houses artefacts once possessed by Michael Collins including his revolvers, coat, War of Independence medal, rosary beads and personal diary. The museum is only open from Tuesday to Friday at selected times, however it’s well worth timing your visit to Cork to coincide its opening times.
Click to buy OSi’s Cork Street Map – the perfect accessory for your walking tour of Cork.
It’s fair to say no matter when you visit or for how long, Cork never disappoints, and we can guarantee you’ll thoroughly enjoy your visit to The Rebel City.
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