If you’re searching for an Irish city that offers a warm, friendly welcome and a charming laid-back vibe, then Cork is the place for you. Situated just inland from the southwest coast of Ireland, Cork is the Republic’s second city (though locals would playfully argue it’s the “real capital”), and is renowned for its hip foodie scene and creative atmosphere. For stunning 360-degree views of the city, climb the 132 narrow stone steps to the top of the Shandon Bells tower in St Anne’s Church. You can even have a go at ringing the eight famous bells yourself. With flights to Cork in plentiful supply, you’ll be there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
The best months to get your hands on cheap tickets to Cork are January and February, but Cork is a cool spot to visit all year round. The city is almost always buzzing with festival frolics. There’s St Patrick’s Day in March, the Shandon Street Festival and Food Fair in June, Live at the Marquee music festival throughout June and July, and the groovy Cork Jazz Festival in October. And that’s just for starters! Flights can be a little pricey during peak festival season so, to avoid disappointment, try booking up to 4 months in advance for a good deal on return flights to Cork.
With Cork just a short hop across the Irish Sea, you’ll find many direct flights from all over the UK. Ireland’s flag carrier Aer Lingus offers daily flights to Cork from London Heathrow, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton – to name but a few! Flybe zips across twice a week from Cardiff, while Ryanair will get you there with daily flights from London Stansted, Gatwick and Liverpool. It couldn’t be easier to get to Cork – allow 80 minutes from London and just over an hour from Cardiff.
You can get from Cork Airport to the city centre in a jiffy – it’s only three miles away. The simplest way to the city centre is to jump in a taxi, and the 10-minute drive will cost you around €20. The cheapest option is to hop on the no. 226 bus to Parnell Place Bus Station. Pay €6 for a single-trip ticket, then relax and admire the views on the 30-minute trip to the centre.
Just a short drive from Cork city you’ll find the magical and enchanting Blarney Castle. Shrouded in superstition and secrets from the past, you can explore the wishing steps, the witch’s kitchen, the dungeon, the badger’s cave, and more before seeking out its most famous treasure – the Blarney Stone. Legend has it that kissing the stone will grant you “the gift of the gab” or endless eloquence. But beware – in order to reach the stone, you’ll need to climb to the top of Blarney Castle and then lean out backwards over a sheer drop. Do you have what it takes?
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