Cork City and the surrounding areas are located on the southern tip of Ireland, and visitors to this region will quickly discover that–although only a few hours’ drive from the north–the bottom portion of the island and its residents are altogether different from their northern neighbors. Particularly, this area of Ireland is a wonderful place to rent a car and spend a few days touring the surrounding region, or to set off on a longer journey to the north. From the sing-song cadence of the residents’ speech, to their historical leanings as something of a rebel region, Cork is a city inside a region that visitors to the Emerald Isle should not miss.
Cork is the third largest city in Ireland (after Dublin and Belfast) and is divided by the River Lee, which visitors to the city will no doubt cross many times. Though slightly smaller than the capital cities, Cork rivals the others in beautiful architecture, nightlife, and culture. Visitors will certainly not lack for interesting activities. Walking the streets of the city is a great way to immerse oneself in the Cork life, but there are many steep hills throughout the city, which might make renting a car a good option.
Travelers to Cork will fly into the Cork Airport, located 8 kilometers south of the city. Inside the airport, those wishing to rent a car will find Avis, Budget, Hertz, Irish Car Rentals.com, Alamo, and National with desks in the terminal. Visitors wishing to pre-book a car rental, can do so with Dan Dooley, Enterprise, Europcar, and Thrifty. Passengers who do rent a car, will take the N27 (also known as Kinsale Rd.) to the N27 (also known as S. City Link Rd.) which goes straight into the heart of the city. The airport also features the Radisson SAS Hotel within the airport complex to serve travelers.
Day Trips and Scenic Drives from Cork
To Killarney: From Cork to Killarney is a distance of 150 miles, which should take around 4.5 hours, depending on how many stops in the many quaint and charming towns in between are made. Killarney is on the Irish Sea/Atlantic Ocean, and has many beautiful and secluded beaches. Killarney is known also for having several historic houses and national parks. Along the way, visitor may decide to stop in Glengariff to see the Forest Park, and Garinish Island, home of some beautiful gardens. This drive will also yield some incredible sea views and gorgeous views of the southern mountains and countryside.
The Healey Pass: Driving more or less due east from Cork, travelers will find the beautiful Healey Pass, cutting through the Caha mountains and offering terrific vistas of Glanmore Lake from the mountain heights. The drive should take about two hours each way.
Mizen and Sheep’s Head Peninsulas: Travelers to these parts of Ireland will certainly have something to tell the friends and family back home, as this is one of the least visited parts of the island, but it is also very beautiful in its natural state. There are several colorful small towns nearby and ports that are worth a stop. This picturesque area features quite a few charming bridges, old churches, and historic ruins that should catch any traveler’s eye. From Cork to Durrus, the trip should take about an hour and a half.
In Cork City, visitors will have their choice of a variety of cultural offerings, not to mention many quality restaurants, pubs, and hotels. Ireland’s cities are quite old, which makes them extraordinary places to visit, but travelers who decide to rent a car, should be aware that the very thing that makes the cities of Ireland so beautiful—their age and architecture—also mean that parking and traffic are major problems, as the city centers were built long before there were cars. Still, renting a car is a great way to maximize one’s time and see all the sights quickly and independently. The following are some of the more important attractions that should not be missed.
Blarney Castle: Come here to kiss the Blarney Stone, which is fabled to give those who do the gift of eloquence. The castle housing it is a majestic structure set on one thousand acres of beautiful woodlands. The village of Blarney is located just 6 miles from Cork City, and visitors driving there should take Blarney Street to Blarney Road, then Lane’s Cross to Waterloo Road. Parking is available.
CorkHeritage Park: This informative park is dedicated primarily to the city’s maritime history, but also includes general history about the city, region, and some prominent families from the area. The park is located at Bessboro, Blackrock, and visitors will take N28 South Ring Road, then exit at Douglas Well Road.
Lewis Glucksman Gallery: This is one of Ireland’s newest art galleries, and a great place to relax with some beautiful pieces while in the city center. Located along the River Lee, it’s a must for those interested in the Irish arts. Located on N22, parking available.
St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral: Likely the most beautiful building in the city, the cathedral was inaugurated in 1766 and features gorgeous French Gothic art and engravings inside and out. The cathedral is located on Bishop Street, and there are parking lots within a few blocks: one on Parade Street, and another on Crawford and Wandersfort.