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Culture, Charisma and Colourful Characters - Cork

See the best of Cork with these sample itineraries

A long table in the middle of the street for midsummer in cork

Fondly referred to as the ‘Rebel County’ thanks to its long history of independence stretching as far back as the Viking invaders, this spirited region is a fascinating mix of contrasts: the old and the new, the casual and the refined, revered traditions and fast-paced progression, all coexisting in beautiful harmony.

Cork delivers a sense of freedom in the compact walkable city and inspires a different state of mind in the unspoilt rural and coastal areas. Perfectly positioned at the intersection of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, it provides the perfect blend of culture, history, adventure and entertainment. Cork is famous for many things, but perhaps most notable is its reputation as being the culinary capital of Ireland.

Corkonians are a proud, passionate, warm-hearted and fun-loving breed, with a unique lilting accent, a cheeky sense of humour and an appreciation for celebrating life in all its glory. They are, therefore, the most wonderful hosts, who ensure that the experiences and local interactions enjoyed by visitors to Cork will live long in their hearts and minds. A pure Irish experience not to be missed!

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1

Friends walking on a bridge in cork
The only way to gather your bearings and truly experience the beating heart of a city is to walk it! This walk will be in the wonderful company of the gregarious and characterful Corkonian, Peter Foynes. Key highlights will include bell ringing in St. Anne’s Church, Shandon, and a visit to The Cork Butter Market followed by Barry’s Tea and warm freshly-baked scones… with lashings of Irish butter! The morning discovery of Cork finishes up at Nano Nagle Place, a heritage experience describing life in 18th-century Cork with lunch at the Good Day Deli, Nano Nagle’s sustainable food café.

Street art is identified as the ideal medium for the times we live in. You'll experience this success story for yourself as an art expert leads you through the bustling streets and outlines the fascinating process and themes which inspired the Ardu contemporary murals. We guarantee plenty of Insta-worthy opportunities to leave those at home wishing they were in Cork too! Continue the art-themed afternoon and make a stop at the wonderful Crawford Gallery dedicated to the visual arts, both historic and contemporary.

Following a short stroll to Cork’s Victorian Quarter, enjoy a well-deserved glass of wine, accompanied by a fine selection of cheese and charcuterie at MacCurtain’s Wine Cellar.

The Midleton Farmers Market is one of the most famous farmers’ markets in Ireland. Experience the authentic flavours of Cork. Recreate that market buzz for your guests with food stalls representing the best of local gourmet specialities. This will be one of your finest opportunities to taste the flavours of Cork and ‘meet the makers’ who have cemented Cork’s reputation as Ireland’s Gourmet Capital. This is not just about the food, it's also about Cork’s legendary ability to have fun. Renowned Irish dancer and artist, Louise O’Connor, will lead the charge, guiding the group in set dancing, céilí dancing and sean-nós dancing.

Day 2

Market street in Kinsale Cork
Early morning
Forest bathing is scientifically proven to improve your health. Join a forest bathing expert who will facilitate your guests to start the day in quiet contemplation in Cork’s city’s local oasis, Fitzgerald Park.

Full day
Kick back in Kinsale with a choice of deluxe experiences:

Option 1 - Wander and light bites in colourful Kinsale: As you saunter through this vibrant medieval coastal town, guests will enjoy a variety of eateries and a range of local foods celebrating the renowned local food scene. Of course, you will also meet a few colourful characters along the way!

Option 2 - Walk of Old Head, lobster rolls and Guinness: This is the Scilly Walk, concluding in the characterful Bulman pub in Kinsale with freshly fished lobster rolls and buckets of mussels. The only thing remaining is for you to decide if the perfect accompaniment will be a creamy pint of Guinness, or perhaps the locally produced Murphy’s?

Option 3 - Spooky tales of Old Kinsale town: A uniquely different ghost tour involving Monty Python-style slapstick comedy, rather than pure horror.

Option 4 - Golf at the spectacular Old Head: One of the most recognised and soughtafter golf experiences in the world. This is your opportunity to enjoy one of the finest courses on the planet.

Option 5 [VIP option] - Maritime picnic: A truly luxurious experience, enjoy your very own private yacht picnic charter with your own skipper and knowledgeable local expert. Feast on a gourmet picnic as you take in the spectacular coastal views.

Option 6 [VIP option] - A home-hosted lunch in Kinsale.

A truly local, authentic and exclusive Cork experience, tonight you will eat al fresco. This evening’s menu will be curated by Claire Nash, owner and head chef at Nash 19, and also a much−admired female entrepreneur and local powerhouse. Claire will create a menu inspired by the best of local ingredients, showcasing contemporary Irish dining at its very best. As for the entertainment, the street theme continues with a live muralist creating an artwork for the evening, street performers and local buskers. This will be an evening for the memory banks.

Day 3

Spike island in the sunshine
Enjoy a special and moving private performance from St. Finn Barr’s Cathedral Choristers.

The Rebel Cobh walking tour is led by local historian and author, Kieran McCarthy. His passion for Cobh and its history is both inspiring and contagious. From Rebel Cobh, take the short ferry ride across to Spike Island. Optional experience enhancement: Over a locally-curated artisanal picnic, crime writers will share the inspiration for their crime novels and discuss how they succeed within a crowded genre. A thrilling afternoon of insight and suspense.

The stunning Fota House and Gardens provides the idyllic location for the farewell gala dinner. There, you will capture the spirit of Downton Abbey and enjoy life as it was in the halcyon days.

2-Day Itinerary

Day 1

The English Market
Considered one of Europe’s finest indoor markets, your experience begins at Cork’s famous English Market. A local food expert will lead guests around the bustling market, interacting with locals and stopping for tastings at some of its renowned food stalls. The experience continues with a five-minute stroll to Arthur Mayne’s pub, where you will learn how to make the world-famous Irish coffee in the company of one of Cork’s finest seanachaí (Irish for storyteller).

Enjoy lunch at the lively seafood bistro Goldie where their gill-to-fin cooking has earned them a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Cork has many impressive coves and harbours, but one that is particularly special is Ballycotton. Only a 40-minute transfer from Cork City, but worlds away in terms of its laid back village atmosphere, Ballycotton is simply breathtaking. Enjoy the great outdoors and beauty of Ballycotton in the company of the local and gregarious villagers.

Activities include:
  • Cliff walk accompanied by a local telling yarns of Ballycotton village life, a spontaneous smoked salmon tasting, a surprise musician and a nip or two of local Cork whiskey
  • A cycle from Garryvoe Beach to Ballycotton Bay
  • Boat trip to Ballycotton lighthouse with local artisan picnic
  • Cookery demo with celebrated chef Dan Guerin from Cush restaurant
  • Talk with local fisherman and some rod fishing, followed by an oyster shucking demo and tasting
The group will then come together for an evening of ‘craic agus ceol’ (fun and music) at the Blackbird Inn in the heart of the village, where there will be plenty of music and storytelling. Your face will ache with laughter and your feet will throb following the dancing but, one thing is for sure… it will be a night to remember.

Day 2

A whiskey barrel topped with a selection of glasses of whiskey
Early morning
Start the day with a restorative and rejuvenating yoga session in the serene surroundings of University College Cork. To further enhance the experience, this morning’s yoga will be accompanied by local cellist, Grainne Higgins, to ensure a smooth and calming start to the day.

As Ireland’s second city, Cork boasts a rich architectural history. From the grandeur of the old Roches Stores building to the redbrick front of the English Market, the city is full of iconic buildings and shopfronts. But what about the buildings that go unnoticed or underappreciated? To really get ‘under the skin’ of Cork, these structures deserve a closer look and some added context about what makes them so special. With that in mind, we have rounded up some unsung architectural gems from the People’s Republic of Cork.

The afternoon takes you to the stunning surroundings of Fota House and Gardens. What better way to transfer guests than in a series of Model T vintage cars in homage to one of Cork’s most famous sons, Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company? There, you will spend the afternoon enjoying estate activities in the stunning grounds of Fota House. Following refreshments on the lawn, guests will be led to their secret lunch location - the Walled Garden at Fota House. A truly exclusive experience.

The VIP Experience at Jameson Distillery allows guests to gain a deeper insight into the history, production, stories and enjoyment of Jameson Irish Whiskey. An expert Jameson ambassador will guide you around some of their key buildings, such as the micro-distillery, the cooperage, the maturation warehouse and a very special visit to the Distiller’s Cottage. Tastings of premium whiskeys are included throughout the tour, just a stone’s throw away from the stills where they are made to this day.

Following your exclusive experience at Jameson Distillery, guests transfer the very short distance to two of Cork’s most celebrated restaurants, Sage and Farmgate Restaurant, which is also in Midleton village.

1-Day Itinerary


A stark outcropping of rocks in a rough but brilliant blue seain clonakilty cork.
Originally built in 1771, Dunowen Houses’s current owners and hosts, Kela and Stephen Hodgins, have been working with these historic buildings since 2013 to create a laid back and luxurious private hideaway that connects with the stunning coastal landscape and unique history.

As the former home of Noel Redding, bass guitarist with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Dunowen House boasts phenomenal music credentials. A day spent in the company of our wonderful hosts allows guests a glimpse into modern hospitality, combining the legendary Irish welcome and traditional activities with a contemporary twist. Against the backdrop of this area’s unspoilt natural beauty, the only option is to explore the great outdoors, today guests can enjoy a selection of activities onsite or within five minutes of their doorstep.

On site:
  • Cookery demo with Kela
  • Macrame workshop
  • Wildflower floral arranging
  • Tablescaping with Kela
  • Irish coffee making (and tasting)
Close by:
  • Sea kayaking
  • Surfing
  • Fishing
  • Horse riding
  • Cycling/hiking adventures
  • Piper, and cheese and whiskey platters at the majestic Galley Head lighthouse
  • Visit to the local Union Hall market to hand pick produce to cook with Kela
  • Musical pub crawl in Clonakilty
For guests staying in other locations in Ireland who would like to enjoy this exclusive Cork experience - helicopter landing is possible in a neighbouring field. Lunch is served at Dunowen House, vegan and vegetarian menus are a speciality, with most produce grown in the walled gardens or sourced locally in West Cork. No visit to Dunowen would be complete without tasting a selection of Kela’s luscious desserts.


Blackrock observatory in Co. Cork
Cork City Gaol is a magnificent castle-like building which once housed 19th century prisoners. Tonight, it provides the backdrop as we enjoy an open air food festival bringing along the best of the local markets and restaurants. Throughout the festival area there will be whiskey tasting points, craft beer stations and spontaneous musical moments. In keeping with the festival theme, we will have a line up of the best musical entertainment, both traditional and contemporary to give guests a very complete taste of Ireland’s musical heritage.

Our day of firsts is not over yet, guests continue to Blackrock Observatory where a lighting design team have created a visual display to welcome the group. Our evening culminates with an outdoor Irish dance performance while guests enjoy champagne and desserts.

As night falls, your host, artist-in-residence, Dr Niamh Shaw*, engineer, scientist, artist, communicator and space explorer, presents the wonder of the sky at night, accompanied by the Cork Orchestral Society.

*Subject to availability.
*Consider adding the 1-day itinerary to the 2-day or 3-day itineraries, or as a day tour option from a neighbouring region.

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