You are currently viewing 36 Hours in Cork City
The Shandon Bridge in Cork. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland/Failte Ireland.

36 Hours in Cork City

Please follow and like us:
Reading Time: 12 minutes

To spend 36 hours in Cork City might not seem like enough to those who know the city well, but for first-timers to Ireland's second-largest city, it's just enough to whet their appetite for this fun-loving metropolis.

This post and page contain affiliate links and I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

Spending 36 hours in Cork City on a budget is also doable. Read on to find out how.

To begin your adventure, you could start off at either Dublin or Shannon.

Dublin to Cork is a pretty direct route, and thanks to Ireland’s improved road system, you should be able to get there by car in about 2.5 hours.

Once you get off the M50, which encircles the city of Dublin, you’ll find yourself on the M7 and later the M8, which leads directly into Cork City.

From Shannon, the drive is definitely shorter, about one hour and 35 minutes.

Take the N18 toward Limerick, then transfer to the N20, which will bring you to Cork’s city center.

If you are traveling by public transportation, the journey to Cork from Heuston Station in Dublin is about 2.5 hours.

The Layout

Cork City is on an island with 16 bridges.

Its main commercial area is situated along St. Patrick’s Street, where you’ll find many of Cork’s most fashionable stores and restaurants.

Other areas of the commercial downtown include Grand Parade, Washington Street, Oliver Plunkett Street, and Main Street.

Cork is a lively city, with lots of pubs, theaters, and restaurants. Enjoying them all on a budget might seem difficult, but the ones you'll find in this post are all reasonably priced for the budget traveler.

a festival sign 36 hours in Cork City
The Cork Jazz Festival is the largest in Europe. Photo courtesy Tourism Ireland.

Perhaps the most famous event of the year in Cork is the Cork Jazz Festival, which takes place each year at the end of October.

It has been attracting musicians and jazz enthusiasts from across the world since 1978.

The 2023 festival is expected to take place from Friday, Oct. 26 through Thursday, Oct. 30.

Getting Around Cork

Cork City Tours will give you an excellent sense of the city and its main attractions and is an ideal choice if you want to spend 36 hours in Cork City.

The Hop On Hop Off bus is also an option, getting you to the city's top attractions such as Cork City Gaol, the English Market, Shandon Bells, and University College Cork with ease.

Hop on and off at your leisure, and learn of Cork’s colorful history through informative audio commentary.

As an alternative, you could use the local Bus Eireann transportation system.

Cork City bus map courtesy of Bus Eireann.

You don’t have to use cash to get on a bus in Cork. Instead, purchase a Leap Visitor card online before you leave home.

The card can also be purchased from specific agents in the Dublin area.

A Leap card for 1 day will cost you €8, for 3 days, it will cost you €16 and for 7 days, it is an affordable €32. You can get on and off Bus Eireann buses in Cork as often as you'd like with this card.

This is important if you decide not to rent a car in Ireland.

Take a look at this useful how-to video to learn how to take advantage of the Leap card and save money while you’re traveling around Ireland without a car.

Cork is a very walkable city. Whether you choose to tour it by yourself or with the help of a guide, here are my suggestions for your 36 Hours in Cork City trip.

Get Wifi in Ireland with an E-Sim from Airalo

Friday – Day One

6 p.m., Dinner – Market Lane, 5-6 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork City

Cork city is brimming with great restaurants, craft-beer pubs, and the oldest closed food market in the country,

building 36 hours in Cork City
One of the many coffee shops and eateries you'll find all across Cork City. Photo: Tony Pleavin, Tourism Ireland.

If you only come to Cork for the food, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Market Lane, located on Oliver Plunkett Street, the city center’s longest street, is an award-winning restaurant and bar that takes over two floors.

Ingredients come largely from the nearby English Market and local artisan producers.

packets of food 36 hours in Cork City
Some of the Irish-made products you'll find at the English Market in Cork City. Photo: Tony Pleavin, Tourism Ireland.

The regular menu includes a wide range of fish, meat, game, salads, and sandwiches, as well as vegetarian dishes and meals suitable for Coeliacs.

If you're in a party of 10 or more, why not avail of the restaurant’s special lunch and dinner menus?

Choose from a 2-course lunch for €29 each or a 3-course lunch from €38. The restaurant's special dinner menu costs $43.

a plate of mussels 36 hours in Cork City
Photo: talynshererphoto for Getty Images.

If it’s a traditional Irish pub you’re looking for during your 36 hours in Cork City, then a visit to The Mutton Lane Inn is in order.

Situated in an alleyway near the English Market, this popular watering hole, one of Cork’s oldest drinking establishments, is illuminated by candlelight.

The Mutton Lane pub in Cork is one of the city's oldest. Photo: Douglas Pfeiffer Cardoso.

Expect to get a great stout while you’re there, but if that’s not your thing, there’s plenty more to quench your thirst.

In years gone by, butchers and farmers from the surrounding countryside visiting the English Market next door would often stop into Mutton Lane for a whiskey and leave a tip for the junior staff.

Many say that is why the pub has had the highest whiskey sales in all of Ireland.

You won’t find a TV at Mutton Lane, which means that like many an Irish pub, the conversation with others is encouraged, plus it's the perfect place to while away an hour or so during your 36 hours in Cork City.

Lots of famous people adorn its walls, including President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, as well as the country singer Johnny Cash.

Saturday – Day Two

9:30 a.m, The English Market

If you’re planning to take the Hop On Hop Off tour, one of the first stops on the tour is the English Market.

The best time to explore Ireland’s only indoor market is in the morning.

In fact, Cork County Council, the local authority that operates the market, suggests that tourists visit outside of the peak trading hours (between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.) so that they can leisurely walk around the stalls and explore.

a white building with flags outside 36 hours in Cork City
The English Market in Cork, a popular destination for foodies. Photo: Juan Jimenez.

The Victorian-style market was founded way back in 1788.

The English Corporation, which governed the city at the time, built the market, which was hugely important to Cork’s local economy. Goods were brought in from the surrounding rich farmland and then exported abroad.

By clicking on the Amazon link below, I may earn a small commission from the Amazon Associates Program if you decide to buy something on the site. However, you will not incur any additional costs by doing so.

Serving a City: The Story of Cork's English Market

One commodity that served Cork very well was the export of its butter.

You’ll find here everything from local seafood to international sauces and spices. Butchers, bakers, fishmongers, and other merchants are all located within this popular Cork attraction.

 11:30 a.m., Elizabeth Fort

An 8-minute walk from the English Market will take you to Elizabeth Fort, where you’ll get a fantastic view of the city.

The fort, an early 17th-century star-shaped structure, played a pivotal role in the history of Cork for over 400 years.

A guided tour will provide you with some interesting information, like the fact that in 1603, the death of Elizabeth I sparked a revolt in Cork City and a subsequent attack on the fort.

View of the city from the Elizabeth Fort. Photo courtesy Tourism Ireland.

The people of Cork were forced to pay for the damages after English reinforcements took control.

Or that between 1817 and 1837, the fort served as a prison for convicts as they awaited shipment to Australia and other far-off lands.

Guided tours are available at 1 p.m. every day for €5 each. Children under 12 are admitted free of charge.

1 p.m., Lunch – Liberty Grill, 32 Washington Street, Cork City

This popular Cork eatery, which has received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for three years in a row, serves up brunch or lunch Monday through Saturday from midday until 5 p.m.

Photo courtesy of the Liberty Grill.

This is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, and it's only a mere 6-minute walk from the fort.

You can indulge in the restaurant’s excellent fish and seafood dishes, its inventive burgers, or perhaps a salad is all you need.

Discover your Irish Ancestry with

 2:30 p.m., St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral

A 7-minute walk will take you to St. Finn Barre’s Cathedral, the Gothic Revival-style Anglican church that towers over the city.

Constructed in the 1860s, the three-spire cathedral is dedicated to Finbarr, the patron saint of the city.

The ground where the cathedral stands has been a place of worship since the 7th century, where a monastery once stood.

St. Finn Barre's Cathedral, Cork. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

The original building survived until the 12th century when it was destroyed by the Normans.

In the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation, it became part of what was then considered the established church, later known as the Church of Ireland.

Perhaps the answer to why it is such a magnificent structure is that when the building of the cathedral was commissioned, there was a competition of sorts as to who could build the most beautiful church.

It was, in fact, the first Protestant cathedral to be built on the British Isles after the construction of St. Paul’s in London.

The interior of Saint Finn Barre's Cathedral. Photo: Janeen Hutchins Photography,

The cathedral is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from Sunday, 1 p.m. through 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. through 5 p.m. from April to October only. Guided tours of this Cork City landmark are provided during those times.

It is free to enter the church, but if you want to take a guided tour, which is highly recommended, you must pay.

Admission for adults is €6, seniors and students with an ID, €5, and children under 16 are free.

4 p.m., St. Anne’s Church, the Shandon Bells

You may want to hop on the double-decker bus again to get to this location, which is about a 17-minute walk from the cathedral.

The Shandon Bells and Tower at St. Anne’s Church is one of the most important early 18th-century churches in Ireland and one of a small number that still retains its original bells.

The Shandon Bells and tower, a popular tourist attraction and one you should visit while spending 36 hours in Cork City. Photo: Chris Hill for Tourism Ireland.

The church was built in 1722, but the site has been a place of worship since medieval times.

It features a barreled, vaulted ceiling, colorful stained-glass windows, and a baptismal stone that dates to 1629.

Don’t leave this iconic Cork attraction without climbing the narrow stone steps to the top of the tower and ringing the famous bells., which weigh 6 tons.

A selection of sheet music is available to help you turn the bell-ringing into a fun activity. Admission is €6 for adults, €5 for seniors and students and €3 for children ages 5-15.

7 p.m., Dinner – Amicus, 23 Paul Street, Cork City

Amicus, located in the city’s Huguenot Quarter, is housed in a late 19th-century warehouse.

You’ll get a real feel for historic Cork here, but you’ll also experience some of the best food the city has to offer, all sourced from local producers.

The restaurant owners grow their own fruit, vegetables, and herbs in their gardens outside of the city.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Amicus Restaurant (@amicuscork)

The pickings are used in pretty much all of their dishes, including entrees, house cocktails, homemade ice cream, jam, and preserves.

Sweet treats are baked daily in its in-house bakery.

The menu includes starters like the Crispy Panko Crumbed Squid, Pulled Pork Lollipops, and Tiger Prawn Pil Pil.

Also worth a try are entrees like the Amicus Curry, Lemon & Thyme Chicken, Roast Darne of Cod, and lots more.

The most expensive main dish is around €23. There are also the usual burgers, pizza, and pasta dishes, as well as sharing boards.

Take a Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour of Cork City

Sunday – Day Three

9 a.m., Breakfast – Restaurant 14A, 14A French Church Street, Cork City

Expect everything from Eggs Benedict to omelettes and of course a full Irish at this popular Cork restaurant.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Restaurant 14A (@14acork)

Much of the restaurant's produce comes from the English Market, so you know it's going to be high quality.

10:30 a.m., Cork City Gaol (Jail)

Cork City Gaol is located in the heart of Cork City, is now a popular museum, which received the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2018.

It was opened in 1824 and at the time, was described as the “finest in 3 kingdoms.”

a passageway with stone walls 36 hours in Cork City
The interior of Cork City Gaol, one of the attractions you should see while spending 36 hours in Cork City. Photo: Failte Ireland.

No mention anywhere of who claimed that, but it was seen as a step up from other prisons at the time.

Maybe it was because at least one of its cell wings was brighter and more spacious than most, that there was a separate confinement area for women, or that its beautiful Georgian/Gothic architecture, coupled with turreted battlements and such, makes it look more like a castle than a prison.

The exterior of the Cork City Gaol. Photo: Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland.

During your visit, you’ll learn about the first execution that took place at the prison as well as some of the famous prisoners who spent time there, including the revolutionary hero Countess Markievicz (Constance Gore-Booth) from Sligo, who was arrested in 1919 and spent four months in Cork Jail.

The museum is open 360 days a year, from April through September, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from October through March, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is €10 for adults, €8.50 for students and seniors, and €6 for children.

12 noon, The Butter Museum

The Butter Museum is a fascinating place that delves into the production of butter.

Since it's a 23-minute walk from the jail, it might be best to hop on the double-decker bus again (tickets are valid for 24 hours) and make your way to Butter Museum or take a Bus Eireann bus.

butter-making implements 36 hours in Cork City
A display at the Cork Butter Museum, one of the interesting places to visit while spending 36 hours in Cork City. Photo: Catherine Crowley for Failte Ireland.

At the museum, you’ll learn about Ireland’s most important food export and its importance to the Cork region.

Lots of great visuals here on the history of butter-making and the Butter Exchange in 19th-century Cork.

You’ll also learn about the traditional craft of butter making, which was at one time a common practice in many rural Irish homes. In addition, you’ll read about the success of the Kerrygold brand, which has gained a huge following in the U.S. in recent years.

The museum is open from March through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There’s lots more to see and do in Cork City if you have the time. Check out this tourist map courtesy of Pure Cork for some more ideas.

a map of Cork attractions 36 hours in Cork City
A map of Cork's main attractions courtesy of Pure Cork Tourism.

Accommodation in Cork City

The Cork International Hotel is located at Cork Airport and has consistently received rave reviews from TripAdvisor readers.

Prices as of July 2023 average around €250 per night. The hotel has a restaurant, bar/lounge, in addition to a fitness center  Parking is free.

The hotel is located about 15 minutes from Cork City Center by car. Buses are available from the hotel to the city center every half hour.

a hotel room 36 hours in Cork City
A bedroom in the Cork International Hotel, which is located beside Cork Airport. Photo:

Hotel Isaacs Cork is another hotel worth checking out.

Located in the heart of Cork's Victorian Quarter, rooms per night average €250 for a superior double room. The hotel is within walking distance of all the major attractions.

Read More: Where to Stay in Cork City: 7 Hotels & Guesthouses to Suit Your Budget

Have you been to Cork? If so, what did you like about the city? Let me know in the comments below.


Colette is a County Sligo native who created Ireland on a Budget to provide her readers with money-saving tips on how to get to Ireland and then save even more when they're there. She's a professional copywriter who lives in the New York area with her husband and two children.

Leave a Reply