Thinking of booking a holiday in the rebel county for the family? Why not check out some of the gorgeous natural features Cork has to offer while you’re there.
Between beautiful beaches, majestic castles, picturesque parks and pretty towns, Cork has it all. In fact, there’s so much to choose from that it can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve selected our top five scenic destinations in Cork, just for you!
There’s something for everyone, whether you like strolls along the beach, exploring towns, or historical sites. We’ve chosen places that you can make the most of. You could take a look around, or make a whole day out of it.
We can almost guarantee you will find yourself enjoying the natural beauty and charming atmosphere of these locations. And to top it all off, all of these fantastic destinations are an hour’s drive or less from Cork City and our own Maldron Hotel Shandon Cork City, meaning you can come back after a long day of exploring, and relax in our comfortable rooms.
Blarney Castle & Gardens
A short, fifteen-minute drive from Cork City, Blarney Castle & Gardens provides a whole day out. Whether you want a walk around the gardens, a tour of the castle or a picnic outside the cafe; Blarney Castle & Gardens has all that and more.
There are over 60 acres of gorgeous and diverse native flora and fauna. And with themed areas like the Poison Garden, the Bog Garden, the Himalayan Walk and the ‘Jungle’, you could spend hours wandering through this magical estate, or picnicking while taking in the view.
Speaking of magic, while you’re there you could see the famous Blarney Stone which gives you the gift of a silver tongue should you kiss it. There’s also a lovely cafe overlooking a stretch of grass if you want to stop and grab a bite to eat, or bring your food out to the picturesque gardens for a picnic.
Open all year round from 9am-5.30pm, you can plan your trip whenever you like!
Only a forty-minute drive from Cork City, Youghal Beach is a 5km long beach strand that’s perfect for walking and is a popular outdoor attraction in Cork. There’s a 2km, wheelchair accessible boardwalk spanning the whole beach strand, so you can decide if you just want to take in the gorgeous views, if you want to walk on the sand or maybe dip your toes in the water. There’s also a bird trail where you can observe different local seabirds like oystercatchers or cormorants.
Youghal beach itself is divided into three: Frontstrand beach, Claycastle Beach, and Redbarn beach. Frontstrand & Claycastle beaches have finer sand, and have toilet & car parking facilities nearby. Perfect for kids to play and paddle in, or for you to sunbathe or swim. Redbarn beach has a mixture of sand, pebbles and shells. It’s great for swimming, a beach walk or for kids to collect stones and shells. Sometimes, while walking along Redbarn beach, you can hear the birdsong from Ballyvergen Marsh. A place classified as a special amenity and very popular with migratory birds.
You could spend a whole day on these three beaches or you could walk along them and admire the view. You could even do both if you’re feeling adventurous!
There are no opening and closing hours, but there is only lifeguarding during the bathing season.
To discover more about Youghal and its beaches here.
Cobh; ‘Deck of Cards’ Houses & Spike Island
If you ask any photographer, they will tell you that Cobh is one of the most scenic places near Cork City you can find. This is because this is where you will find the iconic ‘Deck of Cards’ houses. Many tourists and visitors go up Spy Hill to photograph it and have a look. The contrast between St. Colman’s cathedral and the whimsical, colourful houses makes it so picturesque.
If you’re looking for a whole day trip in Cobh, look no further than a fifteen-minute ferry to Spike Island. Also known as Ireland’s Alcatraz. Named the Top European Tourist Attraction in 2017, Spike Island is a place of extraordinary scenery, as seen in the photo above. Its rich history will have the whole family interested. I mean, come on, what’s cooler than an island that used to be full of criminals?
It has been a home, a prison and a monastery in the last 1300 years. And if its own natural beauty isn’t enough for you, it’s also a perfect vantage point to see Fort Camden and Roches Point (the last docking point of the Titanic). There’s also toilet facilities and a cafe where you can sit back and enjoy the view.
A trip to Cobh has a little bit for everyone, with the historical cathedral and Titanic museum and tour, the farmers market, and Fota Wildlife Park nearby. Only half an hour from the Maldron Hotel Shandon Cork City, the town is a vibrant place that’s full of personality and heritage.
To book or plan your trip to Spike Island here.
Ballycotton Cliff Walk
If you’re looking for a nice, long stroll on your stay in Cork, we would recommend the Ballycotton Cliff Walk. This destination is definitely the most physically taxing. It’s a 7k walk if you choose to walk the full route to Ballyandreen and back again. There is a shorter route if you prefer. However, even a section of this cliff walk is well worth it for the gorgeous views of the ocean.
This trail also gives you the chance to sneak a peek at one of the only two black lighthouses in Ireland. If you’re particularly interested in it, you can book a tour to learn more about its history.
There are facilities at the beginning of the walk so you can stock up on snacks and goodies. There’s a beach at Ballyandreen (halfway through the walk, before you turn back). It’s a perfect spot to sit down and relax for a bit, regain your energy, maybe have a picnic!
The Ballycotton Cliff Walk is a 50-minute drive away and open 24 hours a day.
To find directions and discover more here.
If you’re looking for where to go for a drive in Cork, look no further. The whole town of Clonakilty is a scenic destination in itself. It was named the Best Town in the UK & Ireland in 2017, and for good reason too.
You couldn’t possibly be bored in Clonakilty. The buildings and scenery in the town are incredibly pretty and picturesque. Not to mention, it has seven different beaches to explore and enjoy.
One of the most popular beaches is Inchydoney Beach, which is renowned as one of the most beautiful and family friendly beaches in west Cork. There’s plenty of sand and dunes to play around on, as well as great surfing conditions.
If you’re all beached out, go explore the West Cork Model Railway Village. While there, see the fully scaled, hand made model of the West Cork Railway from the 1940’s and grab a bite to eat in the cafe. You can visit the historic Michael Collins Heritage Centre and learn more about the famous rebel. If you or your kids have an interest in marine life, book an Atlantic Whale & Wildlife Centre Tour to see these majestic creatures up close.
Clonalkilty has all of these experiences to offer and so much more. The entire village is jam packed with tours, beautiful shops, historical centres and even an adventure centre!
All of the above is why we believe Clonakilty is a scenic destination well worth an hours drive down from our hotel. It’s not an opportunity you should miss.
See Clonalkilty’s wide range of activities here.
Your Base for the Most Scenic Places in Cork
We hope this article helped you in planning your holiday. Our hotel is only a 15-minute walk from Kent train station and there are multiple bus stops right beside our hotel, making your travel experience as stress free as possible.
Check out our hotel rooms in Cork city and avail of our brilliant offers today.