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Things to do in Cork for Families

Posted on: 2022-09-28 10:44:37Cork City
Family in a restaurant in Cork City

Things to do in Cork for families:

If Cork is the next destination for your family vacation, make sure to have a look at the tips below.

Cork City itself and the surrounding county offer a wide host of activities that children and their parents are sure to enjoy.



1.       Shandon Bells & Tower

Located 1 km from Cork City, Church Street

A 15-minute walk from the hotel

St. Anne’s Church and its’ clock tower, Shandon Bells, were built in 1722 and it is one of the oldest churches in Cork. The church features a barrelled, vaulted ceiling, colourful stained-glass windows and a baptismal font that dates from 1629. After you took the 132 steps in the clock tower you will be able to get a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the city.


On the 1st floor you get to ring the bells of Shandon Bells and play a song that can be heard across the city. There are 8 ropes for the bells and a variety of songs to choose from. On the 2nd floor you can see the pendulum of the clock and on the 3rd floor you will see the mechanism of the clock, which is also one of the largest caged clocks in Europe. After the 3rd floor you will be climbing through the belfry where you then get to enjoy the spectacular views over the city. This might be a bit difficult as the tower narrows to less than half a metre and there are some wooden steps to climb, but you will be rewarded with a spectacular view from the third tallest building in the city.


Useful information:

Opening hours and access to the tower may change depending on weather conditions and if the church is in use for a religious service. Keep an eye on their social media posts before you visit.

The climb up the tower will not be suitable for visitors who have mobility, heart or shortness of breath on exertion (SOBOE) issues.


Have a look at their opening hours and prices:



 Giraffes at Fota Wildlife Park


2.       Fota Wildlife Park

Located on Fota Island, 17km from Cork City


A quick 20-minute drive from The Imperial Hotel or a 15-minute train drive from Kent train station. There is a 3€ fee per car, per visit for the car park. There is also a dedicated entrance just outside Fota Train Station on Irish Rail’s Cork – Cobh line.


One of Ireland’s top ten visitor attractions and perfect for people all ages. Because wherever it is possible are the animals in a free-range environment, which allows them to roam free with other species and the human visitors.

The Fota Wildlife Park is part of the Zoological Society of Ireland and is located on 100 acres. It has an annual attendance of approximately 460,000 visitors. Their mission is all about biodiversity and conservation, and their education department provides unique opportunities to share this with the schools and groups who visit.


Open from Monday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm; last entry at 4.30 pm.

Have a look at their website for all the ticket prices. You will also save 10% when pre-booking your ticket online.





3.       Blarney

Located in Blarney, 8 km from Cork City

A 20-minute car drive or a 25-minute bus ride to Blarney Church and then a 5-minute walk to the entrance of Blarney Castle. There is a 2€ fee for the car park.


Blarney Castle is a tower house that was built between the 15th and 17th centuries. This Castle is an unusually large tower house with two towers – the second one was added in the 1500s.

There are many legends about the Blarney Stone’s origin, which all can be read about here. But it is said that whoever kisses the stone will grow eloquent. Among the people who have kissed the stone are supposed to be Sir Winston Churchill, Stan Laurel, Sir Mick Jagger and many more. The word Blarney was introduced into the English language by Queen Elizabeth I and is described as pleasant talk, intended to deceive without offending. The stone is set in the wall below the battlements, and to kiss it, one has to lean backwards (grasping an iron railing) from the parapet walk.

On the grounds you can also find the Blarney House. It is a Scottish Baronial mansion that was built in 1874 and is open to the public during summer months. The house is located 200m south of the Blarney castle.

Further there are 60 acres of land to explore, which are constantly changing und evolving their environment throughout the season.

The Poison Garden is a highlight for many as it contains an interesting and educational collection of deadly and dangerous plants from around the world. Besides the garden there are many more beautiful walks you can take through the parkland filled with rare and unusual trees and a collection of many other different plants.


Best to look at their website for current opening hours





4.       The English Market

Located in Cork City

A 6-minute walk from the hotel


The English Market, one of the main tourist attractions in Cork City, was founded in the 18th century. It was established whilst Cork was benefitting from a period of intense economic growth. The market itself is built on two reclaimed mashes; “the Dunscombe and the Reap marshes, creating a land-mass that correlates with the area between Saint Patrick’s Street and the South Mall” (2014, The English Market Website). The name English Market is derived from the fact that covered markets were becoming more fashionable in England at the time.

The English Market, an indoor food market, is one of the main attractions in Cork City – not only for tourists but also for the locals.

It is located right in the city centre and within walking distance of the hotel. You will be able to find a great variation of imported goods and great local produce. Have a chat with the stallholders and try some of the very traditional and unique Irish goods which include drisheen (blood sausage), buttered eggs and battlebord (dried salted ling, a member of the cod family). But quality meats and fish, herbs, spices, fruit, vegetables, baked delicacies and speciality cheeses can be also found here.


Open from Monday to Saturday; 8 am to 8 pm





5.       Zipit Cork

Located near the Farran Woods

A 25-minute drive from the hotel


A bit further out the city but a very fun adventure. Based in the Farran Park which is a 25-minute car-drive from the city centre and next to the National Rowing Centre and Inniscarra Lake. Zipit offers a unique outdoor high rope experience. The circuit up in the trees includes zip lines, swinging logs, cargo nets and rope bridges. From up there you will get a panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding countryside. The Farran Forest Park also features a wildlife enclosure and large duck pond. Parking will cost 5€ and can only be paid with credit/ debit card.


Useful information:

Up to 3-hour session

Age 7 upwards to adults of all age

5 circuits (from 1 – 20m high)

Prices vary between 15 – 35€ depending on the age

Best to book online to save some money

Adults can supervise from the ground free of charge

Opening hours depend on the season





6.       The Donkey Sanctuary

Located at Knockardbane
A 1 hour drive from the hotel


Since The Donkey Sanctuary has opened its gates in 1987, over 5,600 neglected and abandoned donkeys across Ireland were taken care off. Today there are over 1,800 donkeys and mules which are being cared for but over a third of these are in private guardian homes; the remaining donkeys are based at one of the four farms in the Liscaroll area. The Knockardbane Farm – the one that is open to visitors – is the home to 150 donkeys and mules. While you are taking a stroll through the sanctuary, there many points from which to see the donkeys, historical sites and countryside of Liscarroll. There are different walkways; from the Rock Walk you get the best sight of the castle.


Useful information:

Free admission – donations are welcome

Free parking

Spend up to three hours there

Visiting hours are Monday - Sunday between 9.00 am - 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm - 4.00 pm

Dogs are welcome but need to be kept on leash





7.       Cork City Gaol

Located at Convent Ave

A 35-minute walk or take the bus to Western Road from which it will be only a 15-minute walk


Cork City Gaol is a magnificent castle-like building which once housed 19th century prisoners. Take a trip back in time and wander through the wings of the Gaol and explore the outside grounds as well.

The cells are furnished with life-like wax figures and Graffiti on the cell walls. Get to know some of the prisoner’s stories and experience what it was like being locked into one of the cells.

The Radio Museum, an ode to the Broadcasting Station, which was once located in the Gaol, houses a small collection of radios, exhibits on communication, Marconi and a reconstruction of the original Cork 6CK Studio.

This exhibition fascinates visitors of all ages and nationalities and the tour is available in up to 13 languages.

Tours of the Gaol are self-guided with 2 options. You can take a guidebook, which is included in the admission price, or you can also a rent an audio guide at a cost of €2 extra per person.

Monday to Sunday; 10 am to 4/5 pm depending on the season



If you would like to visit Cork for your family trip and enjoy all the things Cork has to offer, book your room at The Imperial Hotel direct with us today for the best rates and exclusive offers!

With a number of different room types and interconnecting options, we are delighted to accommodate families in beautiful style and comfort.