Niamh Twomey shows you how to enjoy the city's sights, without going broke.
If you’re a baffled fresher in Cork City- placed here by divine decree of the mystical CAO, read on. Or, if you find yourself waiting around for a bus with an hour or two to burn; why not also read on? Whether you want to experience the unique and traditional charms of Cork City, or you simply want to tick off a few reputable spots so you can sound like you know stuff, here’s a list of must-dos and hidden gems to fit your purpose:
Grabbing a Cuppa
Good strong coffee and cosy hang outs are in abundant supply on the streets of Cork. If you like your coffee strong, dark and handsome, Cork Coffee Roasters is a well-established name among coffee enthusiasts, with two bases in the city. Two more recently introduced contestants are Rocketman (on Oliver Plunkett Street- very central), and the newly opened, minimalistic and super-hipster Soma. Do not, under any circumstances, try all three in one day, as to do so would surely render you sleepless for a week.
If you’re looking for a cosier café to get comfortable with friends, Café Myo is a homely spot across the river and away from the noise of the city centre. There is also Alchemy on the other side of town which is a short walk up a steep hill. This café/bookshop is so full of character you might find yourself talking to the walls. It’s 100% worth the climb; and voted the best place in the city to sit alone with a book by me.
Finally if you’re more of a chocolate fanatic, don’t you dare leave the city without trying O’Conaill’s Hot Chocolate on French Church Street. With a choice milk, dark, or white hot chocolate, or even a mixture, plus a mouth-watering list of fancy flavours, these people have mastered the art of making chocolate.
“Going for One”
If you love a bit of trad, look no further than Sin É. There’s a heart-warming session there most nights, get in early to get a seat because it’s cosy! Also, The Rock bar is hopping with lively trad and even livelier students every Wednesday night; it’s a rite of passage for all students.
For a uniquely Cork experience go to the Fransiscan Well pub and brewery. It’s a little bit more expensive but they have a wide range of craft beers and ciders and a pizza oven if you get peckish. Two other beautiful pubs with delicious pizzas made to order, cosy beer-gardens and board games- are Tom Barry’s and Fionn Barra’s pub, both a small leg stretch out of the centre but well worth the wander.
For a livelier pub, the Oliver Plunkett, famous for its live music scene, is big, always busy, and full of nooks and crannies to explore. Further down the road and open late due to a shared licence with the Voodoo Nightclub upstairs, An Bróg is the perfect place for a dance, and a cheap cocktail. It’s an ideal, hybrid mix between a controlled bar and a spirited nightclub. And finally, for the classier among us, feast your senses on some jazz and fairy lights in the Crane Lane (over 21s).
Want something to write home about which doesn’t involve one too many pints or delicious confectionaries? Why not climb the tourist-ridden tower of Shandon? For an affordable student fee of €4, you can ring the bells yourself, and clamber to the top for a clear view of Cork from above. Also a manageable walking distance from the city, Elizabeth’s Fort on Barracks Street has a good view and a rich history, and is free of charge.
Cork’s diverse and breath-taking Crawford Art Gallery is also free and a great place to spend a rainy day, while FitzGerald’s Park is heavenly to walk around or sit and admire the fountain, the river, the flowers and the breath-taking views in the sun. Strolling aimlessly around the traditional English Market is also at the top of every tourist’s to-do list.
Finally, if you enjoy the theatre or cinema, the Everyman is a prestigious theatre, where regular tickets average at €25 but with your blessed student discount it will only cost you around €8/€9. UCC’s Granary Theatre is a much smaller and more intimate venue- and is also notably cheap for students.
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