Cork, Ireland

We arrived in Cork after a sleepy bus ride from Galway. Jenna left us earlier that morning to fly to Manchester for a conference, but Elisabeth and I continued our trek around Ireland. Cork was a bustling city, bigger than Galway, but still quaint. We stayed at an Air B&B a short bus ride outside of the city center. We had the nicest French hosts who lived in a cute apartment and were extremely welcoming. Overall we had a great experience in Cork. 

What to do:

Because we were a bit short on time, we didn't do much besides eat in Cork city. There is more to do, but Blarney Castle is probably the biggest "attraction" nearby. 

Stroll around the Old English Market

The market has a welcoming atmosphere and is full of fresh meats, produce and pastries. A really cool place to walk around and either buy food or just shop! 

Go to Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is my top recommendation for what to do while in Cork. There is bus route from Cork that goes directly to Blarney Castle. It really couldn't be more convenient, and the ride only takes about 15-20 minutes depending on where you get on.  Elisabeth and I spent an entire day exploring the castle grounds. We lucked out and had great weather, although at times cloudy, there was never a drop of rain. The foliage in the area is awesome. There are unique plants all around the grounds and plenty of different areas to explore. Of course you have to kiss the Blarney Stone and explore the castle, but be sure to give yourself enough time to explore everything. You can also walk to Blarney Woolen Mills after for shopping!

 

Where to Eat

Cork had some amazing restaurant options. The places I listed are all in the city center area of Cork and relatively easy to find if you visit. 

Orso 

Orso is a modern Lebanese/Moroccan cafe. They offered well-priced lunch options. The cafe is quite small and there isn't really a waiting list.  Everything was fresh and the food was great. After we finished eating I already knew I wanted to go back. 

Fresh salads and cute decor inside of Orso.

Fresh salads and cute decor inside of Orso.

Market Lane

Market Lane was the perfect dinner spot after a long day exploring. They have a great menu and its relatively affordable. Both Elisabeth and I loved our food. Besides the nice atmosphere and great food, Market Lane also uses ingredients from the English Market and other local vendors, which makes you feel good about what you're eating! 

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Farmgate Cafe

We went to the open air part of the Farmgate cafe for coffee and dessert. We ordered the Banoffee pie, and it was sooo good. Elisabeth and I agreed on it being our favorite dessert of the trip. I'm sure there normal cafe menu is also delicious. A perfect place to eat before or after you've explored the rest of the English Market. 

The Farmgate Cafe inside the English Market in Cork.

The Farmgate Cafe inside the English Market in Cork.

Hopefully you enjoyed a little glimpse into Cork and Blarney Castle. The next and last Ireland post will be about our time in Howth, a cute little city a 20-minute train ride from Dublin. 

Sunrise in Cork before leaving for Dublin. 

Sunrise in Cork before leaving for Dublin. 

Early morning...Elisabeth waiting for our next bus back to Dublin. 

Early morning...Elisabeth waiting for our next bus back to Dublin. 

Galway & West Coast Ireland

Galway was our second stop in Ireland and I'm so glad we decided to go here. While in Galway we took a day trip along part of the west coast to get to the Cliffs of Moher. Obviously, we didn't drive the entire west coast, only a small section, but it was definitely a highlight from the trip. 

What to do:

Walk and shop in Galway city center

Galway city center has lots of shops, some chains and some boutiques. We happened upon the shop "My Granny Likes It." I think Elisabeth pointed it out to us. They had an awesome selection of Irish-made goods. I found myself the perfect souvenir of a silver necklace handmade by a Galway-born jewelry designer. Nothing feels touristy in the shop, rather it's the exact shop you want to find for great souvenirs that don't say "I <3 IRELAND" all over them. 

Visit the Galway Museum

This museum feels current and has some great exhibits. It's not huge, but if you take the time to look at every exhibit you might stay for a few hours. It's nice to learn more about the history of the city you're in. 

Visit the countryside

There are so many castles and churches, and well history. We didn't take a substantial amount of time to do this, but the little time we did was amazing. If you rent a car, staying somewhere in the countryside of whatever part of Ireland you're in would be a good idea. 

Visit Dunguaire Castle

This 16th century castle is a short drive outside of Galway City and it sits on Galway Bay. We weren't able to tour the inside because we came during the winter, but still cool, especially if you are into history. 

Explore the coast 

The west coast is truly stunning. We stopped a few times on our way to the Cliffs of Moher. An insanely beautiful landscape all around. I loved the rocky terrain and rich colors. 

Plan a trip to the Cliffs of Moher 

Just as cool as they seem. This spot is absolutely breathtaking. We stopped here for a few hours and trekked around the trails in the mud, but lucky for us we missed the rain. I recommend planning for 2-3 hours here depending on how long you want to hike the trails and the weather. There is a small museum inside, as well as a restaurant and cafe if you need to wait out the rain.  

 

Where to eat: 

The food scene in Galway surprised me! There were tons of cool spots to try. While shopping we met a woman (from the "My Granny Likes It" store) who offered up great suggestions.

Dough Bros Pizza

Awesome pizza and story. The guys who started Dough Bros lost their jobs and decided to pursue making pizza after inspiration from a trip to Naples, Italy. A few years ago they started a food truck and quickly made their way to a store front location. Anyway, the inside is fun and the pizza is great. One warning – it gets extremely busy at dinner time. I would suggest going in for lunch or an early dinner. 

Biteclub 

The coolest and funkiest place to eat in Galway. Great menu and atmosphere! 

Elisabeth's photo from our dinner there, as you can see the lighting was, well, pink.

Elisabeth's photo from our dinner there, as you can see the lighting was, well, pink.

Quay Street Kitchen

I recommend this place for dinner. It's extra cozy inside when it's dark outside. The staff were super friendly and welcoming. We all ordered different burgers, (turkey, black bean, and tofu) with sweet potato fries. Even though we were super full, we ordered "The Chocolate Bomb" for my birthday dessert. Overall delicious and the perfect spot for a birthday meal. 

Another of Elisabeth's photos. "The Chocolate Bomb" birthday dessert.&nbsp;

Another of Elisabeth's photos. "The Chocolate Bomb" birthday dessert. 

Gus O'Connors Pub

This pub is in Doolin, so more of a recommendation for your journey to or from the Cliffs of Moher. Classic pub atmosphere with good food and a nice fireplace! 

Wilde Irish Chocolate Shop

This shop is only a few doors down from Gus O'Connor's Pub. Not much else needs to be said other than they sell handmade chocolates and fudge.. so if you're anything like me, or Elisabeth, or Jenna, you'll want a sweet treat for the road! 

I surely didn't cover everything. If you've been to Galway do you have any favorites that I missed?

 

 

** PS: Sorry for the mix-in of iPhone photos. Some places I apparently couldn't be bothered to get my camera out.. hah.