Are you looking for ideas for an Ireland weekend getaway? You might be wondering whether a weekend is a sufficient time to experience Ireland. Whether you decide to stick to big cities or explore the countryside, you will find plenty to enjoy. Even though Ireland is a small country, it has a lot to offer a thirsty traveler. Here are some ideas on how to spend 2 days in Cork. This Ireland weekend itinerary will introduce you to the country’s second-biggest city and its surrounding attractions.
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Ireland Weekend Itinerary Day 1: Experience Cork and its attractions
First up on the Ireland weekend itinerary is seeing the city of Cork! Start your 2 days by exploring the best of Cork, Ireland’s second-largest city.
Explore Blarney Castle and Gardens
Hop on a bus to Blarney Castle and Gardens. It is about 8 km (5 m) northwest of Cork. Blarney Castle’s main attraction is the Blarney Stone that offers “the gift of the gab.” Visiting the castle to gain the gift of eloquence first became popular in the 1800s. Many individuals, including public figures, have made a trip to Blarney to kiss the stone. It is not easy to reach the Blarney Stone. You have to climb to the top of the castle to find it hidden in the wall below the parapet. Iron railings were installed for safety. You still might want a friend to hold you as you lean backward to kiss the stone.
The view from the Blarney battlements is really nice, and don’t forget to make a trip to the gardens. When you stroll through the enchanted Rock Close Gardens, you will find many timeless features from Irish folklore. Walk on the Wishing Steps, find the Witches Stone, and stop by the Fairy Garden. Then, leave Irish folklore behind and step into Bog Garden. Here, you will find two waterfalls and the oldest trees in the garden. End your walk in the Poison Garden where you can look at a collection of poisonous plants all safely kept in cage structures.
Stroll through Cork
During this day on the itinerary dedicated to the city, take an afternoon to really explore Cork. Several attractions are worth checking out to make the most of your 2 days in Cork.
If you want a bite to eat upon returning to the city, start with the English Market. It is the most popular food market in town and offers a variety of options. It’s worth visiting even if you’re not hungry, as it is in a beautiful Victorian-style building.
Next, make your way to St. Patrick’s Street, which is minutes away from the English Market. It is a curvy street that is Cork’s shopping hub – a great place to enjoy an afternoon walk after lunch.
From there, make your way to St. Anne’s Church. It is known for its 18th century bell tower. Once you climb the tower, you will see a spectacular 360-degree view of the city.
For a glimpse into the city’s past, take a self-guided tour of the Cork City Gaol. This jail first opened in 1824. It held inmates who committed crimes within the city’s borders.
Sample traditional Irish food
During your weekend in Ireland, take the opportunity to enjoy traditional Irish food. Seafood and potatoes make up a large portion of Irish cuisine. Potatoes were introduced to the Irish market in the 16th century and became a major ingredient. If you associate fish and chips with Irish cuisine, you might be surprised to learn they were first introduced by migrating Italians, and then became widely adapted by Irish people.
If you like shellfish, you will find clams, mussels, prawns, scallops, and oysters all over Ireland. The oyster season begins in September. Oysters are so popular that they have a festival dedicated to them called the Galway Oyster Festival. You might also enjoy Irish seafood chowder. It is a mix of fish and shellfish with the addition of vegetables.
Stews are also popular in Ireland, particularly Irish stew and coddle. Irish stew is a mix of vegetables including onions, potatoes, carrots (particularly popular In the south of Ireland), lamb, and spices. Coddle is a slow cooked, one pot stew that includes onions, potatoes, pork, and bacon. Stews are typically served with Irish soda bread to soak up the gravy.
Another potato-based dish you’ll find on Irish tables is boxty, fried potato pancakes. Boxty can be served as a snack or as an addition to other dishes. Another popular side dish for many meals that include soups and salads is black pudding and white pudding. These are flavored pork sausages. The difference is back pudding is made with the addition of blood to the recipe.
Finish your day pub crawling
Pubs are a social hub in Ireland. If you want to get to know Irish culture and meet new people, pubs are a great place to do that. Pubs serve classic Irish food. You’ll probably get live entertainment with your meal, as impromptu musical performances are not unusual.
At Irish pubs, you can enjoy a traditional Irish coffee made with brewed coffee, sugar, Irish whiskey, and topped with whipped cream. Irish people are beer drinkers and Guinness is their most popular export, so have a pint of Guinness while you’re there. If you’re a whiskey fan, try Jameson – Irish fine whiskey.
Irish pubs are often located next to each other, especially in bigger cities, so experience as many as you like. There is nothing like ending your day with a delicious meal and a drink while being entertained by live music in a friendly atmosphere.
Ireland Weekend Itinerary Day 2: Take a day trip to admire Irish sheer cliffs
Now that you’ve seen the best of Cork, gained a gift of eloquence, and experienced Irish pub culture, what’s next? Next up on the weekend itinerary: get out of the city! I recommend you spend the second of your 2 days in Cork, Ireland, exploring the countryside. Hop on a bus to take a day trip to Ireland’s top attraction – the Cliffs of Moher.
Take in the views from the Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are on the west coast of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way. You might have seen them in films such as Harry Potter, The Princess Bride, or Leap Year.
On a clear day, the Cliffs of Moher offer breathtaking views of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Twelve Bens mountain range, and the Blasket Islands. The cliffs stretch for 5 miles (8 km) and are 214 m (702 feet) high, so there is plenty to explore. However, be careful. The winds are high and can be deadly. Make sure you stay a safe distance from the edge.
There is much folklore about the area. For instance, an hour’s walk from the Visitor’s Center will take you to Hag’s Head. According to the legend, this place takes its name after a woman who killed herself following in her lover’s footsteps across the cliffs. Today, there is a watchtower that offers excellent views away from crowds. Another tower to explore is O’Brien’s Tower. It also offers breathtaking cliff views.
If you enjoy waking, there is plenty to cover. You can walk from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. That is a 2-hour walk each way. You might even enjoy discovering the Cliffs of Moher Coast trail. It stretches from Doolin to Lincannor and provides a full day of hiking. If you’re lucky, you might even meet the puffins, the birds that nest here in the summer.
Explore the Burren
Another place to admire the Irish sheer cliffs is the Burren National Park. It’s often referred to as the Burren. Located close to the Cliffs of Moher, it often makes it onto the itinerary for tours.
The Burren is mostly comprised of a limestone structure with a distinct pattern referred to as karren. Karren formed by limestone eroding horizontally and vertically by rainwater over millions of years.
Despite being the smallest national park in Ireland, the Burren hosts a diverse flora. You will find three-fourths of Irish plants there. It is also an important place for cultural heritage. You can find ancient tombs of Gaelic tribes that inhabited this region thousands of years ago. One of the most prominent tombs is Poulnabrone Dolmen, which is from 4200 BC.
Admire the beauty of the Irish coastline
The Irish landscape is beautiful with sheer cliffs, ruins of castles popping up, and cattle and sheep grazing on lush green grass. No matter what day trip you decide to take, you’ll get a chance to see a bit of this stunning landscape.
The whole Wild Atlantic Way is dedicated to admiring the beauty of the Irish coastline. It extends from the small town of Kinsale near County Cork to Northern Ireland on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal – a total of 1,600 m (2,600 km).
If you take a tour from Cork, you’ll get to experience both the mainland and the coastal views of Ireland. You’ll see small villages, ruins of castles and old stone houses, beaches, countryside, and islands in the distance.
A weekend might seem like a short time to explore Ireland. Nonetheless, you can still experience some of the finest Irish attractions with just 2 days in Cork.
I hope you found some helpful ideas in this Ireland weekend itinerary. If you are wondering how to start planning your trip, see my Ireland trip planning post for more information.