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Hotels in Cork

Great gastronomy, live music, and a breathtaking cityscape: just three reasons to hop over the Irish Sea and pay a visit to Ireland’s second city. Not that it thinks of itself that way, of course. Not content with being the capital of Ireland’s “Rebel County”, Cork also considers itself to be the “real” capital of Ireland. Don’t even think about ordering a Guinness in a Cork pub, it’s all about the local brews: Murphy’s and Beamish.

But forget comparisons with Dublin; Cork has more in common with other European canal cities such as Amsterdam and Venice. The lively city centre sits on an island in the middle of the River Lee, with bridges connecting it to the suburbs. Cork city is small enough to wander around on foot, and with plenty to explore you won’t have to stray far from your hotel.

St Patrick’s Street is the main artery of the city, offering the usual high street shopping. But the real treats can be found once you get off the main drag. The English Market on Grand Parade is a must visit for foodies, packed with stalls serving up delicious local produce as well as a few treats from further afield.

Cork’s nightlife is predictably lively, with a wide selection of bars dotted around the city centre. Barrack Street is one of the main night time destinations, with young Corkonians taking part in the “Barrack Street Challenge” of having a pint in every pub. Most pubs in Cork feature live music, especially at the weekends. Just take a look around and see what’s advertised: it’s not unusual to hear everything, from folk to punk rock to modern jazz.

There’s always something going on in Cork, especially when one of the many cultural festivals is underway. The Midsummer Festival (mid June-mid July) is the largest, with music, poetry, art and theatre events throughout the city. Other highlights include the French Film Festival, Guinness Jazz festival, and the Spring Literary Festival. Hotels in Cork tend to fill up fast during these events, so it’s best to book a room as early as possible.

Cork hotels also make a great base for getting out and discovering what the rest of the Rebel County has to offer. Blarney Castle is nearby, where you can kiss the famous stone and get the gift of the gab. East Cork boasts the Jameson distillery, while West Cork has the mysterious Stonehenge-like Kealkil Stone Circle. County Cork is also home to a beautiful stretch of coastline, perfect for exploring on sunny afternoons.