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Insider’s List of Things to Do in Cork with Kids: Where to Go and What to See!

Insider’s List of Things to Do in Cork with Kids: Where to Go and What to See!

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Are you planning a trip to Ireland with kids and stopping by Cork? Keep scrolling to check out my top things to do in Cork with kids!
This list of things to do in Cork with kids was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Heading to the south of Ireland on a family vacation and not sure of the best things to do in Cork with kids?

Ireland is known for its pub culture and whiskey tastings. Not very kid-friendly activities!

Luckily, Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It’s the main town of County Cork, the largest county in the country. You’ll have no problem figuring out what to do in Cork, Ireland with children!

Cork has medieval castles, beautiful forests, and fun, interactive museums. 

Whether you’re staying in the area for one hour or spending one weekend in Cork, this list has tons of inspiration for the best Cork things to do with kids so you’ll never get bored. There are lots of activities to suit all ages and budgets!

20 Cool Things To Do in Cork With Kids

Blarney Castle and Gardens

This is one of the most famous castles in Ireland and in a country with thousands of castles, that’s saying something! Blarney Castle is a must-see in Cork, Ireland and it’s one of the best things to do in North Cork.

Image of Marcie Cheung and Keryn Means at the Blarney Castle in Ireland
Yes, we wore shamrock sweaters! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s a medieval castle built over 600 years ago by Cormac MacCarthy, one of Ireland’s greatest chieftains. On the estate, you’ll also find a 19th-century manor house and an interesting legend.

Image of Marcie Cheung kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland
Kissing the Blarney Stone was a total bucket list item! Photo credit: Keryn Means

There’s a stone in the castle walls called the Blarney Stone. The legend says that those who kiss the stone receive the gift of eloquence or the ‘gift of the gab’ as Irish people say. This fun story is why Blarney Castle is one of the best tourist attractions in Cork, Ireland for pre-teen and teenage kids.

Cork City Gaol

There are lots of fascinating former jails turned history museums in Ireland. Dublin has Kilmainham Gaol and Belfast has Crumlin Road Jaol. So, one of the best things to do in Cork, Ireland is to visit Cork City Gaol.

Image of the Cork City Gaol.

Although it looks like a castle from the outside, this 19th-century building is a well-preserved prison. Explore the cells and small courthouse to learn about the former residents and their dark history. 

One of the best things to do in Cork at night with your kids is to book a guided night tour of the jail. It’ll up the spooky factor of this place for sure!

Blackrock Castle Observatory

Blackrock Castle Observatory was built on the banks of the River Lee in 1582 to protect the city from pirates.

Image of Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, Ireland

Today, it’s an interactive educational center for kids (and adults!) with an interest in astronomy. You can take a tour of the castle and take a journey through the stars in their planetarium. 

Elizabeth Fort

One of the best (and free!) things to do in Cork, Ireland is to explore Elizabeth Fort. This 17th-century fort is in the city center and you can walk around at your leisure.

While the canons and stocks make for fun family photos, one of the best things about this fort is the view from the walls. You can look over the entire city of Cork!

The English Market

Due to the country’s notoriously wet weather, farmer’s markets wouldn’t be too much in Ireland. Luckily, The English Market is a covered market and it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Cork, Ireland.

Image of a stall at the English Market in Cork Ireland
The English Market has tons of tasty items! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Named after the protestant or ‘English’ corporation that controlled Cork at the time, this 19th-century market is packed full of incredible produce. You can find everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to bakeries, delis, bookstores, souvenir stories, and so much more.

It’s so lively and you’ll see lots of families enjoying a casual lunch here on a weekend.

Fitzgerald Park

Some of the best free things to do in Cork are its beautiful parks. Especially on a rare sunny day!

Fitzgerald Park is the most popular park in the city. It sits on the River Lee with lots of sports fields, playgrounds, ponds, fountains, museums, and memorials.

If you want, you can check out the Cork Public Museum here. Cross Daly’s Bridge to the other side of the city from the park, if you dare. It’s known by locals as ‘The Shakey Bridge’ for a reason!

Fota Wildlife Park

Easily one of the most fun things to do in East Cork is the Fota Wildlife Park. 

Siamang Gibbon family relaxing in fota wildlife park near cobh county cork ireland

It’s a sprawling, 100-acre zoo with over 100 different species of animals. It boasts rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, lions, and so much more. These mammals are some of the most exotic things to see in Cork, Ireland, that’s for sure!

Titanic Experience Cobh

Cobh in County Cork was the last port of call before the Titanic journeyed across the Atlantic on April 11th, 1912. Everyone is fascinated by the Titanic on some level, so no doubt your kids will find this one of the most interesting places to visit near Cork too.

It’s even housed in a former White Star Line ship ticketing office! You’ll be able to walk into replicas of cabins on the Titanic as well as learn more about how the ship was built and why it sank.

Cork Butter Museum

This was WAY cooler than I anticipated. Apparently, Cork was the epicenter of butter production in the world. People would travel on “butter roads” to bring their butter to Cork to be weighed and sold.

Image of Marcie Cheung at the Cork Butter Museum
This was one of the coolest places in Cork! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The Cork Butter Museum tells the fascinating story of what it was like back then and how all these small farms came together to produce the Kerrygold butter we all know and love today.

Kids will love printing their own butter labels and watching the videos about the history of Irish butter.

West Cork Model Railway Village

Local families love visiting West Cork Model Railway Village on weekends! It’s hands down one of the top things to do in West Cork.

This cute attraction is on the waterfront near the town of Clonakilty in County Cork. There are miniature villages, lighthouses, cathedrals, and, of course, a rail network running through the whole model! You could spend hours noticing all the tiny details.

Inchydoney Beach

Do you want to enjoy a family day at the beach during your trip? Visiting Inchydoney Beach is one of the best things to do near Cork. 

It’s just a one-hour drive south of the city. This beach is in a bay with soft sand and lots of amenities nearby.

Gougane Barra National Forest Park

Although there are no national parks in County Cork, the Gougane Barra National Forest Park is just as beautiful. Located in a valley between the Sheehy Mountains, there are plenty of outdoor fun things to do in Cork with kids here.

Image of Gougane Barra National Forest Park in Cork, Ireland
This is a neat place to explore for families.

There are six walking trails suitable for all skill levels and ages with traditional Irish Gaelic names. Slí an Ghaorthaidh (30 minutes), Sli na Laoi (one hour), Slí Dhoire na Coise (45 minutes), Slí an Easa (90 minutes), Slí na Sléibhe (two hours), and Slí an Choim Rua (30 minutes.

Each of these trails offers lakeside strolls, lush green forestry, and wildlife spotting!

St. Anne’s Church and Shannon Bells

Churches aren’t known for being exciting places to take kids, but St. Anne’s Church in Cork is different. 

It’s a working church in the center of the city and its tower offers beautiful views across the region. Anyone who visits the tower gets the chance to ring the church bells, which is super fun! 

At around €5 per ticket for adults and kids, it’s one of the cheap things to do in Cork too.

Fairy Trail Ballincollig Regional Park

The hikes in Gougane Barra National Forest Park are great for older kids. But one of the best things to do around Cork for younger kids is the Fairy Trail at Ballincollig Regional Park.

It’s a large city park on the River Lee with picnic areas and playgrounds but this trail is the star of the show. Try and spot as many fairy doors and huts hidden in the trees as you can!

Marina Market

Cork has some great restaurants, but taking kids to busy restaurants can often be stressful (and expensive!). Marina Market is one of the best things to do in Cork if you prefer to eat casual street food when you travel.

There are tons of indoor and outdoor vendors from a range of cuisines, so you’re sure to find something your kids will eat. There are lots of picnic benches and souvenir stalls too. 

The Everyman Theater

This 350-seat Victorian theater is not only a pretty and ornate red and gold theater, but it’s also a great place to take your kids. Lots of touring musicals and family shows play at the Everyman Theater in Cork.

If it’s raining or you’re looking for things to do in Cork, Ireland with kids at night, check out their upcoming schedule!

No Escape Room

Speaking of the best places to visit in Cork if it’s raining, the No Escape Room is one of the most ideal Cork Ireland attractions for older kids. 

Like other escape rooms, No Escape has lots of themed rooms where you need to solve puzzles to escape and win. It provides at least one hour of family fun.

Dursey Island Cable Car

Did you know that Ireland only has one cable car? It’s true! The Dursey Island Cable Car is the only one, and it’s also the only cable car in Europe that crosses seawater.

Image of a blue cable car on Dursey Island in Ireland

For all of those reasons, it’s one of the best things to do in County Cork, Ireland!

Dursey Island is located off the southeast coast of Cork and the cable car takes approximately 15 minutes each way. It only rises 25 meters above the sea, but that’s plenty high enough to enjoy the coastal views.

National Kart Center

Cork is home to Ireland’s National Kart Center. You and your kids can spend the afternoon go-karting and racing each other around this track!

While it’s not one of the most unique Cork Ireland things to do, it’s always good to have a few rainy day options in your back pocket.

Zipit Forest Adventures

Is hiking in a forest not adventurous enough? Head to Zipit Forest Adventures, one of the top places near Cork for adrenaline-loving pre-teens and adults alike.

This ropes course through the treetops is super fun and challenging. You also have a good chance of spotting deer and seeing other wildlife too. 

Things To Do in Cork With Kids FAQs

What are some fun facts about Cork for kids?

There are tons of fun facts about Cork that kids that you can tell your kids to get them excited about visiting! Here are the top ones:

  • Cork Harbor is the second largest natural harbor after Sydney Harbor in Australia
  • The first potato planted in Ireland was supposed to be planted in Cork in 1588
  • Cobh in County Cork was the Titanic’s last port of call on April 11th, 1912
  • West Cork was a prolific haunt for famous pirates like Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, Black Bart Roberts, and Mary Read

How much time do you need in Cork with kids?

There are enough Cork, Ireland tourist attractions to keep you and your family busy for a weekend or more! 

But if you’re visiting Cork on an Irish road trip and it isn’t the only place on your itinerary, one day is enough. You can pick and choose the top things to do that your kids will enjoy the most.

Things To Do in Cork With Kids Wrap-Up

There are so many things to do in Cork with kids, you couldn’t possibly do them all in one trip!

But you’ll be able to pick and choose what to see in Cork and the best Cork attractions that will interest your kids the most.

From wildlife parks to historical jails to markets and museums, Cork is the perfect addition to your epic Ireland vacation!

Looking for more Ireland travel resources? Check out How To Plan a Trip to Ireland: Step-by-Step Guide, 13 Important Ireland Travel Tips for First-Timers, 21 Most Spectacular Hidden Gems in Ireland, 12 Best Day Trips From Dublin by Train, 17 Wonderful Things To Do in Wexford With Kids on Your Trip to Ireland, Ireland in Summer: Tips  + Things to Do, and 10 Best Dublin Hotels for Families Worth Booking.

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