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Top Activities for Students in Cork

14 November 2022

When you live and study in Cork, you’ll never be short of fun things to do. The city, home to University College Cork, is a fantastic university city packed with life, making it one of the best places to study in Ireland.

Here is a list of some of our top 10 favourite things to do in Cork as a student.


Cork City Gaol

If you’re a history fan, then you’ll love this place. Although it looks like a castle, it was actually a 19th century women’s prison and has seen some pretty dramatic events unfolding within its walls before closing in the early 20th century.

Take a tour through the gloomy cells and corridors and immerse yourself in tableaus with lifelike characters, while learning about everyday life for the prisoners and guards. 

It was also the home to Ireland’s first official radio station, 6CK, and as part of the tour you can visit the restored studio and see an exhibition on Marconi.


Franciscan Well Brewery

The Franciscan Well Brewery stands on the site of a medieval Franciscan monastery next to a healing well. 

The beer brewed here these days might not exactly cure all your ills but it will go some way to relaxing you!

When you take the tour of the brewery, you’ll sample a variety of specialist lager, ale, stout and wheat beers, as well as various tipples from micro-breweries all round the world. 

There’s even live music provided by local musicians in the beer garden – the perfect plan for a chilled weekend with your Novel roommates!


Have a day out to Mizen Head

If you prefer a more adventurous weekend activity, then head out on a day trip to Mizen Head, the most south-westerly point in all of Ireland.

Take in breathtaking weather-beaten cliffs and hear the deafening roar of the crashing waves far below, before having a warming coffee in the somewhat more tranquil visitor centre. 

Visit one of the nearby islands

As well as Mizen Head, there are lots of other places close to Cork that are worth exploring. Some of the most interesting places are the nearby islands, such as Spike Island.

Situated in the middle of Cork Harbour, Spike Island is an artillery fort built in 1793 when France declared war on Britain.

Other noteworthy islands to visit are: Cape Clear Island, Whiddy Island, Garnish Island, and Dursey Island.


Titanic Experience

Another day out that’s well worth the effort, and one of the best things to do in Cork, is to visit the Titanic Experience in Cobh.

Just a half hour journey outside of Cork city, Cobh was where the official Titanic ticket office was based and it was the last place the Titanic stopped to pick up passengers before setting off on its one and only voyage.

That fact adds an extra dimension to the museum visit, where you learn the rich history of the doomed white star liner ship.

When you visit the museum, you buy a ticket at a replica of the original Titanic ticket desk in its original spot, before boarding a recreation of the ship.

Once onboard, you learn about the backgrounds of the fated passengers and learn about what life was like on the Titanic.

A truly unforgettable experience, and a must for history and/or film students!


Ring the Shandon Bells

If you’ve always secretly wanted to unleash your inner Quasimodo (haven’t we all? No, just us?) and make some noise with the local church bells, then you’re going to love this activity!

At the top of St. Anne’s Church in Cork City, lie the city’s famous 18th century Shandon Bells.

All you have to do is climb the 132 steep steps to the top – no bother, right? Once you’re up there, get your camera out for some Insta-worthy panoramic views of Cork city.

In the bell tower there are various ropes for different bells, and there’s a book of simple tunes for you to follow with the ropes – some of them nursery rhymes, others TV theme songs, pop songs, and more classic church-bell tunes.

Loads of craic – so get your uni friends together and get up that tower!


Shopping on St Patrick’s Street

There’s nothing better after a long week of studying than getting in some well-deserved retail therapy.

Cork is home to Ireland’s prime shopping street, St Patrick’s Street, which coincidentally is where the annual St Patrick’s Day parade takes place on 17th March.

There’s loads of high street shops to choose from on this busy thoroughfare, and just off the main street you’ll find The English Market with its striking fountain and wide range of fresh, local produce.

Named by famous chef Rick Stein as the “best covered market in the UK and Ireland”, the market gained worldwide fame when Queen Elizabeth II paid it a visit during her first ever state visit to the Republic of Ireland in 2011. 

Here you can pick up regional traditional specialities like drisheen (blood sausage), buttered eggs, and pigs’ trotters, as well as bread, fish, cheese and fruit and veg.

It’s also worth sampling some of the delicious local fare at the Farmgate Restaurant.

Blarney Castle

One of the best things to do in Cork is, without a doubt, visit the famous Blarney Castle.

This 15th century castle fortress, set just 10km outside of the city, gives off serious Game of Thrones vibes.

It’s best known as the home of the world-famous Blarney Stone, said to instantly give those who kiss it the “gift of the gab” – that is, eloquence.

Join the queue of tourists who climb up the battlement to kiss the enchanted stone, while taking in stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The stone isn’t all the castle has to offer, either. During your visit you can explore the beautifully preserved rooms within the monument, including the spooky dungeons.

Soak up the Irish folkloric ambience in the extensive castle grounds, where you’ll find the Wishing Steps, Badger’s Cave, the Witch Stone, and the Witch’s Kitchen. 

The Rock Close is the site of an ancient druidic settlement set amongst majestic yews and oaks near the banks of the River Martin, and there are also themed gardens including a poison garden growing wolfsbane, ricin, mandrake, deadly nightshade and poison ivy.


Fota Wildlife Park

If you’re an animal lover then this is one of the best things to do in Cork for you.

Just a few kilometres outside of the city, Fota Wildlife Park is set across 70 acres of sprawling countryside. 

This is not a normal safari park where you’d drive through in a car. It’s much more natural, with super discreet walls set at great distances, allowing animals to roam pretty much freely while you walk around and interact with them.

Ring-tailed lemurs and giraffes are approachable, whereas other wild animals are kept at more of a distance, separated according to their region of origin.

Make sure you don’t miss the Northeast African cheetahs as they hunt down their meals at full speed.

Party in Cork City

As Cork is a student city, there’s plenty of nightlife opportunities to be enjoyed.

Whatever type of night out you prefer, there’s something for everyone. 

From soaking up traditional Irish music in the local pub, jazz sets in smooth bars, or skating off the exam stress on nightclub dancefloors, you’ll always find something to suit your mood!


As you can see there’s plenty of things to do in Cork. It’s a fantastic city to study in, and living in our modern, stylish student accommodation, you will have the best student experience possible!

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