Things to do in Cork with Kids

Greetings from the lush and lively landscapes of Cork County, Ireland! This picturesque place, known as “the Rebel County,” is bursting with family-friendly activities that will keep your little ones entertained while also immersing them in the history of this enchanting corner of the Emerald Isle. Here are some of the top things to do in Cork for kids.

Things to Do in Cork with Kids

Blarney Castle & Gardens

Our first stop is the majestic Blarney Castle & Gardens. This iconic 15th-century stronghold is a must-visit so it is naturally one of the most popular things to do in Cork. Your little knights and princesses will be enthralled by the ancient stone fortifications and the legendary Blarney Stone.

One of the highlights of your visit will undoubtedly be the chance to kiss the famed Blarney Stone. It’s a fun experience, though not obligatory for those less keen on heights or dirty stone! Be prepared for a wait, especially during peak times. Their guidance is that visitors must be at least 8 years old to kiss the stone. If a child slightly younger appears capable and listens well to cautions, they’ll allow them to kiss it as well.

As you navigate the castle grounds, you’ll find they’re quite expansive. So, comfy shoes are a must, especially for those tiny feet! The uneven steps leading up to the tower add to the castle’s charm and authenticity but do require careful navigation.

Keep in mind that while the food options at the castle are limited, the town of Blarney offers a variety of eateries to satisfy those post-exploration appetites. Or, bring a picnic.

Things to do in Cork with Kids Blarney Castle and STone

The English Market

Next, dive into the vibrant colors and bustling energy of the English Market. It’s the perfect place to sample local delicacies and pick up some picnic supplies. The market’s friendly vendors are always ready to share a smile or a story, making this a truly immersive cultural experience.

This centuries-old market is a cornucopia of Irish culinary delights and specialties, attracting both locals and tourists alike.

From hearty stews to delicious desserts, the English Market provides an authentic taste of Ireland that’s not to be missed.

Things to do in Cork with Kids English Market

Walk the Shandon Mile

The Shandon Mile free walking tour in Cork, Ireland, is a journey through one of the city’s most historic and charming districts. This self-guided tour is an excellent way to discover the rich history and vibrant culture of Cork at your own pace with kids in tow. We kept our kids entertained with lots of movement and made it an I Spy challenge to find the next red sign for the walking tour.

Starting at the iconic St. Anne’s Church, also known as Shandon Bells, you can climb the tower for a panoramic view of the city. The church is renowned for its bells, which visitors are allowed to ring.

As you amble along the quaint streets, you’ll pass by traditional Irish pubs, artisan shops, and historic sites.

Things to do in Cork with Kids Shandon Mile

Shandon Sweets

Shandon Sweets is a historic confectionery shop located in the Shandon district of Cork, Ireland. Established in 1928, it’s one of the last remaining traditional sweet factories in the country.

Known for its handmade sweets, they still use the original Victorian-era machinery and recipes to create their delicious treats.

Popular offerings include Bulls Eyes, Clove Rocks, and the iconic Butter Nuggets.

The owner invited my kids to walk behind the counter and watch how the candy was being made.

Things to do in Cork with Kids 4 Shandon Sweets

The Butter Museum

The Butter Museum is another highlight on the walking route, offering insights into the significance of the butter trade in Cork’s history. We arrived just as they were locking up for the day unfortunately. It would’ve made a good story!

Things to do in Cork with Kids The Butter Museum

Nano Nagle Place

For a sprinkle of education in your adventure, visit Nano Nagle Place. This tranquil oasis in the heart of the city is a heritage center dedicated to the life and work of Nano Nagle, the pioneering Irish educator who stood up for the rights of the less privileged during her time.. Its interactive exhibits are engaging for children, along with friendly staff, make learning fun!

The lush gardens are perfect on a nice day. Don’t miss the Good Day Deli, a garden café that offers delicious, locally sourced food, making it the perfect spot to refuel after exploring.

Irish Specialty Foods

Exploring all the fascinating things to do in Cork with kids will surely build up an appetite.

In addition to the top notch vendors at English Market, downtown Cork is filled with noteworthy restaurants.

You’ll find many near the English Market serving Irish Favorites that the kids will love, like Fish & Chips, Soda Bread with Irish Stew, Shepherds Pie, and Boxty (Irish Potato Pancake).

Things to do in Cork with Kids Foods

Cork City Gaol

Get ready for a captivating journey into the past at Cork City Gaol, a castle-like structure that once served as a 19th-century prison. Now acting as a museum, it offers an intriguing peek into what life was like inside and outside the prison walls during that era.

As you arrive at this formidable stone building, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The tour of the grounds allows you to wander the corridors, explore the cells, and even experience being “locked in” – a thrill for kids with adventurous spirits!

While the history might be a bit grim, the experience is made engaging through lifelike wax figures and detailed information boards. There’s also an audio-visual show that brings the stories of past inmates to life.

Children will love the opportunity to dress up in period costumes, providing a fun, immersive activity and some great photo ops. And don’t miss out on the views over Cork City from the Gaol’s high walls.

To save money, consider purchasing a family ticket, which provides great value.

Things to do in Cork with Kids City Gaol

Day trip to Cobh

The nearby coastal town of Cobh, pronounced “cove”, is not to be missed.

We opted to make this our homebase for exploring Cork County.

The colorful rows of houses are picturesque, it has a captivating Titanic Museum as its last port before its sinking, and the atmosphere at the Roaring Donkey is unmatched.

Things to do in Cork with Kids Day Trip to Cobh

Zipit Forest Adventures

If your family thrives on thrills, don’t miss Zipit Forest Adventures. This zip-line park offers treetop courses for different age groups (7+), ensuring fun for the whole family. It’s a great way to appreciate nature from a whole new perspective.

Fota Wildlife Park

For animal lovers, Fota Wildlife Park is a must. This conservation park allows you to get up close and personal with wildlife from around the world. The park’s emphasis on conservation and education is a great way to teach kids about the importance of protecting our planet’s diverse species.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the animals aren’t confined to cages. Instead, they roam freely in large enclosures, making your visit feel more like a safari adventure. From giraffes and kangaroos to exotic birds and playful monkeys, there’s always something exciting around the corner.

Where to Stay in Cork

If you want to be conveniently located to all of these things to do in Cork, here are two great stays for couples or families:

Beyond Cork County

If you have more time, consider combining this itinerary with our favorite road trip from Dublin.

Things to do in Cork with Kids Day Trip to Cobh

Final Thoughts on Things to do in Cork with Kids

Cork County is a treasure trove of family-friendly activities, blending the best of history, culture, adventure, and fun. Pile into your rental car and head on down, and remember, keep left!

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