Where to Stay in Cork (2020 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Our EPIC guide features where to stay in Cork for every type of budget! Includes top hotels, hostels, & things to do!

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The ‘Real Capital’, as the locals regard it, Cork sits mostly on an island in the middle of the River Lee. The second-largest city in Ireland is compact and cheerful, luring in tourists with that famous Irish charm!

But in a city of such small proportions, and so largely residential, it’s not easy working out where you would want to stay.

So we got our travel team on it, and they’ve written this local guide on the best areas to stay in Cork, based on your interests and travel style!

Working out where to lay your head should be easy, so you can get on with figuring out how best to see this small corner of the Emerald Isle.

By the end of this article, you’ll walk the streets and bridges of the city confidently, knowing exactly where to stay in Cork!

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Cork

 

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Victorian Quarter
The Victorian Quarter isn’t actually in the very centre of Cork City, but instead is located right on the northern bank of the river, between the 18th century St Patrick’s Bridge and Kent Station.
 
PLACES TO VISIT:
  • Have a flutter at either of the two casinos that make their home here on the riverfront.
  • Check out the bars on MacCurtain Street. Keep an eye out, as they’re not all on the maps!
  • Catch live music every night at the Bru Bar and Hostel, one of our picks for the area.

 

Where To Stay in Cork

If you’re more interested in the best of the best, and the location isn’t a concern, have a look at our picks for the best places to stay in Cork as a whole!

 

Best Hostel in Cork – Garnish House

Enjoy your stay in this attractive Georgian Guest House right opposite the beautiful grounds of the University College Cork, ideally located for city shoppers, lovers of nightlife or those who prefer leisurely strolls along the riverbank, parks and historic sites of Cork City.

Need to spend some quality time with fellow backpackers? Get your fix by staying at one of these amazing hostels in Cork!

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Best Airbnb in Cork – Spacious Penthouse in Victorian Quarter

This en-suite penthouse in the city centre is ideal for first time visitors. It consists of a large and spacious bedroom and an ensuite bathroom with a showerand a bath. Located only five minutes away from Patrick’s Street and ten minutes walk from a train station, you’ll be able to explore all the tourist sights and walk around the city. You’ll also have access to a private rooftop terrace.

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Best Hotel in Cork – Hayfield Manor 

Complete with ultra-comfortable orthopaedic beds, the luxurious rooms include marble bathrooms stocked with designer products. Guests of Hayfield Manor are welcome to experience Mediterranean cuisine at Perrotts Garden Bistro or try local meals at Orchids Restaurant.

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Cork’s Neighbourhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Cork

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Victorian Quarter

  • The Victorian Quarter isn’t actually in the very centre of Cork City, but instead is located right on the northern bank of the river, between the 18th century St Patrick’s Bridge and Kent Station.
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St Luke’s

  • Saint Luke’s is a little back and over to the east of the Victorian Quarter. It’s a more residential area than the others, home to a number of schools and colleges.
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City Centre

  • Those staying in this section are a bit spoilt, as this is encompassing almost the entire island in the river.
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Clarke’s Bridge

  • Clarke’s Bridge is on the north and south side of the river, to the west of the centre. It’s the name of one of the bridges spanning the Lee, obviously, but is also the area just around that.
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Shandon

  • Our last pick, and the best place to stay in Cork if you’re travelling with kids is the Shandon neighbourhood.
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Cork is in the southwest corner of Ireland, a seaport just tucked back from the coast in a series of inlets and bays.

It’s a small historic city that is known as‘The Rebel County’ due to its significance in a number of uprisings over the years.

Cork started as a settlement entirely on the river island that still makes up its base, but over time it spread out to the surrounding banks.

For this reason, a visit to Cork is an exercise in bridge-crossing, as there are 27, both foot and vehicle types, that span the River Lee and connect the centre to the north and south banks and suburbs. Try the ‘Shaky Bridge’ for a bit of excitement on your way home!

And those suburbs are home a bunch of varied neighbourhoods. Though many are more residential than travel-friendly, they can be a good way of checking out local life.

Pope’s Quay is just north of the river island and hosts great walks along the waterfront. The Glasheen Road area is home to the great lake of Cork, appropriately named Cork Lough (means lake). While Wellington Bridge is where you’ll head for sports, being the home of the great Mardyke Sports Ground and Fitzgerald Park.

Your best bet is to stay close to the centre, where our top five are located. It’s here where you’ll find something for you, however it is you like to travel!

 

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Cork’s Five Best Neighbourhoods To Stay in…

We’ve picked you the five very best places to stay in Cork, all on or near the river island.

 

#1 Victorian Quarter – Where to Stay in Cork Your First Time

The Victorian Quarter isn’t actually in the very centre of Cork City, but instead is located right on the northern bank of the river, between the 18th century St Patrick’s Bridge and Kent Station.

It has a friendly feeling, like that of a village, despite its proximity to the middle of town.

Both hip and historic, the Victorian Quarter is our pick for the best place to stay on your first visit to Cork, as you’ve got all the area itself has to offer while being a scenic walk from the centre.

Being right by the main rail and bus station is also helpful if that’s your mode of travel. You’ll never wait long for a taxi in this part of town either!

The neighbourhood gets its name from the architecture of the buildings, laid out in that elegant Victorian style. The shopfronts, once where merchants and traders resided, still bear testament to their roots in style and appearance.

The Quarter has done battle with the river island of late, for the liveliest and best entertainment district of Cork.

You can judge that for yourself when you visit. The best place to start your survey is definitely the western corner of MacCurtain Street, where the bars, restaurants and cafes are clustered!

Victorian Quarter, Cork

Source: Andrei Nekrassov (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Victorian Quarter

– Have a flutter at either of the two casinos that make their home here on the riverfront.

– Check out the bars on MacCurtain Street. Keep an eye out, as they’re not all on the maps!

– Catch live music every night at the Bru Bar and Hostel, one of our picks for the area.

– Chill yourself out with a session at the Himalaya Yoga Centre. Some grounding needed after an evening of Irish jigs on MacCurtain Street, perhaps!

– Visit St Patrick’s Bridge, the symbolic ‘crossing of the Lee’ and a beautiful bridge in its own right.

 

Best Hostel in Victorian Quarter – Bru Bar and Hostel

Book a few days in Bru and see what Cork has to offer. Great pubs (they have one on the ground floor!), restaurants, festivals and 50,000 students always looking for a good time. Historical sites, famous tourist attractions and the best weather in Ireland.

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Best Airbnb in Victorian Quarter Spacious Penthouse in Victorian Quarter

This en-suite penthouse in the city centre is ideal for first time visitors. It consists of a large and spacious bedroom and an ensuite bathroom with a showerand a bath. Located only five minutes away from Patrick’s Street and ten minutes walk from a train station, you’ll be able to explore all the tourist sights and walk around the city. You’ll also have access to a private rooftop terrace.

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Best Hotel in Victorian Quarter – The Metropole Hotel Cork

Situated less than a 10-minute walk from Kent Train Station, The Metropole Hotel Cork provides guests with a convenient base when in Cork. It has a gym, as well as a sauna, an indoor pool and a Jacuzzi. This cosy hotel offers a ballroom, 24-hour room service and a kids pool.

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Best Hotel in Victorian Quarter – Hotel Isaac’s Cork

Hotel Isaac’s provides spacious rooms equipped with cable/satellite channels, a laptop safe and a telephone. Isaac’s Cork features both a restaurant and a bar where guests can unwind of an evening with a meal and a drink.

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#2 St Luke’s – Where to Stay in Cork on a Budget

Saint Luke’s is a little back and over to the east of the Victorian Quarter. It’s a more residential area than the others, home to a number of schools and colleges. Never fear though, as it’s also the site of more than a few pubs and restaurants.

It’s the best place to stay in Cork if you’re on a budget, as the accommodation prices reflect its location. In saying that, the size of Cork still means that within a 10-15 minute walk, you’re smack in the centre of town anyway.

And it’s right on top of the train and bus stations, so you can access your accommodation easily, without paying for transport to and fro.

Saint Luke’s is home to a very cool church too. Oxymoron, you say? Not quite. Live at St. Luke’s is a range of concerts that utilise the acoustics of the building to put on soaring performances. Largely sold out months in advance, shows include pop, rock and country groups. You can even BYO beverage, as long as it’s not in glass. Now that’s unique!

St Lukes Area Cork

Source: William Murphy (Flickr)

 

Things to See and Do in St Luke’s

– Check out the group of bars and restaurants on the intersection of Old Youghal and Military roads.

– Catch a show at St Luke’s. Just don’t get it confused with the other church of the same name further south!

– Wander down by the water, on the other side of the train tracks.

– Have a pint at John Henchy and Sons pub, and see the Cork of years ago.

– Watch a game of local rugby at the CBC complex.

 

Best Hostel in St Luke’s – Sheilas Cork Hostel

Sheilas Cork Hostel is close to Cork’s best bars, cafes and restaurants and you will be within walking distance of all the top attractions including The English Market, Cork City Gaol and Shandon Steeple. Dorms and private rooms available.

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Best Airbnb in St Luke’s – Large Bedroom in Comfortable Shared House

If you’re travelling to Cork on a budget, this private twin bedroom is an excellent pick. The bed is comfortable and there’s a lot of space in the room. The common rooms, shower and the toilet will be shared with the hosts – a very relaxed family. For vegan lovers, there is a vegan cafe just attached to the place which is a plus. It is located close to the train and bus connections.

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Best Hotel in St Luke’s – Kent House B&B

The bed & breakfast is also conveniently situated within a five-minute walk of Kent Train Station.

Kent House B&B provides elegant accommodation, in addition to a tour desk, babysitting/child services and a terrace. Additional facilities include a garden and a safe.

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Best Hotel in St Luke’s – Gabriel House Guesthouse

Commanding views of Saint Finbarre’s Cathedral, Gabriel House Bed & Breakfast Cork is steps from Cork’s popular tourist spots. It offers harbour views and complimentary Wi-Fi. This 4-star bed & breakfast provides those staying at the property with access to a terrace and a BBQ area.

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#3 City Centre – Best Area to Stay in Cork For Nightlife

Those staying in this section are a bit spoilt, as this is encompassing almost the entire island in the river.

Often split into several neighbourhoods, we’ve made it just one, seeing as it’s only a few hundred metres wide and all!

The city centre is a lively, bustling part of town, easily accessible both to and from all sides via those 27 bridges we mentioned.

The best way to see this part of town is just to walk, either circumnavigating or cutting right through. And there are walking tours too, that you can join, to take the guesswork out of it for you.

Keep an eye out as you walk around, and you’ll find stone monuments or fountains, each with a historical significance to the city.

For that nightlife, and the reason this is the best place to stay in Cork on weekends and for the evenings; you’re surrounded.

Start at the Port of Cork City in daylight, on the eastern corner, and work your way up Oliver Plunkett Street, being sure to check down and side alleys. This will take you past such gems as The Poor Relation and Arthur Mayne’s Pharmacy. End your trek at the SUAS Rooftop Bar, for the nighttime views over the area. Finger’s crossed it’s not raining!

City Centre, Cork

Source: Kanuman (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in City Centre

– Catch a local performance at the Crane Lane Theatre.

– Eat your fill at the English Market food hall.

– Visit the National Monument, on the southside.

– Grab a coffee in the Huguenot Quarter on the northside.

– See a show at the Cork Opera House, home to more than what’s in the name!

 

Best Hotel in City Centre – Jurys Inn Cork

Jurys Inn Cork is situated in the city’s well-known tourism and shopping district. Just 10 minutes’ walk from Kent Train Station, the 3-star hotel offers guests an ideal base when in Cork. Welcoming and helpful staff are available 24 hours a day.

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Best Airbnb in City Centre – Private Bedroom in the Heart of the Nightlife

Located right in the heart of the town, this private double bedroom in a large apartment is perfect for those who want to experience the lcoal nightlife. Pubs, restaurants, music venues are all at your doorstep. You’ll have your very own separate floor which means that you’ll enjoy a lot of privacy. If you’re a foodie, you’ll be delighted to know that the apartment is right above a japanese cafe.

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Best Hotel in City Centre – Imperial Hotel Cork City

Imperial Hotel Cork City offers stylish, 4-star accommodation close to St. Patrick’s Street. It also features a spa area with a Jacuzzi and sauna. This contemporary hotel provides child-minding services, currency exchange and a reception that operates 24 hours a day.

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Best Hotel in City Centre – Clayton Hotel Cork City

Clayton Hotel Cork City offers an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi and a Jacuzzi. Just a stone’s throw from nearby bars and clubs, this 4-star hotel also allows guests to easily explore what the local nightlife has to offer.

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#4 Clarke’s Bridge – Coolest Place To Stay in Cork

Clarke’s Bridge is on the north and south side of the river, to the west of the centre. It’s the name of one of the bridges spanning the Lee, obviously, but is also the area just around that.

For our purposes, we’ll focus on the south of the river, though the bridge itself (and the others very close by) can easily be used to access that northern part, and the nightlife area therein!

Clarke’s Bridge is the coolest area to stay in Cork because of its location. It’s just off the very centre of the city, tucked in a little curve of the river. It’s surrounded by historic monuments, as well as a handful of classy bars. And the coffee over here isn’t bad either!

On the south of Clarke’s Bridge area is the magnificent St Fin Barre’s Cathedral. French gothic in style, its architecture is worth a visit for that alone. But it’s also cool enough to have symphonic performances on regularly. These Corkonians don’t waste a good music venue space!

Closer to the river you can find the Lavit Gallery too, which houses an ever-changing exhibit of local and international artists.

Clarke Bridge, Cork

Source: Andrei Nekrassov (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Clarke’s Bridge

– Gape up at the soaring roofs of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

– Visit the Lavit Gallery and see what’s on offer.

– Cross the sentimental Clarke’s Bridge, ‘cause you have to, while you’re there!

– Soak up some history at the star-shaped Elizabeth Fort and use its vantage point to look out over the city.

– Make your way up Barrack Street where you’ll be spoilt for choice with places to eat, drink and be merry!

 

Best Hostel in Clarke’s Bridge – Redclyffe Lodge

Redclyffe Lodge provides a comfortable setting when in Cork. It is steps from Lewis Glucksman Gallery, eateries and nightlife options. Those staying at the hostel can enjoy the property’s gardens. Redclyffe Lodge offers 5 comfortable rooms that are ideal for travellers on a budget.

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Best Airbnb in Clarke’s Bridge – Modern and Central Bedroom in Clarke’s Bridge

This centrally located apartment is one of the coolest places to stay in Cork. It consists of a large balcony overlooking the city’s main shopping district, a private bedroom and a private en-suite bathroom. Located only a two minutes walk to the English market, one minute walk to Brown Thomas, ten minutes walk to UCC, five minutes walk to the best station and ten minutes walk to the train station, you’ll be able to walk just everywhere.

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Best Hotel in Clarke’s Bridge – The River Lee Hotel

The River Lee Hotel a member of The Doyle Collection provides contemporary 4-star accommodation in Cork. Guests also have exclusive access to The Urban Escape and NRG Fitness. Guests can enjoy the sun on the terrace or have a drink at the bar.

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Best Hotel in Clarke’s Bridge – Indigo Aparthotel

Indigo Aparthotel and is close to the area’s tourist attractions. It is located a brief stroll from Griffith College Cork, Saint Finbarre’s Cathedral and Elizabeth Fort. This modern property provides a lift, room service and wireless internet.

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#5 Shandon – Best Neighborhood in Cork for Families

Our last pick, and the best place to stay in Cork if you’re travelling with kids is the Shandon neighbourhood.

Centred around the Shandon Bells at St Anne’s Church, the area is north of the river and on the other side of the main highway out of town from the Victorian Quarter.

It’s great for families because it’s where a lot of the tourist destinations are, it’s close to the main train and bus station, and it’s not in the noisy centre city. Fun, transport and a good night’s sleep for all. What more could you want?

The Shandon Bells are an icon of Cork, and you can ring them yourself from the first floor, hearing the peals roll out. Then climb the tower to check out the views of the city, with many of its paths and buildings unchanged for centuries.

You can access the Cork City Gaol Museum and be creeped out by its 19th century walls. Or head to the Butter Museum, which just sounds fun! And there’s the Firkin Crane, for all sorts of dance performances. Check out what’s on while you’re there!

Shandon, Cork

Source: Peter O’Toole (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Shandon

– Ring the Shandon Bells, of course!

– Climb the tower of St Anne’s Church to get the lay of the land.

– Visit the Cork City Gaol.

– Catch a show at the Firkin Crane.

– Learn about all things buttery at the Butter Museum and find out its importance in the formation and development of Ireland.

 

Best Hostel in Shandon – Kinlay House Cork

Right under the famous Shandon bells – Comfy common areas include a timber-floored TV room with brocade lounges to sink into, a big l-shaped dining room and self-catering kitchen open until 10pm each night, a split-level courtyard and an internet room.

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Best Airbnb in Shandon – Elegant and Spacious House in Vibrant Area

Situated in the Victorian Quarter of Cork, one of the most vibrant and coolest areas in Cork, this elegant three bedroom apartment is perfect for families visiting Cork. It’s perfect location means that it is set up perfectly for exploring the city. Recently renovated, it can accommodate up to seven guests with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms over two floors. It has large windows so you will enjoy a lot of natural light.

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Best Hotel in Shandon – Maldron Hotel Shandon

Maldron Hotel Shandon Cork City provides a charming setting while in Cork. Offering complimentary Wi-Fi, a restaurant and an indoor pool, the hotel is within a 10-minute walk of The Everyman, St. Patrick’s Street and Cork English Market.

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Best Hotel in Shandon – Acorn House

Located amongst a variety of well-known attractions, shops and eateries, Acorn House is ideal for guests wanting to discover Cork and its surroundings. Guests can also enjoy free internet access in all areas. Acorn House Cork treats guests to bicycle rental and luggage storage.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Cork, Ireland

Easy to access and easy to get around, Cork is a budget traveller’s dream. It’s got plenty for those who like the finer things in life as well, as a stay in our best overall hotel, Hayfield Manor, can attest.

Once you’ve got your base set, you can always venture further afield. After all, a walk fifteen minutes in either direction will have you in a whole new area!

And now you’ll be able to find your way around the city with ease, knowing where to go, what to do and where to stay in Cork!

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Our EPIC guide features where to stay in Cork for every type of budget! Includes top hotels, hostels, & things to do!

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