Easily reached by flights from across the world or by public transport from within Ireland, Cork is the second largest city in the country. Like many small cities, it has its own unique character. It is set between two channels of the river Lee. The city, while small, has a distinctly urban feel. Rich in history and culture, a hop-on-hop-off bus will bring you to sites of historical interest. Expect to be taken to Cork City Jail, once home to those who were deemed criminals and now a museum where audio guides and a film show give rich insights into life in Cork during the years of famine and struggle for Irish independence.

A visit to the butter market will allow you walk in the footsteps of the Merchant Princes who brought trade to the city. A climb up the winding staircase of Shandon Steeple will give you views of the city beneath and a chance to ring the Shandon Bells.

Walk along Cork's busy streets

.A walk along the main thoroughfare, St. Patrick's Street, will bring you to the main shopping streets. "Doing Pana," as this walk is called by locals will lead you to department stores and coffee shops. It will also lead you past the buskers and street artists who bring the streets to life at weekends.

If a festival is in progress, the Cork City Choral Festival or the November Jazz Festival, expect to see musicians performing on the streets. A visit to the English Market, a sprawling indoors market, will allow the visitor to mingle with the local crowds as they shop at the meat and fish stalls arrayed around a central fountain, and sample the cheeses and bread on sale. If a coffee break calls there is always the upstairs cafe ideal for snacks or lunches.

Sample the city's culture

The Cork Opera House can be depended upon to stage shows throughout the year. The Crawford Art Gallery situated beside the Opera House hosts a permanent collection of artworks as well as visiting exhibitions. A visit to the university will allow the tourist to view Ogham stones (stones on which the earliest writing in Ireland, a system of symbols carved on stones, and used to mark graves can be seen).

While at the university, a visit to the Glucksmann Gallery to view their art collection is an enjoyable way of passing away an afternoon. And of course, a visit to the pub for a drink or two or a bite to eat is an essential part of enjoying this vibrant city.

Tired of walking the city streets?

There are parks and green areas ideal for a sit-down or a picnic when the weather allows. The Cork Peace Park is ideally situated on The Grand Parade or further afield and reached by city buses lies Fitzgerald's Park, a long-time favorite with Corkonians. The visitor may be lucky and happen upon a band playing there or visit when the flowers are in full bloom.

Complete a visit to the park with a walk across the Shaky Bridge, a suspension bridge built across the river Lee giving views downstream and to the colorful houses rising above the river. And when the day is over, return to your hotel, watch a game or prepare for another day sampling the delights of this small city considered one of Ireland's favorites.

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