Cork and Galway are both tour-worthy destinations. While Galway offers street entertainment, Cork stages the best music concerts. For a fantastic food experience, Cork edges Galway. However, if you want to enjoy the city with minimal movement, go to Galway.
Whether you should go to Cork or Galway depends on your interests and what you want to experience.
But what should you consider before deciding whether to go to Cork or Galway?
This article dives deep into what these two cities offer.
Cork or Galway?
For most people going to Ireland, if the destination is not Dublin, it is either Cork or Galway. These two cities are easy alternatives to Dublin.
Let’s explore them.
Cork, which means marsh, is the second-largest city in the Republic of Ireland. The city is located on the River Lee banks in the southwest of Ireland. It’s connected to the sea by Cork Harbor.
The harbour blesses Cork with jaw-dropping scenery and a strong trading and seafaring culture, making it one of the liveliest places to visit.
Cork was originally a monastic settlement. It represents this past with a rich lineup of cathedrals, museums, and galleries.
Cork also offers some of the biggest and best festivals in the country. In fact, in 2005, Cork was voted the European Capital of Culture.
According to the locals, the bustling city with a population of over 210,000 is the real capital of Ireland.
Galway is the fourth largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Located in the West of Ireland, the city is between the Lough Corrib and the Galway Bay.
Today, Galway offers an amazing blend of suburban and country-side experiences.
Known as the festival capital of Ireland, Galway is the stage for some of the best festivals in the country.
A substantial part of its about 80,000 population are students who keep Galway diverse and lively.
The streets are always buzzing with thriving pubs and never-ending musical performances.
Museums with fascinating archaeological finds, art galleries, cathedrals, and other places of interest will fulfil your trip to Galway.
Just outside the city, the coastline features breath-taking beaches that will rival any Mediterranean Riviera.
Now let’s look at the things to consider when choosing between Galway and Cork.
Places of interest in Cork and Galway
Both Galway and Cork are packed with architecturally notable buildings, historical destinations, picturesque landscapes, amazing shopping experiences, entertainment parks, and more.
Places of interest in Galway
If you go to Galway, there is no shortage of places to see. Some of these attractions are:
- Galway Cathedral. Features Renaissance-style dome and pillars, and Christian art.
- St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. Founded in 1320, this medieval church will take you on a historical journey.
- Eyre Square. It’s the main park in Galway city where you and your family can absorb the city, before entering the nearby shopping streets.
- Quay Street. Features vibrant streets perfect for shopping
- Galway Harbor. A fantastic spot to get a glimpse of the rich seafaring traditions of Galway
- The National University of Ireland. Take your family to this beautiful campus to get your children excited about college
- Galway City Museum. A good place for curious souls. The museum is near the Spanish Arch, another monument for history enthusiasts.
- Connemara National Park. The Park displays Ireland’s western beauty that thrills both the young and old. An ideal place for a family visit.
- Salthill Promenade. Take your family for a lovely seaside walk, and take in the ocean air and the fabulous views for an unforgettable outing.
Places of Interest in Cork
- St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral. The Gothic Revival three-spire cathedral is an architecturally notable building
- Blarney Castle and Blackrock Castle. These buildings are rich in Ireland history
- St. Anne Church Tower in Shandon. This is one of Cork’s best tourist destinations. You can climb up to the tower’s first floor, see the famous bells firsthand, and ring them. You also get a wonderful 360 degrees view of the city from up there.
- St. Patrick Street. Immerse yourself in this bustling street and engage in some serious shopping.
- Skibbereen Farmers Market. A must-go destination to explore Cork’s best farm output.
- Spike Island – Nicknamed Ireland’s Alcatraz, the star-shaped fortress has a rich history. It has been a monastery, a fortress, and a prison. Today, it’s one of the most exciting tourist destinations.
- Fota Wildlife Park. This park features free-roaming animals. It is a perfect destination for a young family.
Food in Cork and Galway
If you want a fantastic food experience, go to Cork. Both cities have numerous restaurants with excellent ambience and mouth-watering dishes. Still, Cork offers more because it has many high-quality food producers and a tour-worthy food market.
Galway Food Experience
You’ll find cosy restaurants that offer a relaxing escape from the bustling Galway streets. Incredible seafood dishes are the most popular offerings, but you’ll also find intercontinental dishes on some menus.
One of the exciting dishes that Galway offers is seafood chowder. The hearty meal features potatoes and delicious fish stock flavoured with fresh herbs and vegetables.
Traditional Irish stew is also very popular in Galway. This features goat meat or lamb slowly cooked with fresh vegetables and potatoes.
Fresh local oysters are also popular in Galway, as well as mussels.
Cork Food Experience
Cork is the food capital of Ireland. Some of Ireland’s best seafood dishes are available in Cork. An exciting dish in Cork is crubeens, a local dish of boiled pig’s feet. Clonakilty Black Pudding is another exciting local meal. It is a sausage made using pig’s blood combined with delicious spices.
Cork has numerous classy restaurants. You’ll find restaurants with stunning designs and superb settings. Others are rated 5/5 by top travel review platforms.
Some top restaurants are so sought after that you’ll have to call ahead for reservations to get a table.
Apart from the food and restaurants, Cork is a choice destination for food-centric Ireland visitors because of the English Market.
The food market, which has been trading since 1788, is a good tourist destination. You’ll be taken aback by its amazing architecture and overflowing stalls.
Even Queen Elizabeth II had to visit the English Market on her first-ever visit to Ireland in 2011.
Getting around Galway and Cork
If you don’t plan to move around much to enjoy the city, Galway edges Cork as the place to go. Both cities have a lot of tourist hotspots, but Cork’s attractions are more widely distributed.
Getting around in Galway
Galway is a relatively smaller city. But you’ll also find tourist attractions which are not widely distributed. Most are even within walking distance.
You can reach most of the tourist hotspots in a 15-minute walk. You may also rent a bike or use public transportation to go a little farther and take in more of the city.
Getting around in Cork
Cork city has some exciting places to see. However, most of the fascinating tourist attractions are outside the city. You’ll need to do relatively more ‘travelling’ to soak in the best of Cork.
Even the public buses may not serve you well in these movements. You may have to rent a car or use the trains.
General entertainment in Cork and Galway
Both Cork and Galway have a rich line-up of entertainment activities and events. While Galway has more and grander pubs, streets buzzing with entertainment from buskers, and clubbing nightlife, Cork stages some of the best music concerts in Ireland.
So, what city you should go to depends on what form of entertainment you fancy.
Let’s explore the entertainment in these two cities.
Entertainment in Galway
Galway is famous for its array of pubs. These are robust entertainment spots that organise different events year-round. You can visit with your family, and enjoy some drinks while watching live bands play or watching sporting events.
Apart from the thriving pubs, the streets of Galway are entertaining.
For example, the thoroughfares of Quay Street are buzzing with different street performers like musicians, dancers, and magicians.
Galway also offers bubbling nightlife. Thanks to its significant student population, Galway has many lively establishments for weeknights, such as nightclubs.
For a young couple, the nightclubbing atmosphere of Galway will be appealing.
Entertainment in Cork
Cork also has fine pubs to catch entertaining events. However, the nightlife here is nothing to write home about, as there are no nightclubs.
But Cork is the stage for some of Ireland’s biggest and best music festivals. They mostly feature A-list musicians.
One festival is the Guinness-sponsored Cork Jazz festival. This annual music festival has been held every year since 1978. It draws hundreds of jazz musicians and an untold number of music lovers from all over the world.
Another entertainment bundle of Cork is “Live at the Marquee.” This festival features many nights of incredible music concerts and other live performances.
Whether you should go to Cork or Galway depends on your interests and what you want to experience. However, both are excellent cities to visit.
You will enjoy food experiences, historical sightings, parks, buzzing streets, and entertainment.
As you make the most of your visit to Cork or Galway, you should give some thought to where you will stay.
If you find yourself in a not-so-good accommodation, what had promised to be an exciting Cork or Galway holiday visit can end up being not-so-good.
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