Cork has a whole lot to offer, from a popular city jokingly known to locals as the ‘real capital’ due to its extensive revolutionary roots, to the glorious west end of the county, seen by many as the most beautiful part of Ireland. By Irish standards it’s big – easily an hour’s traffic-free drive from one end to the other – and varied, with port towns and ancient pubs, as well as city life and rugged old military ports.
It’ll take some exploring, in other words. You’ll need at least a week to get a real sense of Cork as a whole, and a proper place to lay your head – somewhere local – makes complete sense. Airbnb is stock full of them. Here are our favourites.
A seafront house in gorgeous Glengarriff
You don’t get better located than this when it comes to enjoying Cork’s hardened Atlantic coast, which falls almost literally on your doorstep. A chunky three-bedroom a few kilometres outside popular port town Glengarriff, this property looks over Garnish Island, famed for its tropical plants, and accessed only by boat. Modern inside, and with a nice garden outside, it’s an idyllic, cozy bungalow with peat fires and seals playing in the water before it. Something to savour.
A hillside, bay-view cottage in Kinsale
Situated on a nice quiet hillside overlooking the sea near the beautiful, bustling town of Kinsale, this stop-off is charmingly quiet, located in a little line of cottages, and – with its three bedrooms – a nice secluded family spot. The cottage in Oysterhaven has views of the bay (below) and is near to dramatic cliff walks. Inside, you’ll find a basic but spacious and comfortable cottage, each with its own patio space (for use should the weather lean the right way), sun loungers and a tennis court available to visitors.
A gorgeous townhouse in Cork City
How about an old-world, three-bedroom townhouse a short walk from Cork city centre; a place from which to explore the city? This feels something like a country cottage with its shabby-chic walls and floors, but has a nice barbecue space and large open-plan living area that give it a modern twist. There’s a nature reserve three hundred metres away to enjoy, too, and the kitchen is well kitted out for those who like to go big on cooking.
A large Victorian house in central Cobh
The East Cork town of Cobh is a fascinating place, a port town with a famous prison island off the coast, a substantial military history, and a feel a little bit different to anywhere else in Ireland. Its roads are hilly and fascinating to explore, and this is a great base for it, a large centrally-located Victorian house that can sleep as many as nine guests. The road is known locally as the ‘deck of cards’ due to its unique look sat upon an extremely steep slope. You can almost literally fall into the town centre from here, but in such a gorgeous old house, you could be forgiven for sometimes choosing not to.
A rural restored cottage in Cork’s isolated west
Get as far from the crowds as you could hope to go, with this off-the-beaten-track, mellow cottage close to the border of south Kerry. Located in the middle of emerald meadows and perfect for launching into hefty hikes or rural strolls, the stone walls hide blaring fires, perfect spots to write or read, beautifully restored rooms and a balcony to take in all the views from. Heaven for those who like nature and isolation.
A Bantry Bay chalet cabin with a hot tub
Situated right on the cusp of two different famous trails, the Wild Atlantic Way and the Goats Trail, this Bantry Bay chalet targets hiking and extreme relaxation with its wooden framed beauty. It’s home to a hot tub, and sitting a mile outside Bantry, it’s also set up for a bit of fun, with a disco ball and house stereo system. The views right outside the window won’t be easy to forget, with guests praising the silence of the spot, and the idyllic views and feel of the chalet.
A traditional open-plan cottage in the Mealagh Valley
An old cottage brought up to modern standards, this isolated spot in West Cork is gorgeous inside and out, with a view of the soaring hills, its own pond on three acres of land, gorgeous roof-frame bedrooms and a spiral staircase rising from its earthy stone floors. Another place ideal for unwinding or walking, it’s airy and charming, and has a fireplace for winter, a supply of basic necessities and home-cooked bread awaiting your arrival.