County Cork has a whole lot to offer – from a popular city that locals jokingly refer to as Ireland’s real capital, to the glorious west end of the county, which many see as the most beautiful part of Ireland. By Irish standards Cork is 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. Luckily, Airbnb is chock-full of those. Here are our favourites.
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. The three-bedroom property is ringed by four acres (1.6ha) of thick woodland, only a few kilometres outside the popular port town of Glengarriff. Inside, a rustic stone fireplace and deep velvet sofas invite you to cosy up by the fire for an evening tipple, while the paved balcony overlooks a sprawling garden, rippling shoreline (where you can spot wildlife such as herons, swans and otters) and Garnish Island, famed for its tropical plants.
This three-bedroom getaway, set on a peaceful hillside overlooking the sea, is part of a cluster of cottages near the colourful town of Kinsale. Each dwelling is fronted by bucolic gardens and a patio with sun loungers that provide idyllic views of the bay. Get your blood pumping with a game on the property’s tennis courts, or explore miles of twisting trails and breezy walks along the nearby cliffs. On chilly evenings, save on electricity (which is charged as an additional cost) and curl up with a book by the warm glow of the fireplace.
Hidden away through a filigree gate at the end of a secret-garden-style passageway, this sky-blue Georgian townhouse is a pocket of peace in the busy city. Inside you’ll find original features like exposed brick, coving and wooden shutters paired with a contemporary kitchen, stylish Old-World art and a scattering of potted plants. There are three bright bedrooms that sleep up to six and a deep bathtub for evening soaks. A short stroll downhill will find you among cosy pubs, restaurants and cafés, and if you can’t face the climb back up, you can easily hop on the bus.
This cobalt home sits in a rainbow of terrace houses in Cobh, an easy amble from the town’s Neo-Gothic cathedral and postcard-worthy waterfront. Behind its bold red door there are three bedrooms – two with double beds and one with a bunk bed – decked out with pillow-top mattresses and velvet throws. Escape the frosty air of colder months tucked under electric blankets while watching a film on the lounge’s Smart TV, or make the most of the summer heat by sipping coffee from the Nespresso machine while on the sun-dappled patio.
Secreted away in the countryside near the village of Baltimore, this storybook cottage invites you to hole up inside exposed stone walls and forget the world for a while. The friendly hosts, toasty glow of the wood burner, and fresh homemade bread will greet you on arrival – soon making you feel at home and itching to check out the well-equipped kitchen and two whitewashed bedrooms. Out back, the flower-filled patio includes a barbecue for summer evenings and offers sweeping views of the Atlantic, while the lack of light pollution makes stargazing a treat.
This Bantry Bay chalet sits right on the cusp of two different famous trails, the Wild Atlantic Way and the Goats Path, making it a haven for hikers looking to unwind after adventurous days. It’s set up for a bit of fun – with a disco ball, house stereo system and telescope for spotting local wildlife – and eclectically decorated with frilled table covers, guitars hanging on sun-yellow walls, and a mishmash of tartan, floral and patchwork blankets. If you’re looking to whip up a hearty meal in the tiki-bar-reminiscent kitchen, take a drive down to Bantry to pick up some fresh, organic fare from the market.
Ensconced in bushy woodland, this secluded stone-built cottage has killer views across the sea to the fog-laced mountains beyond. You are moments from a quiet pebble-stone beach – ideal for romantic evenings taking in the sunset over a glass of fizz – while a gushing onsite waterfall cascades into the garden’s natural pond. Take a moment to swirl your feet in the soothing eddy, or get some shut-eye on the swaying hammock. Sleeping only two, the cottage has purified spring water and offers bath salts and fresh seaweed for spa-like bathing.