If you’re debating staying in Cobh in Cork, you’ve landed in the right place.
The historical little fishing village of Cobh is a fine place to base yourself to explore the often over-looked East Cork.
There’s tonnes of things to do in Cobh and the lively little spot is home to some fine restaurants, pubs and places to stay.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know if you’re debating a visit to Cobh in Cork in 2021.
Some quick need-to-knows about Cobh in Cork
Although a visit to Cobh in Cork is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Cobh (pronounced “Cove”) is located on the south side of Great Island in Cork Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. Formerly known as Queenstown, this lovely town looks across to both Spike and Haulbowline Islands.
2. Famous for
Cobh has several claims to fame. In the 19th century it became an important departure port for 2.5 million Irish people who emigrated to North America in search of a better life.
In 1912, it was the last port of call for RMS Titanic. Another maritime event, the sinking of RMS Lusitania during WW1 occurred nearby off the Old Head of Kinsale. Finally, Cobh is home to St Colman’s Cathedral Church, one of Ireland’s tallest buildings.
3. The Titanic Link
On 11 April, 1912, the RMS Titanic made her final port of call in Cobh on her maiden Transatlantic voyage. The final 123 passengers joined the Titanic at Cobh (known then as Queenstown) and only 44 survived. Perhaps the luckiest person was crew member John Coffey who deserted the ill-fated ship when it reached Cobh, his native hometown.
A Brief History of Cobh
Cobh was inhabited before 1000BC when legend has it that Neimheidh and his followers settled on Great Island.
It was later inherited by the Barry family. The large natural harbour became an important naval military base during the Napoleonic Wars and WW1.
Cobh had a thriving shipbuilding industry and was associated with Sirius, the first steam ship to cross the Atlantic in 1838.
The town was originally known as the Cove of Cork but was renamed Queenstown to commemorate a visit by Queen Victoria in 1849. Following the Irish War of Independence, it reverted to Cobh, the Gaelic word for “cove”.
Things to do in Cobh (and nearby)
Although we’ve a in-depth guide on the best things to do in Cobh, I’ll give you a quick overview below so you know what to expect.
Below, you’ll find everything from the Titanic Experience and the Deck of Cards to an almost endless number of nearby attractions.
1. The Titanic Experience
Pick up your boarding card and experience life aboard RMS Titanic as a first and third class passenger. That’s just one of the immersive things to look forward to at the Titanic Experience in Cobh which is located in the original White Star Line Ticket Office building.
Take a 30-minute guided tour aboard the maiden voyage of the “unsinkable” liner and re-live the shock through audio-visual presentation as the boat begins to sink and you head for the lifeboats.
2. The Deck of Cards
Have your camera at the ready when you visit the Deck of Cards. This colourful row of 23 terraced townhouses is on West View. Built in 1850, they are slightly staggered to accommodate the sloping incline of the street.
The houses were given the nickname “The Deck of Cards” because the triangular shape of the roofs looks like a house of cards.
It has been suggested that if the bottom house fell over, all the rest would follow! The best place for a photo is from the park with St Colman’s Cathedral creating an imposing backdrop.
3. Spike Island
Guarding the entrance to Cork Harbour, Spike Island represents 1300 years of Irish history. A visit here is one of the most unique things to do in Cobh.
Formerly the world’s largest prison, the 104-acre island was home to a 7th century monastery and a 24-acre fortress before being turned into a Victorian jail known as “Ireland’s hell”.
Tours include a 15-minute ferry trip and a guided tour of this award-winning attraction with its museums and exhibitions. It’s also a fantastic place for island walks with views of seals, birds and passing boat traffic. Don’t miss the café and gift shop!
4. Cork City
In under 30 minutes you can be in the heart of Cork City exploring cosmopolitan shops, art galleries, coffee shops and authentic Irish pubs. It may be a city in name, but Cork has a relaxed laid-back vibe.
It has developed a reputation as the “culinary capital of Ireland”, thanks in part to the magnificent English Market and outstanding restaurants, craft beer pubs and hip coffee shops. Here are some Cork City guides to hop into:
- 18 mighty things to do in Cork City
- 13 of the finest old and traditional pubs in Cork
- 15 of the best restaurants in Cork
Another harbour town, Kinsale is one of the prettiest resorts in Cork with colourful cottages and excellent restaurants.
Famous for the Battle of Kinsale, a turning point in Irish history, the harbour has two fine fortresses, an old courthouse, historic churches and a signposted walking trail connecting them all. Here are some Kinsale guides to drop into:
- 13 of our favourite things to do in Kinsale
- 11 great restaurants in Kinsale for a tasty feed
- 12 Kinsale pubs perfect for post-adventure pints this summer
If you’re thinking about staying in Cobh in Cork (if you’re not, you should!), you’ve a pick of places to stay.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
Hotels in Cobh
If you’re planning to spoil yourself and a special someone, there are plenty of lovely hotels in Cobh to choose from. The Commodore Hotel is one of Ireland’s most historic hotels with spacious rooms, gourmet dining and superb harbour views.
Another 3-star gem, the Waters Edge Hotel has free parking and views of visiting cruise ships from the bistro restaurant. For more choice, check out the options in our guide to the best hotels in Cobh.
B&Bs in Cobh
For a little more pampering and personal service, B&Bs in Cobh are the best choice if you want a home from home to spend the night.
Just 800 metres from the Cathedral and Deck of Cards, Buena Vista offers comfy rooms with views of Spike Island. Closer to the waterfront, historic Robin Hill House B&B offers high quality accommodation in a former rectory with breathtaking harbour views.
Restaurants in Cobh
Although Cobh is a smallish town, it’s home to a plethora of great places to eat, as you’ll discover in our Cobh restaurants guide.
From cheap eats and casual cafes to fancy dining and tables with views of the ocean, there’s something to tickle most fancies. Here are some of our favourites:
1. The Quays Bar and Restaurant
Enjoying a prime waterfront location, the Quays Bar and Restaurant has outdoor seating, a covered patio and modern restaurant all delivering superb harbour views. However, it’s the food that really hits the spot. For light bites think Seafood Chowder and BBQ Chicken Sesame Nigella Panini while main courses range from the best fish and chips, burgers and pasta dishes to pan-fried hake with lemon butter sauce.
2. Titanic Bar and Grill
Dine in the historic Scott’s Building that was once the ticketing office for White Star Line and now part of The Titanic Experience attraction. The fabulous waterfront deck provides frontline views of visiting cruise ships and local boats passing by. Mouthwatering menus use locally sourced ingredients to create Irish favourites and fresh seafood dishes served in a stylish atmosphere.
3. Harbour Browns Steakhouse
More than just a first class steakhouse, Harbour Browns offers carvery-style lunches in generous portions while dinner in the evening sees offerings from an adventurous a la carte menu. Located on West Beach, Harbour Browns Steakhouse boasts prime 100% Irish aged beef cooked to perfection and served with imaginative sides such as spring onion potato cake and rich balsamic glaze. Lamb, chicken and fish also get a look-in on the menu.
There are several great pubs in Cobh that’ll appeal to those of you that fancy polishing off a day of exploring with a drink and a chat.
1. Kellys Bar
Arguably one of the best pubs in Cobh, Kellys Bar is on the waterfront with an authentic wooden bar, outdoor terraces and a buzzing atmosphere. It’s the place to find excellent beer, live music and lively craic for those looking for a good time.
2. The Roaring Donkey
High above the waterfront, the Roaring Donkey was named after the landlord’s donkey which frequently made its presence known, joining in the lively fun with loud braying! This traditional pub is located 500m north of the pier on Orelia Terrace. It has been offering a warm welcome to thirsty travellers in search of authentic Irish entertainment since 1880.
3. The Rob Roy
Older still, the Rob Roy is a charming heritage pub since 1824. The bar must have served many seafarers sipping their final pint on Irish soil before departing on their Transatlantic voyage to a new life. Steeped in history and home to the official U2 fan club meetings, it offers an authentic Irish experience to locals and visitors alike.
FAQs about visiting Cobh in Cork
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Cork that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Cobh in Cork.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Cobh worth visiting?
Yes! Cobh is a gorgeous little town to stop off in for food if you’re exploring this corner of East Cork. It’s home to plenty to see and do and there’s an endless number of pubs and restaurants to nip into for food and a drink.
Are there many places to eat in Cobh?
Yes – you’ve a mix of everything from cheap and tasty eats to more formal places to grab a feed. Our favourites are the Quays, Harbour Browns and the Titanic Grill.
What are the best places to stay in Cobh?
I’d argue that it doesn’t matter where you stay in Cobh, as long as you stay somewhere that’s central enough so that you don’t have to get taxis to and from the pubs and restaurants in the evening.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.