Howaya! In the guide below you’ll discover a load of different things to do in Cobh at any time of the year.
From colourful houses and museums to (supposedly) haunted hotels and buzzy little pubs, there’s plenty of things to see in this historic little fishing village.
In the guide below, you’ll find a clatter of things to do in Cobh in County Cork. G’wan – dive on in!
Table of Contents
The best things to do in Cobh
If you’re not familiar with Cobh (pronounced ‘Cove’), it’s a little town in Cork that’s located on a small island in Cork City’s busy harbour.
The town is arguably best known as being the last port of call for the now infamous Titanic, way back in 1912. As you can probably imagine, there’s plenty of Titanic-related attractions to explore.
1. Visit Spike Island – a place once known as ‘Ireland’s Hell’
Hands-down the best of the many different things to do in Cobh is to take a short ferry ride from the village over to the often-missed Spike Island.
Over the past 1,300 years (yes, 1,300), the mighty Spike Island has been home to a 6th-century Monastery, a 24-acre Fortress and what was once the biggest convict depot in the world.
At one point during its lifetime, Spike Island housed convicts prior to penal transportation to Australia. This is how it earned itself the nickname ‘Ireland’s Alcatraz’.
Fancy visiting? You can take a tour of Spike Island and learn more about its quirky past. Read more about Spike Island in Cobh.[/su_note]
2. See the colourful Deck of Cards in Cobh
Cobh’s Deck of Cards tend to go viral about 1,000 times per year on Instagram and Facebook and, to be fair, it’s not hard to see why.
The colourful houses, finely set against the backdrop of the magnificent St. Coleman’s Cathedral, are a sight to behold. It’s no surprise that they attract budding photographers from far and wide.
If you want to see the Deck of Cards from above, you’ll need to head for ‘Spy Hill’. Pop it into Google maps and you’ll find it easily enough.
Now, a quick warning – if you want to see them from Spy Hill, you’ll need to climb up on a high-ish wall, so be careful! Another handy spot that you can see them from is the little park right next to the houses.
Related read: Have a nosey at our guide to 41 of the best things to do in Cork at any time of the year. It’s packed with walks, hikes, history and plenty more.
3. Step back in time at Titanic Experience Cobh
You’ll regularly see the Titanic Experience top guides to the best things to do in Cobh. I’ve chatted to a lot of people that have visited over the years and they’ve all said that it’d well worth a visit.
On the 11th April 1912, the Titanic called to the port of Queenstown (now known as Cobh) on her maiden voyage. What happened next has been the subject of films, documentaries and countless books.
You’ll find the Titanic Experience Cobh in the original White Star Line Ticket Office in the centre of the town in what was the departure point for the last passengers who boarded the ship.
The visitor experience here is split into 2 parts: part 1 is an immersive audio-visual tour that retraces the steps of the 123 passengers who boarded in Cobh.
Part 2 takes visitors through how all went wrong for the Titanic, using computer-generated graphics that recreate the collision and sinking.
4. Kick-back with a pint in Kelly’s
I spent a night in Kelly’s in Cobh about 4 years ago with 2 friends. It was lashing rain and we managed to tuck ourselves away at a table near the bar for the night.
This is a lovely, lively little spot for kicking back with a few post-adventure pints. On the night that we visited, there was live music (apparently this happens throughout the year) and there was a great buzz in the place.
If you visit when the weather is fine, try and nab a seat outside Kelly’s – you’ll be able to soak of views across Cork Harbour, out towards Spike Island.
5. Have a nosey around St Colman’s Cathedral
St Colman’s Cathedral is arguably one of the most iconic landmarks in Cork (mainly thanks to the streams of photographers that visit the town to capture it in a snap!).
The construction of the cathedral first began in 1868 and it took many years until the construction was finally complete and the building opened to the public.
If you’ve any interest in architecture, St Coleman’s Cathedral is well worth a visit. You can admire it from the outside, first, before heading inside for a look around.
6. Take the kids to Fota Wildlife Park
Now, our next stop isn’t technically in Cobh, but it’s very close by, so I’ve decided to whack it in here! You’ll find the incredible Fota Wildlife Park on Fota Island, a stone’s throw from Cobh.
The wildlife park has been entertaining locals and tourists alike since 1983, and it operates as an independently funded charity.
Those that visit can expect to see 30 different mammal species and over 50 different bird species, many of which are allowed to roam freely in the park.
If you’re looking for things to do in Cobh with kids, carve out some time to visit Fota – you’ll get to see everything from giraffes and bison to wallabies and lemurs.
7. Visit the supposedly haunted Commodore Hotel
I had food in the Commodore Hotel in Cobh a few years ago. After he took our order, the lad serving us had asked what places in Cobh we’d visited and what else we planned on seeing.
After we’d finished chatting, he mentioned that the hotel, which was built in 1854, was supposedly haunted. Apparently, the Commodore was used as a makeshift morgue and hospital at one point.
It was during the First World War that those wounded and those killed in battle were taken to the Commodore. Is it really haunted? Who knows! Maybe book a night here and see what happens…
8. Head for a wander along the Titanic Trail
If you read our guide to the best things to do in Kinsale, you’ll have seen me rave about locally-run walking tours. In a nutshell, I’m a strong believer in them being the best way to experience a place.
Those that head off on a guided walk along the Titanic Trail will explore the historic town of Cobh, where many of the buildings and streets are exactly the same as the were when the Titanic met its fate in 1912.
According to the organisers, ‘The Titanic Trail offers a selection of year-round guided walking tours and activities to suit varied interests and age groups’.
Related read: Check out our guide to 30+ of the best things to do West Cork at any time of the year.
9. Whittle away a rainy afternoon in Cobh Heritage Centre
If you’re looking for things to do in Cobh when it’s raining, get yourself to Cobh Heritage Centre and discover the ‘Queenstown Story’.
The ‘Queenstown Story’ offers visitors an insight into the story of Irish emigration from as far back as the 1600’s. The exhibition can be found in the restored Victorian railway station, a building steeped in history.
The ‘Queenstown Story’ offers an insight into everything from the transportation of convicts from Ireland to Australia to the often-unheard story of the Irish indentured servants in the West Indies.
The exhibition is full of stories and history and gives visitors the opportunity to explore our rich historic past and engage with the stories told.
10. Grab a feed at the Titanic Bar and Grill
You’ll find the Titanic Bar and Grill in what was once the ticket office for The White Star Line, right next to the water. The restaurant is surrounded by history and it’s the perfect spot for an end-of-day feed.
If you arrive on a day where the weather is half-decent, try and grab a seat out on the deck area. You can enjoy food or a drink with mighty views of the harbour from here.
There are plenty of other great spots in Cobh for a bite to eat if you don’t fancy nipping in here. Some other places that I’ve had recommended to me over the years are:
- The Quays
- Gilbert’s Bistro
- Sorrento Fish and Chips
What things to do in Cobh have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that there’s probably plenty of other great things to do in Cobh that we’ve unintentionally excluded from the guide above.
If you have a recommendation, let me know in the comments section below and we’ll check it out! Cheers!