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Getting around Cork

Public transport

Bus Éireann (tel: +353 21 450 8188; www.buseireann.ie) operates a regular bus service in Cork city, which is both efficient and inexpensive. Buses start early in the morning and finish around midnight. The network also connects the city with its environs and the wider southwest region.

You can buy single, return or 10-journey tickets. Alternatively, arm yourself with a Leap Card, a preloadable smartcard which gives savings on cash fares; you can also load the card with one-day, seven-day or monthly passes.

Taxis

Taxis in Cork run on meters, with a higher tariff from 2000-0800. Recommended companies include Cork Taxi Co-Op (tel: +353 21 427 2222) and ABC Taxis (tel: +353 21 496 1961). All taxis can be hailed on the street or booked by phone. Tipping isn’t expected, but locals usually round up the bill to the nearest euro. Tip slightly higher if the driver was particularly helpful.

Driving

Driving in Cork is straightforward and roads in the city are in good condition. Disc parking is in operation in the city centre with parking discs available at retail stores.

The Jack Lynch Tunnel, which runs under the River Lee, links Cork’s main road network. Using it can reduce journey times up to 15 minutes for cars crossing the city. The Black Ash Park and Ride service, which operates Monday to Saturday from 0730-1930, allows you to park your car and travel by bus into the heart of the city from the South City Link Road.

Car hire

The minimum age to hire a car in Cork is 21 and drivers must always carry a valid driving licence. A credit card and passport is usually required to hire a car too.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car (tel: +353 21 483 8973; www.enterprise.ie), Thrifty Car Rental (tel: +353 21 496 5849; www.thrifty.ie) and Avis (tel: +353 21 432 7460; www.avis.ie) all hire out cars from Cork City Airport. Great Island Car Rentals (tel: +353 21 481 1609; www.greatislandcarrentals.com) is based in the city centre. For more information on renting a car in Cork, visit the Car Rental Council of Ireland website: www.carrentalcouncil.ie.

Bicycle hire

Cork is a bicycle-friendly city with new bike lanes being added to encourage more people to take to two wheels. The Bike Shed on Long’s Yard (tel: +353 86 602 8228) hires out bikes, runs cycle tours and sells recycled cycles. Other good hire options include Cycle Scene at 396 Blarney Street (tel: +353 21 430 1183; www.cyclescene.ie) and City View Wheels (tel: +353 21 430 4547; www.cityviewwheels.com), which hires out electric bikes on the same street.

Cork's bikeshare scheme is run by Coca-Cola Zero Bikes (www.bikeshare.ie/cork.html), with over 300 bikes parked at more than 30 stations. You can buy a three-day or annual pass, after which the first 30 minutes of any journey are free.

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Clarion Hotel Cork

Down on the promenade, next to the River Lee, the Clarion Hotel Cork is a stylish accommodation choice that isn't shy of stepping into world of avant-garde design. Its sleek rooms are generous and ultramodern, with clean lines and munificent king-size beds, while its fitness centre (including swimming pool and spa) squeezes in everything from aerobics to yoga. Step into its imaginative atrium though, and it's a world of fake grass, flaky croissants, fluffy sofas and strange, egg-shaped seating coves.

Vienna Woods Hotel

If you're after the charm of countryside living, you'll find it behind the yolk-coloured walls of Vienna Woods Hotel. Surrounded by some 9 hectares (22 acres) of woodland, this 18th century rural retreat is a charismatic and comfortable mid-range choice that mixes vintage furniture with modern facilities. There's free Wi-Fi, beds to lose weekends in and an onsite restaurant that does hearty Emerald Isle grub .

Hotel Isaacs

Most people come to Hotel Isaacs for its infamous Greenes restaurant, which serves up fine Irish dining and excellent wines on a charming little patio. Its rooms don't quite compete with the foodie flamboyance downstairs, but they're clean, spacious and practical, with a price tag that won't melt the credit card. Pick from 47 rooms, which come with en-suite bathrooms, complementary Wi-Fi, cable TV and one of the best locations in the city.

Crawford House

Just a 10 minute walk from the city centre, this smart, modern guesthouse is excellent value for money. Amalgamating three traditional houses, all rooms come with its king-size beds, huge baths and excellent traditional Irish breakfasts, served up in the conservatory. The staff here are lovely too. The quieter rooms are found at the back of the hotel.

Fota Island Hotel

It may be a little bit out of town, but it would be hard for you to swing a golf club anywhere near this 5-star retreat if it were any closer to Cork. The greens on its Championship-standard courses are as fine as the sheets in its ample, luxurious rooms. It has a gym, tennis courts and yoga, if you want to keep fit, plus a fine dining restaurant, complete with terrace, if you don't. Stylish, sophisticated and truly welcoming, Fota Island Hotel is worth blowing the budget.

Castlemartyr Resort

It may be 30 minutes out of Cork, but if you book a room at Castlemartyr Resort, you couldn't have truly envisioned leaving its grounds. This vast country manor dates back from the 17th-century and has the formal gardens to prove it. They, though, don't quite do its elegance justice. Its grace is admired from up close: it's found in the ruins of its 800-year-old castle, in the soothing splendours of its spa, around the 18 holes of its challenging golf course and in the unforgettable dining experience of its Bell Tower restaurant. Rooms, as you may have guessed, are worthy of the most magnanimous guest too.