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Cork tours and excursions

Cork tours

Food tours

Forget a packed lunch and a stroll along the river, the Cork Tasting Trail is 2 hours 30 minutes of markets, mongers and munching around the Ireland's food capital. Taking in everything from butchers and bakers to the best boozers in the city, knowledgeable guides will show off the finest dining experiences around. All dietary requirements can be catered for.

Tel: (021) 497 1245.
Website: http://www.fabfoodtrails.ie

Franciscan Well and Brewery tour

This craft beer brewery is built on the site of a 13th-century monastery, whose well was said to have curative powers. Before visitors would come from far and wide to drink its magical water, but now they are attracted by the distinguished lagers, ales, stouts and wheat beers that are produced onsite. Tours of the brewery include a beer tasting package, but its brew pub is just next door if you're not ready for last orders.

Tel: (021) 421 0130.
Website: http://www.franciscanwellbrewery.com

Whiskey Trail

Treat yourself to a tipple or two on a whiskey trail at The Jameson Experience in Midleton, 24km (15 miles) from Cork. Ireland claims to have invented the 'water of life' and these tours give a good overview of the drink's history as well as the processes needed to make a dram and a drop. Guided tours are available throughout the year and visitors are taken through the old distillery and around the kilns, mills, water wheel, still house and distiller's cottage. At the end, there's time to reflect with a wee dram.

Tel: (021) 461 3594.
Website: http://www.jamesonwhiskey.com/tours

Walking tours

If you're looking to explore Cork on two feet, there's a slew of interesting tours available in the city, from haunted routes to a historic harbour stroll in Kinsale. Among the best are the O.L.G.A. Cork tours, which last 90 minutes and takes in the culture and history of the city with state-qualified guides and The Titanic Trail, a route for maritime and military fans which breathes life into the history of Spike Island and convict transportation as well as the Titanic's fateful first voyage.

Tel: (021) 488 5405; (021) 481 5211.
Website: http://www.discoverireland.ie/activities-adventure/o-l-g-a-cork/10882

Bus tours

Tours of Cork city in open-top buses are operated by Cork City Tours. Ticket holders can hop on and off at any stop along the way, with tickets valid for two consecutive days. There are five tours each day starting from the Grand Parade which takes in sights such as Patrick's Quay, Shandon Steeple and Butter Museum, Sunday's Well and Cork City Gaol.

Tel: (021) 430 9090
Website: http://www.corkcitytour.com

Cork excursions

Cóbh

The picturesque town of Cóbh (pronounced 'Cove'), situated 26km (16 miles) from Cork city centre, is at the end of what is one of Ireland's loveliest railway stretches. Nestled on Great Island in Cork Harbour, this colourful seaport (formerly known as Queenstown) has more history to it than meets the eye. The Queenstown Story at the Cóbh Heritage Centre recreates the experiences of the 2.5 million Irish emigrants who left Ireland from here between 1848 and 1950. Cóbh was also the last port of call for the Titanic, an event remembered at the Titanic Experience Cóbh, a visitor attraction situated in the original offices of The White Star Line shipping company.

Tel: (021) 481 3591.
Website: http://www.cobhheritage.com

Kinsale

For informed foodies, the harbour town of Kinsale, 29km (18 miles) south of Cork, is plated up as the gourmet capital of Ireland. With chefs and eateries accommodating all tastes and waists, visitors can indulge in anything from traditional, hearty pub grub to world famous seafood. A lunch in any of the town's restaurants or cafés should set up even the most ravenous traveller for an afternoon's sailing or golfing. If that seems a little too strenuous, gift shopping in the town's high-end craft shops should see visitors through until dinner.

Tel: (021) 477 2234.
Website: http://www.kinsale.ie
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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.

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 .