Whenever I research a new destination that I’d love to visit, I will generally look for places and attractions that are a bit off the typical tourist path in that country. My husband and I recently discussed a trip to Ireland sometime this year (when the virus restrictions are over). After some research, I’ve decided that I really want to visit Cobh, specifically. So I have come up with a bucket list of things to do when I visit Cobh in Ireland. When the time comes.
In my late teens, I realised something about myself. It’s probably not one of my best traits if I’m being honest, and that is that I hate to follow the crowd. If someone suggests I read a really great book that’s on the No.1 Bestseller list, chances are I will never read that book. If someone suggests I visit the most well-known city in any particular country, chances are it will be at the bottom of my bucket list! I can’t even logically explain why I have this stubborn knee jerk reaction to recommendations of culturally popular things. I just do. In 2019 I had two-holiday experiences that just reinforced that I should trust my gut when it comes to this. First was an overcrowded Easter holiday in Scotland, and a similar experience when we visited the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany in August.
Where is Cobh, exactly, and what’s so historically significant about it?
Cobh is a port city on the south coast of County Cork in Ireland. It was previously known as Queenstown. Built on the side of a steep hill, it was one of the main departure points for the 2.5 million Irish emigrants leaving Ireland and heading for North America between 1848 and 1950.
Interestingly, Cobh was also the final port of call for the ill-fated RMS Titanic when she set out over the Atlantic on the 11th of April 1912.
Cobh is also referred to as The Great Island. If you look at it on Google Maps, it actually is an island and connects to the mainland with a historic bridge. One of my favourite Google Map tools is to use the street view function to see what a place I’ve never been to actually looks like. I highly recommend you check it out on the map below.
Getting To Cobh
There are a number of ways to get to Cobh, including flying into Cork, driving down from Dublin, or catching the ferry in. However, one of the most exciting ways to visit this historically significant and beautiful city must surely be as part of a cruise. There are short and mini-cruises that stop in the Cobh harbour all the time. It’s not hard to see why.
Thing To Do When You Visit Cobh
Below are a few of the things I’m planning to do and experience as a family when we finally get to visit Cobh.
Spike Island Tour
When we do get to visit Cobh, we plan to take a ferry from Kennedy pier out to Spike Island. Spike Island, through its 1300 year history, has taken many forms. From being a Monastery to a Fortress, then becoming the world’s largest prison in Victorian times, Spike Island looks like a really interesting experience for the whole family.
There are a number of different Spike Island experiences and tours available for different prices. Check it out from the video below.
The Titanic Experience
In the heart of Cobh is The Titanic Experience. From the moment you queue for your White Star tickets, you’re transported back in time to what it must have been like to be boarding the iconic HMS Titanic. On receiving your tickets you’re assigned a persona.
The experience takes visitors through everything from their boarding card (aka ticket) to seeing how the 3rd class and 1st class passengers would have experienced life on board. There’s even a cinematic experience that allows you to feel that sinking feeling. At the end of your tour, you find out if your assigned persona survived the sinking or not. Never mind the kids, this is one I would personally love to experience!
Fota Wildlife Park
Who doesn’t love taking the kids to a wildlife park? Remember that bridge I mentioned earlier? Well, you cross over the bridge from The Great Island, and you’re basically in the Fota Wildlife Park.
The Fota Wildlife Park has a large selection of wildlife. From Giraffes, Tigers, Rhinos and Asiatic Lions, to kangaroos, spider monkeys and tapirs. Honestly, the selection of animals they have is huge!
They also have a huge conservation effort that they support and offer educational tours and experiences too. This looks like a fab place to take the kids.
I absolutely love cathedrals, churches and Minsters whenever I visit somewhere new. St Coleman’s Cathedral Parish is firmly on my bucket list!
5 More things to do when you visit Cobh
There are loads of other things to do on a visit to Cobh, here are some more recommendations:
- The Titanic Trail Guided Walking Tour – perfect for learning more about the Titanic and it’s links to the town of Cobh.
- Skip The Line: The Queenstown Story Tour by the Cobh Heritage Centre looks like a lot of fun!
- Visit the Annie Moore Statue – Annie Moore and her brothers were the first Irish immigrants to be processed on Ellis Island on arrival in New York.
- Check out even more of the history of Cobh by visiting the Cobh Museum.
- Cork Harbour Boat Tour – hire a self-drive boat, go on a treasure hunt, or even a 2 hour evening tour by boat. Boats are one of my favourite ways to see a city from a different perspective. This is a must!
So … when are you planning to visit Cobh?
Until then, please Stay At Home, and enjoy writing up those bucket lists! We will get through this, and we will get to travel the world again.