While many people remember Cobh (pronounced Cove) as the RMS Titanic’s last port of call, this beautiful Irish seaside town has much more to offer. Instagrammable spots, historical sites, water activities, and foodie approved dining add to the charm of this Southern Ireland getaway.
Located near the city of Cork along the southern coast, Cobh was called Queenstown briefly (by the British), after a visit from Queen Victoria. In 1920, the name was changed back to Cove, but the spelling switched to reflect the use of the Irish language. You can learn more about the town and its history at the Cobh Heritage Centre.
Near the Heritage Centre, there is a monument dedicated to Annie Moore, alongside her two brothers. The statue stands in commemoration to all those who emigrated from Ireland. She was the first to be registered as an immigrant at Ellis Island in New York City. Cobh is an important piece of history for all Irish immigrants.
Deck of Cards
I didn’t learn any of this history until after visiting the idyllic port; a single photo on Pinterest had brought me all the way here.
Yes. I did come all this way to Ireland, renting a car, and dragging along a bunch of people just to see this cathedral and cute little row of houses in person. Definitely worth it.
The best way to find this little row of houses is to head to the cathedral (more on it later), and spot the row of houses from the back, and then follow them. The houses are adorably named the “Deck of Cards”. To get the shot, you can either head into the park from the street, or go around and glance over a very tall fence. At 5’4″, I was actually too short to see over the fence, but my companions were not and helped me get the photo.
Fun fact: this photo is actually my most popular on Instagram to date.
Closer to the harbour, which is Ireland’s only major cruise port, there are lots of little shops and restaurants. Many more monuments, parks, and historic markings give you a real idea of what this town would have been like a hundred years ago.
The colours, the architecture, and the golden light from the south make this little Victorian city all the more enchanting.
Even this dry cleaners is photogenic:
What I really loved about Cobh, was its walkability. Everything was so close by. It’s very easy to just spend an afternoon exploring here.
Trying to find a good local restaurant, I stumbled upon Gilbert’s Bistro in the Square. It is a gem of local fare situated in a peaceful setting. The food was delicious and I couldn’t recommend it more for grabbing a quick lunch before you set off to do more exploring. It’s also rated the number one local restaurant on Trip Advisor!
St Colman’s Cathedral
As I mentioned earlier, you can pretty much find anything in Cobh based on the position of St Colman’s Cathedral. The church towers above the city, to say the least. It’s one of Ireland’s tallest structures. In my opinion, it’s also one of the most beautiful. She’s a lot younger than she looks, completed just one hundred years ago in 1919.
The inside of the cathedral was under construction when we visited last spring, and they are currently fixing up the organ. I really love when places take care of their history!
Speaking of Cobh’s history, the port played a huge role in the ship Titanic’s journey. The people aboard the Titanic included just some of the 2.5 million Irish emigrants headed to America to start a new life. Naturally, the sinking was a devastating disaster to the town. It touched many people’s lives personally. The Titanic visitor centre here focuses on that aspect, in contrast to the Titanic Belfast exhibit which focuses more on the technical marvel that was the great ship.
From there, you can see the original dock that every one of the passengers used as they last touched land, before sailing away forever.
If you want to skip the historical experience, you can also grab a drink at the Titanic Bar just below. It has a really nice patio and Titanic inspired drinks.
Other Things to Do
If you’ve got more than an afternoon to spend in Cobh (which I highly recommend staying at least one night!), here are some other things to do/check out:
- take a boat trip around the harbour
- rent your own boat for the day
- hop aboard a cruise and set sail
- explore the Fortress Spike on Spike Island (which was most recently the largest Victorian prison, aside from being a museum)
- participate in a historic walking tour
- learn to sail
- visit Fota Wildlife Park & Island (100 acres dedicated to conservation)
- check out one of the many castles within an hour drive, like the world-famous Blarney Castle
To read more on my adventures in Ireland, click here.
Would you visit Cobh? Have I convinced you to add it to your list?