Experience Cork, Ireland, Like Kaitlyn Bristowe on 'The Bachelorette'
Sitting on an island in the middle of River Lee, Cork, Ireland, is a dream vacation for any couple in search of a romantic escape.
Known for its wild beaches and jagged peninsulas, Cork — the second-largest city in Ireland — originated as a monastic settlement before it was expanded by Viking invaders around 915. Equally rich in history as it is fun, the lively waterside city is known for its array of colorful architecture, cool coffee shops, unusual museums, eclectic art galleries, and delicious pub fare. Though Cork possesses a kinetic energy, its people pride themselves on a laid-back approach to life. Whisk your partner away to this unique city and indulge in its breezy-yet-bustling atmosphere.
Kaitlyn Bristowe traveled to Cork for her Fantasy Suite dates on Season 11 of “The Bachelorette,” and here’s how you can also experience one of Ireland’s most precious gems.
Overnight Date No. 1: So Romantic, It’s Criminal
Begin your day with a stroll through town, where you and your sweetheart can check out Cork’s many rows of rainbow-colored homes. Wander into St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, otherwise known as South Cathedral, where you can feast your eyes on gorgeous stained-glass windows and iconographic sculptures. Once you’re finished marveling at the beautiful French Neo-Gothic style of the building, walk back into town for a refreshment.
May we suggest sitting down for a pint at Kelly’s Bar? The restaurant is famous for its friendly staff, excellent selection of Irish beers, and live music in the evenings. Take a seat on the outdoor terrace — which has breathtaking views of Spike Island and Cork Harbour — and chat with Irish locals. If you’re up to it, ask them for relationship advice — and then make a toast to love.
Next, head on over to Cork City Gaol Museum Heritage Center for a scary good time. Located in the heart of the city, the “castle” once housed 19th-century criminals. While this may not sound like the typical romantic adventure, this outing will provide you and your love the perfect excuse to hold each other tightly as you venture on a guided tour, showing you the day in the life of a prisoner from 1824 to 1923. Shuffle through the narrow wings of the jail, where you two will encounter lifelike wax figures in cells, some still with the original graffiti on tattered brick walls. Voiceovers offer the chance to not only see but hear the prisoners’ individual stories and how they ended up turning to a life of crime.
Later, decompress with an overnight stay at Fota Island Resort, where luxury accommodation, breathtaking views, and unparalleled service await you. After an intimate night alone with bae, wake up to let your eyes linger over the remarkable views of the resort’s mature woodlands. Before you go, eat breakfast at any of the resort’s fine dining establishments, and then discover the luxe couples suite at Fota Island Spa, where you can book a combination of face, body, and holistic treatments.
Overnight Date No. 2: Ride into Romance
After getting to know Cork, find your way to nearby Galway, where you and your partner can take a leisurely horseback ride through the lush countryside. Saunter on over to Lough Cutra Castle, an arresting structure with history dating back to 866 A.D. (Many locals even believe the country’s patron saint, Patrick, once walked the castle’s grounds.)
Now, the castle exudes warmth and hospitality as a private family home available to rent. Gallop through the castle’s magical gardens and then hop off for a delicious picnic lunch. (Local donkeys roam the area, so make sure you have some leftovers to feed them!) Later, cycle through the estate’s winding paths or take part in many outdoor activities organized by an in-house concierge team.
At night, feast on a decadent dinner at Lough Cutra, which has hosted such discerning guests as His Royal Highness Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Cap off your night with a stay at Connemara Coast Hotel, spectacularly set on the Wild Atlantic Way and the shores of Galway Bay. Listen to the ocean waves crashing as you and your boo sink into a night of romance inside one of the hotel’s luxurious four-star suites. In the morning, take advantage of Connemara’s many outdoor activities, including archery, windsurfing, and sea kayaking.
Overnight Date No. 3: A Swingin' Good Time
After seeing what Galway has to offer, pay a visit to the Faldo Championship Golf Course in Enniskillen, only three hours away. Once you’re there, play your way through the course’s 18 holes as you absorb phenomenal views of the surrounding Fermanagh Lakelands. Whoever makes the first hole in one gets a kiss!
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, have dinner at Florence Court, an alluring 18th-century home set on sustainable grounds. Book a private dinner for two and bond over a delectable meal and bottle of champagne. And should the mood strike you, take a moonlit walk outside the property and spot its industrial heritage features, including a water-powered sawmill and blacksmith’s forge.
End your night with a stay at Lough Erne Resort, a five-star establishment nestled on a 600-acre peninsula teeming with picturesque views of the Fermanagh Lakelands and opulent accommodations.
You and your honey can make your mark in the resort’s exceptional Swan Suite. Feel like royalty as you admire the stars from the room’s spacious turret-style balcony. Then, take a relaxing dip in the in-suite hot tub before you and your boo melt into a plush king size four-poster bed.
Cork — along with its incredible neighboring cities — will surely leave you and your beloved grateful to have experienced the glory of Ireland.