These walking trails link places and buildings of heritage interest throughout the city from the steps and steeples of Shandon, the religious, archaeology and arts of the South Parish, the medieval to modern of the City Centre and the academic environs of University College Cork. As well as being very informative and interesting to local people, the walks provide a very attractive and enjoyable experience to tourists and visitors to Cork City.

We stumbled upon one of the Cork Walks signs rather by accident. We weren’t exactly sure of what to explore or do in the city while the family relaxed/slept and finding one of the self-guided tour panels gave us focus when we were wandering rather aimlessly. The panels are written by local historians (Peter Foynes, Ronnie Herlihy, Antóin O Callaghan and Dr. John Borgonovo) and are an easy informative read (better than a guide book).

There are four coloured self guided city walks: blue (South Parish), orange (City Centre), red (Shandon), and green (University). And if you get lost, simply find one of the coloured arrow signs and it will point you in the right direction; each sign has a map and step by step directions on how to find the next panel. Each trail takes approximately 1.5 hours and we ended up exploring the blue and orange trails.

Rather than do all the guiding and talking, I turned the experience into an adventure and had la Niña pretend to be a treasure hunter who was responsible for finding the signs, reading the maps and directions, and navigating to the next city site. I told her there was treasure at the end (a Costa Coffee Vanilla Bean Frappuccino) and if she could find her way around the city she’d be able to find it.

By the end of it she was pretty proficient at map reading and trail following. It was a fantastic (and free) way for us to explore Cork at our own pace without having to wrangle a bus tour or rush around the city looking at someone else’s highlights.