What To Do In Cobh Ireland For Families On A Shore Excursion

This post contains affiliate links. We may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

When you have grown up as I did with the last name Delaney, Ireland is a big deal!

After finally visiting, I would now argue that it is a big deal for anybody, regardless of your last name. 

On our transatlantic cruise, last year, (the same one we will be taking this coming September back to the US, again on the Disney Ship- Wonder) we stopped in Cobh Ireland for a shore excursion day.

This was the stop that I was most excited for on the whole cruise. Visiting Cohb, Ireland felt like we really checked something special off our travel bucket list.

Our cruise ship docked right in the heart of the city.

After we exited the ship, we were immediately met by our tour guide for the day, Annie. We booked her months ahead of time privately when the private tours operated by the cruise were already booked. It worked out perfectly.

After a (very boring) large group tour when we were in Aruba, we opt for small group/private tours whenever possible. By booking Annie, we were able to completely customize our day and not waste any of the little time we had in Ireland.

Before we even left for this trip, Annie had contacted us and asked what we wanted to do. From there she created a loose itinerary with options for us to choose from throughout the day. This worked out well and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time in Ireland.

We started and ended our day in the city of Cobh. 

This area was called Queenstown in the past and the last stop before the Titanic set sail on that fateful sailing. We had planned to tour the Titanic museum when we arrived back after our tour, but there wasn’t enough time as they have blocked tour schedules. Looking back, we could have done this first thing and had enough time for the rest of our adventures.

Coincidently, it was also the spot where our ancestors departed when they immigrated to America!

Right outside the cruise terminal is the Cobh Heritage Centre where you can learn and explore. They also have a food area inside too if you prefer to hop off the ship and explore close by instead of taking a grander shore excursion.

I could have taken pictures for hours here. The colors were vibrant and rich.

We also walked up to St. Colman’s Cathedral where you could see down to the heart of the city.

And of course, we let Emmy run out some of her energy in the grass by where we were docked. You can see from the blur that she never slows down!

Soon it was time for the private tour we booked.

Annie picked us up and we headed straight to Blarney Castle. It was about a 45-minute drive, due to a bit of congestion, but I would leave at least an hour each direction going back and forth so you don’t miss the ship!

We didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone because I’m a germaphobe and because the wait to go up to the top of the castle was over an hour long.

On cruise ship days you will want to get there super early if you plan to kiss it and try to beat the buses.

Instead of waiting in the line for the Blarney Stone, we explored around the castle and all through the gardens and cave.

It was absolutely everything we dreamed it would be.

The stonework is phenomenal, the gardens lush and green and the people kind and welcoming. Walking around the grounds made me feel like I was back in the homeland of my ancestors.

It was even more special being able to go with my parents. My dad is over 90% Irish with a bit of French and English thrown in (thank you Ancestry DNA) and it was his first time here. We had talked about him going for what felt like forever so this was a big moment for all of us.

This was in mid-September and the weather was great. It was on the cool side but had actual warm moments. I much prefer this kind of temperature to overly hot, but you will want to for sure bring a warm sweater and a raincoat possibly too.

Instead of leaving straight away, we also explored the surrounding town of Blarney.

Here you will find a coffee shop that sells sandwiches and snacks and also a grocery store with an ice cream counter. There were a number of other places too for drinks and food. It’s not too big of a place but it is easy to spend an hour wandering.

Last stop on our shore excursion day in Cobh with our family was to Cork City, or City Cork as they call it.

We wandered through the streets thinking we would do some shopping and get a bite to eat but finding a good (family-friendly) pub turned out to be a bit of a challenge. There were a lot of pubs, but those pubs weren’t places I wanted to bring the kids into. 

We finally found one, and not only was it perfect for everyone in the family, but they actually had veggie options like the bangers and mash! They were so good!

And there was regular fish and chips for my parents.

The real reason for the stop was so that my dad could have a proper beer in Ireland.

There was no way we were going to come all this way and not get him a Guinness!

The pub felt like equal parts sports and history museum too… with some motivational material thrown in. We would totally recommend bringing your family here too. It is called The Thomond Bar in Cork. I guess I just wrote a little review of it completely not even on purpose.

We really saw and did a lot for a single cruise ship excursion day in Cobh (Cork) Ireland.

We had a blast and were able to check Ireland off our travel list, at least in pencil. We are for sure coming back to completely mark it off in ink. We are thinking of spending a few weeks driving the whole land and really getting a feel for it!

Let’s continue the conversation on Instagram…


Pin for later…

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.