Shifting down a few gears for a weekend away in Cork

There is nothing like getting away as a couple to keep the romance alive and if you are thinking about your next trip, then consider Cork. The city itself has plenty on offer to keep you entertained, while the surrounding countryside is perfect for that much-craved solitude.

Read on for your guide to help you plan the ultimate getaway, just the two of you.

Where to stay

The main question when organising accommodation for your weekend in Cork is whether you want to be based in the city or the countryside. Only you know what type of couple you are. Do you prefer to have all the amenities, bars and restaurants close at hand or would you prefer to escape to a rural retreat?

Either way it can be a good idea to hire a car with Auto Europe to give you the flexibility to move between the two. From your hotel in Cork city you can hit the road and head off to find your own little piece of the Emerald Isle, before returning to an evening of fine food and drinking in the metropolis. If you are located in the surrounding area then a trip into the city to experience some of its famed culture is a must.

The five-star Kingley Hotel on Western Road is a good option in Cork itself, as is the Hayfield Manor Hotel on College Road. Both of these are close enough to the action without being noisy or intrusive. They also offer enough luxury to let all your cares melt away and enjoy being in each other’s company.

For those who have opted for a more rural setting, you can’t beat the Maritime Hotel with its views out across Bantry Bay. This four-star establishment offers up the idea of an Irish romantic break of epic proportions. But if you or your partner has the gift of the gab, then you won’t be able to resist staying within sight of the famous Blarney Castle at the four-star golf resort.

Romantic activities

What is romantic for one couple may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but there are a certain number of things that tick the boxes for most people. Pick and choose the ones that suit you and your partner, but also let the magic of Cork create its own romantic memories for you too.

Whale watching – the waters around Ireland have been designated a whale and dolphin sanctuary since the 1990s and the Cork coastline is a great place to spot these majestic mammals. Depending on the time of year you may see fin whales, minke whales, harbour porpoises, common dolphins and basking sharks.

Fota Arboretum and Gardens – strolling around this beautiful collection of shrubs and flowers dating back to the 19th century on Fota Island is a great way to pass time with your loved one. The walled garden and glass houses add interest, as do the notes on the planting that can be found throughout. Expect to see species from Japan, China, South America, the Himalayas and North America.

Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral – Cork’s impressive limestone cathedral was built by William Burges and remains an important landmark in the city to this day. Take a look around the church and admire its stained glass windows, stone carving and depiction of foolish virgins by the west door.

Cyprus and its cities

Cyprus is an island of many facets and if you’re intending to take a holiday there, it’s best to plan so that you can explore as many of them as possible. Tourists often forsake the cities in favour of those gorgeous sandy beaches and the rugged terrain that have given the island its status as a holiday paradise, but the major cities have just as much charm as the fishing villages on the outskirts. Good nightlife, plenty of cafes and culture in abundance, you can definitely expect to find all of these in the metropolises below. With flights to Cyprus with companies such as Monarch so cheap at the moment, why not book a weekend off and explore one of them?

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Lefkosia

The city of Lefkosia is the capital and business centre of the island, and as such, you can expect a busy atmosphere as well as a thriving town centre. During the day, you’ll find plenty of places to sample that fine Cypriot coffee – Kafenio in Nikokleous and Raw in Themistokli Dervi are two of the finest recommendations – but you’ll also be treated to a rather exciting nightlife. For a unique evening experience, head to Plato’s. Tucked away inside an old house, it feels very much like a jazz joint and serves a huge variety of beers from all over the world. Dress appropriately, though.

Top of the list of cultural attractions is Buyuk Han, a stunning Ottoman-era construction where a local market still take place on a regular basis (check with your accommodation provider – they should be able to tell you when the market is on). Oddly enough, it’s also worth tracking down the local Debenhams for a first-class panoramic look at Lefkosia from the top floor. Don’t feel too self-conscious – everyone is doing it.

Lemesos

It’s all about the culture in Lemesos. The second largest city in Cyprus is an immensely popular tourist destination for many reasons, but the plethora of historical attractions is certainly a huge draw. Highlights to see include the Grand Mosque in the old Turkish quarter, the archaeological museum and, of course, Lemesos’ very own medieval castle. Constructed in the 14th century, this imposing structure has impressed and enthralled the city’s visitors since the day it was completed.

Larnaca

Our third city destination is the metropolis of Larnaca. Don’t be fooled by the concrete jungle feel offered by the circular steel towers here – there’s still plenty of beauty to be unearthed. If you have a choice, come here during the winter months. You won’t be disappointed – the nearby Salt Lake fills with water and plays host to flocks of beautiful flamingos.

But there’s plenty to do in the summer as well – be sure to visit the Ayios Lazarus, and dive down to the wreck of the Zenobia if you get the opportunity.

Paphos

Our final destination is Paphos, which more than holds its own against its fellow cities. Must-visit locations include the Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, the Ayios Neophytos monastery and – particularly if you’re a wildlife fan – the Lara Bay Turtle Conservation Station, which is every bit as wonderful as it sounds. Paphos is also coastal and, as such, has some of the best beaches in Cyprus. Head to St George with a beach towel and a good book for some serene coastline.