Cork is the largest of Ireland's counties. It sprawls across the south east coastline and takes in dozens of small villages and memorable countryside. Car hire in County Cork frees visitors to book hotels where they prefer without missing out on any sights or activities. Cork is well-connected, with a busy airport and regular ferry connections to France.
Cork city is where most of the action takes place. This university town fosters an increasingly diverse pub, club and arts scene that some would say rivals Dublin's. Price is a major difference, though, as restaurants and pubs in Cork are substantially cheaper than those in the capital city.
Most of the architectural highlights are in Cork city proper, but the biggest local attraction is outside city limits. Blarney Castle and its kiss-able stone draw domestic and international tourists in droves. With car rental in County Cork, you can slip out to the castle early in the morning before the tour buses unleash the crowds. Some tourists get an even earlier start by booking a room in a local hotel. Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel is a popular option.
With a car at your disposal, you'll be happy you drove R574 through Healy Pass in the south west corner of the county. It connects Adrigole to Lauragh and offers unrivalled views over the interior. This is entire corner of Cork County is spectacular, branching into three rocky peninsulas that host tiny fishing villages and high Atlantic drama. Kinsale is the home of the very best of Irish food and is well worth a visit.
County Cork overflows with attractive places to be based, and most tourists spend half their time in Cork city proper at a hotel like Hayfield Manor, and the other half in more remote parts. Silver Springs Moran Hotel is minutes from the city centre and regularly hosts conferences. Outlying options include Fota Island Resort, Vienna Woods Hotel (Glanmire), Castle Hotel (Macroom) and Maryborough Hotel and Spa (Douglas).