Cork Ireland is cheerfully referred to as the 'real capital of Ireland' by the locals. The compact city center is intersected by the River Lee and surrounded by interesting waterways. The area north and south of St Patrick's Street is packed full of great restaurants and pubs; the webs of narrow streets makes this arguably one of the city's most entertaining quarters. Cork's dynamic flair is reflected in contemporary buildings, bars and arts centers. The best of the city is still happily traditional though, and you can be sure of a genuinely proud welcome from the locals. Climb the bell tower at St Anne's Church in the historic Shandon area of Cork. Pull hard on the ropes to ring the Shandon Bells, and instantly you become part of a centuries old tradition. Not only this, but you will be rewarded with the spectacular views from your elevated vantage point. For a bit of culture, head over to the Crawford Gallery. Located just off Patrick's Street, budget-conscious travellers will be happy to know that entrance is free. It has been an artistic institution since its 1880s beginning, and at the heart of this gallery you will find the famous Canova Casts. These are a series of plaster casts donated by the Vatican Museum, including The Belvedere Torso, The Laocoon and The Disc Thrower. History lovers and those with an interest in Military pasts should head to Camden Fort (renamed Fort Meagher). It is internationally recognised as being one of the finest remaining examples of a classical coastal artillery fort in the world. The fort dates back 400 years and played a pivotal role in the defence of Ireland thanks to its strong strategic position. Although impressive to look at, it is interesting to note that 65% of the fort is located in a labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers. Camden Fort Meagher is blessed with breathtakingly beautiful views over Cork Harbour, Roches Point and Fort Carlisle, which makes it worth visiting even if history is not your forte, pun intended. Towering over Cork City, St Fin Barre's Cathedral is a sight to behold. A brilliant place to observe architecture and historical art, the intimacy of the cathedral and the tranquil atmosphere can be appreciated by all, including non-churchgoers. The small entry fee contributes towards the cost of its upkeep and the gardens are also serene and well maintained. If you are very lucky, you may happen upon an organ recital, which makes the experience all the more special. A vibrant Irish music session has rightly earned its place on the Bucket List for anyone visiting Ireland. Although live music is an everyday event in most pubs, savvy locals know that Sin E is one of the best pubs for fiddle players. On an average night, up to 10 could be performing. Alternatively, lively traditional music also rolls out of An Spailpin Fanach, which also serves up a perfect pint of stout.