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This page is particularly for those of you who are not shopalholics but who want to ‘fasttrack’ your gift buying and spend more time exploring the streets.
Cork is a great shopping city and has everything that you could ask for all within a very compact and easy to navigate area.
The only way to shop in Cork City is on foot.
If you have arrived into the city by car then you must park it at one of the eight car parks dotted throughout the city. The car parks are a mixture of City Council-owned and private. None are free and while the hourly rate is quite expensive, it is worth it to know that your car is secure. For example 4 hours parking will cost you anything between 7 and 11 Euro. There is on street parking but it too must be paid for in the form of a parking card which can be purchased in any nearby shops (Parking in Cork City).
Another option is to use the only park and ride facility. This is a large carpark called Black Ash on the outskirts of the city where for 5 euro you and the other car occupants can leave your car in this secure car park and take the 10 minute bus journey into the city (Lapps Quay). The service is every 10 minutes at peak times. There is no service on a Sunday. Yes that's right 5 Euro for parking AND the bus ride both ways !!! (Reason it's so cheap is that the city council are trying to encourage more people to use the service)
While all the car parks have security and car break-ins are extremely rare you should not leave anything valuable in view when you leave your car. There is no point in encouraging a break in.
If you arrive into the city by bus you will either be dropped on the South Mall, Patrick Street (the main street) or more likely, the bus office. These three locations are only a few minutes walk from the Main shopping street.
When you arrive in the City Centre you must head straight into Merchants quay shopping centre , located at Patrick Street beside St. Patricks Bridge. Housed in the Shopping Centre here are a number of fashion/gift shops and the anchor tenants are
Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and the famous 'Dunnes Stores' There is a large and reasonable self service café/diner on the first floor named Kylemore. There are tables there with views over St Patricks street (main street). So you can sit there and people watch.
The Merchants Quay is a very good option and apart from the department stores, there are also great options in smaller shops, boutiques, coffee shops, pharmacies etc. The nice thing about this centre is that it is not huge and you can comfortably browse around it in less than an hour, obviously the serious shopper will take longer. Price wise the range varies very much from shop to shop.
Merchants Quay is very easy to find. Just aim for Patricks Bridge where you will see the small statue of Father Matthew. The entrance to Merchants quay is just 10 metres from this statue, (With your back to the river it’s on your left) It's the perfect place on a wet day.
If you cannot find (!!!) what you are looking for here, there are two more department shops very close by where your investigations can continue. One is Brown Thomas (expensive, exclusive designer make up, male, female, kids fashion, homewares and gifts) This shop is on the same side of the street as the entrance to Merchants Quay and only two minutes walk away from the river. Nice cafe in Brown Thomas too, but more expensive than the others mentioned. There is a good homewares/kitchen shop on the third floor. Lots of gadgets there.
Penneys (mainly less expensive fashions) is a further 2 minutes walk away from Brown Thomas again on the same side of the street. It gets very packed at weekends. A very new and impressive Dunnes Stores opened on St. Patricks street in 2009. It's easy to find, being just across the road from Penneys.
In 2009, a new shopping precinct named 'Opera Lane' opened and is home to a number of usual high street chains such as H&M, Gap, Next etc. Opera Lane is a street just off St Patricks street and is worth investigating.
There are many other shops in the area but they are not for this article, which is mainly for those of you whose main focus is to get the shopping ‘over and done with’ as quickly as possible.
ENJOY THE SHOPPING (If you can !!)