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Pocket Guide: Fota

Interested in visiting Ireland’s only wildlife park? Why of course you are, so make a booking for a hotel on Fota Island. Covering some 780 acres, Fota is supremely accessible from nearby Cork - only a 15-minute direct drive from the airport and seven miles by road from Cork itself, it can also be reached by both train and ferry. Accommodation on Fota or in the vicinity is suitable especially for families, since children will love visiting the wildlife park; golfers (there are three championship courses within a few miles) and anyone looking for a spot of pampering, as numerous prestigious hotels and guesthouses with well-appointed spa facilities and first-class restaurants dot the area.

Fota is deservedly one of the Top 10 visitor attractions in Ireland. There are dozens of animal species here, several rare or endangered, that have adapted to the changeable Irish climate. Many of them wander freely around the park’s extensive grounds, although not the cheetahs or Sumatran tigers, thankfully. Kids will adore meeting the monkeys, meerkats, penguins, kangaroos and lemurs, while adults may get a thrill from watching cheetahs pursue their meals.

Fota is ideal for family outings or longer holidays. Beyond the park, the other main draw to the island is the historic Fota House. Formerly a simple hunting lodge, it was later converted into a stunning 70-room regency mansion by Sir Richard Morrison and his son Vetruvius, two of Ireland’s most distinguished architects. Guided tours of the house run from April to the end of October, where you can see what is surely one of the foremost collections of 18th and 19th century art and furniture in the country, as well as the beautifully crafted and preserved period details of the building itself. An on-site cafe has outdoor seating for sunny days and sells sumptuous homemade cakes!

On a warm day, nothing can beat taking a peaceful stroll through Fota Gardens. An arboretum contains parkland, an orangery, walled gardens, and a truly impressive collection of plants and trees. There is also a colourful rose collection, a sunken Italian garden and a classical summerhouse to enjoy.

Naturally, being so close to Cork, anyone staying on Fota itself or in the many surrounding hotels, guesthouses and bed and breakfasts is within reach of the city’s marvellous museums, galleries, restaurants and shops, not to mention the appealing countryside of County Cork, which is easily explored via a network of hiking and cycling trails. Must-visit attractions such as Cork City Gaol, Blarney Castle and the Titanic Exhibition in Cobh are only a short drive from Fota.

Book your Fota hotel through Expedia and you can take advantage of the best available rates, not to mention a series of verified and trustworthy reviews of each hotel from previous guests. Whatever your requirements for a holiday on Fota, be it a family-friendly hotel, a guesthouse that is happy to accommodate golfers or anyone interested in adventure sports or blissful isolation in a cosy bed and breakfast for a romantic couples’ retreat, you will find inspiration here.