Days Out: Spike Island, Cork – How to book and is it suitable for kids

We visited Spike Island on June Bank Holiday Monday.


We booked online with Fortress Spike Island, Cork and paid €65.90 for our family of 2 adults & 3 children.

When booking online you choose a boat departure time, we chose 11am and returned at 2.30pm. (We booked Fota which is 5 minutes away for 3.30pm so had a big day out)

The boat trip is 10 minutes long. On arrival you’re met by a guide and can choose to do the 30 minute tour (no charge) or to go explore yourself. We did the tour which gave a history of the island from Fort to prison and told us about some notable residents and inmates, escapes and riots.

We were surprised to find a fairy trail in the courtyard (map at the check in). We explored the battlements, visited the exhibits, enjoyed lunch (try the soup) in the café and did the Glacis walk around the outside of the battlements.

Highlights

  • The punishment block – cells as they were
  • Exhibits about prison life and inmates and about the people who lived on the island
  • Gun room and game in the exhibits
  • The deserted village (the island was evacuated after the riots in 1985
  • The view from the battlements
  • The walk outside the battlements (Glacis walk)

What you need to know:
– There is a Café (try the soup) and toilets on site
– You can extend (or shorten) your stay by booking on a different return boat in the gift shop when you’re on the island. If you want to see absolutely everything and do the tour and Glacis walk and eat lunch you’ll need more time. We didn’t extend ours but were happy with the time we had as the kids were done with exhibits at that stage

– Laoise (8) reckons that the place needs a slide or some sort of playground
– Suitable for buggies, one very steep incline to the entrance of the fort
– What age is it suitable for? My kids 8-12 were interested and asked questions, a lot would go over younger kids’ heads if they’re not interested already in “bad guys” or guns – so it’s suitable to bring them but there are places that they would probably enjoy more. Age 6+ would get more out of it

– We parked at Cobh Cathedral (free, on Google maps) and walked to the tour office on the pier. Allow at least 15 mins, it’s downhill there but uphill on the way back. I’d heard horror stories of traffic so we decided to go early and arrived at 10.15am on bank holiday Monday to an almost empty car park, it was full when we returned though so factor time to get parking in, and don’t miss the boat!

Spike Island is a great “big day out”, we’d recommend for kids aged 5 to 6 upwards.

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