Spike Island Cork


3h 30min
Spike Island Cork is Ireland’s historic island, with over 1300 years of Irish history. The island has been home to a remote monastery in the Celtic sea, a fortress built to defend an Empire, an island prison that held a nation and centuries of Irish social life. Today a short and scenic ferry journey steered by a local crew departs from heritage town Cobh, to take you to this award-winning visitor attraction. Watch out for seals and local wildlife and sea life on the 12-minute journey. On the island discover 200-year-old Fort Mitchel, the 24 acre star shaped Fortress built to defend an Empire. You can fire its cannons and climb its walls for incredible views of the surrounding harbour. The Fortress became the largest prison in the world in the 1850’s and there has never been a larger prison in Ireland or Britain before or since. You can walk its prison corridors, sit in its solitary cells, and experience life as a prisoner from centuries ago. Several other exhibitions set in original buildings tell the story of the islands residents and you can read the words they wrote; see the crafts they made and experience their island lifestyle. For nature lovers there are scenically stunning island walking trails that let you walk among nature and wildlife. Explore them with your free map. Join Ireland best storytellers for a mesmerizing insight into the personal stories of this unique corner of the Ancient East, named winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction in 2017. Entry includes return ferry, guided tour, free map and app, children’s fairy trail, access to all exhibitions and scenic island walks, and there is a cafe and gift shop on site.

Current opening times

Monday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Tuesday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Wednesday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Thursday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Friday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sunday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM


  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Paid Visit
  • Covid-19 Guidelines
  • Credit Card Accepted
  • Guided Tours
  • Car Parking Available
  • Guide Dogs Welcomed
  • Toilets
  • Food On Site
  • Wifi
  • Retail On Site
  • Audio Guide Available
  • Mobile Ticket Accepted
  • Paper Ticket Accepted
  • Families
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking and Hiking
  • Heritage Sites
  • Kids
  • Solo Visitors
  • Friends
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Mature visitors
  • Historical
  • Return ferry ride from heritage town Cobh, across the world's 2nd largest natural harbour. Just 12 minutes duration each way
  • Approx 45-minute optional guided tour on arrival, with an experienced guide
  • A FREE map and downloadable app is available for all arrivals. Use this to self-explore after your tour 
  • Access to over a dozen separate museums and exhibitions, on a variety of subjects covering Ireland's military, penal, national, social, religious, and natural history
  • See the 1850's Punishment block, the modern 1980's cells, Ireland's largest artillery gun park with tanks and cannons, walk the deep long tunnels to the harbour defense guns, and more
  • Scale the forts walls for incredible views to the mainland and Cobh and Cork harbour
  • Two signposted and interpreted outer island walking trails. Discover nature and wildlife with incredible harbour views
  • Extensive time to explore the island on a self-guided basis after your tour.  Average visit length 3.5 hours, longer or shorter on request
  • A fully stocked cafe and gift shop on site 
  • Audio guides can be purchased for just €3 in French, German, Irish and English
We also offer bespoke behind the scenes tours!  See areas off limits to the general public.  And we offer meeting room hire, activity days and school visits. See www.spikeislandcork.ie.
Tickets purchased online must be cancelled at least 48 hours before the sailing is due to depart for a full refund. No refunds or change of boat for late arrivals for any reason.  
Enjoy a ferry ride across stunning Cork harbour, watching out for seals and dolphins. Before our guided tour whisks you through 1300 years of immersive Irish history.   

Inside our original buildings you can learn more about our past.  
  • See the 1850's Punishment block, used to house unruly Victorian era prisoners, and also our modern 1980's prison cells, showing how prison life changed with time
  • Discover Ireland's largest covered artillery gun park, with tanks, anti-aircraft guns, radar installations, cannons and more
  • Walk the long tunnels to the harbour defence guns
  • Scale the forts walls for incredible harbour and mainland views
  • Stand trial as an Irish rebel in our 'Independence' exhibition
  • See video and audio about what life was like for the former island residents in our social history rooms
  • Learn about the Irish Army and Navy in our Defence Forces rooms
  • Enjoy the stunning island walks with wildlife, nature, abandoned villages and convict cemeteries

And so much more!  With a cafe and gift shop on site, a typical visit of 3.5 hours flies by, and is suitable for all ages, interests, and abilities.  Discover Captains and Convicts at Ireland's historic island!

Contact details

  • Kennedy Pier
  • Cobh
  • Ireland