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Things To Do In Waterford Town
Waterford boasts a history that is over 1000 years old. Founded by the Vikings sometime in the 9th-century, Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and is located along River Suir in the south-eastern part of the country. Waterford’s Viking association is what drives most tourists to visit and explore the city’s attractions, but there is plenty more to enjoy here; like its stunning landscapes, serene coastlines, and centuries-old monuments that will particularly appeal to all history lovers. Waterford Crystal, which has been around since the 18th-century, is also a part of the city’s top attractions, with its manufacturing facility receiving large numbers of visitors on a regular basis. Read on to know more about the top things to do and explore when you visit Waterford.
Tour the Viking Triangle
The Viking Triangle is a district in Waterford wherein most of the city’s top sights and attractions lie. Waterford was founded by the Vikings almost a thousand years ago; it’s only fitting that one of the most important locations in the city is dedicated to them. Within an area of just one square mile, you can find the majestic Bishop’s Palace, the ancient Reginald’s Tower, the historical Medieval Museum, the world-famous House of Waterford Crystal and the Theatre Royal; all of which are the top spots worth visiting when you are in Waterford. You will also find a life-size – almost 12 metres long – replica of a Viking longboat right alongside Reginald’s Tower. In 2018, the Viking Triangle became the venue for the city’s first annual Viking Festival. It was one of Waterford’s fanciest affairs, complete with Viking food, a real forge with the making of arrowheads, archery and weapon handling demonstrations.
Visit the House of Waterford Crystal
Waterford is world-renowned for its crystal items. The House of Waterford Crystal is originally more than 300 years old, but the company was reborn and revamped in 2010 and now organizes tours of the manufacturing facility where visitors can witness crystal-making and glass-blowing for themselves. With over 826 tons of crystal blown, cut and polished to create stunning beauties of glasswork here each year, Waterford has made a name for itself internationally for its famed crystal pieces. Visitors also get to interact with the crystal-makers on this hour-long tour, where they get to learn first-hand about the ancient techniques used in the crystal-making process. At the end of the tour, you can even stop by the retail store here to take some of these beautiful pieces back home with you.
Experience ‘King of the Vikings’
One of Waterford’s latest attractions, King of the Vikings is a virtual reality adventure program on Bailey’s Street in the Viking Triangle district. Opened in 2017, it is located in the Franciscan Friary from the 13th-century; a thatched Viking house has been built here with the help of items and methodology dating back to the Viking period. The virtual reality program lasts 30 minutes, where visitors meet guides wearing period costumes and get to wear a virtual reality headset, allowing them to step back into the Viking era. The stunning visuals aren’t just the only thing to look forward to; the whole program has a storyline where you get to learn the fascinating history of the country’s Viking past. Tickets are limited, so it is a good idea to go early in the day and grab the most convenient time slot for yourself to ensure you don’t miss this experience while you’re in Waterford.
Hiking Over Comeragh Mountains and Coumshingaun Lough
The Comeragh Mountains are a set of 12 peaks situated west of Waterford and are known to be one of the best spots for hiking in the region. The highest peak in the mountain range is just short of 800 metres, and with a smooth terrain that is mostly made of bogs and moors, none of the peaks is too difficult for an exciting climb. The views from these mountains are simply stunning, with the Irish countryside visible right up till the sea on clear days. The true highlight of the area is the Coumshingaun Lough, which is the largest glacial lake in the country and is nicknamed the ‘jewel of the Comeraghs’. There is a 7.5 km walking trail around the lake, which you will absolutely love if you are fond of nature and hiking. There are other glacial lakes like Coum Iarthair and Crotty’s Lough that are also worthy of a visit here.
Take a Drive along the Copper Coast
A scenic stretch of coastline that lies between the towns of Dungarvan and Tramore, the Copper Coast is often regarded as one of the most picturesque drives in the country. The landscape is spectacularly beautiful, with ever-changing and apparently endless views of rolling hills and steep cliffs. In 2001, the Copper Coast was declared a European Geopark, and later in 2004, was given the title of UNESCO Global Geopark. It is a geologically diverse area and even shows records of the ice age and of Palaeozoic volcanism. Anyone who loves a good hike is sure to love trekking through the walking trails of these breath-taking landscapes.
Spend an Afternoon at Tramore Beach
Tramore Beach is one spot that provides ample opportunity for you to enjoy the sun and sand while admiring the beauty of the surrounding sea landscapes. There is a 7-km walk that goes from the shore to the lagoon through the sandhills, with plenty of lovely views along the way. Tramore Beach is also a popular site for surfers; anyone who is interested in the sport can purchase everything they need at the Tramore Surf Shop nearby. If you are a first-timer who wants to try their hand at surfing, you can also book lessons at the Tbay Surf & Eco Centre.
Cycle through the Waterford Greenway
The Waterford Greenway is an old railway line that was laid down in 1872 between Waterford and Mallow and was soon lauded as one of the most picturesque routes in Ireland. The line was shut down in 1987 and three decades later was resurfaced with asphalt and converted into an off-road trail for walkers and cyclists. This 46-km track goes from Waterford to Dungarvan and is one of the most scenic routes you will experience in the country; you can begin from the banks of the River Suir and get to pass over three viaducts while enjoying spectacular views of the countryside. You’ll get to see desolate old railway stations, lush gorges that are covered in vegetation, and the Ballyvoyle tunnel on the way to Dungarvan. There are lots of shops around where you can rent your own pair of e-bikes, along with a bunch of places on the way where you can stop for a drink or an ice-cream.
Take a Waterford City Walking Tour with Jack Burtchaell
Visitors will find plenty of walking tours in Waterford, many of them self-guided and a lot of others accompanied by tour guides. However, one of the best ways to explore the city’s top attractions is through Jack Burtchaell’s one-hour City Walking Tours. This award-winning tour guide will take you through four national monuments, two cathedrals, and many other highlights of the city while delivering all kinds of insights about Waterford’s history in a charming and humorous manner. While these are spots in the city you may be able to visit and explore by yourself, becoming a part of Jack Burtchaell’s tour group is much like a ritual when you visit Waterford. Moreover, the town centre is quite small, which makes one-hour more than enough time to visit the sights in great detail.
Spend a Night at the Waterford Castle Resort and Golf Course
If your budget allows it, Waterford Castle Resort is one of the best places to stay in the city. It is also a great way to add a little luxury to your trip while staying in any one of the lodges of the resort, which is situated on an island in the middle of the city and occupies an area of almost 310 acres. The Waterford Castle dates back to the 16th-century and was owned by the Fitzgerald family for centuries before being converted into a hotel in the 1980s; the interiors still retain their old Renaissance feel. Even if you don’t plan a stay here, the resort is still a great place to visit for a luxurious afternoon tea, for a round of golf or for some peaceful walks along the water’s edge. It is also a great place for bird watching, and you can even spot deer roaming around the golf course.
Explore the Local Pubs
Waterford has its fair share of pubs that make nightlife in the city pretty interesting. Start your evening with a pint at Katty Barry’s, a family-run pub that has been named after an old actress and has fantastic live music sessions. The Munster Bar is one of the oldest bars in the city and has some great seafood options. On Saturday nights, hit up The Gingerman for good meals and a fun evening. For a little bit of everything, try The Reg in the Viking Triangle; part restaurant, part craft beer bar, and part gastro bar, this spot has the very best of everything.