The county of Waterford is rich with history and culture. As the oldest county in Ireland, Waterford has made its mark on history for centuries.
The name Waterford comes from Old Norse, Veðrafjǫrðr, meaning ‘ram (wether) fjord’. Waterford has a deep history with Viking Raiders, with the first viking settlement in the county in 853. The Vikings were subsequently driven out by Irish natives, but re-established themselves in Waterford in 914. Led by Ottir Iarla, and later, Ragnall ua Ímair, they went on to build what is now known as Ireland’s first city.
Aside from its historic roots, Waterford is known for many other wonderful things, such as beaches, nightlife, mountain walks, scenic views, Waterford Crystal and more.
Here is a list of the Top 10 Things to do in Waterford in 2023:
The Viking Triangle
Keeping with the theme of Vikings in Waterford, an exciting addition to the city is The Viking Triangle.
Step back into history, and visit the Viking settlements of Waterford as part of the interactive virtual reality experience; King of the Vikings.
The Viking Triangle is also home to Reginald’s Tower, Waterford’s landmark monument. In operation for 800 years, Reginald’s Tower is Ireland’s oldest civic building. Reginald’s Tower is still in use today and runs immersive tours of Waterford’s history, with tickets available at: https://heritageireland.ie/places-to-visit/reginalds-tower/
After your visit to Reginald’s Tower, take a picture next to the 40ft Viking Longboat on display outside the tower! Made by a group of Waterford men, and aided by The Irish State Agency, the longboat is modeled after one of the famous Viking ships found in Roskilde, Denmark.
Finally, take a trip to Waterford’s Medieval Museum, the only purpose built medieval museum in the country and the only building on the island of Ireland to incorporate two medieval chambers as part of the museum; the 13th century Chorister’s Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault. Explore the museum and its artifacts, including the Great Charter Roll viewed by HM King Charles III and the Queen Consort.
With activities for all the family, The Viking Triangle is the perfect place to visit.
Waterford City is home to some incredible festivals that take place throughout the year, including, Spraoi, Summer in the City, and Winterval, one of Ireland’s most popular Christmas festivals.
Spraoi is Ireland’s premiere street arts and spectacle festival. It was also named one of Ireland’s top festivals by The Irish Times.
Running over the August Bank Holiday weekend, also known as ‘Spraoi Weekend’ to some, acts from around the world flock to Waterford’s medieval streets.
With many types of performances, workshops and street art available over the entire weekend, Spraoi is a family friendly spectacle that you do not want to miss.
As if it couldn’t get better, Spraoi ends the awe inspiring weekend with a jaw dropping parade that both wonders and delights its viewers, as well as a firework display, with fireworks launched from Waterford’s River Suir.
As well as Spraoi, Waterford also hosts the Summer in City over the Summer months.
Summer in the City is a music and arts festival held in Waterford City, taking place every weekend from June-August. John Roberts Square in Waterford City becomes a hive of activity, with a number of bands and street performers taking to the stand to display their skill.
So, relax, take a seat, and bask in the sunny south east’s sunshine as you listen to some of Waterford’s best acts all weekend long.
If you thought winter was the end of festival season, then you obviously haven’t been to Waterford! Don’t put away your festival spirits just yet, and submerge yourself in Winterval, one of Ireland’s best Christmas festivals, held in Waterford City.
Winterval brings Christmas joy to everyone around, with some amazing activities for all the family, including; Christmas markets, carousel rides, hot chocolate, light shows and so much more.
Let’s not forget the ice skating rink and the Waterford Eye ferris wheel that are put up just for the Winterval Festival.
With all this and more, why not make Waterford your go-to destination all year round?
The Waterford Greenway
The Waterford Greenway is a relatively new attraction in Waterford, compared to others on this list.
The Waterford Greenway is a beautiful walkway, built on the old railway line, that stretches from Waterford to Dungarvan. The trail is 46km in total, with scenic views for the entirety of the journey.
There are bike hiring options, so that you can cycle the Waterford Greenway if you’d prefer. There are also cafes and rest stops along the way, so you can enjoy your time surrounded by nature.
Comeragh Mountains and Mahon Falls
The Comeragh Mountains are a beautiful glaciated mountain range near Dungarvan, in County Waterford.
The mountain range stretches nearly as far as Clonmel, with some gorgeous views all around.
For all you mountain lovers, there is a 6.8 mile point-to-point trail that is considered moderately difficult, and takes about 4 hours and 22 minutes to complete, so perfect for a day of hiking!
However, before you start the trail, you should take a visit to the breathtaking Mahon Falls.
Mahon Falls is an 80 meter waterfall formed by River Mahon as it falls from the Comeragh Plateau. With its gorgeous scenery, and smooth rocks dotted around the waterfall, it is the perfect, picturesque place to sit and have a picnic.
Waterford City has great nightlife and a buzz around the town. With a number of bars, clubs, and restaurants in walking distance, there’s something to suit everyone’s needs.
Ranked in the Top 20 places in Ireland for nightlife, Waterford has some fantastic spots.
Starting with a town favorite; Geoffs. Everyone in Waterford loves Geoffs. With some of the absolute best food you can get in the city, as well as a great range of beers, wine, and spirits, Geoff’s is truly the place to be.
Another honorable mention is Tully’s Bar. Located on O’Connell Street, Tully’s Bar has that cozy, warm and welcoming atmosphere that we’ve all come to love. They have a wide selection of craft beers, as well as whiskeys (including Waterford Whiskey), and wonderful staff, Tully’s is a tried and true establishment in Waterford City.
In comparison to the hustle and bustle of Waterford’s nightlife, Waterford Castle is the tranquil space we all need.
While Waterford Castle is technically a hotel, the grounds are open to the public, and the walks around the area are phenomenal.
Situated on an Island, the hotel runs a private ferry to and from the island, that both cars and pedestrians can access.
As well as beautiful surrounding areas, Waterford Castle Hotel offers a glorious afternoon tea spread. See details below:
Garter Lane is a performing arts theater in the heart of Waterford City. According to Garter Lane, their mission statement is to: “develop and promote creative activity, and initiating and developing arts activities, particularly in areas that have until now been underdeveloped”.
Garter Lane is holding a variety of incredible workshops, exhibitions and shows over the coming months.
Roibi O’Rua, Visual Arts and Outreach Assistant from Garter Lane says: “We have a lot of fantastic exhibition’s coming up, particularly the Aileen MacKeogh exhibition that will run this week, which is a wonderful exhibition of the work of Aileen MacKeogh,who is a really interesting leading Irish female artist, and has unfortunately, been slightly forgotten since her passing, so it is lovely to have her work here on display”.
“We also have tours of workshops in the Garter Lane Theatre surrounding those exhibitions in Irish for Seachtain na Gaeilge”.
Some other exciting events that are happening at Garter Lane in the next few weeks are Musici Ireland Violin and Viola Concert on February 26th, Voices of Ukraine Film Screening and Q&A on 1st March and Blue Raincoat Theatre’s ‘Happy Days’ on the 4th March.
For more information on any of the events above and many more, click the link below:
The Waterford Walls Festival brings Waterford City to life. Waterford Walls is an art festival that see’s local artists and artists from around the world coming to Waterford City to create masterpieces on our walls.
They take a plain, old wall in the city and create what can only be described as magic. Their efforts bring joy to our city and livens up our days.
Waterford Walls say: “Waterford Walls Festival impacts communities through artistic collaborations. We engage in artistic exchanges and collaborations focused on connecting diverse people and communities both in Ireland and internationally”.
To learn more on Waterford Walls, see below:
Waterford Crystal Factory
Waterford Crystal is famous around the world, with generations receiving handmade pieces of crystal for weddings, birthdays and special celebrations.
The Waterford Crystal Factory and Showroom is in the heart of Waterford City. Take a look inside the beautiful showroom, at all the ornate crystal and signature pieces.
Then, take a tour through the factory, where crystal is still handmade, to this day. Watch as the talented craftsmen cut, blow, and shape crystal into various pieces, and learn about Waterford’s history in Crystal production.
Waterford Crystal has been central in the lives of Waterford people for centuries, and it is something that is still dear to many of our hearts.
Book tickets for a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory below:
Outside Waterford City lies the beachtown of Tramore, an ideal getaway for everyone in the family.
Visit the glorious Tramore Beach, or take some time out in one of the many beachfront cafes. Eat Dooley’s fish and chips in the sand, or take a stroll to the Sandhills.
When you’re all beached out, take a trip to the Amusements, just seconds from the beachfront. With crazy golf, roller coasters, and waltzers to name a few, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Then, spend your evening at one of Tramore’s traditional Irish pubs, with great food and live music, what else could you ask for?
If that wasn’t enough, there is also a direct bus route back to Waterford city, you can relax and enjoy your time in Tramore.
In conclusion, Waterford has an abundance of things to offer anyone passing through. With so much to see, do and experience, why wouldn’t you stop by?