Waterford? The place? Should you’ve by no means heard of this city in southern Ireland, you aren’t alone. However you’re lacking a trick. Perched on a delicate bend within the River Suir, a couple of miles from wild, storm-tossed coastlines trimmed with a few of Eire’s most stunning seashores, the placement is a knockout. And so is that this delightfully dinky, walkable metropolis: all of the extra as a result of it has managed to dodge the vacationer radar and preserve its low-profile cool.
Vikings rocked up right here in AD914 and based Eire’s oldest metropolis, whose history is now writ massive in one of many nation’s most partaking cultural quarters. Structure clever, the town will get its elegant Georgian swagger from the 18th-century increase of Waterford Crystal, the well-known glassworks which you’ll have heard of and, if not, can get to know at a fairly customer’s centre. However there’s extra to this metropolis than previous glories: specifically high-spirited festivals, a meals scene fizzing with creativity, and lots of an old-school pub the place you may seize a pint when the rain sweeps in.
The Irish Occasions voted Waterford the perfect place to stay in Eire in 2021. And also you solely want check out the sum of all this and what’s on the doorstep – from the rambling, wave-bashed Copper Coast to the lively pursuits of the car-free Waterford Greenway – to see exactly why it’s absolutely deserving of its second within the highlight.
What to do
The Viking Triangle & Waterford Treasures
On the positioning of the outdated Viking partitions, the Viking Triangle is Waterford’s cultural huge hitter. Right here you’ll discover the Waterford Treasures, a hat-trick of museums diving deeply into the town’s previous. A €15 (£12.60) Freedom of Waterford Pass will get you entry into the lot. Opening instances are Monday to Friday 9.15am-5pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm.
Essentially the most excellent of the trio is arguably the Anglo-Norman Reginald’s Tower, a chunky chess piece of a spherical tower by the quayside, with a longboat out entrance. At present present process renovation however set to reopen quickly (watch the web site for particulars), the museum spells out the town’s Viking previous in curious artefacts. Don’t miss the Hnefatafl (Viking chess) items carved from wooden and bone.
From right here it’s a minute’s stroll to the Medieval Museum, an architectural stunner in curved honey stone. It presents a captivating romp via the Center Ages in treasures just like the Nice Constitution Roll (1373), exhibiting the walled metropolis because it then was, and lavishly embroidered cloth-of-gold vestments made out of Italian silk.
All sober classical traces, the Georgian Bishop’s Palace has some fancy chandelier-lit flats to gawp at, in addition to the oldest surviving instance of Waterford Crystal – a 1789 Penrose decanter. Exterior, you’ll wish to pose alongside the enormous bronze sculptures of Viking newlyweds Strongbow and Aoife.
One have a look at the encompassing Comeragh Mountains and rugged coast might need you itching to get out into the greenery across the metropolis. Ask a Waterford native to rattle off the best issues about their metropolis and so they’ll inevitably point out the car-free Waterford Greenway, which swings inland from the Copper Coast for a 46km spin alongside outdated railway traces, taking in historic viaducts and dipping into ferny tunnels earlier than coming out by the seaside in Dungarvan. Head there for a hike, or rent a bike – cycle rent will set you again €25 (£17) per day, or €45 for an e-bike.
With seagulls wheeling above the marina and sea breezes that rip proper via you on blustery days, you may really feel the Atlantic right here, even in the event you can’t see it. Ah, but it surely’s not far.
Simply past the sickle-shaped seashore of Tramore, instantly south of the town, the Copper Coast unfurls in all its primordial magnificence, shaped by volcanic exercise 460 million years in the past and dealing with the bad-tempered Celtic Sea. Operating 25km from Kilfarrasy within the east to Stradbally within the west, this stretch of cliff and seashore, now a Unesco Global Geopark, is finest explored by automobile or bike. A part of the enjoyment will not be having any agenda and going from one cliff-rimmed cove to the following, however positively think about a cease on the geological backyard (entry free) to see mysteriously inscribed Ogham stones in addition to the “cursing stone” – stroll round it anticlockwise to successfully place your curse. Close by, the ghostly Nineteenth-century copper mining ruins of Tankardstown are one other atmospheric spot to pause in.
For an alternate tackle the coast, hook up with “sea gardener” Marie Power for an eye-opening seaweed foraging tour and picnic at a wild native seashore (dates and costs on request). Or discover from the water with Pure Adventure, who lead three-hour kayaking journeys (€50) to the coast’s caves, arches and tunnels.
The place to remain
In a Georgian townhouse close to the riverfront, Portree Guesthouse is an attractive funds B&B, with a spiral staircase twisting as much as candy, easy rooms. The house owners need you to deal with the place as dwelling, so be happy to assist your self to sizzling drinks within the lounge, use the basement kitchen to knock up a meal and retailer your bike in the event you’re biking the Greenway. A beneficiant Irish breakfast can be served. Doubles from €80 (£67), B&B.
On the southern fringes of city, Samuel’s Heritage B&B has a welcome as heat as a hug and beautiful views of the River Suir. Unfold throughout 30 acres of farmland and gardens, it’s a quiet escape, with unfussy, conventional rooms (together with an accessible one), plus somewhat health club and infrared sauna available. The Daunt household exit of their strategy to make breakfast memorable, with domestically sourced bacon, home-laid eggs, natural fruit and homebaked goodies.
The fanciest place to remain is Waterford Castle Resort, sitting by itself personal island reached by automobile ferry. This Sixteenth-century citadel hits the romantic candy spot with its ivy-draped exterior, inglenook fire, nice eating restaurant – and that’s all earlier than you retire to plush rooms filled with interval options like chandeliers, four-poster beds and clawfoot bathtubs. Even slicker and extra trendy are the three-bedroom self-catering lodges – nifty for teams and households. Actions within the grounds vary from golf to croquet, tennis and nature walks (look out for resident deer).
The place to eat
Waterford’s meals scene has gone via the roof just lately, with cooks drawing closely on winningly recent produce from the encompassing sea, fields, forest and mountains in menus which are imaginative, sustainable and waste acutely aware. Should you fancy a fast snack, Phoenix Yard road meals market rustles up every part from vegan burgers to jerk rooster and Hungarian goulash.
With its zingy lime inside sprinkled with artwork, foliage and mismatched classic furnishings, Momo has a bohemian vibe and good buzz. The kitchen takes nice satisfaction in native elements, starring in dishes from open crab sandwiches on seaweed sourdough to slow-cooked beef ribs with root veg and garlic puree.
On central O’Connell Avenue, The Old Couch Cafe is a country, black-walled, art-slung bistro, headed up by passionate Croatian-Polish chef couple Damira Levacic and Przemyslaw Muszynski. The menu performs up ethically sourced elements in subtle dishes – suppose native Wagyu beef tartare with black radish and nigella-seed crackers, or duck breast with fig, cauliflower and preserved lemons – all exquisitely introduced on nature-inspired crockery. At weekends, afternoon tea (rustically introduced on a slab of wooden) is an absolute deal with.
For an actual hit of the ocean, take a wild coastal drive south of Waterford to the Templars Inn in Templetown (as soon as the HQ of the Knights Templar) on the surf-smashed Hook Peninsula. Right here you may dig into nice worth chowders and seafood platters earlier than visiting the world’s oldest lighthouse.
In coastal Tramore, 12km south of city, the Beach House lodges in a slick Victorian townhouse conversion. Delivered within the pared-back eating room overlooking kitchen gardens, the meals is sustainable, produce-led and superbly cooked, easy as lobster cocktail and seaweed-butter poached plaice.
The place to drink
Kick off your morning spin of the Viking Triangle with a domestically roasted, barista-made espresso at Under the Clock Tower. In addition they do nice fresh-pressed juices and snacks, from toasties to acai bowls.
Should you’re craving a pint in a correct old style Irish boozer, Phil Grimes nails the vibe with its heat, woody, stove-warmed inside, craft beers (strive native Dungarvan Brewing Firm ones, just like the espresso and oatmeal stout) and common stay music. It’s the sort of place the place strangers swiftly turn into bosom pals and events spontaneously erupt.
Comfortable, cozily retro Tully’s Bar additionally has a agency native following, with a cracking vary of craft beers, whiskeys and spirits, tables spilling exterior in summer time and the occasional crowd-rousing gig.
On Financial institution Lane, the roof terrace at Itty Bittys is magic on balmy evenings (though – who’re we kidding – that is Eire, so take a jumper a minimum of…), catching the final of the day’s solar. Go for cocktails, DJs spinning home and disco and, at weekends, stay music within the downstairs bar.
The place to buy
You possibly can’t come to Waterford and never purchase a blaa, the softest, flouriest white roll you’ll ever have the pleasure of biting into (purists swear on consuming them with nothing however Irish butter). These PGI-status baps have been round since French exiles the Huguenots rocked up within the seventeenth century (“blaa” is claimed to be a corruption of “blanc”). Cease by a conventional bakery like third-generation Walsh’s for the perfect.
Picnic? Staff your blaa with native cheeses, recent produce and natural juice from Waterford Metropolis Meals and Craft Market, held each Saturday in John Roberts Sq..
Crystal has given Waterford its sparkle since 1783. Within the coronary heart of the Viking Triangle, the House of Waterford Crystal spills the beans on the historical past and craft with behind-the-scenes excursions zooming in on mould-making, glass-blowing, sculpting and engraving. Or skip it and head straight for the chandelier-lit retailer seeking glassware to pimp up your own home bar – some collections are impressed by Eire’s rugged coast.
Sustainable design is the hallmark of quayside Bebhinn, the place you’ll discover probably the most attractive fleck-stitch scarves, ponchos and jumpers in Irish linen and merino wool – splendid for the bracing winters – alongside items from seaweed-based cosmetics to copper candelabras.
On the coronary heart of the Viking Triangle, the 18th-century Christ Church Cathedral is a whitewashed imaginative and prescient with its neoclassical portico. Bearing the hallmark of John Roberts, esteemed Georgian architect of the age, it stands on the positioning of an earlier cathedral inbuilt 1096. It was right here that Strongbow married Aoife in 1170, a pivotal occasion in Irish historical past.
Nuts and bolts
What foreign money do I would like?
What language do they converse?
Irish and English.
How a lot ought to I tip?
Round 10-20 per cent.
What’s the time distinction?
Eire is in the identical time zone because the UK.
How ought to I get round?
There are native buses, however you’re unlikely to want them (every part is walkable or cyclable). Should you don’t fancy driving alongside the Copper Coast, biking is an possibility.
What’s the perfect view?
Head as much as The Reg roof terrace for drinks with a view of Reginald’s Tower and day fading into pastel nightfall throughout the River Suir.
Attempting to fly much less?
There are twice each day ferry crossings with Stena Line from Fishguard in Wales to Rosslare in County Wexford. The common crossing time is 3.5 hours. Alternatively, Irish Ferries sails twice each day between Pembroke and Rosslare (4hrs). From Rosslare Harbour, take bus 40 to Waterford (1hr 20 minutes).
Nice with flying?
It’s simply over an hour from the UK to Cork, the closest airport.