If you ever get the chance to visit Ireland, I hope you will go and visit the oldest city in Ireland, Waterford. We decided what better place to visit over St Patrick’s Day long weekend than Waterford City. We were warned by locals that it is a lot less of a fuss than the annual parade that Dublin hosts on St Paddy’s but that is kind of what attracted us most to the trip – less crowds and more exploring a place that by all accounts is kind of underrated for some reason.
How to get there (from Dublin):
- By car; 2 hour drive.
- By bus; 2 hours 30 minutes and costs 20 euro return
- By train; 2 hours 20 minutes commute and costs 30 euro return (pro tip: it is cheaper if you book your ticket in advance!)
We decided to take the train, so we took the Luas red line, and got off at Heuston Station which is where the train leaves Dublin to go to Waterford City.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at The Barley Field, which was a short walk from town with very basic facilities but a pretty good breakfast included in the room fee. I think if you were wanting to spend loads of time at the hotel, it might not be great. The room was small, and there wasn’t much in the way of restaurants or places to eat. Depending on the night in the week, the pub gets a bit festive, but it quietens down after midnight. We were very happy to sleep there, get a good breakfast and hit the town to explore.
Where to eat and drink in Waterford:
We didn’t eat out too much in Waterford, just to keep the budget down. But we did find a few spots worth a mention, and definitely recommend you visit them if you are ever in Waterford for the weekend. For a quick pint, and a bit of live music, definitely visit Tully’s Bar. They have a great selection of drinks, and it is a cosy pub with a small outside area in the back too.
There are two meals, Waterford is “known” for, the one dates back to the 17th Century which is the Blaa. It looks like a floured roll but it is a lot more lighter and fluffier. They are best eaten fresh, as they dry out quite quickly. We had them for breakfast at the Barley Field. Not sure if they are worth all the hype but we at least ticked that off the old bucket list!
Another food made famous in Waterford is at a place called Burzza. Basically they make really great burgers and pizzas. But if you are feeling adventurous, you should try their signature dish, namely the Burzza which is a burger wrapped in a pizza!
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, then you need to visit Patrick Murphy at Larder. It is this great little coffee bar that sells viking approved coffee, plus great freshly made treats. We stopped in for a cupcake and a coffee. I have to say that Patrick was super friendly, and told us the story behind why his coffee is viking approved: One of the guys who plays in the TV show, Vikings, actually regularly goes in for a cuppa! Regardless of the story, I can honestly say, it was the best cup of coffee we had all weekend!
Then no post about our weekend in Waterford would be complete without me telling the story of our visit to the local pub called Phil Grimes. We stopped in here on the Friday we arrived, as a final pitstop before bed. We walked in and found the pub was seemingly quiet for 9pm on a Friday eve but regardless, we thought we would sit at the bar and have a quick pint before heading back to our room. It wasn’t long before the bartender asked us where we were from, and what we were doing in Waterford. Within a few minutes Tom, the bartender/owner, started listing all the things we needed to see outside of Waterford. What we realised is that there are some really cool spots to see out of town, but all unfortunately most require a car to get to. Especially because on weekends the bus services don’t run regularly to these out-skirting towns. At the end of our drink, Tom offered to take us out to Dunmore East, a seaside town about 20 minutes drive out of town! We stayed for another drink and chatted with the rest of the locals. I have to say that it was the first time since arriving in Ireland that I felt so welcome, and honestly, they were so proud of their home – they were all such great tour guides. We took Tom up on his offer to drive us to Dunmore East and the visit to this local pub even prompted us to visit Dungarvan the next day – but I will have to talk more about these two towns in another post!
If you want to get a sense of a local Irish pub, with real locals that are friendly and welcoming if you sit quietly and are ready to chat – then this pub is a must visit! Tom, we thank you for your kindness and hope one day to go back and visit you at the pub.
What to see in Waterford City:
Admittedly we were on a bit of a tight budget so we skipped out on going inside a lot of the museums and tours Waterford had to offer. However, Waterford is fairly easy to walk around and really, walking gives you a better feel for the place versus zipping through in a car. We found a lot of street art on the walls, as well as walking through parts of town where the medieval defensive towers and walls are still in tact. These walls once divided the town up between vikings and anglo-normans. The history of the town dates back to when vikings first founded the town in 914 A.D.
The one place we knew we needed to visit was Waterford Crystal Factory. It was quite a pricey entrance fee of EUR13.50 each but I have to say, the tour through the factory and watching how crystal is made and crafted definitely makes up for it.
I took a million video clips and pictures throughout the tour, and I have to say, I would probably be happy to go back there again. I know Rob’s mum is really keen to visit, so we would love to take them down there!
The Waterford Treasures are three museums in the Viking Triangle, namely: Bishop’s Palace, Medieval Museum and Reginald’s Tower. You can visit all three for a combo price deal.
Reginald’s Tower is the oldest urban civic building in Ireland. It also has an replica viking long boat outside of the tower.
The Medieval Museum is said to be the only medieval museum in Ireland, this is according to all the online research we did leading up to this visit. But I would argue that that is not really true since we visited Dublinia in Dublin and the Athlone Castle – both of which are medieval museums as well?! Perhaps I am missing something here?
Bishop’s Palace is a Georgian mansion which covers Waterford’s history from 1700 to 1970. It also has the world’s oldest surviving piece of Waterford crystal, a decanter dating from 1789. We walked around the grounds, but decided not to pay for the tour inside.
In hindsight, had we had more time, I think the combo for all three spots would have been 13 euro, so actually not too bad in price.
Christ Church Cathedral is free to visit. I am not sure what it is about churches that has me so captivated. We are not particularly religious, I think it is the fact that there is so much history within the walls that makes them so intriguing to me. The detail on the ceiling was so dainty and beautiful.
I also have to say that I may start a collage of street art at the end of every post because this is by far my fave thing to find in every city we visit. It is such a great reason to walk through your own city too, you can find street art almost every corner you turn. Plus it is totally free to look at and admire!
We did all of this exploring of Waterford City on Friday and some of Saturday. After lunch on Saturday we took a bus out to Dungarvan for the rest of the day, and for the whole of Sunday we explored Dunmore East.
If that is one thing I have to say, it is that if you plan on staying a while in Waterford, then you definitely need to rent a car because there is so much more to see in the whole county of Waterford. But if you plan to break it up into shorter visits, then Waterford city itself is perfect to explore over a weekend.
HAVE YOU VISITED WATERFORD? WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THIS CITY?
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