Uncover the treasures of Ireland’s oldest city

Waterford city

There are several great cities in Ireland, with great historical sites, modern restaurants and bars, and of course the traditional Irish pubs.

In this article we take a closer look at one of the country’s oldest cities, Waterford, and all there is to see and do when you are there.

Medieval structures, museums, a rich cultural heritage and finely crafted crystal glass mesmerise all who travel to Waterford.

The picturesque coastal city is one of the must-sees of Ireland’s Ancient East. Founded in 914, it was once a stronghold of the Vikings; now its narrow winding streets and atmospheric public spaces heave with an array of cultural and heritage experiences stamped with the Norsemen’s influence.

Waterford city

Many of Waterford’s top attractions lie inside the city’s Viking walls and towers. A stroll around this compact Viking Triangle unpacks a story stretching over 1,100 years. The three very different museums in this historic core, all within a few paces of each other, are collectively known as the Waterford Treasures.

The stone fortress of Reginald’s Tower houses one of the most remarkable Viking exhibitions in the country. You can see a Viking warrior’s weapons, extensive treasures discovered in archaeological excavations in the city and the exquisite gold Waterford Kite Brooch, a superb example of the fusion of Gaelic Irish and Viking art forms.

The Medieval Museum is the only building in Ireland preserving two medieval chambers – a thirteenth-century choristers’ hall and a fifteenth-century wine vault. Browse the museum’s galleries containing some of the finest medieval treasures in Ireland and Europe, or enjoy one of the tours with guides dressed in period costume and taking up the role of historical characters.

The elegant Bishop’s Palace was originally built in 1743 and is now fully restored with period furniture and fittings. Among the elegant Georgian treasures on display is a 1789 decanter, the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal.  

Waterford Crystal

This will whet the appetite for the world-famous House of Waterford Crystal, within easy walking distance in the Viking Triangle. A factory tour gives an up-close insight into the centuries-old tradition of glassmaking; afterwards check out the lavish retail store, housing a magnificent exhibition, including must-see sporting trophies and crystal statement pieces.

The Viking Triangle is home to a full-sized and seaworthy replica of a Viking longboat, plus a variety of craft studios, cafés and excellent restaurants where you can refuel with some tasty ‘blaa’ bread, the signature Waterford cuisine.

Vikings of Waterford

From backstage tours of the Theatre Royal, to art galleries and cathedrals, there is much more culture to explore around Waterford city, but make sure to put the King of the Vikings virtual reality experience on your itinerary.

In a replica Viking house within the ruins of a medieval monastery, you’ll don ‘magical masks’ for a guided journey back to Viking times where the ghost of King Reginald spars with the ghost of an Irish Christian monk.

There is much more information available about the tourist attractions in Waterford, and all other Irish cities at www.ireland.com

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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling