10 TOP-RATED TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN WATERFORD

Let's explore the best attractions in Waterford city and county to visit in 2021 – You’re invited to come and Stay!

Between Waterford's beautiful gardens in bloom and a city steeped in history and centuries of craft, there really is something for everyone!

1. HOUSE OF WATERFORD CRYSTAL

Located in the heart of Waterford City, the House of Waterford Crystal allows visitors to witness the creation of crystal stemware, giftware and masterpieces right before their very eyes. The factory tour is a unique and captivating experience that is sure to enthral visitors of all ages, both national and international. Go behind the scenes for over an hour and see exactly how Waterford Crystal pieces are made - witness every stage of production, from the initial design stage right up to the final engraving of the piece. Each year, the House of Waterford Crystal melts down over 750 tonnes of crystal!

2. KING OF THE VIKINGS

This life was epic and brief. But now Reginald, King of the Vikings, beckons you into his domain. And so you step into this innovative Viking Virtual Reality Adventure – a world first – in a recreated Waterford Viking house in the City’s Viking Triangle: on the very spot where Reginald built his fort in 917. On and on you are drawn by animated information panels, far away from the modern City, and you don a “magical helmet” to journey back through 1,100 years: even meeting the ghost of King Reginald as he spars with the ghost of an Irish Christian monk. Close, personal, you really feel what it was like to be a Viking. Epic and brief his life may have been, but the legacy of Reginald and his fellow Vikings lives on around you in Vadrefjord – Waterford.

3. EPIC TOUR OF WATERFORD

Embark on ‘The Epic Tour’ where you will journey through the Viking Triangle and discover historic and archaeological treasures while also experiencing the developments in architecture over a period of a thousand years! The walking tour will take you on a journey where you get to see where Thomas Francis Meagher flew the first Irish Tricolour flag from ‘33 The Mall’, then onto Reginald’s Tower first mentioned in 1088, Greyfriars Medieval Franciscan friary 1240, Choristers’ Hall 1270, the Mayor’s Wine Vault 1448, the Bishop’s Palace 1743 and Christ Church Cathedral 1783. From the Vikings to the Victorians – explore a thousand years of history in a thousand paces.

New to the experience, The Epic Tour also now includes a visit to the ‘Mayors through the Ages, Eight Centuries of Civic Government in Ireland’ exhibition in City Hall.

4. MASTERPIECES IN GLASS

The new guided tour of the Bishop’s Palace will build on the success of recent imaginative attractions in Waterford, the Bishop’s Palace has become home to an original and innovative visitor experience on early glassmaking in Waterford. The new re-enactor tour is led by Susannah Penrose, granddaughter of one of the original founders of the Penrose Glass Factory. Her mother, Elizabeth Penrose’s beautiful shell cabinet, featuring a menagerie of delicate glass animals, was returned to Waterford City in 2014 and now forms the centrepiece of the exhibition as a direct link to the family. The museum itself has been revamped, with new installations of delicate glassware, fine silver and exotic porcelain to give visitors a real taste of the wealth and finery of upper-class eighteenth-century living.

5. MEDIEVAL MUSEUM

What does the 13th century ring brooch tell us about courtly love? Why was The Great Charter Roll of Waterford created? What is the link between the dazzling Cloth of Gold Vestments and the Renaissance? Why did King Henry VIII give his red velvet cap – the only surviving piece of his wardrobe – to the Mayor of Waterford in 1536? The stories behind these treasures and many more are revealed in the Medieval Museum, the only building in Ireland to incorporate two medieval chambers, the atmospheric 13th century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault.

6. REGINALD’S TOWER

Raiders, settlers, traders, the Vikings left many legacies in Ireland – if you know where to look. Reginald’s Tower, Ireland’s oldest civic building, has been in continuous use for over 800 years and was built on the site of the original Viking fort named after Ragnall who founded the City in 914. Inside you will find a Viking warrior’s weapons, the exquisite 12th-century Waterford Kite Brooch, even pieces from ‘hnefatafl’, a Viking board game similar to chess. Get to know the real Vikings through the prized possessions they left behind.

7. MOUNT CONGREVE GARDENS

While the great houses and gardens of Ireland’s Ancient East invariably boast a rich history, sometimes it’s the heart-stopping views, walks and surprises that most captivate you. That’s certainly true of the gardens at Mount Congreve, Waterford, which flourish over some seventy acres of richly planted woodland and a four acre walled garden. The passion and creation in modern times of the late Mr Ambrose Congreve, who was inspired by Mr Lionel de Rothschild’s exceptional garden at Exbury in Hampshire, England, the collection ranges from more than three thousand different trees and shrubs, to fifteen hundred herbaceous plants. Wandering paths and ponds, surrendering to breathtaking sweeps of Azaleas, Camellias, Magnolias and Rhododendrons, being surprised by a Chinese Pagoda or revelling in vistas over the River Suir: such are the magical moments that enthral.

8. THE LAFCADIO HEARN JAPANESE GARDENS

Come on a journey, through these unique gardens and the life of Victorian writer, translator and journalist Patrick Lafcadio Hearn. In their style and planting, the gardens, in Tramore in County Waterford, pay homage to Lafcadio Hearn with elements of the gardening traditions of the countries and cultures he visited during his varied travels. Begin in the Victorian Garden dedicated to the memory of Hearn’s happy childhood summers in Tramore, explore the American Garden, the Greek Garden and the traditional Japanese Tea Garden – Lafcadio Hearn was famed in Japan for his literary descriptions of the country’s people and culture, and children in particular will be entranced by his fairy tales and folklore. East meets West and they grow together on your unforgettable garden journey.

9. LISMORE HERITAGE CENTRE

Opened in 1992 to share insights into Lismore’s formidable history and heritage. Boasting a picturesque location at the foot of the Knockmealdown Mountains, Lismore is famous for the magnificent Lismore Castle (dating back to 1185) that was once the home of, the famous Broadway performer, Adele Astaire and Kathleen Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy. Inside this private residence can only be viewed using through the Lismore Castle Experience.

10. LISMORE CASTLE GARDENS

The historic gardens of Lismore Castle are essentially two distinct gardens. Both are set within the castle walls and comprise of 7 acres with spectacular views of the Castle and surrounding countryside. The lower garden was mostly created in the 19th century for the 6th Duke of Devonshire, Sir Joseph Paxton’s patron. Entry to the upper garden is through the Riding House. This walled garden was first constructed by Richard Boyle, the 1st Earl of Cork in about 1605, where most of the walls and terraces remain the same although the plantings have changed to suit the tastes of those living within the Castle.