Waterford itself has a lot of local attractions to enjoy but what if you want to see just a little bit further afield? Luckily Waterford is a great starting point to see the many attractions that Ireland has to offer. Here are our top picks of the best day trips to do from Waterford city.
Kilkenny Castle is a 12th-century castle that was built in the year 1195 on the banks of the River Nore located just a forty minute drive from Waterford city. Though many dwellings existed on the property throughout history, it was Strongbow’s son-in-law, the Earl of Pembroke, who built the first stone castle on the site.
Today Kilkenny Castle still has three of its original four towers making it an impressive historic site. When the castle was put up for sale in 1381 it was bought by James Butler; the 3rd Earl of Ormonde. By buying the castle James Butler became the ruler of the area and the Butler family remained in control there for 500 years.
From the 18th century onwards, the castle became run down due to the Butlers’ fortune decreasing and finally in 1967 Arthur Butler sold the castle to The Castle Restoration Committee for a mere £50. His wish was for it to be restored to its former glory so that the people of Kilkenny could enjoy it.
Today the castle and its gardens are a popular choice for tourists. The castle is open to the public for a small entrance fee all year round.
Glen of Aherlow
The Glen of Aherlow is about a ninety minute drive from Waterford and makes for a great day trip. The Glen is a valley where the River Aherlow runs between the Galtee Mountains (Ireland’s highest inland mountain range) and the wooded ridge of Slievenamuck.
Originally the Glen was an important pass between Limerick and Tipperary but today it is mainly used for walking, horse riding, cycling and fishing.
The main focal point of the Glen is the statue of Christ the King and its adjacent Aherlow Nature Park. The Nature Park itself is a series of walking trails that are suitable for families. Kilkenny itself is a beautiful old city with plenty of places to eat, shop and peruse.
Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is about a seventy-minute drive from Waterford but just under thirty minutes from the Glen of Aherlow (if you fancied taking on both tourist attractions on the same day!). The Rock of Cashel is a group of Medieval buildings comprising of a round tower, high cross, Romanesque chapel and much more.
Guided Tours are available daily and the award-winning Heritage Centre located in the centre of Cashel town is also worth a visit. There is plenty to see here including a craft shop stocking local crafts such as pottery and ceramics.
Hook Lighthouse & Loftus Hall
Hook Lighthouse is in Co. Wexford and makes for another perfect day trip from Waterford. If you would like a break from driving, there is a ferry that can take you from Waterford to Wexford in fifteen minutes with your car in tow. With regular crossings every day, this is a fun and efficient way to get around.
Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world. The lighthouse has superb views over miles of cliffs and sea. There are guided tours available as well as a visitor centre that includes a gift shop, an art workshop, exhibitions and a café
As you drive towards Hook Head on the right-hand side you will find Loftus Hall. With a truly long and fascinating history, this stunning old mansion is said to harbour more than a few ghosts. The history and legends of Loftus Hall can be enjoyed on the regular guided tours that take place there. However, note that if you are looking for a family day out, the tours are not suitable for kids under the age of six years old.
Waterford is a great holiday destination with loads to see and do. The Viking Hotel is conveniently located on the Cork Road in Waterford and is easily accessible from the M9 from Dublin and the N25 from Cork.