Things to Do in Waterford, Ireland + 1 Day Itinerary

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Less than a 2-hour drive from Dublin, Waterford, Ireland is best known for its namesake crystal, but that’s not all the city has going for it. If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, spending a day in Waterford city will be time well spent. There are plenty of things to do in Waterford, Ireland.

I must confess, I was guilty of assuming that the only thing to see in Waterford, Ireland was a crystal factory. And that’s why we headed straight to Ireland’s southern coast on our first visit, with only one stop on the way. That would be our stop at Rock of Cashel, which turned out to be a fascinating site.

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Clock tower at the Waterford waterfront.

Things to do in Waterford, Ireland

But on our second trip to the Emerald Isle, Ireland’s tourist bureau took us around the “sunny southeast” and Waterford was on the itinerary. This surprised us, but who would know Ireland better than the group responsible for promoting the entire country’s tourism? If Failte Ireland thought Waterford was worth showing off, the city must have more to offer than a crystal factory alone.

If Failte Ireland thought Waterford was worth showing off, the city must have more to offer than a crystal factory alone. What a treat Waterford turned out to be.

Founded by the Vikings in 850 AD, Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and was once more important than Dublin. Yet despite all of its history, the best of what to see in Waterford is all conveniently tucked into a snug little Ireland downtown area that is easily walkable.

This downtown area is called the Viking Triangle, and the city’s slogan – a thousand years of history in a thousand paces – is no joke! Within just a few steps of each other are three key visitor attractions, each from a different era.

Think of it: You can see Viking, Medieval and Georgian Ireland without having to traipse all over the country.

So, is it worth spending a day in Waterford Ireland? Absolutely!

How to spend a day in Waterford: our itinerary

Before we begin, I should mention that it takes about two hours to drive from Dublin to Waterford. Therefore, if you want to do this itinerary on a day trip to Waterford from Dublin, plan to get an early start.

9:00 – Waterford Crystal factory and showroom

Glass making is a fine art, and the world-famous House of Waterford Crystal ranks as one of the best things to do in the city. Because the Visitor Center opens earlier than anything else in the Triangle, it makes sense to begin your day there.

The Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre offers a one-hour tour of their factory, where you can watch the finest glass craftsmen create “prestige pieces” for special-order customers. Many of these beautiful pieces are on display in their showroom, so you can see them whether or not you choose to take the tour.

Waterford Crystal Factory is a must for a day in Waterford Ireland

Conveniently, it’s only steps from the Viking Triangle.

We got a late start to our day, but we still managed to squeeze in 10 minutes of crystal viewing just as the showroom was closin. Up until then, we had considered Waterford crystal to be little more than a “name brand,” but after seeing the unique creations in the showroom, we realize why so many people want to own it.

I even discovered a beautiful chandelier there that I wouldn’t mind owning, for a mere €10,000.

Pocket change, right?

Visiting details:

  • Admission: €13,50 for the general tour, €25 per person for a private tour, prearranged. The showroom is free.
  • Hours: Factory Tour: Mon-Sat: 9:00 to 16:15; Sun: 9:30 – 16:15; Retail Store: Mon-Sat: 9:00 to 18:00; Sun: 9:30 – 18:00. These are from Apr-Oct. See website for rest of year.
  • Expect to spend an hour on the tour and half an hour at the showroom.
  • Purchase Waterford Factory tickets here.

10:30 – Bishop’s Palace: a Waterford must-see

From medieval times up until the early 20th-century, both the Church of Ireland Waterford and Lismore bishops called the Bishop’s Palace home – hence the name.

Here, costumed actors tell of Waterford in the Georgian era. No need to worry about what to do in Waterford City – they will escort you through the period rooms and tell all about the rare 18th– century Irish furniture, glass, silver and paintings in the building.

Explanation of the Dinning Room in the Bishop's Palace.

The building was designed and built in 1741 by the famous Richard Castle on the site of the original, medieval Bishop’s palace. Now that the bishops no longer live in it, it has been repurposed into a museum with rooms restored in 17th– and 18th-century style.

You will see the largest collection of historic Waterford glass in the world on display, as well as the oldest landscape view of an Irish city. (That would be William Van der Hagens’ “View of Waterford,” which was painted in 1736.)

Visiting details:

  • Admission: €7 (€10 combined admission – Medieval Museum and Bishop’s Palace)
  • Open: Mon-Fri. 9:15 – 18:00, Sat. 9:30-18:00, Sun. and Bank Holidays 11:00 – 18:00. See the website for hours Sept-May.
  • The tour lasts 45 minutes and you are free to roam the museum after the tour. Expect to spend about 1-2 hours here.

ⓘ TIP: Have lunch at the onsite café, then come back to view the rest of the Palace when you are ready. The Bishop’s Palace is usually less crowded on weekdays.

13:00 – Medieval Museum

A two-minute walk from the Tower, directly behind the Bishop’s Palace, is Ireland’s only Medieval Museum. This stunning modern building incorporates previous construction they found on site, including a 13th-century Choristers’ Hall and a 15th-century Wine Vault.

Arched wine cellar in the Medieval Museum

If you’re unsure about what to see in Waterford, Ireland with limited time, focus on the 4-meter-long Great Charter Roll of Waterford (dated to 1373) and the 15th-century Cloth of Gold Vestments. It is the only full set of medieval vestments to survive in Northern Europe.

Other unique treasures include:

  • The Relic of the True Cross
  • Pilgrim badges
  • Ring Brooch
  • Sword of Edward IV
  • King Henry VIII’s Cap of Maintenance
  • The Great Parchment Book of Waterford
  • The Luker Chalice
  • Vestment Chest
Priest cloak made out of gold thread displayed at the Waterford Museum

This museum really explains a lot about the history of Ireland. If you’ve wondered why the battles continued between England and Ireland or about the divide between the Catholics and the Protestants, you will better understand after your visit.

Visiting details:

  • Admission: €7 (€10 combined admission – Medieval Museum and Bishop’s Palace)
  • Open: Fri. 9:15 – 18:00, Sat. 9:30-18:00, Sun. and Bank Holidays 11:00 – 18:00. Consult the website for Sept-May hours.
  • Purchase tickets to the Waterford Treasures here
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16:00 – take a guided Viking Triangle tour: best things to do in Waterford

It’s a shame that this enjoyable 45-minute character-led walking tour is only offered in the afternoon. It gives an easy-to-understand overview of Irish history and would make a wonderful introduction to the city. Still, it helped us to tie all our varied impressions of Waterford together, so it was worth it, even after having seen so much.

Actors in period dress will tell you about the city’s history as they guide you to six national monuments:

  • 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), but only when no church service is in progress

Visiting details:

  • Admission: €7 (€10 combined admission – Medieval Museum and Bishop’s Palace)
  • Open: Epic Tours of the Viking Triangle are run daily from May through September at 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 (military time).
  • The Epic Tour of the Viking Triangle starts at the entrance to the Bishop’s Palace.
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Treasures of the Waterford Viking Triangle
Ruins of the church that we saw on a day in Waterford, Ireland

Where to stay in Waterford

We stayed at the historic Granville Hotel, just steps from all these activities. For more about the hotel’s history, to see one of its rooms or read about its award-winning restaurant, read our post about our stay at the Granville Hotel, with more photos of this impressive place.

Where to eat in Waterford

All this touring is sure to increase your appetite. While there’s a lot of food to be hand in Ireland, Waterford has two things you need to try before you fly home. Irish coffee is known around the world, but the other is a local specialty. Ask for a Waterford blaa in lieu of normal bread.

Fear not, your grumbling tummy will be happy with these convenient places in the Viking Triangle to grab a bite to eat.

Bishop’s Palace

The Palace has a reasonably priced restaurant that is ideal for lunch. They offer a good variety of dishes, so those on special diets will likely find something they will like.

Granville Hotel

This historic hotel was the birthplace of Irish nationalist Thomas Francis Meagher and it’s where the Tricolour (Ireland’s flag) was flown for the first time. It has also been Georgina Campbell Hotel of the Year, a highly coveted award. We loved the atmosphere here.

Waterford pubs

Although we learned how to make Irish coffee as part of our hosted dinner at the Granville Hotel, we’d suggest trying it in a local establishment. Pop into a local pub to toast Sláinte with the friendly regulars. If you time it right, you might even enjoy some live music. Click here for a list of Viking Triangle pubs.

Plan a day in Waterford

Here are some details to help you plan your own trip to Waterford.

  • For additional things to see and do in the area, Visit Waterford is your best resource.
  • This website shows how to get to Waterford by plane, train, bus, ferry and car.
  • If you prefer escorted tours, you can see a lot of Ireland with this 3-day tour from Dublin.
  • For more sightseeing, see our gallery for more photos of Waterford.
  • Get a bird’s eye view of the Viking Triangle on Google Maps here. Zoom, scroll around and explore!

Places to stay

Further reading

We have a whole series of Southeast Ireland articles here:, interesting things to do, delicious foods, luxe places to stay. Enjoy!

Other articles about the area on AWSI

Related books on Amazon:

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Visitors listen to actor in period clothing talking about his role at the Bishop's Palace. Dining table and chairs in foreground set with china, crystal and silver. Below is a subtitle box that says What to see and do Waterford Ireland. As We Saw It dot com.

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to around 60 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages has inspired her to create As We Saw It with her husband Dan, a professional photographer. Her goal is to make travel easier for others and to offer a brief escape to another land.

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