Best Things to See in Waterford Viking Triangle

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If you’re planning a trip around Ireland, resist the temptation to hurry down to Cork. If you bypass Ireland’s “sunny southeast” you’ll do yourself a disservice, especially if you miss the city of Waterford. Thanks to the viking Triangle, you can easily cover all the best things to do in Waterford in a day or two.

Waterfront of Waterford Viking Triangle, including clock tower and Granville Hotel.

Less than a 2 hour drive from Dublin, Waterford is so much more than a place that makes crystal. Founded by the Vikings in 850 AD, it’s Ireland’s oldest city. All of the city’s highlights are snugly tucked into a little downtown area.

They aren’t kidding when they call Waterford Viking Triangle “a thousand years of history in a thousand paces”. Within just a few steps of each other, you’ll find three key visitor attractions showcasing its Viking, Medieval and Georgian history. The best way to experience them is on a walking tour.

Best Things to Do in Waterford, Ireland + 1 Day Itinerary

Waterford Viking Triangle walking tour

Do as we say, though, not as we did. We arrived at Waterford just in time for lunch at the Bishop’s Palace, and basically did the itinerary backwards.

Please don’t make that mistake. For only €10 you can start your visit with an enjoyable character-led walking tour of the Viking Triangle. Actors in period dress will tell you about the city as they guide you along from Viking times to today. Far better to hear a story than to hear a boring guide drone on and on, don’t you think?

ⓘ TIP: If you want to see all three museums, budget €17.00 per person. Ask about a combo ticket at the Bishop’s Palace.

Re-enactors make a tour of Waterford much more interesting.

1. Reginald’s Tower

Waterford’s story starts at the 12th century Reginald’s Tower, where the marriage of Aoife and Strongbow took place. It’s in good enough condition that there’s a museum inside. We got there too late to visit but our guide told us that the exhibits cover Waterford’s Viking beginnings up to the Norman invasion. There are three floors in the tower with lovely Viking artifacts, including a set of 9th century Viking warrior armor.

ⓘ TIP: Be prepared for winding staircases to get from floor to floor. Unlike the other two museums, the tower is not wheelchair accessible.

Reginald's Tower, one of the highlights of Waterford Viking Triangle

2. Medieval Museum

A two-minute walk for the Tower, behind the Bishop’s Palace, is Ireland’s only Medieval Museum.  Recently opened, it really explains a lot of the history of Ireland, why the battles continued between England and Ireland, and more about the divide between the Catholics and the Protestants.

This modern building incorporates a lot of previous construction they found on the site. You can visit a 13th century Choristers’ Hall and a 15th century wine vault.

ⓘ TIP: Don’t-miss highlights in the museum include the 4-meter-long Great Charter Roll dated to 1373 and the 15th-century cloth of gold vestments, the only set to survive in Northern Europe.

Inside a vaulted room in the wine cellar.
15th century gold vestments in the Viking Triangle museum
Everyone’s a comedian these days.

3. Bishop’s Palace

The Bishop’s Palace was designed and built in 1741 by the famous Richard Castle on the site of the medieval palace. Up until the early 20th century the Church of Ireland’s bishops of Waterford and Lismore called it home. It’s now a museum with rooms restored in 17th and 18th century style.

This is another place where costumed actors tell the history of Waterford. They will escort you through the period rooms and tell all about the rare 18th century Irish furniture, glass silver and paintings around you.

Trivia lovers: The museum has the largest collection of historic Waterford Glass in the world on display and the oldest landscape view of an Irish city (William Van der Hagens view of Waterford 1736).

ⓘ TIP: There’s a reasonably priced restaurant here. Enjoy a local specialty and ask for a Waterford blaa in lieu of normal bread.

The dining room has a table with old Waterford crystal

4. Waterford Crystal showroom

All these attractions are a 3-minute walk from the world-famous House of Waterford Crystal. You can take a guided tour of the factory for €12.00 or visit its showroom for free. We didn’t have time for the tour, but we did manage to squeeze in 10 minutes of crystal viewing at the showroom just as it was closing for the day. I’m not a fan of glass baubles but I did find a beautiful chandelier that I wouldn’t mind owning, for a mere €10,000. (Pocket change, right?)

Waterford crystal showroom in front, factory in back.

5. Granville Hotel

Even if you’re backpacking through Ireland on a limited budget, it’s worth popping in to take a peek of this historic hotel.

Thomas Francis Meagher, the famous son of Ireland, was born in this building. The Tricolour, Ireland’s flag, was flown here for the first time. It was recently named Georgina Campbell Hotel of the Year, a highly coveted award.

To learn more about its history, see one of the rooms, and or read about its award-winning restaurant, check out our post about our stay at the Granville Hotel.

Why You Need to See Waterford's Granville Hotel
Stained glass decorating canopy over entry to Granville Hotel

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We spent 3 nights in Southeast Ireland as guests of Ireland’s national tourist bureau. Waterford was our third stop, after Kilkenny and Wexford.

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She's passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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