The lovely little village of Ardmore in Waterford is a fine spot for an adventure.
It’s a wonderful place to visit for a night or a day trip and you’ll find no shortage of places to stay and to eat, if you decide to make a long weekend of it.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Ardmore to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Ardmore in Waterford
Although a visit to Ardmore in Waterford is fairly straightforward, there’s a few quick chunks of information worth knowing in advance of your trip.
2. An often overlooked staycation destination
Waterford gets its fair share of visitors year-on-year, but many people miss Ardmore as it is some way from the city and nearer to Cork, which is great for those who do go there as it’s a lot less manic than some of Waterford’s coastal towns.
3. Home to plenty to see and do
Ardmore’s beach is popular because of the safe bathing waters – take the coastal cliff path, embark on a pilgrimage visiting the ancient significant monuments in the area, visit Goat Island… you can jam pack tonnes of things to do into your stay in Ardmore.
The tiny village of Ardmore has a permanent population of about 430, though obviously this swells in the summer months, and is not far from Youghal. In 2014, Fáilte Ireland included the village in its shortlist for Ireland’s top tourist towns.
The place is believed to be the oldest Christian settlement in Ireland and according to tradition, St Declan lived there in the early 5th century and converted many to Christianity prior to the arrival of St Patrick in Ireland.
His saint day on 24 July is celebrated in the town – Pattern Day. While Ardmore is no longer a resident bishopric, the Catholic Church lists Árd Mór as a titular see.
There is a daily bus linking the village to Youghal and Cork City and Ardmore also offers visitors the ultimate foodie experience by means of a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Things to do in Ardmore
There are plenty of things to do in Ardmore, if you don’t fancy venturing far, from the cliff walk to the beach and more.
There’s also many of the best places to visit in Waterford a stone’s throw from the village, which makes it a great base to explore from. Here are our favourites:
1. The Ardmore Cliff Walk
The Ardmore Cliff Walk begins and ends at the Cliff House Hotel and takes about an hour to complete. It’s a great way to see the village and the surrounding area, and many of the sites you will see on your way around echo the village’s old Christian past.
The walk is easy to follow and you’ll be treated to gorgeous coastal views. Find a full guide to the walk right here.
2. Ardmore Beach
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Ardmore Beach is arguably one of the most popular beaches in Waterford and thus, on those rare sunny days, it gets busy.
So, while there’s parking nearby, try and arrive early if good weather is expected. The beach has lifeguards in operation in the summer months and, while it’s popular with swimmers, you can also canoe and kayak there too.
3. Ardmore Round Tower
This iconic structure is a well-known, well-loved sight in County Waterford. The 30-metre high, 12th century round tower once sat next to an 8th century oratory, and it is thought there were floors in it as a battle in 1642 referred to the tower as holding 40 soldiers.
The surrounding ruins were once a cathedral and one of its outer walls features stone carvings, including images of Adam and Eve, from an earlier 9th century building.
4. Goat Island
Goat Island is in fact a beach located roughly 5 kilometres west of Ardmore. As the beach is secluded and difficult to find, it rewards the visitor who does stumble on it with wonderful peace and quiet. It faces south and is sheltered by a sea stack, making it very pleasant in the summer months.
5. Whiting Bay
As you’ve probably gathered by now, there are no shortage of beaches near Ardmore and Whiting Bay is up there with the best of them.
This wide open sandy beach is popular with surfers because of its impressive waves. It’s a fine spot for an early morning or sunset stroll.
6. Ardmore Open Farm and Mini Zoo
Located at Ballykilmurry, the Ardmore Open Farm and Mini Zoo is a fabulous day out for all the family. Visitors can get up close and personal with exotic and farm animals, including Poitou donkeys, meerkats and Flemish giant rabbits.
There are also attractions such as karting, an indoor and outdoor playground, the barrel train and toy tractors. If you’re looking for things to do in Ardmore with kids, you can’t go wrong with a visit here.
7. St Declan’s Well and Church (Ruins)
St Declan is thought to have founded the seminary in Ardmore in around 416 CE and the Holy Well is at the beginning of the Cliff Walk. It was used to baptise early converts to Christianity.
The saint later retired to a small cell he constructed on the spot, which was where the ruined church was later built. The western section of the church is thought to have been built early on, while parts in the east are estimated as being constructed in the 14th century.
8. Water sports
If you fancy trying out your hand at Sea Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and/or White Water Kayaking, Ardmore Adventures offers all three.
They also run SUP Instructor Training, Lifeguard training and First Aid Courses, if you fancy beefing up your skillset while you’re there.
So, there isn’t a huge amount of accommodation in Ardmore. However, there are several great places to stay here that pack a punch.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. Round Tower Hotel
The family-run Round Tower Hotel is a three-star hotel, where the full, traditional Irish breakfast is included in the price. Sunday lunch is offered all year round and the beach is only a five-minute walk from the hotel.
2. Cliff House Hotel
This five-star boutique hotel is well worth saving up your cents for. The stunning location offers a terrific view of the bay and all the luxury rooms and suites are sea-facing. Some of the rooms have private balconies and all are furnished to high quality standards.
3. Bayside Cottage B&B
Located just a short walk from the beach, the Bayside Cottage B&B also provides its guests with access to the garden and its amazing sea views. Your stay includes the choice between a continental or Irish breakfast.
Ardmore pubs and places to eat
There are some excellent places to eat in Ardmore, with a little bit of something that’ll tickle most tastebuds.
Below, you’ll find everything from the stunning Cliff House restaurant (above) to the popular Shipmates and White Horses.
1. Shipmates Ardmore
The seafood restaurant Shipmates Ardmore serves home-made food and barista-style coffee and is available for take-out too. There are also burgers and fillet steaks.
2. White Horses Restaurant
This former grocery store was transformed into a restaurant by the Flavin sisters. The original shop space serves as a reception and drinks area, while the main dining room has an open fireplace and there’s an enclosed garden for outdoor dining. Home-made soup, chowders and crab are all highlights.
3. Cliff House Hotel
This Michelin-starred restaurant specialises in local seafood and meat and features an eight-course taster menu with an optional wine flight. You can also treat yourself to an afternoon tea.
FAQs about visiting Ardmore in Waterford
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Waterford that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Ardmore in Waterford.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best things to do in Ardmore?
It’s hard to beat the Ardmore Cliff Walk, however, you also have the beach, the water-sports and the round tower.
Where are the best places to eat in Ardmore?
The Cliff House Hotel, White Horses Restaurant and Shipmates are all great options food wise.
What are the best places to stay in Ardmore?
You can’t go wrong with Bayside Cottage B&B, the Cliff House Hotel or the Round Tower Hotel.
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.