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The 2023 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

The 2023 Bucket List Road Trip: 4 Weeks Exploring Ireland (Full Route + Itinerary)

Day 5 – (Wexford and Waterford) Famine ships, haunted houses and ancient lighthouses

Day 5 of our Ireland road trip takes us back to the coast to County Wexford.

We’ve a busy day ahead, so make sure you’re not out too late the evening before.

1 – The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience

// Kilkenny to The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience in New Ross – 50-minute drive (arrive for 09:00) //

Dunbrody Famine Ship wexford

Photo by Tourism Ireland

The Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel located in the town of New Ross.

Visitors to the ship will follow in the footsteps of the those who left during Ireland’s Great Famine, via an interactive tour that takes you through the journey made by so many Irish people.

For those of you following this Ireland road trip that are interested in learning more about Irish history, then this stop will be right up your alley.

The tour provides an insight into a significant period in Irish history that shaped our culture forever.

2 – A coffee and a stroll at Tintern Abbey

// New Ross to Tintern Abbey – 25-minute drive (arrive to Tintern at 10:40) //

You’ll find Tintern Abbey on the west shore of Bannow Bay in Wexford.

Once one of the most powerful Cistercian foundations in the South East, the Abbey is now a big (and incredibly well maintained) crumbly ruin.

Tintern Abbey Wexford

Photo by Brian Morrison

Although the Abbey is the big attraction for visitors, the majority of the people that I chat to that have visited mention the walled garden as being the highlight of the trip.

tintern abbey walled gardens wexford

Photo by Brian Morrison

If you fancy taking a guided tour and learning about the history, it’ll cost you €5 (Adult price) and lasts around 45 minutes.

Tip: if you nip into the coffee shop, grab a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream! They’ll make your mouth happy!

3 – Loftus Hall (one of the most haunted houses in Ireland)

// Tintern Abbey to Loftus Hall – 20-minute drive (arrive for 12:00) //

You’ll find the intimidating structure known as Loftus Hall on the wild and windy Hook Peninsula, close to Hook Lighthouse.

loftus hall old

Photo via Loftus Hall

It’s an enormous, old mansion house that was built in the mid-1300s during the time of the black death.

According to legend, the mansion is haunted by both the devil and by the ghost of a young woman.

inside loftus hall ireland

If you fancy a bit of a scare, you can take a guided interactive tour of the ground floor of Loftus Hall (lasts around 45 mins).

The ice cream here is also gorgeous!

4 – One of the oldest operational lighthouses on earth

// Loftus Hall to Hook Lighthouse – 10-minute drive (arrive for 13:30) //

Hook Lighthouse was once voted the number one lighthouse in the world.

The current structure has been marking the entrance to Wexford Harbour for at least 800 years, yet its history goes back a whole lot further.

Monks kept a warning beacon to warn sailors of the dangers of shipwreck on the rocky headland during the period 500-1000 AD.

Grab a cup of coffee in the café after your drive before climbing the 115 steps to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the mighty view of the Wexford coastline.

5 – A ramble along the walls of Waterford City

// Hook to Waterford City – 1 hour and 10-minute drive (arrive for 16:00) //

Our first day in Waterford is going to be spent wandering around Waterford City – Ireland’s oldest, as it happens.

One of the most impressive features of Waterford City is its historic walls and towers.

waterford city walls

Photo via Google Maps

The city, which was founded by the Vikings way back between 856 and 914, is over 1,000 years old and boasts the largest collection of medieval defensive towers and walls on our island.

Head off in the direction of Reginald’s Tower.

waterford city attractions

Photo via Tourism Ireland

Reginald’s Tower is the most impressive of the six towers that are still standing and can be found at the highest point of Waterford City’s Viking Triangle.

reginalds tower

Photo via Failte Ireland

Inside the tower, you’ll find an exhibition on Viking Waterford that houses 9th-century swords and weapons from a Viking warrior’s grave and a magnificent Waterford Kite Brooch.

Take a bit of time to have a float around the tower and soak up some of the city’s rich past.

6 – The Medieval Museum

Take the short stroll to the Medieval Museum. Here, you’ll be able to soak up the story of what life was like in the historic City of Waterford many years ago.

Waterford City centre was excavated between 1986 and 1992 and the many unique discoveries that were found during this time are housed in the Museum.

Take a look inside by hitting play on the video below.

Spend some time wandering around the museum, and head off on the guided tour if you fancy.

Related read: Here are looooooads of things to do in Waterford if you fancy visiting.

7 – Rest the legs and get ready for the evening ahead

When you finish up in the museum, head to your accommodation for the night.

For this trip we’re going to recommend that you stay in Dooley’s Hotel, as it’s nice and central and the reviews are amazing.

Check in, rest the body for a bit and then get out for food and a drink.

8 – Food and a pint

// It’s been a busy aul day. We’re going to round it off with food and a few pints //

gingerman bar waterford city

Photo by @luciedomert on Instagram

We’re going to recommend that you grab a bite to eat in Bodega!, followed up by a drink in the Gingerman.

We’ll be doing a lot of active exploring tomorrow, so do your best to avoid lashing in too many pints and giving yourself a thunderous hangover.

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MIchael Katekar

Tuesday 11th of July 2023

A big thank you for all of the time and hard work you have put into this blog. Great information. I don't think we can keep up with your pace but will certainly take up many of your suggestions.

Isabella Dennison

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Good day Keith,

Wow, what an amazing work you've done! I'm forever grateful!!! Please can you email this to me. We are planning to explore Ireland for the first time this year 2023, all the way from South Africa.

Thank you

Keith O'Hara

Monday 27th of March 2023

Thanks Isabell!

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

I've tried to get this converted to PDF on a number of occasions, but the result is very messy due to the volume of photos in it.

If there's any specific questions that I can help with, please fire them on and I'll do my best to answer them.


Jodie Wilson

Sunday 26th of March 2023

First retirement trip. Ireland for a month! Go big or go home. So excited to start this new chapter in our lives - and to hit the roads of Ireland. This guide is perfect - but I’d love a more readable copy if you could email it to me.


Monday 13th of March 2023

Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you

Phillip Ennis

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

I'm tipping my hat to you for having the tenacity to put together such a helpful, insightful and thorough guide for all of us to enjoy. Thank you.

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