This road trip guide has been created to help you plan the perfect weekend in Waterford.
Now, whether you follow it to a tee is up to you. If you have more time (or less) you can play around with how your spend the 2 days.
If you’re visiting for longer, or if you fancy seeing what else this county has to offer, check out our guide to 28 of the best things to do in Waterford.
Or, if you’re looking for a solid cycle or a lengthy walk, hop into our guide to spinning along the Waterford Greenway.
Here’s what you’ll get from this guide
- A detailed 2-day road trip guide that’s packed with things to do
- Recommendations on where to stay
- A guide on where to eat, get coffeeeeeeeee and drink (the pub kinda drink, that is)
Day 1. Exploring the Oldest City in Ireland
Our first day in Waterford is going to be spent wandering around Waterford City – Ireland’s oldest, as it happens.
We’re going to spend the day exploring the city by foot, so a decent pair of runners will make your feet happy.
Stop 1. Jack Burtchaell’s Walking Tour
OK, so this isn’t really a stop, but bear with me. We’re going to join Jack’s one-hour award-winning walking tour that’ll take us through the regional capital and Ireland’s oldest city.
The tour includes two cathedrals, four national monuments, and a gallery of many a rogue and rascal.
Although the walking tour is just one-hour long, it covers 1,000 years of history, and is delivered in a witty manner that’ll leave you itching for more.
One of Jack’s stories that I’ve heard mention of is about the first frog in Ireland, which was brought to Ireland by the Franciscan friars.
“They had very strict rules in those days,” according to Jack, “so they introduced frogs as a food to augment the Lenten diet of the Middle Ages and prohibition of meat on Fridays.”
What a brilliant bit of knowledge. Book the tour in advance and get up close and personal with Waterford City to kick-start your morning.
Stop 2. Breakfast and a strong ass coffee
// You’ll finish up the tour at around 10:15 (if you start at 9) – head to the Granary Cafe for 10:30. //
If you’ve yet to have breakfast, or if you’re in need of a caffeine pick-me-up, point your nose in the direction of the Granary Cafe.
Grab a bite to eat and fuel up for the busy day ahead.
Stop 3. A ramble along the city walls
// Finish up at the cafe at 11:10 and head off walking. //
Founded by the Vikings way back between 856 and 914, Waterford City is over 1,000 years old and boasts the largest collection of medieval defensive towers and walls in Ireland.
We’re going to have a little ramble along the walls and check out some of the six towers that are still standing today. Head off in the direction of Reginald’s Tower.
Reginald’s Tower is the most impressive of the six towers that are still standing and can be found at the highest point of the city’s Viking Triangle.
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.
Stop 4. The Waterford Crystal Tour
// Take your time exploring the city’s walls and towers and aim to get to start the Waterford Crystal tour at around 13:30. //
OK, I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about crystal and glass making (same thing?! ?) that fascinates me.
ESPECIALLY when it’s insanely hot and you’ve a lad, like in the image below, blowing it into a bowl or whatever it is.
So, we’re going to nip to the House of Waterford Crystal next to embark upon the factory tour.
Stop 5. Lunch in Momo’s
// Finish up at Waterford Crystal at around 15:00 and take the 7-minute stroll to Momo’s restaurant. //
We’ve packed in a fair amount of things to do in Waterford City over the past few hours. Fuel up in Momo’s (the thai yellow curry looks savage) and rest the legs for a bit.
Stop 6. The Medieval Museum
// Finish up at eating at around 16:30 and take the 5-minute stroll to the Medieval Museum (arrive around 16:35) //
Our next stop takes us to the Medieval Museum where visitors can soak up the story of what life was like in the Historic Waterford City.
Waterford City center 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 what’s been listed at one of the best things to do in Waterford on Tripadvisor in the video above.
According to the lads at Visit Waterford, ‘The medieval museum incorporates the 13th century Choristers’ Hall and a 15th century wine vault and takes visitors back to the great age of faith and chivalry.
The museum galleries feature some of the great treasures of medieval Ireland and Europe, including the unique 4 metre long illuminated Great Charter Roll of Waterford (1373) as well as the sumptuous cloth-of-gold vestments (1460).
Spend some time wandering around the museum, and head off on the guided tour if you fancy.
Stop 7. Rest the legs and get ready for the evening ahead
You should arrive to your hotel for around 18:30. For this trip we’re going to recommend that you stay in Dooley’s Hotel.
Check in, rest the body for a bit and then get out for food and a drink.
Stop 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. //
We’re going to recommend that you grab a bite to eat in Bodega!, but there’s a load of great places to eat in Waterford.
For drinks, we’re going to nip into the Gingerman for a couple. 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.
Day 2. The Copper Coast, a magic road and one of the best views in Ireland
We’ve a pretty active day ahead, but it’s one you’ll remember for a long aul time.
We’re going to road trip along a stretch of coastline that’s a bit of a hidden gem, before embarking upon a nice long hike that’ll treat you to a view that’ll knock you sideways.
We’ll be doing a bit of walking on day 2, so I’d recommend that you bring the following with you:
- A decent pair of hiking boots
- Appropriate clothing depending on the weather
- A packed lunch as we won’t be stopping for food until later in the evening
- Water and snacks for the hike
Stop 1. The Copper Coast
// Start the drive at 9:00 //
The stretch of coastline that sits between Tramore and Dungarvan is known as the Copper Coast and it’s widely regarded as one of the most beautiful, unspoilt scenic drives in Ireland.
Declared as a European Geopark in 2001 and a UNESCO Global Geopark in 2004, the Copper Coast boasts a beautiful, ever changing landscape with seemingly endless rolling hills and steep cliffs.
As you spin along the Copper Coast you’ll pass many a golden beach and quaint village. We’ve a number of stop-off points along this wonderful stretch of craggy coast.
Copper Coast Stop 1. Kicking off the drive with Dunhill Castle
// Dooley’s Hotel to Dunhill Castle – 26-minute drive (aim to arrive to Dunhill castle for 9:00) //
If you’re not familiar with the Copper Coast, it gets its name from the 19th Century copper mines that lie at its heart.
The area is made up of 25 kilometers of magnificent coastline that’s just itching to be explored. Our first stop on the Copper Coast is a short spin from our base on day 1 – Dunhill Castle.
This castle was built in the early 1200’s by a crowd called ‘The la Poer family’, who became infamous in the 14th century after they launched a load of attacks on Waterford City.
Copper Coast Stop 2. Kilmurrin Beach
// Dunhill Castle to Kilmurrin Beach – 10-minute drive (spend 30 minutes at the castle and arrive at the beach at 9:40) //
The tiny little beach of Kilmurrin is an often overlooked stop off point, but perfect for anyone looking to stretch the legs and gulp down some fresh sea air.
If weather permits, plonk yourself down on the sand and enjoy the view of the horseshoe-shaped cove, with rugged cliffs rising beautifully on either side.
Copper Coast Stop 3. Bunmahon Beach
// Kilmurrin Beach to Bunmahon Beach – 10-minute drive (spend 30 minutes at Kilmurrin and arrive at Bunmahon at 10:20) //
Our third stop on the Copper Coast is Bunmahon Beach. Bunmahon Beach is a beautiful spot that stretches for around 5km, and is backed by sand dunes with tall cliffs at each end.
I know we’ve already visited a beach this morning, but this place is definitely worth stopping by. Watch the video below to see why.
Copper Coast Stop 4. The stop that isn’t really a stop
Like many of the road trip guides we create here, the best advice we can offer is to let your gut guide you.
Take your time on the Copper Coast. Get out of the car. Walk. Climb. Gulp down as much sea air as your lungs will allow. Listen to the waves and allow this place to consume you
We’re going to allow for another 2 hours on this stretch for those of you that fancy spending some time exploring.
Day 2 Stop 2 – The Coumshingaun Lake Walk
// Aim to start this walk at 12:00 //
Our second stop of day 2 involves a hike that’ll treat you to one of the best views in Ireland. Check this out…
Excited? The Coumshingaun Lough Loop Walk, for me, is the best thing to do in Waterford at the week. A Saturday morning spent here is hard to beat.
Anywhere that gives you a solid physical challenge and then rewards you with a view like this always tops my list.
Day 2 Stop 3. The Magic Road
// When you get back to the car you’ll be a handy 10-minute drive away (I’m going to slot in 5 hours for the long lake walk, which would mean that you’d arrive to the Magic Road at about 17:00) //
I heard about the Magic Road in Waterford on my old school bus. One of the lads had been in Waterford and his dad had taken them to it. When he told us what happened, we didn’t believe him.
It didn’t make sense then, and it definitely doesn’t make sense now. You’ll find the Magic Road in the Comeragh Mountains as you make your way to Mahon Falls.
When you reach the cattle grid in the road, keep a look out for two stones inscribed with ‘Magic Road’.
If it’s safe to do so, stop your car and stick it in neutral. Your car will then, magically, start to roll backwards up the hill.
Watch the video above and have your mind blooooown! Definitely one of the more unique things to do in Waterford on your visit.
Day 2 Stop 4. Mahon Falls
// Magic Road to Mahon Falls – 5-minute drive (Spend 15 minutes at the Magic Road and arrive at the waterfall for 17:30) //
Hop back into the car and head straight for the car park at Mahon Falls where you’ll be treated to your first glimpse of the waterfall.
Your legs are probably screaming at this stage, but bear with me, this’ll be worth it! The walk from the car park up to the waterfall is facilitated by a gravel path and takes around 20 minutes.
As you move higher up the path, the roar of the water gets louder and louder, willing weary walkers to keep going.
When you reach a point that you’re happy with, kick-back, soak up the natural beauty in front of you and let the melody of water crashing against rock ring in your ears.
Day 2 Stop 5. The Comeragh Drive
// Mahon Falls to Dungarvan – 25-minute drive (allow yourself an hour at Mahon Falls. This would mean you’d arrive in Dungarvan at about 18:55) //
At this point you’re probably pretty wrecked – fear not, however, we’re going to finish off the day with a drive that boasts views that’ll knock you sideways, before heading to Dungarvan for the evening.
We’re going to do part of the Comeragh Drive. If you didn’t do the hike earlier in the day, definitely look at doing the full Comeragh route.
When you leave the car park, turn right and continue up the hill until you reach the top. Park the car and enjoy the spectacular views from the Comeragh Heights overlooking the Mahon River Valley to the east and the Tay Valley to the west.
When you’ve had your fill, hop back into the car and continue on the same road as it winds down the hill. We’re heading for Dungarvan, so pop it into the sat nav/Google Maps and head off on your merry way.
Day 2 Stop 6. Dungarvan for the night
If you’ve gotten this far, fair play! It’s time to check into your accommodation, grab a nap and the head for food and a couple of drinks.
I’m going to recommend that you stay in the Park Hotel, but where you sleep is completely up to you.
Grab a few hours rest and head on down to The Moornings for a bite to eat and a few well-earned pints.
And that brings us to the end of our road trip
If you want to continue your trip on along the coast, you can find a full guide to Cork, Kerry and the rest of Ireland’s coastline here.
As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Have I missed somewhere? Is there somewhere you’d recommend adding in (or taking out)?
Pop a comment in the comments section below!
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.