Treasures of Ireland’s oldest city

Waterford may be most famous for its finely crafted crystal, but there’s much more to Ireland’s oldest city, such as medieval structures, museums, and a rich cultural heritage.

Founded in 914, Waterford – or Vadrafjord – is the jewel of Ireland’s Ancient East and a must-see coastal city. Once a Viking stronghold, the Norsemen may be no more, but their influence remains in Waterford’s narrow winding streets and atmospheric public spaces.

Waterford’s favourite attractions lie inside the city’s Viking walls and towers. The three museums located in the ‘Viking Triangle’ unpack a story stretching over 1100 years and are known as the Waterford Treasures.

You’ll find one of the most remarkable Viking exhibitions in the country within the stone fortress of Reginald’s Tower houses. Here, you’ll see Viking weapons, archaeological treasures discovered in excavations in the city and the exquisite gold Waterford Kite Brooch, a superb example of the fusion of Gaelic Irish and Viking art forms.

reginalds tower waterford ireland

A few paces away is the Medieval Museum and its two perfectly preserved medieval chambers – a thirteenth-century choristers’ hall and a fifteenth-century wine vault. Browse galleries containing some of the finest medieval treasures in Ireland and Europe or take a guided tour featuring guides in period costume channelling historical characters.

Originally built in 1743, Bishop’s Palace is now fully restored with period furniture and fittings. Among the elegant Georgian treasures on display is a 1789 decanter, the oldest surviving piece of Waterford Crystal. 

bishops palace waterford ireland

The Viking Triangle is also home to a full-sized and seaworthy replica of a Viking longboat, plus a variety of craft studios, cafés and restaurants where you can sample signature Waterford cuisines – the tasty ‘blaa’ bread.

And make sure to include the King of the Vikings virtual reality experience on your itinerary.

From backstage tours of the Theatre Royal, to art galleries and cathedrals, there is even more culture to explore around Waterford city.

And within walking distance of the Viking Triangle is the world-famous House of Waterford Crystal, where you can encounter the centuries-old tradition of glassmaking then afterwards purchase the ultimate souvenir at the retail store.

making waterford crystal

Information supplied by Tourism Ireland

Have you been to Waterford? Would you recommend it to our members?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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