Together, these two southern counties are known as Ireland’s sunny south east and while we can’t promise Caribbean temperatures here – we can certainly promise that the white sandy coastlines of Wexford and Waterford are a match for Caribbean ones! The beautiful beach resorts here are popular with ‘staycationing’ locals and aside from pristine, family friendly beaches they provide a wonderful foodie scene as well as authentic Irish pubs to enjoy an evening ‘session’ (music, food, drink and laughter).
Aside from appealing to beach bums though – this region is steeped in history and often overlooked by visitors flocking to the more renowned Cork, Kerry and Clare regions of the southwest. We can’t recommend a visit to Wexford and Waterford enough though – and a two hour drive from Dublin means that this region can be experienced even when time is limited – here are some vacation suggestions which are confident will whet your appetite for an escape to Ireland’s sunny south coasts.
Entering Enniscorthy will make you feel like you have traveled back a couple of centuries – the buildings and stone walls of this town, which is situated on a hilltop and on the banks of the river Slaney have scarcely changed throughout the decades. The town was a key location for Ireland’s 1798 Rising, when fearless Wexford rebels inspired by the French and American revolutions fought against British rule. The history of this monumental event can be discovered at the National 1798 rebellion centre. Following your visit, browse for antiques and one-off pieces at the local boutiques.
The Irish National Heritage Park
35 acres of land are home to the Irish National Heritage Park, where you can experience a journey through 9000 years of Irish history. Discover how families lived in ancient celtic Ireland,the bronze age and early Christian Ireland. Learn about the pagan rituals which characterized early Ireland and learn about the enchanting ancient celtic festivals, including ‘Samhain’ which today is celebrated as ‘Halloween’. Kids will love exploring the reconstructed homes as well as the adventure playground . An educational visit and fun for all the family.
Thatched cottages line the principal street of this harbour town where you will feel like you’re in the middle of a postcard picture! Kilmore quay is famed for its deep-sea fishing and incredible fresh seafood. Enjoy a meal at one of the local seafood restaurants, or keep it casual with fish & chips sitting on a picnic bench in the heart of Kilmore harbour while enjoying the fresh sea air! Kilmore is a perfect lunch and photo stop on your Wexford/Waterford tour.
Optional extra: If you decide to stay a little longer in Kilmore Quay, a short boat trip to the Saltee islands promises an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experience. Just 4km offshore, it is believed that the islands were home to the pre-Celts. Today the islands display rocks more than two million years old (among Europe’s oldest) and one of the most prominent bird sanctuaries in Europe (home to over 375 species of birds). A definite must for anybody interested in geography or geology.
Kelly’s Beach Resort, Rosslare
For pure relaxation and a little bit of beach time (yes – even in Ireland), we can’t say enough good things about Kelly’s hotel and resort in Rosslare, Co. Wexford. Kelly’s is one of the top luxury hotels in Ireland and offers a great opportunity to unwind after some action-packed days in Dublin. Situated along five miles of white sandy beach, Kelly’s is a destination loved by generations of Irish families, who return year after year for the fantastic leisure facilities, spa and highly regarded dining options . A great choice for couples too, Kelly’s is a top recommendation for an overnight stay in Wexford – treat yourself!
Mill Road Farm:
Mill road farm is a charming guesthouse situated on a working dairy farm, which also breed horses. Engage with the animals or simply chill out in the beautifully maintained gardens here. The unfussy accommodations are enhanced by a delicious breakfast of fresh free range eggs and mouthwatering home-made bread.
A beautiful, historic family run hotel and restaurant, Dunbrody house is situated on Wexford’s dramatic Hook peninsula and offers luxurious accommodations as well as Irish dining at its best. Chef Kevin Dundon is one of Ireland’s best-known ‘celebrity chef’ – but don’t be turned off by the hype! Food at Dunbrody house is imaginative, consistently good and quintessentially Irish – perfect for couples and older families. Click here for more information.
Continuing south from Wexford, you’ll enter the county of Waterford – home to the famous ‘Waterford crystal’, more stunning sandy beaches and Ireland’s oldest city.
With 1000 years of history under its belt, giving it the title of Ireland’s oldest city – Waterford city has an undeniably medieval feel. Discover the story of Waterford for yourself at the collection of engaging museums the city has to offer.
Waterford has been world famous for centuries for the production of beautiful crystalware (the champagne glasses reserved for special occasions in homes around the world likely originated in Waterford). Click here for more information or read about our private Waterford day tours from Dublin.
If you find yourself in Waterford during the summer months and feel like experiencing one of the prettiest seaside towns in Ireland, the quiet town of Ardmore is a must-see. Ballyquin beach is a stunning and family friendly beach, while a short wander uphill will take you to a 12th century round tower and the nearby original monastery of St. Declan which is yours to explore. Word is that St. Declan arrived here around the year 350 brining with him Christianity to Ireland long before St. Patrick himself – controversial!
Eating in Waterford:
Waterford has established a well-deserved reputation as a food lover’s paradise during recent years . Cookery schools and fine dining establishments which make the best of local ingredients have characterized the region over the past ten years or so and we think that the region is well worth including on your itinerary just for the food alone.
Tannery Cookery School:
Situated in a lovely garden which provides much of the produce for the Tannery Cookery school and restaurant – this is regarded as one of Ireland’s finest cooking institutions. Want to impress your friends back home with a fantastic brunch, or tasty gluten-free meals (all with an Irish twist). These are only two of the topics on offer at the school and full or half day options mean that a cooking course can be integrated into your itinerary without compromising on too much time. Click here for the website of the Tannery.
Known for a unique fusion of modern Irish and French cuisine, using the finest local produce, L’Atomsphere in Waterford city is revered by many an Irish food critic and has received numerous highly regarded Irish foodie awards.