Refined and cultured
Waterford on the coast in Ireland’s south-eastern corner is synonymous with crystal, a legacy of one of its most successful industries. In fact, glass has been made here ever since 1783 and today you can sample the artisanship behind some of the city’s most beautiful creations. With a rich maritime history to explore and its Georgian architecture still intact, Waterford has much to please the eye.
Waterford crystal is the city’s most famous export, and you’ll find fine examples at the Saturday Waterford City Food and Craft Market on Broad Street. City Square Shopping Centre (Arundel Square) hosts two classic Irish department stores and a collection of international chains, while the smaller Georges Court Shopping Centre (George's Street) is best known for its trend-setting shops and upmarket boutiques. The pedestrianised section of Waterford’s medieval centre hosts an eclectic collection of independent retailers and high-end chains. Down by the waterfront, the boulevard known to locals simply as ‘The Quay’ combines dozens of quirky smaller shops with a host of cafés and restaurants.
Food & Drink
Contemporary pub fare is at the centre of Waterford’s foodie scene, with the lively Revolution Gastro Pub (19 John Street) setting the standard for creativity in the city. Spanish-style restaurant Bodega (54 John Street) is a cosy place to enjoy a light supper with its Mediterranean atmosphere and scrumptious, seafood-heavy menu, while L’Atmosphere (19 Henrietta Street) serves classic French cuisine at surprisingly low prices. La Bohème (2 George’s Street) is on the pricey side for Waterford, but its romantic setting and rustic-style haute cuisine puts it among the city’s very best restaurants. Chocoholics will find their own personal heaven at Lily O’Brien’s Chocolate Café (George's Court Shopping Centre), with its nationally famous gourmet chocolate selection.
Waterford Pride Mardi Gras Festival
One of the country’s biggest pride festivals, this city-wide carnival is dedicated to the celebration of diversity. It incorporates a New Orleans-style Mardi Gras event, with ghost walks, parades and a closing night ball.
This three-day music festival takes place in Waterford’s historic Viking Triangle and features a star-studded line-up of live acts.
Waterford Viking Marathon
Open to athletes of all levels, this large-scale fun run sees participants compete over a scenic course that takes in many of Waterford’s best-known tourist attractions. Local bands and street entertainers play to the watching crowd.
Waterford Harvest Festival
Centred on food and local produce, this successful autumn festival is fun for all ages. Country fairs, barbecues, picnics and taste workshops are supplemented by street parties, gigs and a shopping village selling local handicrafts.
This fabulously kitsch festive extravaganza includes everything from Christmas markets and ice-skating rinks to Santa’s Grotto and light shows. Highlights include fair rides, Yule-themed theatre productions and a collection of artisan food stalls.
Ireland’s oldest city hides its best hotels away in country estates and historic townhouses. The luxury scene is defined by Waterford Castle (The Island), which is set on its own private islet and boasts a private 18-hole golf course. Faithlegg House Hotel (Faithlegg), a short drive from the city centre, combines aristocratic décor with a spa and award-winning restaurant, while Granville Hotel (The Quay) offers a similarly luxe experience closer to Waterford’s medieval centre. The Barley Field (35-36 Barrack Street) is a lesson in chic minimalism and combines designer rooms with pocket-friendly prices. If your budget is seriously tight, however, opt for a cosy guest house such as Adel B&B (Cork Road).