04th Sep 2021
Summer is usually synonymous with staycation, but September is actually the perfect time for a quick trip away.
Much of the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist season has died down by now, places are quieter and accommodation is easier to come by. The only obstacle that may scupper your plans is the small issue of annual leave, but save your trips for the weekend and that doesn’t even have to factor in.
While the good weather looks to have already said its goodbyes for another year, if there’s one place that exudes sunshine, it’s Waterford. Forming part of the sunny south east, it’s a name badge locals wear with pride and there is plenty to see and do to help you fill a weekend with fun.
Where to stay
Located right in the heart of Waterford city, you’ll spot the Granville Hotel as soon as you cross over the bridge and drive along the waterfront. Dating back to the 1700s, it’s one of Ireland’s oldest hotels and has played a prominent role in the county’s rich, social and political history.
Also home to the Thomas Francis Meagher bar and the Bianconi restaurant, you’ll be well-looked after foodwise. Order the beetroot brownie and salted caramel ice cream and thank me later.
What to do
No trip to Waterford would be complete without a visit to the famous Waterford Crystal factory. Located within walking distance of the Granville Hotel, the visitor centre offers guided tours of the factory which brings you behind the scenes to see how one of Ireland’s most famous exports is actually made. You’ll be shown how pieces are crafted from initial design right up to the final engraving, with the tour finishing in the gift shop where the largest collection of Waterford Crystal in the world is on display.
As Ireland’s oldest city, Waterford is a must for history buffs – particularly the Viking District where you’ll discover a wealth of information about the area. The King of the Vikings virtual reality experience is the first of its kind in the world. The adventure takes place in a reconstructed Viking house, seamlessly blending the new with the old as it gives you a rundown of who the Vikings were and what they were all about. Each experience lasts 30 minutes and pre-booking is recommended.
Once you have the city scoped out, head for Tramore where you’ll find the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens. Built in honour of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, a writer of Greek-Irish descent, the gardens chart the intriguing story of his life in both their style, planting and the gardening traditions they employ. The journey begins with a Victorian garden to reflect his childhood summers in Tramore, with an American garden and a Greek garden to follow, before giving way to a traditional Japanese tea house, ponds, a waterfall and an extensive woodland area. Always incorporating new cultural elements to their offering, guests will now be able to combine their visit with some post-tour sushi and saké available from the onsite café.
Where to get coffee
Already with a reputation that precedes it, Seagull’s Bakery can be found just a few minutes up the road from the Japanese gardens. Headed up by husband and wife team Conor Naughton and Sarah Richards back in 2013, the award-winning artisan bakery has gone from strength to strength since then, opening a second and a third branch this year – in Waterford city and Dunmore East respectively. Specialising in sourdough, fresh pastries and good coffee, the only trouble will be narrowing your choices down.
Where to swim
You’ll more than likely get your second wind once the caffeine from a good Seagull coffee hits, so hop in the car and head for Dunmore East. A gorgeous little fishing village along the coast it’s full of charm and character. Particularly popular amongst sea-lovers, it’s dotted with any number of secluded covers should you fancy a dip. Badger’s Cove gives way to a beautiful sandy beach with plenty of water sport activities to choose from in the area too – including but not limited to kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and an inflatable adventure course. Keep your eyes peeled for colourful beach glass which can be seen dotted along the shore.
If you want a break where you don’t have to leave the hotel, one of these options could be just what you’re looking for.
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