Dublin to Waterford and Wexford by Car

Summer is road trip time in Ireland. We hired a car in Dublin and drove toward Waterford and Wexford. How far is Waterford from Dublin? The Dublin to Waterford journey time is a little over 2 hours. Waterford and Wexford are about an hour apart by car and then it's slightly less than two hours to get from Wexford back to Dublin. The distances make the Dublin to Waterford and Wexford road trip doable in a weekend. You can also get from Dublin City to Waterford City by train or bus but it takes a little longer and gives you less flexibility. There is no rail service between Waterford City and Wexford City or from Wexford City to Dublin City, just the bus. Read on to learn more about the scenic drive from Dublin to Waterford and Wexford and why it's fun to spend some time road tripping in Ireland's Ancient East.

A Stop to Stretch Our Legs in Carlow

Perusing the map, we looked for interesting towns to explore en route from Dublin to Waterford. We spied Carlow and turned off the highway to see what was on offer. We were greeted by a colorful high street backstopped by slate gray clouds. We took a walk through town and saw a striking tower in the distance. Intrigued, we went in for a closer look. The church was open so we had a peek inside. For those uninitiated in Catholic ritual, the protocol for mass was helpfully posted inside the door. There is nothing more embarrassing than standing when you are supposed to sit or kneeling when you are supposed to stand. On our way back to the main street, we passed the tourist office and Carlow County Museum. Continuing on, we saw more church spires popping against the now blue sky. We spotted Carlow Castle peeking out behind quaint homes and shops. We approached the ruins of the castle and admired the bright flowers growing along side. We walked back through town and popped out along the river. Colorful planters lined the channel. We spotted a gorgeous fountain and more ominous looking clouds in the distance. We took a quick spin through the local farmers' market before hopping back into the car and continuing our journey toward Waterford.
Dublin to Waterford drive: Carlow Castle

Dungarvan Town

Continuing on from Carlow toward Waterford, we set our sights on Dungarvan. We parked near the harbor and hiked into Dungarvan town. We enjoyed the peaceful scene dotted with sailboats. We popped into Dungarvan Castle. We sought shelter just in time as a storm passed through. Even the castle's murder hole was leaking! The rain quickly turned to sun as it often does in Ireland and we walked into the heart of Dungarvan town. We admired stately brick homes and a square with old fashioned shops and restaurants along the perimeter.
Dublin to Waterford by Car: Dungarvan Harbour

We ducked into Merry's Bar for a bite of lunch. The decor at our table was unique. I had mixed feelings about the stuffed duck staring down at us. A well polished bar was the centerpiece of the establishment. We were tempted by the local Dungarvan brewery selections but we decided to stick with water for lunch since we were driving. The pork sandwich and carrot soup hit the spot. We finished our loop through Dungarvan by admiring the town square (unfortunately turned into a parking lot) and took one last look at the harbor before jumping in the car (just in time for the next lashing of rain) and continuing on our way.

The Flexibility of An Irish Road Trip

Sundial on the drive from Dublin to Waterford Ireland

The great thing about a driving trip is that you're free to explore over a wide range and can easily change your itinerary as the mood strikes. After leaving Dungarvan, we turned off the main highway and stopped for a few minutes in a lovely town so small I forget the name. A sun dial anchors the town square. Beautiful roses were still wet from the recent shower that passed through. Continuing on, we stopped at one of the Blue Flag beaches that County Waterford is known for. We followed a trail through the dunes and emerged on a quiet beach. We took a walk (keeping it brief since it looked like another storm was brewing). We walked back to the car through a mobile home park. The entrance of the development was anchored by a shabby chic ship. We spotted a lonely stone building at the side of the road and decided to pull over and have a look. We were lured across the street by the amazing views. Turning back, we surveyed an abandoned copper mine. We rounded out our drive with a quick stop at a quiet cove before making the final push to our bed and breakfast in Waterford.
Abandoned copper mine on the drive from Dublin to Waterford Ireland


SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other Irish road trip ideas? Have you considered:

Blue flag beach on the drive from Dublin to Waterford

Waterford's Bog of Fenor

We made another brief pit stop en route from Dublin to Waterford at the Bog of Fenor. A wooden planked boardwalk ran through the area making for a peaceful and muck-free walk. We admired the meadows and hills in the distance. Some wildflowers had taken hold in the bog. This was a great spot to briefly stretch our legs and get some fresh air before jumping back into the car to continue the journey.
Bog of Fenor on the drive from Dublin to Waterford Ireland

Summer Fun in Tramore

As a further testament to the diversity of attractions in Waterford, we came upon Tramore. It can best be described as a town you might find along the Jersey Shore in the United States. We spotted carnival rides in the distance. We took a quick walk through the fun park and watched children and families making the most of a day out. We spotted a doughnut bar nearby and were curious enough to step inside. We were delighted to find that they served fresh baked doughnuts, dipped in chocolate AND topped with soft serve ice cream! I'm speechless!
Tramore fun park on the drive between Dublin City and Waterford City

Where to Stay in Waterford

County Waterford has a range of bed and breakfasts to choose from. We spent the night just outside Waterford Town in the Foxmount Country House. Sadly, I learned recently that the Foxmount Country House is now closed to guests. I'll still describe our experience because it's typical of B and B's in the region. After a long day of travel and sightseeing, we decided to sit in the parlour with a cup of tea and muffins thoughtfully provided by our hostess. After our tea and a relaxing game of chess, we took a look outside at the gardens on the property. Foxmount Country House was covered in thick ivy.
Foxmount Country House in County Waterford
The next morning, we came downstairs to a decadent breakfast selected from a handwritten menu. We started with homemade brown bread plus scones and jam. We washed it down with a glass of fresh squeezed OJ. The dining room featured posh period furnishings and a silver tea set on the sideboard. We ate a small portion of porridge and were delighted when our hostess asked if we'd like some Irish whiskey-soaked raisins on top. In addition to the raisins, we were treated to a variety of accoutrement. We tried pancakes with fresh Wexford strawberries and a perfectly cooked and highly buttery omelette. After breakfast, we checked out and hopped into the car where we were sent off by the three pooches living at Foxmount. 

An Evening in Waterford City

We spent a Saturday evening exploring Waterford City. We parked along the river and checked out the varied views. The place was eerily quiet. We noticed an understated fountain at the base of a huge clock tower. Both square and pointy towers dominated the skyline. We passed the home of Waterford Crystal. Waterford Crystal is no longer manufactured in Waterford but there is a museum (unfortunately closed during our evening visit). We admired some fabulous over-sized creations through the windows. The sun shone brightly and we took the opportunity to wander around a bit in search of a place for dinner. We passed a charging statue of Thomas Francis Meagher who led the Irish rebellion in 1848. We circled beneath Reginald's Tower, a defensive tower built in the 13th century. Further down the street, we passed a variety of paintings highlighting different professions. After perusing various choices, we opted for Polish cuisine for dinner at Koliba. We were served bread and a pork-based pate to start. We sat at a table beneath a stark and wiry tree. We had a pork filled potato pancake and pierogi; definitely hearty and delicious. A cabbage and beetroot salad rounded out the meal. Stuffed to the gills, we headed back to our bed and breakfast for a quiet evening.

Waterford City: Waterford Crystal showroom

From Waterford to Wexford

We departed from our hotel and wound our way through the back roads of County Waterford. We passed donkeys chilling in a field. We continued on toward the mouth of the River Suir. We waited patiently as the car ferry approached. We admired the scenery during the peaceful crossing. We could see the Ring of Hook in the distance. We made our way to Duncannon Fort to have a look around. We were surprised to see men dressed up in jack boots and military regalia. It appeared that a World War II reenactment was underway. I admit that I was a bit uncomfortable seeing swastikas and SS uniforms milling about. After a very brief visit, we continued on toward Hook Head Lighthouse, passing quaint farms and older ruins.

The Ring of Hook

Hook Lighthouse

We drove out to the very end of the Ring of Hook and the Hook Lighthouse came into view. We took heed when we saw this:
WARNING: Great care must be taken near the waters edge, along cliffs. Freak waves, slippery rocks. 
With this in mind, we cautiously descended onto the rocks surrounding the lighthouse for a short hike. Looking back, the views were spectacular. Clouds were starting to gather so we clamored up the rocks and headed toward Hook Lighthouse. I was impressed by a huge buoy marking the entrance to the property. We joined a tour group to ascend to the top of the lighthouse and learn more about its 800 year history. Inside, we could see the stones that area monks had laid by hand. It's amazing to think about what they accomplished with human-power. We enjoyed sweeping views of the craggy coast. We looked up to the more present-day addition to the top of the lighthouse - a modern light to warn incoming boats of dangers along the South coast of Ireland. We descended the steps and hopped in the car to complete our loop of the Ring of Hook.
Waterford to Wexford drive: Hook Lighthouse

Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey is another impressive spot along Ireland's Ring of Hook. We admired views of the slow moving river in the distance. We spotted an opening in one of the turrets and descended the staircase inside. We discovered a path through the forest pointing toward Colclough Walled Gardens. We weren't sure what to expect but decided we were game for a bit of adventure and set off through the woods. We started wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into as the trees closed around us. The sign had failed to mention how far of a walk it was to the gardens. After was seemed like about a half a mile walk, we spotted a stone wall. We entered a lovely restored oasis. The caretaker sat us down and we took note of the fresh produce (e.g., potatoes for sale). He told us how the gardens were recently excavated and a team was working to restore them to their former glory. We strolled through the carefully tended rows. We learned that the environment near the stone walls is a fair bit hotter than the center of the garden and was thus conducive to growing fruit trees like apples, pears, and even peaches! Who would have thought it was possible in Ireland to grow peaches?! We peeked through a stone archway and noticed a larger than life scarecrow installed on the other side.
Waterford to Wexford drive: Tintern Abbey


Several streams trickled through the gardens offering a welcome source of water. After our quiet stroll. we emerged back into the forest. We spotted a sculpted head peeking out from a grizzled tree. We took a detour to a lovely stone bridge spanning the river. From the bridge, we enjoyed beautiful views of Tintern Abbey. The river extended into the distance in the opposite direction. We took one final look at the ruins of the abbey before driving toward Wexford Town.

Wexford strawberries on the drive between Waterford and Wexford in Ireland

Into Wexford Town

As we approached Wexford Town, we decided to stop at Kales Farm Shop which was housed in a converted petrol station. The main attraction was the famous Wexford strawberries. It's a good thing we stopped when we did as another round of lashing rain rumbled through the area. After the rain cleared, we parked near St. Peter's Square and wandered down the hill into Wexford Town. The storefronts were surprisingly colorful and charming. We darted up a narrow alley toward the statue of John Barry. Born in County Wexford, Barry played a crucial role in the American Revolution and is credited as the founder of the American Navy. Colorful flowers lined the harbor nearby. We took a walk along the shore past numerous fishing boats. A company touting boat trips promised that foul weather gear would be supplied. That doesn't sound too encouraging! We popped into Cappuccino's Coffee House for some caffeine. As I was taking a photo, a local gentleman sitting outside asked me to take his picture too. I was happy to oblige... :-) Refueled, we continued our walk through town.
Wexford town fishing boats

The Undertaker sounds a bit macabre for a bar. A statue of Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone stands in front of the bullring which is now a local market. I was intrigued when I spotted The Chocolate Box nearby and had to peek inside. A huge variety of truffles and pralines were on offer. We bought a few and sat just inside the window drinking in the view and enjoying our tasty sweet treat. We passed a historic looking home that had been transformed into a fine foods shop, wine cellar, restaurant, and art gallery. Across the street, a hurling man was frozen mid-play. We passed a ruin of an old church. I liked the regular juxtaposition of old and new in Wexford. Completing our circuit of town, we passed the Wexford Arts Centre Annexe. As in Waterford, square and pointy towers dotted the skyline. We arrived back at St. Peter's Square and hopped in the car to head back to Dublin. One final stop for strawberries at Wheelock Fruits and we were on our way!

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: If you visit County Wexford in the winter, don't miss the Greenland white-fronted geese over-wintering in Ireland at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve.

Wexford to Dublin Detour through Wicklow

We decided to take the coastal road through Wicklow instead of the highway to return to Dublin. Beware...the road is extremely narrow and slow-going even though it looks fairly large on the map. We wound our way to Brittas Bay and took a few minutes to admire the beach now that the sun was out again. After this peaceful pitstop, we picked our way back through the foliage to the car for the final leg of our two day journey from Dublin to Waterford and Wexford. We were delighted to see a rainbow emerge on the horizon as we headed for home.
Brittas Bay in County Wicklow on the drive between Wexford and Dublin

Dublin to Waterford and Wexford Road Trip Map

Click on the image below to open up an interactive Dublin to Waterford map in Google Maps with Dublin to Waterford directions highlighting the places described in this post.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Dublin to Waterford and Wexford by Car
Dublin to Waterford and Wexford by Car
Read about a Dublin to Waterford and Wexford road trip. Explore Waterford and Wexford by car. Enjoy a weekend in Waterford and Wexford Ireland before driving back from Wexford to Dublin.
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