The Vikings were Ireland’s fearsome invaders a and their mark is especially felt in counties Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny – The Viking Triangle. Our three-day car tour takes in the very best bits
Day 1: Wexford town
Arrive in Rosslare by ferry, and head straight for the scenic coastal route from Rosslare Harbour to Wexford town (20km) to your first destination. The Vikings first landed here in 819AD, and almost 1,200 years later, the town still fizzes with a medieval atmosphere. Climb the steps of the 13th century Westgate Tower, and you’ll get an incredible view over the rooftops of this ancient gem.
Wexford’s Viking roots are properly celebrated at the nearby National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig where you can get a look at reconstructed longboats, ring forts and reconstructed Viking homes within 35 acres of woodland. And if you’re after a room with a view, then make your way to the Ferrycarrig Hotel where you can enjoy dishes such as cider-braised belly of Irish pork overlooking the River Slaney.
Day 2 – Kilkenny
Like something straight out of an adventure novel, Dunmore Cave harbours spine-tingling secrets. In 1995, a tour guide stumbled upon a hidden hoard of treasure including silver coins, bracelets and bronze buckles (now on view at the cave’s visitor centre). In a more sinister twist, bones were also found in the inner recesses of the cave, hinting at a Viking massacre in 928AD.
A 12km drive away is one of the friendliest cities in the world – Kilkenny. Basking in glorious medieval architecture, and famous for its craft and artisan food scene, you can do everything here from eating and drinking in one of the oldest inns in Ireland, Kyteler’s, to attending a crafty workshop at the National Craft Gallery.
Day 3: Waterford city
Kilkenny is a hard city to leave, but next up is a city that is so rich in Viking heritage, it even has its own Viking Triangle. Waterford city (50km away) buzzes with great little cafés, traditional old bars, and fantastic heritage sights.
Waterford City and Reginald's Tower
Reginald’s Tower began life as a Viking fort. Inside the tower are treasures from a discovery in 2005 that revealed one of the best-equipped graves in Britain or Ireland. Among the artifacts were a Scandinavian spearhead, an axe and whetstone. Don’t forget to enjoy a few gastro treats after your sightseeing. The city of Waterford is famous for its award-winning “blaa” bread roll – try it at M&D Bakery.
From here, it is only 75km back to Rosslare Harbour but if you like what you’ve seen so far, simply take to the open road and continue on your travels. We can promise you plenty of torrid tales, intriguing cultural experiences and plenty of atmosphere to wash it all down.
If that route tickled your fancy, there's more of the same magic in to be found in Wicklow & Kildare and the Boyne Valley.