48 Hours in Wexford


What do Vikings, an American President and Opera have in common? They are all part of what makes County Wexford so special. This corner of the country is an intriguing mix of medieval cobbled streets, culture and international history – with the added bonus of stunning coastlines and exciting activities to keep everyone entertained.

Selskar Abbey in Wexford Town
Performers at the National Opera House, Wexford
Visitors getting involved in the fun at the National Heritage Park
Left: Selskar Abbey in Wexford Town | Middle: Performers at the National Opera House, Wexford | Right: Visitors getting involved in the fun at the National Heritage Park

Spend 48 hours in County Wexford seeing and doing as much as possible – or as little as you like – with the help of our suggestions to make the most of your visit.

Exploring Wexford Town

The county capital, Wexford Town, sits snugly on the Slaney River estuary in Wexford Harbour, known as Veisafjǫrðr (inlet of the mud flats) by its Viking founders. The area had a turbulent history from its foundation in 800 AD with battles, rebellions and conquests galore.

The town wears it well, showing its age in the different styles and eras of architecture dotted around it. Quaint old laneways converge onto bustling modern roads, ancient churches and contemporary architecture sit comfortably side by side, allowing you to explore past and present at once.

Start the day off the right way with a hearty breakfast: try D'Lush Café at the Arts Centre, or visit The Stable Diet Café on South Main Street – you'll be set up for exploring the town.

Take a walking tour and check out the only remaining town gate from the 14th century, West Gate Heritage Tower, before exploring the ruins at Selskar Abbey where Henry the Second came to repent after he murdered his former friend, Thomas Becket.

If the arts are your thing, you'll be spoiled for choice with Wexford Arts Centre, Ireland’s National Opera House (home to the world-renowned Wexford Festival Opera) and numerous art galleries just waiting to enthuse and inspire you.

If you’re intrigued by the old way of life in the ancient settlements of the area, a short jaunt out of town brings you to the National Heritage Park. The park not only offers an insight into prehistoric times in Ireland, but you can also stay overnight in a ringfort – a real treat for children of all ages!

For the wildlife and bird watching fan, the Wexford Slobs and Wildfowl Reserve lies just across the harbour from the town, and is home to a wide variety of geese, swans and other wading birds. Or if the history of Ireland's agriculture is of interest, check out one of Wexford's hidden gems – the Irish Agricultural Museum at Johnstown Castle Gardens. See how previous generations of farmers lived; learn about that Irish dietary staple, the humble potato; and much more.

Finish your day with a slap-up meal of local produce in Cistín Eile or enjoy sumptuous seafood in the award-winning La Côte.

A couple at Hook Head Lighthouse
The Dunbrody Famine Ship at New Ross
Left: A couple at Hook Head Lighthouse | Right: The Dunbrody Famine Ship at New Ross

Beyond Wexford Town

Fuel up for the day ahead at Karoo Farm Shop & Café by enjoying one of their amazing breakfasts – and while you’re at it, stock up on a picnic lunch for the road. Then get on your bike and explore the Norman Way cycle route on two wheels. Discover the history of the Norman invasion and how they first landed on Irish soil in Wexford, as you pedal from site to site and work up an appetite – then pause for your picnic on one of the many stunning beaches along the way.

The Norman Way forms part of the EuroVelo Cycle route – a series of 15 cycle routes across the European continent – starting at Rosslare Harbour, with the Wexford leg finishing at the Ballyhack Ferry. 

Cycle (briskly!) past eerie Loftus Hall, said to be Ireland’s most haunted house, as you head towards the oldest working lighthouse in the world – Hook Lighthouse. The beautiful black-and-white striped lighthouse has dominated the land and seascape on Hook Head for over 800 years, and is a fascinating place to visit. Climb to the top for stunning views of the Wexford and Waterford coast.

After all that cycling and sightseeing, a memorable meal and a comfy bed are on the menu at Glendine Country House. This Georgian house was refurbished in 2010 and is part of a working farm – the surrounding paddocks are home to rare breeds of livestock including Jacob sheep, Highland cattle and fallow deer. Or opt for the multi-award-winning Aldridge Lodge (whose recognition includes a prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand) where fine dining meets relaxed surroundings.

Feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, head along the River Barrow, which divides Wexford from Waterford, to New Ross. Take a step back in time as soon as you climb aboard the Dunbrody Famine Ship and learn about the stories of those who emigrated from this part of Ireland during the Gorta Mór (the Great Famine).

Discover the history of one of the area’s most famous exports – President of the United States of America, John F Kennedy. Visit the Kennedy Homestead to learn the tale of his great-grandfather Patrick and the generations of Kennedys since.

Before leaving New Ross make sure to visit the Ros Tapestry Exhibition Centre to see the depiction of the area’s history through this ever-evolving work of art.

Having filled up on history and art, top it off with some fine food with a pit-stop at Mannion’s Pub – a traditional Irish pub serving delicious fare.

Children horseriding
Kitesurfers in County Wexford
Sea Kayaking
Left: Children horseriding | Middle: Kitesurfers in County Wexford | Right: Sea Kayaking

Find adventure

If your idea of a fun break away includes an adrenalin rush (or two), Wexford won’t disappoint. Gallop through glens or canter through countryside on horseback with Oldcourt Stables and Riding School or Shelmalier Stables. Get hooked on kite surfing or stand-up paddle boarding with Hooked Kite Surfing or paddle your own canoe or kayak, amongst other activities, at Shielbaggan Outdoor Education Centre.

Keep it eco-friendly with Hook Head Adventures as you go sea caving, do watersports or hike up mountains. Stay on target with a day at 3D Archery Ireland while practising the ancient sport – fun for all the family.

This is only a small sample of the wonders of Wexford that await. Find out about more exciting activities and things to see and do while planning a break in Ireland’s Ancient East.

While You're In Wexford

Enjoy your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section