After cycling or driving part of the Waterford Greenway (greenwaysireland.org), visit the Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark, named after the area’s 19th-century copper mines. The center offers an education in its 460 million year old geology, while the incredible cliff-lined coastline dotted with tiny coves is worth the trip alone.
Later, head to 16th-century Waterford Castle (waterfordcastleresort.com) – located on a private island – where the short ferry ride makes for a particularly unique arrival. The small but perfectly formed castle is also a holiday resort, which means you can stop for afternoon tea in the dining room, where delicious sandwiches and pastries, homemade scones with clotted cream and fine china are the order of the day.
Finally, return to the mainland and check in at Faithlegg, home to a stellar spa, golf course and beautiful countryside views (double rooms from £183 with breakfast; 051 382000; Faithlegg.com ).
Day 2: Beaches
Begin the phenomenal coastal drive in the quaint fishing village of Dunmore East (discoverdunmore.com), a spectacular seaside location dotted with traditional white chalk thatched cottages, guaranteeing a taste of the real Ireland. The beach is a manageable size for families and the Dunmore East Cliff Walk (10km) is a fascinating clifftop walk, with views across the horizon, including the striped lighthouse at Hook Head in the distance.
Stop for a fish and chips in the harbor at East Pier (lovin.ie) before heading to Tramore (tramore.ie), a once faded seaside resort with gambling halls that now has a high surfer vibe upscale, with cafes to match. The fine caramel sands and clean waters are perfect for a paddle.
Take the afternoon to explore the less-visited coves along this road: a short drive will take you to Bunmahon, Stradbally Cove and Annestown, all small secluded beaches along the road. Stradbally Cove in particular, with its shimmering waters, smooth sand and rocky outcrops, is a real tonic. On your way through the food-focused town of Dungarvan – characterized by its defense of Dungarvan’s Irish Pantry and Farmers’ Market (dungarvantourism.com) – be sure to stock up on supplies, before heading head back to Dunmore for DIY cooking.