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County Town: Waterford
Population: 113,241
Area: 1,837 sq km
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Waterford - 8 places to stay

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Waterford - Ireland's "Crystal County" - offers some of the country's most dramatic and diverse scenery. Situated on the south coast, Waterford's magnificent sea views unfold in a succession of craggy cliffs, peninsulas, deep bays, sandy beaches and friendly holiday towns including Ardmore, Dungarvan, Clonea, Stradbally, Bunmahon, Annestown, Dunmore East and the enduringly popular Tramore. A 15-mile stretch called Copper Coast - after its 18th Century copper mines - is now a designated GeoPark, with rocks many millions of years old. Inland, the wooded hills and lush valleys of the rivers Suir and Blackwater create a beautiful setting for settlements such as Lismore, a heritage town with a 7th Century monastic history. To the north west, at the county border with Tipperary, lie the spectacular Knockmealdown Mountains, while the towering peaks and sparkling lakes of the Comeragh and Monavullagh range stretch down through Waterford from the north. Unsurprisingly, this is a sportsman's paradise, with resorts such as Ballymacarbry catering for mountain activities, and anglers enjoying pure, clear waters for lake, river, shore and deep- sea fishing. Golfers are treated to wonderful, unspoilt scenery at the county's courses, and riders can trek or follow trails through the landscape of their choice, while the sea provides all the usual opportunities for sailing and watersports. Anyone who fancies a flutter might try a day at the races in Tramore, or the greyhound track at Waterford City. Animal-lovers are invited to spot everything from birds to whales and dolphins at wildlife centres and nature reserves across the county, and history enthusiasts could spend days exploring the numerous prehistoric burial sites, ancient castles, churches and country mansions, museums, visitor centres and traditional craft exhibitions. Waterford City is home to the world- famous Waterford crystal, and other hand-crafted articles. Despite its pleasant olde-worlde character, Waterford also offers contemporary shopping, restaurants, pubs, nightlife, arts, theatre, music and festivals.

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