Waterford Greenway runs through a lot of splendid nature, Source:

Pandemic gives boost to Ireland’s greenways

Pandemic gives boost to Ireland’s greenways

A national strategy for the development of the car-free trails harnesses their potential as economic contributors to rural communities through tourism increase

Waterford Greenway was voted ‘Ireland’s Best Visitor Attraction’ in the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2022 which were announced last week.

Travel through history and nature

Following a disused railway line, the 46 km off-road cycling and walking trail stretches from the Viking City of Waterford to the picturesque coastal town of Dungarvan. Crossing 11 bridges, three viaducts and a tunnel, the popular greenway in Ireland’s Ancient East offers a spectacular journey through both local heritage and nature.

It runs along the ornamental gardens at Mount Congreve which house one of the largest collections of plants in Ireland, partly shares the route of the narrow-gauge Waterford Suir Valley Railway, bypasses former woollen mills and railway stations and commands scenic views of the River Suir, the Comeragh Mountains, The Copper Coast UNESCO Global Geopark, and Dungarvan Bay.

Top culinary destination

But the soul-soothing views along Waterford Greenway are not the only constituent of what the route offers experience-wise. Irish Independent’s readers also commended the trail for the many coffee and lunch stops along the way, and for the rich choice of places to eat, drink and stay in Waterford and Dungarvan.

This testifies to the success of the ‘Savour the Greenway’ programme, developed by Fáilte Ireland alongside Waterford City and County Council and Food the Waterford Way, which aims to maximise the Waterford Greenway’s appeal by creating locally-sourced food and drink experiences. These, according to the tourism authority, help to increase visitor numbers, overnight stays, amount of money spent and guest satisfaction in the areas along the route and other places employing the same model.

Having welcomed almost 250,000 visitors in 2017 alone, Waterford Greenway went on to receive a series of accolades. It was named ‘Ireland’s Favourite Adventure’ in the Irish Independent Reader Travel Awards 2019, became the first Irish greenway to attain Green Flag status in 2020, and won silver in the Excellence Category at the 10th European Greenways Award Ceremony 2021 (second to Belgium’s cross-border greenway From Liège to Aachen by the RAVeL).

Strategy for future development  

The allure of Waterford Greenway (and other such trails) did not pale even during the harsh restrictions imposed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. On the contrary, the government has consistently encouraged outdoor sports, recreation and dining through a variety of funding schemes, including the EUR 14 million 2021 Outdoor Recreation and Infrastructure Scheme.

Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, Waterford Greenway has been in the focus of government attention, serving as a model tourism product for the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways launched in 2018. The blueprint aims to assist in the creation and expansion, over 10 years, of a network of nationally and regionally significant greenways adhering to high criteria.

These amenities (promoted through a dedicated website), are expected to attract more overseas visitors, provide economic benefits to local communities, and serve as an environmentally-friendly, health and wellbeing-enhancing travel option for all.



Growing City


Smart City


Green City


Social City


New European Bauhaus




ECP 2021 Winner TheMayorEU