View MapView Map
HomeDestinationsWexfordGet out in Wexford town w ...
How to explore Wexford town without a car
Make your way to Wexford town for a car-free break.
Beatrix O'GormanBeatrix O'Gorman is a writer and filmmaker based in Dublin. She has worked for AMC, Disney and Metropolitan Films. She loves travelling around Ireland trying new restaurants.
In summer, County Wexford entices holidaymakers with its golden beaches and bright red strawberries. But Wexford town, straddling the River Slaney, has something to discover in all seasons. You can eat your way through excellent restaurants and cafés, meander down medieval lanes and even dress up for an unforgettable night at the opera. This charming, walkable town also makes a great jumping-off point for day trips throughout the rest of the county by bus.

Here's how to get to know Wexford without a car.

Coffee, art and an Augustinian abbey

Jumpstart your day in town with a coffee from Wexford Coffee Roasters. The team opened their sit-down cafe on Trimmers Lane in 2021 and it’s a quick four-minute walk from Wexford Station. From their outdoor seats, you’ll have a view of the bronze statue of Nicky Rackard, Wexford hurler and the top championship goal-scorer of all time.  

Opposite Wexford Coffee Roasters is Green Acres, a deli, wine store, restaurant and art gallery housed within a beautiful Victorian building that dates back to 1894. Browse the extensive wine selection downstairs before heading to the art gallery above, one of the largest commercial art galleries in the country. On the ground floor you’ll also find the deli, which has a fantastic array of Irish and international cheeses – the staff are happy to help you pair some wine and cheese as a gift (or just for yourself). 

Before leaving Selskar Street, walk by Selskar Abbey, a 12th century Augustinian abbey. While the abbey is temporarily closed, you can still appreciate the building’s architecture as you pass by. 

Exterior view of Selskar Abbey in Co Wexford
Take a step back and appreciate the views of Selskar Abbey.

While you walk around the town, keep an eye out for murals by artists including Aches, Mariana Santos and Shane O’Malley. Inspired by the Waterford Walls initiative and the Walls Project of New Ross, Wexford town now has its very own Walls of Wexford Mural Trail. Pick up a booklet on the murals from the Wexford Arts Centre and follow the map as you make your way through town. 

If you’re in need of a caffeine boost, walk further down North Main Street to Cappuccinos, where they serve standard coffees alongside specialty matcha and turmeric lattes. They also serve all kinds of wraps, paninis and toasties. 

Book browsing and castle touring

Spend some time perusing the labyrinthine second-hand bookstore Red Books in Peter’s Square. It’s not only a bookstore with a vast selection of classics, poetry, history and crime fiction, but it’s also a community space with regular readings by local authors, a chess club and an Irish Language Discussion Group, where folks can brush up on their Gaeilge. 

Venture further afield and take the 390 bus from any number of stops in Wexford town (including Trinity Street and Redmond Square) to Johnstown Castle Estate (21 minutes, every two hours, except Sundays). It’ll drop you right inside the estate, about a two-minute walk from the car park and entrance to the visitor centre. 

Aerial view of Johnstown Castle Estate in Co Wexford
Roam the grounds of Johnstown Castle Estate.

The visitor centre houses a bright and airy café, as well as a gift shop where you can check out books and locally made candles, preserves and chocolate from Wexford food company Wild About and family-run Wexford Home Preserves. They also sell stuffed animals, including peacocks that look almost identical to those you’ll see roaming the grounds.  

When you leave the visitor centre, walk to the front of the castle to attend one of the hourly tours of the centuries-old home. The only way to see the inside of the castle is via the scheduled tours, so make sure to book in advance. In summer they also host tours of the grounds and gardens, as well as an evening bat walk with a conservationist.   

The castle is a sight to behold, with incredible Neo-Gothic features and a history that goes back to the 13th century. When you enter the house, you’ll notice original oak carvings and Minton floor tiles in the hallway, which date back to 1842. Look out for examples of quatrefoil design in the Apostles Hall and on tables, chairs and ceiling moulding throughout the house. Upstairs, tour the drawing room with its mirrored shutters before moving into the library for its view of the stone round tower by the lake. Head downstairs to see the kitchen, scullery and the servants' tunnel (apparently the longest of its kind in Ireland), which you’ll follow underground for 86m before emerging amidst the trees.  

The drawing room in Johnstown Castle Estate in Co Wexford
Admire the delicate furniture on display in the historic castle.

After the tour, get some fresh air by exploring the three lakes on the property and the picturesque gardens designed by Daniel Robertson, who also designed the gardens at Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow.  

Take the bus back to Wexford town and close out your day with dinner and a show. You can catch a movie at the Arc Cinema, right by the train station, or check out what’s on at the National Opera House, where the schedule is pretty varied. On any given night there might be comedy, a rock gig or a performance of classical music – a great excuse to put on your best for a night at the opera. 

A stage perfromance in the National Opera House in Co Wexford
Catch a live show at the National Opera House.

For something more low-key, pop into the Sky and the Ground pub for a nightcap and live music. They also have a heated beer garden out back, so you’ll be cosy inside or out. 

Where to eat in Wexford town 

For breakfast with a view, there’s La Vista Cafe Restaurant in the National Opera House. You’ll find classics like Eggs Benedict and pancakes alongside hearty breakfast sandwiches and sweets like scones and croissants. 

For lunch, The Trough by the waterfront has plenty of outdoor seating for some al fresco dining. It has a broad menu, so you can try one of their seasonal soups, nibble on pistachio cheesecake or enjoy one of their vegan treats while looking out on Wexford Harbour. Simon’s Lambert & Sons in the centre of town is one of the best value lunch places in Wexford, serving BBQ, salads and burgers. Or stop by Trimmers Lane Café, a fantastic neighbourhood spot with a relaxed atmosphere that prioritises local produce. You’ll find sandwiches, salads, homemade cakes and a wine list if you fancy a glass of white with your lunch. 

A sandwich from Trimmers Lane Café in Wexford town

Photo credit: @tlcwexford

Feed your appetite with a tasty toastie from Trimmers Lane Café.

For dinner, head to 10 West for the best food and drink in town – think beef short rib and local greens, duck with rhubarb and baby turnip, and pork shoulder croquettes. They offer great cocktails and a stellar wine list, and their friendly and attentive staff will help you pick the ideal pairing for your meal. Downstairs you’ll find a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge, complete with moody ambient lighting. It’s the perfect hideaway bar for a pre- or post-dinner drink. 10 West is also near the train station and various bus stops if you’re not staying the night in Wexford town. 

A dish being served in 10 West bistro in Wexford town

Photo credit: @10westbistro

Order 10 West's seasonal duck and rhubarb dish.

If you’re feeling something more casual, stop by The Red Elephant, a warm and inviting Thai restaurant right by the water. There’s an elaborate stone water feature in the centre of the restaurant and a great bar with beer on tap and lots of cocktails – they have a particularly wide selection of gin, if that’s what you’re after. There’s lots to recommend here including the calamari and the duck red curry. 

See more of Wexford car-free

Get out from behind the wheel and discover all there is to explore in Enniscorthy car-free.

More to discover
Family funSpend a car-free day in Brú na Bóinne

They’re older than the Great Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge and are probably the most important archaeological landmarks in Ireland. In fact, the prehistoric passage tombs of Brú na Bóinne are some of the most important Neolithic sites in the world and contain the largest collection of megalithic art in Western Europe. The best bit? You can travel back in time and explore the whole site without getting into a car, although you will want to dedicate the best part of day to a visit as there’s so much to see.

Family funHow to see Enniscorthy car-free

In Ulysses, Joyce describes Enniscorthy as “the finest place in the world” – take a day to explore the picturesque town’s colourful streets and you’ll quickly get a sense as to why. If you’re coming from Wexford town, hop on a bus or train and journey half an hour north along the River Slaney and you’ll be set down right in the middle of things, with Enniscorthy Castle, Vinegar Hill, The National 1798 Rebellion Centre and a network of excellent pubs and cafés all within a pleasant walk’s distance.

Family funDive into New Ross car-free

No more than half an hour west of Wexford town is New Ross, a vibrant riverside community that happens to be Ireland’s only inland port. First established as a trading centre by the Normans, it’s better known today for its role as a departure point for emigrants during the Famine, including John F Kennedy’s great-grandfather. Away from the water, you can wander its pretty lanes full of vintage shops, pubs and cafés, spotting new street art and historical sites as you go.

Mail Icon SVG

Subscribe now to receive destination inspiration, travel tips, upcoming events and all the best things to do around Ireland.