Lismore Castle Gardens

Top choice in County Waterford

Although Lismore Castle itself is not open to the public, the 3 hectares of ornate and manicured gardens are well worth a visit. Thought to be the oldest landscaped gardens in Ireland, they are divided into the walled Jacobean upper garden and the less formal lower garden, the latter dotted with modern sculpture, including two chunks of the Berlin Wall. Highlights include a splendid yew walk, where Edmund Spenser is said to have written The Faerie Queen.

There's a contemporary art gallery beside the upper garden. The gardens are used as an opera venue during the annual Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.