Explore – Wicklow
County Wicklow is blessed with one of the countries most beautiful landscapes. It is the largest continuous upland region in Ireland, dotted with small lakes located in valleys and glacial corries. From coastal beaches to cliffs and hills, the “Garden of Ireland” is home to numerous attractions, including some of the best gardens and homes in Ireland and it offers a choice of activities as diverse as its landscape.
Things to do
With a combination of mountains, valleys, cliffs and beaches, it’s no wonder that Wicklow is one of Ireland’s best walking destinations. Many walking and hiking trails can be found throughout the county, along with cycling and mountain biking trails. Ballinastoe Mountain Bike trail system takes the rider through some beautiful forests with views over Calary Common and the Sugarloaf.
The rivers, lakes and streams that flow off the Wicklow Mountains offer plenty of opportunities for anglers and watersports enthusiasts. Formed 50 years ago by the building of the Poulaphouca Dam, the Blessington Lakes alone cover 500 acres of water. Kayaking, boating and sailing are some of the activities available.There are many clubs and outdooor adventure centres in the county that can help you plan your activities and explore the area.
With the sea for a background, Glenmacnass Waterfall is a stunning scenic location and a popular photo stop for visitors touring along the uplands of the Wicklow Hills. Glenmalure Valley and Waterfall is a remote and wild valley and is the longest of its kind in Ireland and Britain. You’ll enjoy amazing scenery, and a fabulous view of the Carawaystick Brook Waterfall.
Down the road from Glenmalure visitors will encounter Avondale House and Forest Park, the birthplace of one of Ireland’s greatest ever political leaders of recent history, Charles Stewart Parnell. This 18th century Georgian house is set in 500 acres of mature woodland with trees from all over the world. The house is open to the public and it is now a museum.
3 km south of Bray you will find another stunning period house and gardens. Killruddery House and Gardens is a stunning mansion built in the 19th century, in the Elizabethan revival style and has one of the oldest gardens in Ireland. The gardens are filled with wonderful planting and wooded areas, water features and emblematic outdoor buildings. The garden is well known for its glasshouse, the Orangery, with an amazing display of plants and a collection of marble statues.
Set against the backdrop of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Powerscourt House & Gardens is one of the worlds greatest gardens. Powerscourt was design to complement the surrounding scenery and to be part of the wider landscape. From the ornate Italian Gardens to the formal walks of the Rose and Kitchen Gardens, Powerscourt will amaze you all year around. Only 5 km from the Estate, Powerscourt Waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall and the nearby picnic area and children’s playground makes it the perfect location for a family’s day out.
County Wicklow is also home to one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites – Glendalough Monastic City. Th earlier buildings go back as far as the 6th century, even though most of the buildings date back to 10th through 12th centuries. This Christian site was firstly established by St. Kevin and thrieved as one of Ireland’s greatest ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed it in 1214.
When you decide to come down from the mountains you may want to enjoy a walk along the seaside. The picturesque seaside town of Bray boasts a mile long beach promenade. The beach is dominated by Bray Head and its summit cross, with the Sugarloafs and the Wicklow Mountains in the background. If sea and sand is what you’re looking for, there’s no better place then Brittas Bay Beach. Brittas stretches for 5 km of sand and sand dunes, ferns and grassland areas of ecological interest. At the southern end of the town of Greystones lies the Greystones Beach. Half a mile long of sand and pebbles with an adjacent children’s playground.
There are many more reasons why you should come and visit county Wicklow, so why not come and see it for yourself?
Places to Stay
Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses
Bed and Breakfast
Drive southwards from Dublin through the gloriously rugged Wicklow Mountains and, at the foot of the famous Sally Gap, you’ll ﬁnd The Manor, a rambling family home of great charm and character. The house was rebuilt in 1835 in the gabled Elizabethan-Gothic style and its large, comfortable, sunny rooms and wonderful views of the surrounding countryside with the mountains as a backdrop. The owner, Margaret Cully, is an accomplished hostess, a ﬁne cook and a dedicated gardener. The Manor is a superb base for the Three-Day Event at Punchestown, or for visiting Russborough, one of Ireland’s most beautiful houses with an internationally important art collection.