Nestled on the east coast of Ireland, County Wicklow is a breathtaking region (and one of our very favourites) that captivates visitors with its stunning landscapes, historic sites, and charming towns. Known as the “Garden of Ireland,” Wicklow offers a myriad of natural wonders, from majestic mountains and serene lakes to lush forests and picturesque coastal areas. In this ultimate guide by the UIH team, we’ll take you on a journey through County Wicklow, highlighting the top attractions, hidden gems, outdoor activities, and local experiences that make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
1. Wicklow Mountains National Park: Embrace Nature’s Majesty
The crown jewel of County Wicklow, Wicklow Mountains National Park is a vast wilderness that spans over 20,000 hectares. Home to Ireland’s highest peak, Lugnaquilla, and a network of scenic trails, this national park offers endless opportunities for hikers, mountain bikers, and wildlife enthusiasts. Explore Glendalough, an ancient monastic site nestled in the heart of the park, and witness the serene beauty of its two lakes, surrounded by towering cliffs and lush greenery.
STAY AT: The Curragh Stud, bordering the Wicklow Mountains.
2. Powerscourt Estate and Gardens: A Stroll through Paradise
Just a short drive from Dublin, Powerscourt Estate is a must-see attraction in County Wicklow. The exquisite gardens, meticulously manicured and bursting with vibrant colors, will leave you in awe. Discover the Italian and Japanese Gardens, explore the grand mansion, and marvel at the stunning Powerscourt Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Ireland. Don’t forget to indulge in some retail therapy at the Avoca Handweavers, where you can find unique Irish crafts and delicious local treats.
3. Glendalough: Step Back in Time
Steeped in history and natural beauty, Glendalough is a magical valley renowned for its early medieval monastic settlement. Wander through the atmospheric ruins of St. Kevin’s Church, explore the ancient round tower, and discover the stories that whisper through the centuries. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surrounding woodlands, where hidden trails lead to stunning viewpoints and hidden lakes, making it a paradise for photographers and nature enthusiasts.
4. Wicklow’s Coastal Charms: Greystones and Bray
Escape the bustle of the city and venture to the coastal towns of Greystones and Bray, both located along the scenic Bray Head Cliff Walk. Greystones boasts a picturesque harbor, a sandy beach, and a bustling promenade lined with charming cafes and boutique shops. Bray, on the other hand, offers a lively seaside atmosphere, complete with an amusement park, vibrant pubs, and the iconic Bray Head, offering breathtaking views of the Irish Sea.
5. Avondale House and Forest Park: Nature’s Playground
For a perfect blend of history and outdoor adventure, visit Avondale House and Forest Park. Explore the magnificent Georgian mansion, once the home of Charles Stewart Parnell, an influential Irish statesman. Then, lose yourself in the sprawling forest park, filled with ancient trees, meandering paths, and a stunning riverside. Pack a picnic, go for a cycle, or simply relax amidst nature’s embrace.
6. Local Delights: Wicklow’s Food and Craft Scene
No trip to County Wicklow would be complete without savoring the local flavors and experiencing the vibrant craft scene. Visit the Wicklow Brewery to taste their award-winning craft beers, and indulge in a culinary adventure at one of the many farm-to-table restaurants scattered throughout the region. Don’t miss the Wicklow Way Wines, where you can sample unique wines made from locally grown fruits.
County Wicklow offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler, from breathtaking natural landscapes and historical sites to coastal towns and culinary delights. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the mountains, tranquility by the lakes, or a leisurely stroll along the coast, Wicklow has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and embark on a memorable journey through Ireland’s hidden gem – County Wicklow. Let the beauty of its landscapes and the warmth of its people enchant you, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Find more helpful resources for Wicklow here.