The Wicklow Mountains are on the doorstep of Dublin and offer a glimpse at the countryside in close proximity to the bustling capital. From the monastic settlement of Glendalough to the beauty of the Powerscourt Estate, you will be glad you ventured out of the city to see a more authentic and rural side of Ireland. Wicklow Ireland is known as the garden of the country, and during your trip you are sure to see a variety of blooming flowers, ancient trees, crystal-clear lakes, and plenty of sheep and lamb running in the hills. A trip to Wicklow is another great reason to hop in a rental car and start exploring the beauty of the Emerald Isle.
One of the highlights of the Wicklow Mountains is undoubtedly Glendalough. This attraction is popular with tourists, and if you don’t want to rent a car, many tour companies offer itineraries through Wicklow that include a stop at Glendalough. This monastic settlement was founded in the sixth century by St Kevin. He chose it because of the beautiful location on two lakes. Translated from the Irish as “Glen of the Two Lakes,” Glendalough not only offers the chance to explore the ruins, but is also a stunning setting for a short walk, longer hike, or family picnic. A hotel right at the entrance makes staying overnight simple.
Another gem of Wicklow Ireland is the Powerscourt Estate. This country estate is home to a few attractions including the Powerscourt Waterfall, which falls nearly 400 feet and is the largest waterfall in Ireland. The Powerscourt House and Gardens are another famous attraction, and there is a lovely Irish café called Avoca that is the perfect place to grab afternoon tea and a scone. Powerscourt is also famous for its stellar views of the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Tour the Japanese Gardens, play a round of golf on one of the championship courses, or enjoy the views at the waterfall. The estate is also home to an outstanding 5-star hotel, the Ritz Carlton Powerscourt. What makes the area especially appealing for many travelers is that all of this country charm is located only 30 minutes from the center of Dublin.
The Wicklow Mountains are home to another famous attraction called Sally Gap. This mountain pass is known for the dark, mysterious waters of the lake below. If you want to escape the tour crowds, set your sights on Sally Gap. There is no parking lot, no crowds, just spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Bring a good map with you, or keep your eye out for a few cars parked on the side of the road, as there aren’t great signs for this attraction once you get close. This area is also popular with hikers and hill-walkers who hit the trails despite any type of weather.
Wicklow Ireland is also home to a small village called Enniskerry. Small cafés serve Irish cuisine and a few shops sell local merchandise. Beyond Glendalough, Sally Gap, and Powerscourt, Wicklow is also known for its golf courses. The garden of Ireland is truly paradise for nature lovers, whether you want to head out for 18 holes or a two-hour hike. If you love Wicklow, plan another trip to explore the west of Ireland. The Burren, Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, and Killarney are all incredible landscapes that also beg to be explored by the adventurous traveler.