The County of Wicklow is known as the garden of Ireland, and we can see why, with rolling hills and stunning views. This is certainly a hiker’s paradise, but the most important site here is the Monastic Site, in Glendalough. Here are just some of the things to do.
In the area of Enniskerry there are three main things to see and do:
The Great Sugarloaf
Standing at 501 metres (1644 ft) high, it will take about an hour to climb to the top. The terrain as you gradually ascend becomes more rugged but once you have reached the summit, the views are worth the climb. This is suitable for all abilities and age ranges.
- The further up the Sugarloaf, the terrain swiftly changes to more rugged. Much of it will consist of climbing up the rocks to the top.
- If the weather conditions do change, you must assess if it is safe to continue.
- There is free parking, but parking is limited, it’s always best to get there early in the day to guarantee parking or later in the evening.
- Take sustainable snacks and fluids when climbing The Great Sugar Loaf, and keep some in a case of emergency.
- This is a rural area, there are no shops, for quite some distance.
- There are no toilet facilities in the area.
Cost: Euros 10.50 per person
A large country estate covering 19 hectares of land, was originally owned by the Viscount Powerscourt family, but is now owned by the Slazenger family. Only two rooms are open to the public, but the gardens are open to explore. There are various walks to take around the garden, and finding many of the hidden gems, such as the Pet cemetery, Triton Lake, The Japanese Garden and the Tower Valley to name just a few. It is quite easy to spend the entire day here, taking in the tranquil surroundings, and the views across to The Great Sugarloaf in the distance. It is quite easy to see the appeal of living in an estate like this.
- Plenty of free parking
- There is a café and souvenir shop on site
- There are no time restrictions on parking, or duration inside the estate.
Cost: Euros 6.00 per person
As in the name, this is part of the Powerscourt Estate, although the land is no longer directly connected. Powerscourt Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Ireland at a height of 21 metres. With the water gushing over the edge, and falling to the rocks below, this is a very scenic location. This is a family location, with a play area, and café a short distance from the falls. There are various paths surrounding the falls, to take a walk around. The terrain is quite flat, so this is suitable to all abilities and age ranges.
- There are plenty of parking spaces, it’s even possible to park close to the waterfall
- It is possible to have a BBQ close to the falls, with picnic benches around the area, however only charcoal BBQ’s are allowed to be used.
- There are public toilets, café, and play area for the children
- It isn’t impossible to walk to the waterfalls, but would advise against it, as much of the route will be along narrow country roads.
This is one of the highlights of visiting Co.Wicklow, with the beautiful Monastic Site, and the Lower and Upper lake, to admire. So here we have them
Glendalough Monastic Site:
Cost: Free weekdays, about 5 Euro at weekends
St Kevin founded the Christian Monastic Site, back in the 6th century in Glendalough, and we can see why he chose this perfect, tranquil, and peaceful location. The highlights of the Monastic Site are:
St Kevin’s Kitchen
This isn’t actually a kitchen, although the name would suggest. The name derives from the bell tower that looks like a chimney to a kitchen. St Kevin’s Kitchen was a church with a nave and stone roof. This is one of the buildings which is not accessible to the public.
This is a fascinating building within the Monastic Site. Its purpose was as a bell tower, to summon the monks to prayer. It wasn’t just used for this purpose though! It stands at 100 feet tall, with its main door 12 feet off the ground. It is thought that a moveable ladder would have been the way in and out of the tower. If it was under invasion, then the people inside the tower would be able to pull it up to prevent enemy from entering the tower. Due to its height, and the four windows at the very top, this would have also been used as a lookout tower.
Cathedral of St. Peter and St Paul
The largest building in the site, and inside remains a cupboard, stone font, grave slabs, and remains of an archway.
The origins of what this room was used for is uncertain, but the name derives from an 18th century practice, whereby priests would be brought to be prepared for burial before being buried within the floor. Some theories are said that it was built over the grave of St Kevin, or just housed some of his relics. This is a very small and compact room.
Now these are no ordinary stones, these are Bullaun stone, this stone is more commonly used as a mortar grinding food or medicines. It is not known what these stones would have been used for, however there is a tale behind the particular stones. It is said that St Kevin needed milk for a young baby left in his care the name of Foelan. When one morning, St Kevin saw a doe waiting at the stone to be milked. Every morning the same doe would return to be milked, which fed Foelan. It is also said that the water in the deer stone holds healing properties.
Glendalough Lower and Upper Lake
The lower and upper lake, are just past the Monastic Site. There are many signs to follow which lead to the lower lake, and then onto the upper lake. There are a number of walking routes for all different abilities. If you have time, we would highly recommend taking at least one of the walking routes, as the views will be stunning, watching the mist roll in.
There are many fabulous waterfalls throughout Glendalough and Co.Wicklow, however this one can be found next to the Upper Lake. A steep climb to the top, but well worth the hike.
- Parking on weekdays are free, but at weekends there is a fee applicable. There is plenty of parking available.
- The Monastic Site is via the visitor centre.
- For the best views of the lake and the Monastic Site we would highly recommend taking one of the hiking routes around the lakes. For the best views, take the first right out of the Monastic Site, and on your way back take the other route around the lower lake.
- There are limited toilets in this area apart from at the visitors centre.
This is a lovely seaside town in Co.Wicklow, with lovely sandy beaches. This is a very popular place for families and dog walkers. Many shops, restaurants, and cafes line the seafront. This is a more relaxing seaside town, and a great spot for resting after a long few days in the hills. The views along the beach to Bray, and onto Dublin are surprising and amazing.
Another beautiful seaside town, located right on the borders of Co. Wicklow and Co.Dublin. This is a busy beach location but if the weather is lovely, its perfect to sit back and take in the sun rays.
Kiliiney Hill Park, Killiney
Located in Co. Dublin, this park is perfect for stunning views across the ocean and Co. Wicklow. Take a stroll around the park and locate some of the hidden gems, such as The Obelisk, and The Pyramid of Dublin. The park is not far from Enya’s Castle.
Places to stay
Your stay always depends on where you are travelling to in Co. Wicklow, there a few hotels available in Enniskerry, and Glendalough. Airbnb would also be a great choice for accommodation, however we stayed in a little place called Newtown Mount Kennedy, which is a little further from all these highlights, but easily to get to. We have written a review on the Park View Hotel, click the link to find out more.
- Due to its rural location, it is advisable to hire a vehicle to get you around.
- There are bus tours from Dublin, but these will be day trips. We often find with tours that you will only have a limited time at each location.
- You can take this trip at your own leisure, and would highly recommend walking where possible.
- Ensure you have the correct clothing such as wet weather gear in case the weather changes at any point, sturdy shoes especially when climbing the Great Sugarloaf and plenty of food and drink with you in case of emergencies or if you get hungry.
Places to eat
Many of these top places to visit in Co WIcklow, had a small café or restaurant which serves a selection of foods, with the exception of The Great Sugarloaf, Glendalough Monastic Site, and Lower and Upper Lake, therefore ensure you have a packed lunch or food with you.