County Wicklow is known as "The Garden of Ireland" and it is a truly deserved nickname. I may be a little bias as a native Wicklow man but it is not just my opinion, it is the opinion of anyone I have ever met who has visited Wicklow from abroad. Despite being just a short drive from Dublin, Wicklow has remained largely unspoiled by the developing urban sprawl that is Dublin. The real beauty of Wicklow is that for such a small place it offers all that a traveller would need from a visit to Ireland. A short stay in Wicklow and you can take in breathtaking scenic views, visit castles or stately homes , climb mountains, go fishing in rivers, lakes or the sea and visit ancient monasteries and round towers!
1. Glendalough Monastic Settlement
I have yet to meet a person that was not genuinely blown away by Glendalough, it is not only a very important piece of Irish heritage it is genuinely stunning. My favourite description of Glendalough on TripAdvisor is that a visit was like a "feast for the senses". Having personally visited Glendalough at least ten times I guarantee you on your first visit, you will say "wow" or gasp at least once!
The monastic settlement at Glendalough was built in the 6th Century and it really feels like it hasn't changed all that much in 1,500 years.
Although the historical structures are the most popular feature in Glendalough, they are by no means the only feature. Built inside a glacial valley it is a dream site for people who love walking, hiking and fancy themselves as a bit of a nature photographer.
2. Powerscourt Gardens and House
When The Count of Monte Cristo wanted to wow the pants off a bunch of French Aristocrats he decided that the Powerscourt Estate and House in Wicklow was just what he needed. Indeed, The Count of Monet Cristo is not the only movie or period drama to have been set on the Powerscourt grounds. When a Hollywood director is in dire need of a backdrop that screams 16th Century ostentatiousness the doorbell on the Powerscourt House is always rung!
This old 13th Century Castle’s history reads like a movie or a Shakespearean tragedy. It was renovated by a German Architect in the 18th Century only to succumb to a giant blaze in the 1970s. In 1996 it rose like a phoenix from the ashes astonishing all those who gazed at it's beauty and it continues to astonish to this day.
This is not only a must see if you are in Wicklow this is a must see if you are in Ireland, scratch that, if you are residing on planet earth!
3. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
If you go to The Bray Greystones Cliff walk expecting a sexy dangerous adventure, then you will not be disappointed! Although this walk can be more exciting in the gale force winds of the winter months we would certainly not recommend it! The best months to make this beautiful scenic walk would be between May and September when the average temperature is a lofty 13.5°C, so remember to bring lots of sunscreen!
The whole walk will take between 1-2 hours and both Bray and Greystones are wonderful affluent little villages to stop and take a break after the walk. Both villages boast lots of cafés and plenty of real local bars with real pints of Guinness and real local people. Basically the exact opposite to Dublin’s Temple Bar but the kind of opposite we like!
What most tourists love about the Cliff Walk is they get to meet lots of Irish people and not just other tourists with cameras. This cliff walk is popular with lots of local people who are out walking their dogs and also lots of Dublin people who want to get away from the rat race in the concrete jungle.
4. Russborough House
Looking for an ostentatious 18th Century stately house, with palatial grounds and artwork that would be at home in the Louvre in Gay Paris? The answer to your question is of course Russborough House! It’s not quite the Palaces of Versailles but it’s also not that far off.
The best thing to do is to cough up the few Euro and take the guided tour, the tour guides in Russborough are notorious for their local knowledge and typical Wicklow wit. The full tour is €12 for adults and €8 for children and includes a 3D Exhibition.
You can also sample some "haute cuisine" but our personal recommendation would be to go straight for the tea rooms and have some high tea. Remember to keep that pinky up when drinking high tea, you are in a stately home for god's sake!
5. Wicklow’s Historic Goal (Jail)
The Wicklow Goal is amazing no matter who you are with but if you have the kids with you it’s a little bit extra special. Although the building and the history are amazing what keeps people coming back is the staff. They really make the tour a memorable experience with their classic Irish humour and their knowledge of Irish history and the Wicklow Jail in particular.
Although the current Wicklow Goal was built in the 1840’s there has been a jail on this site since 1702. The tour costs €7.90 for adults and €5 for kids for the day tour, however if the children to now behave themselves they may need to spend a night in the cells, don’t worry they are normally allowed to leave the next day.
6. Brennanstown Riding School
Both Ireland and Wicklow produce world class horses for both show jumping and racing, so it would be a shame to leave Ireland without spending some time around these fabulous animals. With Brennanstown Riding School, you can go from a slow meander on horseback through beautiful Wicklow on horseback and have fun with the staff.
If you are looking for beautiful scenery and a peaceful experience surrounded by nature then we could not recommend this more.
The Irish Weather and TripAdvisor......
Remember like all things in Ireland pack for all four seasons, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a soaking wet t-shirt on the back of a horse or worse yet in a jail! Obviously the above are things that I would advise myself as a Wicklow local. But Wicklow has plenty more to offer so here is a more comprehensive list thanks to TripAdvisor and your fellow Wicklow visitors, simply click………..here
From all of us here in the wonderful Esplanade Hotel
in Bray County Wicklow have a wonderful visit. X.