County Wicklow is located just to the south of Dublin. Wicklow is known as the Garden of Ireland, and rightly so because it boasts some of the best landscapes in Ireland. The Wicklow Mountains are the largest upland area in Ireland and are a refuge for plant and animal life.
The county is home to a mix of mountains, waterfalls, sandy beaches and wooded glens and this natural beauty that gives Wicklow its Garden of Ireland title. For scenery, be sure to visit Glendalough, Powerscourt Waterfall and Gardens, Blessington Lake, Wicklow National Park and Mount Usher Gardens.
Glendalough is where St. Kevin founded a monastery in the 6th century. He chose this location as it was beautiful, peaceful and remote. Today, it is possible to visit the monastic ruins including a round tower, high crosses and churches. There is a visitor’s centre located at Glendalough.
As well as its scenery and historic sites, County Wicklow is the perfect location for a whole range of outdoor activities such as horseriding, golfing, fishing, cycling, water sports, not to mention lots of walking opportunities like the popular Wicklow Way – a beautiful walking trail through the Wicklow hills and countryside. The north and centre of the county are mountainous – with the the highest peak, Lugnaquilla, reaching 925 m (3018 ft) high. The coast is relatively flat and is home to a number of major seaside resorts, including Bray, Greystones and Arklow. Other popular towns in Wicklow include Blessington, Enniskerry, Baltinglass and Wicklow Town.
Top Attractions in County Wicklow
Avoca Handweavers – Avoca, Kilmacanogue – The oldest working woollen mill in Ireland located in beautiful surroundings of Avoca.
Glendalough – Laragh, Glendalough – “The Glen of the Two Lakes” – A must in any visitor’s itinerary. This early Christian settlement, founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century, in this beautiful valley is one of the most important of such sites in Ireland.
Killruddery House and Gardens – Bray – Home to the Brabazon Family (the Earls of Meath) since 1618, Killruddery House is the most successful Elizabethan-Revival mansion in Ireland and also one of the earliest.
Kilmacurragh Arboretum – Rathdrum – This is an arboretum particularly famous for its conifers and calcifuges, planted during the 19th century by Thomas Acton in conjunction with David Moore and his son, Sir Frederick Moore, curators of the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin.
Mount Usher Gardens – Ashford – Mount Usher Gardens are amongst the loveliest in the country. They combine a long time famous collection of plants, gathered from all corners of the world, with a romantic garden planted in the tradition of William Robinson.
Powerscourt Gardens and House – Powerscourt, Enniskerry – 5km from the formal Gardens is Ireland’s Highest Waterfall tumbling 135 metres into the Dargle Valley. Powerscourt Waterfall has been a major attraction since the 1760’s and has been a favourite family picnic spot for years.
Russborough House – Blessington – Russborough was built for Joseph Leeson, later Earl of Milltown. Building began in 1741 and took ten years to complete. The architect was Richard Castle (Cassells). The house is built of granite and is in the Palladian style.
Wicklow Historic Gaol – Kilmartin Hill, Wicklow Town – Experience the harshness of prison life in the 18th century, the passion of the 1798 rebellion, the cruelty of the transportation ships and hope of a new life in Australia.
Wicklow Mountains National Park – Glendalough, Wicklow Mountains – The Wicklow Mountains National Park was established in 1991 and is owned by the people of Ireland. It consists of an extensive upland area of Ireland and one of the country’s most beautiful regions.
Main Destinations in County Wicklow
Avoca was born out of the copper mining industry, which thrived here in the last century before finally closing in 1982, this attractive village on the Avoca River is now more famous for the hand weaving looms and the craft shop of the Avoca handweavers.
Arklow is a seaside resort town. There is a rail service between here and Dublin.
Bray is a popular seaside resort situated 21km (13m) from Dublin City Centre. Bray is an ideal place to visit or stay for touring Wicklow.
Greystones is another seaside town just south of Bray.
Wicklow Town is the county town, and is home to a fine harbour, beautifully sandy beaches to the south and the extensive shingle beach with its bird life and marvellous shore angling to the north. The ruins of a 13th century friary lie to the west of the town centre.
Popular locations to stay in Co. Wicklow are Arklow (2 places to stay), Ashford (1), Aughrim (2), Avoca (1), Baltinglass (1), Blessington (1), Bray (4), Delgany (1), Enniskerry (2), Laragh (3), Rathdrum (5), Roundwood (2), Tinahely (1), Wicklow Town (1).
Other towns include Brittas Bay, Carnew, Derrynamuck, Donard, Dunlavin, Glen of the Downs, Glendalough, Glenealy, Glenmalure, Grangecon, Greenan, Greystones, Hollywood, Kilbride, Kilcoole, Kilmacanogue, Kilpedder, Knockree, Macreddin Village, Newcastle, Newtownmountkennedy, Rathnew, Redcross, Shillelagh, Wicklow Mountains.
Getting Here and Around
Wicklow is located immediately south of Dublin. As the north of the county is commuter country, there are reasonable bus and rail services to Dublin. The rest of the county is served by the Dublin-Rosslare railway line; as well as bus services to Dublin and Wexford.
The M11 motorway runs north/south through the county, connecting to Dublin’s M50 bypass motorway just north of County Wicklow, where the M11 enters County Dublin. Access to Dublin Airport by car is therefore quite convenient via the M50 and M11 motorways. There are bus services running from most towns in County Wicklow to Dublin City and some to Dublin Airport.
The Dublin-Rosslare railway line runs through the county along the coast, with stations at Bray, Greystones, Kilcoole, Wicklow, Rathdrum and Arklow, before continuing into County Wexford. Greystones is the southern terminus of the DART commuter rail service in Dublin; there are less frequent services to stations south of here.
Rosslare Harbour in County Wexford offers ferry services to the UK and continental Europe – and is easily accessible from much of Wicklow via the M11 motorway.
More detailed information on getting to and around County Wicklow can be found in our Co. Wicklow Transport Guide.