The majestic Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, rated as the third best garden in the world, at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains, feels like a different world. The gardens span a massive 47 acres and feature unique gardens like the Italian Garden and Japanese Garden to name just a few.
The wide open spaces and incredible views meet winding pathways and walled gardens, while inside Powerscourt House – you’ll find a café which serves exceptional baked goods, coffee and more.
A truly special place, the visitor centre at Glendalough tells the fascinating story of this monastic site, with its early Christian settlement nestled in a glaciated valley with two picture-perfect lakes. This is one of Ireland’s most famous visitor attractions but never feels busy, and the sense of peace and splendid isolation you get from walking the three kilometre long valley is second to none.
Trek as far as the Upper Lake, the original site of the monastic settlement which features Reefert Church, Temple-na-Skellig, Saint Kevin's Cell, Saint Kevin's Bed, the Caher and a number of high crosses. Then it's time to unwind at The Wicklow Heather, with its locally sourced ingredients and extensive champagne menu.
Are you fascinated by the prisons of the past? The interactive tour at Wicklow Gaol tells you exactly what it was like for 18th century inmates who had taken part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and for those people waiting to be transported to a new, uncertain life in Australia.
You’ll find Wicklow Gaol in Wicklow Town, and don’t leave without stepping into the original gaol dungeon, with all the sights and sounds of a place where life was harsh and unforgiving. If you’re really looking for something memorable, take a night tour.
One for lovers of Ireland’s favourite stout. Lough Tay, also known as The Guinness Lake, is not filled with the black stuff but is one of Wicklow’s most photographed landscapes because it looks like a pint of plain.
Given its name for the sheer white sand at its northern tip, this is a place best viewed and captured from Military Road, as the lake is actually on private land. The Wicklow Mountains make for a stunning backdrop.
If you’re an art fan, make this your first stop in Wicklow. A country mansion on the outskirts of Blessington, Russborough House and Gardens was built in the 1700s and overlooks spectacular countryside.
Russborough has an impressive private art collection with works by Gainsborough and Singer Sargent. Guided tours are available, there’s also a restaurant and gift shop, as well as a maze and fairy trail if you’re bringing the kids.
You’ll find some of the best coastal views on the east coast as you walk the cliffside path from Bray, along the coast from Bray Head and all the way into Greystones, 6km away.
The plants along the cliffs burst into colour in summer and are bustling with wildlife. There is some tricky terrain to navigate and a steep climb at the Bray end, but it’s worth the two hour long walk and for any keen walker, this is one of the best things to do in Wicklow.
Avoca’s stores and cafés are dotted around the country, but where did one of Ireland’s best-loved businesses begin? Dating back to 1723, The Avoca Mill is the oldest of its kind in the country and the throws, rugs and scarves that you’ll find in all Avoca stores originate here.
It’s worth a trip to the village of Avoca - the home of BBC’s fictional Ballykissangel – where you can watch weavers at work and take a stroll by the serene River Avoca.
Journey to the outskirts of Bray and spend a quiet day in Killruddery House and Gardens, the ideal place if the last thing you want to do is hurry. The woodland walks are lined with incredible plant life, while the gardens are well known for their water features and distinctive outdoor rooms.
The gardens host events throughout the year, with Farm Markets running every Saturday during spring and summer. Stop by the tea rooms after your tour and taste the excellent food, much of which is sourced from the gardens themselves.
When the sun is shining it’s hard to beat taking a spin out to Brittas Bay South Beach, just a 15 minute drive from Wicklow Town and strolling along the 5km of beautiful white sand dunes and a shoreline that is home to a host of different wildlife species and plants.
This Blue Flag beach is a great place to dip your toes in the water and look out at boats sailing across the Irish Sea.
It’s easy to see why the stunning grounds at Mount Usher with 5000 plants and trees rate as one of Ireland’s most popular garden attractions. Stroll through groves, glades and along river banks, get lost in the hidden fern walk.
Pick up a Tree Trail Map and set off on a self-guided tour of the garden’s prized specimen trees. Start or finish your visit at the café or stop for a spot of shopping in the courtyard.
The perfect place to leave city life behind and tap back into your love of the outdoors, you’ll want to visit Wicklow over and over again. Head over to our Wicklow destination page to discover more of the historical gems and breathtaking landscapes in the Garden of Ireland.