Interesting Sights in County Wicklow

The 101 on this Leinster County

Visiting County Wicklow? This part of the Irish Province of Leinster has a number of attractions you will not want to miss, plus some interesting sights that are slightly off the beaten path. So why not take your time and spend a day or two in County Wicklow when visiting Ireland? Here are some ideas to make it worth your while.

  • 01 of 10

    The Basic Facts on County Wicklow

    County Wicklow on a Map

    Bernd Biege

    Need to know the basics about County Wicklow? Search no more, here are the most important things to start a conversation in a pub ...

    • The Irish name of County Wicklow sounds nothing like it ... it is Contae Cill Mhantáin. Which, literally translated, means "Church of Mantán".
    • Wicklow owes its commonly used name to the Scandinavians, who named the place vikingr ló, translating as the "Meadow of the Vikings".
    • Cars registered in County Wicklow have the letters WW on their number plates.
    • The county town is Wicklow Town, other towns of at least regional importance are Arklow, Baltinglass, Blessington, Bray, Dunlevin, Greystones, and Rathdrum. Many of these have become the nightly refuge of commuters from Dublin.
    • Sizewise, County Wicklow measures up at 2,025 square kilometers.
    • In the tourism industry, Wicklow is marketed as the "Garden County" (or even "The Garden of Ireland").
    • GAA players, however, are often referred to as "the Goat Suckers."
  • 02 of 10

    Tranquillity at Glendalough

    Glendalough - The Jewel of County Wicklow

    Bernd Biege

    South of Dublin, and at the end of a scenic drive in a remote valley in the Wicklow Mountains, you will find the Glendalough Monastic Site. If you can find it. Unless you take a bus tour you will have to follow the rare signs for Laragh.

    One of the most important early Christian sights in a setting that is simply beautiful. In a wooded valley beside two usually tranquil lakes - Glendalough literally means "Valley of the Two Lakes". Lovers of history and/or architecture can indulge in a round tower, "engaged" towers, St Kevin's Kitchen (actually a church), and a cathedral (ruin). Lovers of nature can simply enjoy the walks along the lakes.

    Both aspects combined make Glendalough a top choice for a visit. The visitor center hosts a very good exhibition and an audio-visual guide for a fee. But you can also choose to go directly to the monastic site - no entry fee is charged. Once actually at the site explore the remains of the monastery and have a few short walks along the well-maintained paths to find that perfect angle for a photo.

  • 03 of 10

    Locked Up in Wicklow's Historic Gaol

    From tranquillity and contemplation to terror and condemnation - Wicklow's Historic Gaol is certainly worth a visit. These days you actually pay to get in and they let you out again without too much hassle. Which might come as a relief after seeing the exhibition. In contrast to the almost squeaky-clean presentation of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, the less famous counterpart in Wicklow Town goes straight for the jugular. Prison life is recreated by life-size manikins. In all gory detail. Ever wanted to see somebody flogged? Kids will love it ...

  • 04 of 10

    Hiking the Wicklow Way

    Walking path along north shore of Upper Lake in Wicklow Mountains National Park by Glendalough, stormy spring skies

     Anna Gorin / Getty Images

    Here is a special treat for those that want to seriously stretch their legs: The Wicklow Way is one of the best- known and most popular way-marked routes in Ireland - right outside Dublin and leading through an astonishing landscape with lush woods, waterfalls and high, windswept bogs, quite steep mountains. This is not for the faint-hearted, take provisions, have good gear and expect ever-changeable weather. Walking the whole Wicklow Way will take a week, but you may pick and choose the most exciting sections for a day's ramble.

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  • 05 of 10

    A Drive in the Wicklow Mountains

    Wicklow Mountain Landscape View down a road

    John Carey 2011 / Getty Images

    Not feeling too energetic or pressed for time? Then how about taking a leisurely drive through the Wicklow Mountains? There are many ways to take, here is one suggestion that takes in the Vale of Avoca, some stately homes, the Wicklow Gap, the massive reservoir near Blessington and, of course, Glendalough. Just beware ... driving through mountains on winding roads can be a challenge too, especially if you get distracted by the landscape.

  • 06 of 10

    Wicklow Mountains National Park

    The Wicklow Way, but also the main roads through the mountains, will lead you through the Wicklow Mountains National Park - the most-visited of the National Parks of Ireland, located on more than 20,000 hectares of rugged countryside in County Wicklow, just on the doorstep of the capital Dublin. Woods, barren plateaus, heather, gurgling streams, waterfalls, all part of the equation. And easy access too, simply stop at a convenient spot and take a ramble. Good walking gear, weather-proof clothing, and a map should always be with you, though ... once you loose sight of your car, you also easily loose your sense of direction. And the mountains can be unforgiving, provided quick changes of visibility too.

  • 07 of 10

    Exploring Wicklow in a Horse-Drawn Caravan

    An old-fashioned Romany caravan is a horse-drawn mobile home, nothing more, nothing less. Available in a box-shaped version or as the very rounded "barrel-top" variety, it offers very cramped quarters and not many modern comforts. The standard caravan would comfortably sleep two adults and two children, with a gas cooker thrown in for preparing your meals.

    You read right, that's about it ... no fridge, no toilet, no shower. The original caravans were not designed for holidays, they were designed for travelers or pavee - the correct name for the nomadic Irish you'll still see camped along main roads. They are not related to the Romany "gypsies" that travel through Britain and mainland Europe. So the "traditional holiday" line is pure spin, as pavee used these caravans as their everyday home, no settled Irish would have even thought about spending a vacation this way.

    Effectively the providers are selling a romantic fiction - but one that still is quite attractive. Horse-drawn caravans in the Wicklow Mountains are a common sight ... though they were not really built for going into the mountains.

  • 08 of 10

    Live Irish Folk Music Sessions in Wicklow

    Visiting County Wicklow and stuck for something to do in the evening? Well, you could do worse than head out into a local pub (which, be default, will be an "original Irish pub") and then join a traditional Irish session ... so why not give it a try?








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  • 09 of 10

    More Information on County Wicklow and the Province of Leinster

  • 10 of 10

    Moving On ... Beyond Wicklow's Borders

    Enough time spent in County Wicklow? Then carry on in the neighboring counties:

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