Nicknamed as “The Garden of Ireland,” Wicklow is any nature lover’s dream. Having some of the highest peaks in Ireland and an abundance of lakes, Wicklow seems like something taken out of an Irish fairy tale book.
Wicklow is one of the 32 counties in Ireland, just below Dublin. It takes only an hour and a half to get there from the capital and the drive itself is stunning.
There were three main places I went during my trip here: the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens, Wicklow Mountains National Park, and the valley of Glendalough and its lakes.
The Powerscourt Estate and Gardens
Originally a castle, it passed through different ownership and was nearly brought to ruin by a fire, sitting as a shell for more than twenty years until it was renovated.
Now this gorgeous estate is ranked 3rd in the world for its extensive gardens. There are 47 acres filled with different types of gardens, including the Italian Garden, The Japanese Garden, and the Walled Garden to name a few. But there are also forests filled with tall trees, quiet lakes, and small meadows, all connected by winding paths.
There is also a tower deep in the heart of the forest, a pet cemetery, and many statues to find while you explore.
The estate also has the highest waterfall in Ireland on its lands. It is a fair walk from the estate but you can drive reasonably close to it as well. You can bring food there or you can buy some from a kiosk they have on site.
The gardens vary in cost but nothing is above 10 euros in admittance. The waterfall costs 6 euros or less.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Free of charge, this park covers more than 50,000 acres of terrain. Small roads edge the mountains and offer fantastic views of Wicklow and the small lakes dotting the land.
You’ll need a car to access these views, or you can join a tour group that offers this as a destination. For bikers, this is a long ride but one with a better view than you could ever ask for.
The splendor of this national park has lead to it being used as a backdrop in many movies. These include Braveheart, Excalibur, and P.S. I Love You to name a few.
The valley of Glendalough resides within the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Also called “the valley of the two lakes,” this park has often drawn visitors for its abundant history set within beautiful scenery.
Glendalough’s historical significance comes from the Monastic City, one of the most important religious sites in all of Ireland. Founded in the 6th century, the city contains many archeological remains still mostly intact. These include the Round Tower, St. Mary’s Church, St. Kevin’s Church, and many gravestones.
Then there are the lakes, the Upper and Lower lake of the valley. They are glacial lakes that appear to be connected but are in fact separate bodies of water.
The Upper Lake is the most popular to visit, with shallow shores and clear water that reflects the mountains above. The path there is forested and fairytale-esque, full of brooks and little bridges, with waterfalls dotting the path.
The trek to the upper lake can take some time, but with a path this beautiful, it’s totally worth it. Really though, that could be said for traveling anywhere in Wicklow county.
If you want to see the true meaning behind Ireland’s nickname of “The Emerald Island,” then Wicklow should be on the top of your travel list.