The Glendalough Visitor Centre is a great starting point for your visit.
And, combined with the handy info you’ll find below, it’ll set you up nicely for your time in Glendalough.
Below, you’ll find info on opening hours and parking along with what to see nearby. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Glendalough Visitor Centre
If you look at the map above you’ll see the visitor centre up in the top left hand corner. Here’s some handy need-to-knows:
Glendalough Visitor Centre is located just outside the village of Laragh in County Wicklow right on the outskirts of Wicklow Mountains National Park. The centre is a little over an hour’s drive from Dublin City Centre or 1 and 20 minutes on St Kevin’s Bus.
The Glendalough car park situation can be confusing. However, if you’re visiting the visitor centre, you can park in the Lower Lake car park. It’s €4 for the day.
3. Opening hours
The visitors centre is open daily throughout the year starting at 09:30. The centre closes at 18:00 during the peak season from mid-March through mid-October, though last admission is at 17:15. It closes at 17:00 during the off peak season, mid-October through mid-March (times may change).
4. A great starting point for your visit
The visitors centre is just a 2 minute walk from Glendalough Monastery and a 20 minute walk from the Upper Lake. If you are heading to either of those locations, you will pass the visitors centre on your way there so you might as well drop in and learn a little bit more about the area.
5. What to expect
Entrance to the visitors centre cost €5 for adults, €3 for children/students and €13 for a family of four. The centre provides an overview of the history of the area and is a great place to pop in and ask about the different walks around the Monastic City and the lakes.
About the Glendalough Visitor Centre
The visitors centre tells the history of Glendalough and its founder, St Kevin, through videos, models and audio commentary.
The two focal points of the exhibit are the 3D model of Glendalough in the 12th century and a 15 minute video on Irish saints and monasteries.
The model is a great way to start off your trip to Glendalough to give yourself a better idea as to what this area would have been like when the monastery was at its peak.
There is an option to listen to commentary on the model which further explains the buildings and what type of work went on in them.
While Glendalough is unique, it is not the only early Christian settlement in Ireland and the 15 minute video called Ireland of the Monasteries helps place Glendalough within the greater context of this unique time in Irish history.
The visitor centre has areas for children as well including an interactive story area where children can listen to recordings of stories about St. Kevin and animals.
What to do near the Glendalough Visitor Centre
So, there’s plenty of things to do in Glendalough and the visitor centre is a short walk from many of them.
Below, you’ll find info on viewpoints, historic sites and the many mighty walks in Glendalough.
1. Glendalough Monastic City
Glendalough Monastic City is an early Christian settlement that was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. The settlement grew into an important monastery and pilgrimage site.
The structures that remain such as Glendalough Round Tower, St. Kevin’s Church and the ruins of Glendalough Cathedral, all date back to the 11th century. The site is free to visit.
2. The Lower and Upper Lakes
The Lower and Upper Lake at Glendalough were formed during the last Ice Age when a glacier carved out the valley they sit in and then melted into the lakes.
These scenic lakes look incredible from any angle but we recommend walking along the boardwalk on the Lower Lake and hiking up to the Spinc ridge to get an incredible view of the Upper lake.
3. Endless walks and hikes
There are tons of walks and hikes around the Monastic City and lakes varying from long strenuous hill walks to rambles along woodland trails.
Here are a few of our favourites (see this guide for full list of trails):
- The Green Road Walk: 3km/1 hour
- The Derrybawn Woodland Trail: 8km/2hours
- The Long Spinc Walk: 9.5km/3.5 hours
- The Short Spinc Walk: 5.5km/2 hours
- The Glendalough Waterfall Walk: 1.6km/45 minutes
- The Miner’s Walk: 5km/70 minutes
FAQs about the visitor centre in Glendalough
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it worth it?’ to ‘How much is it?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Do you have to pay into Glendalough?
You have to pay into the car park (€4) and you also have to pay into the Glendalough Visitor Centre (prices vary).
Is the Glendalough Visitor Centre worth it?
If you’re going into Glendalough blind, yes. It’s worth it for the insight into the history and the various things to see and do.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.