The magnificent Russborough House is one of the most beautiful houses in Ireland.
The stunning Palladian mansion and 18th century estate overlooks the Blessington Lakes and surrounding mountains.
From parkland rambles to history tours, you could easily spend a full day exploring Russborough House in Wicklow.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do at Russborough House to where to visit nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows before you visit Russborough House in Wicklow
Although a visit to Russborough House in Blessington is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Russborough House is located near the border of Counties Wicklow and Kildare. It overlooks Blessington Lakes, just five minutes south of Blessington town. It’s also a handy 20km drive from Dublin off the N81.
2. Opening hours
Russborough House is currently open every day from 9am to 5pm. However, some of the individual attractions have different opening hours. The Bird of Prey Centre is only open during the summer season from Wednesday to Sunday each week until November from 11am to 5pm.
For the guided house tour and exhibition centre, the prices are €12 per adult, €9 per senior or student and €6 for children five years and above. There is also a family ticket available including entry to the maze for €30.
For the parklands, including the maze, fairy trail, walks and playground area, a family ticket is just €15. For the Bird of Prey Centre, the tickets are €9 per adult, €7 per senior and €6 per student or child. A family ticket is €25. Prices may change.
3. Things to see and do
There are plenty of things to see and do at Russborough House. You could easily spend an entire day with the whole family within the estate grounds. For history buffs, you can enjoy a house tour and browse the art exhibitions to appreciate the outstanding architecture and history of the house. More on this below.
Things to do at Russborough House
The reason that Russborough House in Blessington tends to rank high in many guides to the best things to do in Wicklow is do the the sheer volume of attractions it boasts.
Below, you’ll discover everything from the mighty maze and the Birds of Prey to gorgeous walks and more.
1. The maze
The whole family can try to find their way through the 2000 metre beech hedge maze at Russborough House. You’ll see a statue of the Greek goddess, Fame, in the centre which is where you have to try and reach after many twists and turns through the hedges.
There’s a beautiful view over the maze from the bathroom window upstairs, which you can see on a guided house tour. You need to obtain a token and map for the maze at reception as part of the outdoor family ticket before you head out.
2. The house tour
To really appreciate Russborough House and its unique architecture, a house tour will allow you to see the inside of the house and admire the art and design of the building from the 1740s onwards.
The tours take you by artworks commissioned and collected by the Milltown and Beit families since the 18th century. You’ll also get to learn about the fascinating history of the house which began with its construction by Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown.
You can gaze at everything from the stunning ceilings to the antique furnishings, while learning more about the families who occupied the estate over time.
One of the best ways to explore the parkland is, of course, on foot. There are a variety of walking routes to choose from. You can opt for the 2km wildlife trail or the 2km woodland and rhododendron trail, or even combine them for a longer ramble through the estate grounds.
You’ll find information boards along the routes full of interesting facts about the nature and wildlife found in the park.
The paths are relatively easy with a few spots to stop on the way to enjoy the scenery. You might even get to see foxes, hares, badgers or swans if you keep a look out.
4. Walled garden
Russborough’s 18th century walled garden is one of the estate’s highlights. The stunning garden has been carefully restored over time by volunteers.
The works have included reinstating the garden paths, repairing the brick and stone walls using traditional methods and replanting the hornbeam hedge.
The overgrown vegetable garden is even once again back in productivity as well. It can all be explored as part of the outdoor parkland’s admission ticket.
5. Kids activities
The whole family will enjoy the sheepdog demonstrations at Russborough House. The renowned sheepdog handler, Michael Crowe, can give you a snapshot of rural farm life while demonstrating the skill and intelligence of the border collies in action while they herd sheep.
The sheepdog demonstrations require a booking but are well worth the time to enjoy this incredible show of skill that has been such a large part of country life in County Wicklow.
6. The café
The Tea Rooms at Russborough House is where you’ll want to head to feel like true royalty as you enjoy a meal. The café has an array of soups, salads and sandwiches as well as desserts inside the historic tea room of the house. It’s the perfect place to relax after exploring the house and gardens.
There’s a small outdoor area if it’s a nice day or you can enjoy the dining room which is adorned with some of Lady Beit’s recipes and photographs hanging on the walls.
7. The National Bird of Prey Centre
Russborough House is home to the National Bird of Prey Centre. This outdoor educational centre is home to a variety of birds from around the world, including eagles, owls, hawks and falcons.
The centre opened in 2016 and currently has over 40 birds on display. During a visit to the centre, you can enjoy an expert guided tour as well as a handling session with some of the owls, which the kids will love.
Things to do near Russborough House in Blessington
One of the beauties of this place is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Russborough (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. The Blessington Greenway
Leading right to Russborough House, the Blessington Greenway is a great way to explore the area on foot or by bicycle. The 6.5km trail is an easy cycle or walk from the historic town of Blessington to Russborough House offering incredible views across Blessington Lakes and the Wicklow Mountains.
2. The Wicklow Mountains National Park
You can’t miss the Wicklow Mountains National Park, both literally and figuratively. The huge park area covers an impressive 54, 000 acres across most of County Wicklow and reaching north towards Dublin. It’s the largest area of continuous high ground in Ireland, offering incredibly rugged peaks and beautiful woodland. It’s home to:
- Lough Tay
- Sally Gap
- Lough Ouler
- Glenmacnass Waterfall
- Plenty more
Glendalough is a glacial valley in the Wicklow Mountains and is most well-known for being home to the historic ruins of the early Christian settlement founded by St Kevin. The site is considered one of the most important monastic ruins in the country. See our Glendalough walks guide for more.
4. Walks, walks and more walks
County Wicklow is home to so many walks that you’ll never be short of places to stretch your legs. There are literally trails galore enabling you to enjoy some of the incredible natural landscapes found in the county. See our Wicklow walks guide for more.
FAQs about visiting Russborough House
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the maze and the Birds of Prey Centre to what to do nearby.
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.
What is there to do at Russborough House?
You can take a guided tour, visit the Birds of Prey Centre, get lost in the maze and explore the gardens.
Is it worth visiting?
Yes, although entre is relatively exprnsive, this is a nice place to spend a dry day, as there’s plenty to see and do.
What is there to see nearby?
There’s lots to do near Russborough House in Blessington, from the Greenway and the lakes to plenty of walks.