Although many tourist guides would lead you to believe otherwise, there are plenty of things to do in Wicklow outside of Glendalough.
Now, don’t get me wrong – Glendalough is incredible (as you’ll see below!), but there are plenty of other places to visit in Wicklow that are worth a ramble around.
From hikes, like the one up to see Lough Ouler, to quirky attractions, like Victor’s Way, there’s a bit of something in Wicklow to tickle every fancy!
In the guide below, you’ll find a heap of different things to do in Wicklow, from mountain walks and prisons to ancient pubs, award-winning restaurants and more.
Table of Contents
The best things to do in Wicklow
The first section of this guide tackles what we think are the best things to do in Wicklow, with a mix of food, walks, old-school pubs and much more.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from the gorgeous Wicklow Heather to the now-iconic boardwalk at Ballinastoe.
1. Grab some brekkie in the Wicklow Heather
One of my favourite things to do in Wicklow is to head off on one of the many Wicklow walks. Any time I do this, I nip into the Wicklow Heather first for breakfast.
This is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever eaten. And I’m not talking about the food.
The Wicklow Heather brings together the best of old-world design and decor and it looks and feels old-world thanks to beautifully varnished wooden floors and ceilings.
Situated in the picturesque village of Laragh, deep in the Wicklow Mountains, the Wicklow Heather is the type of place that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
2. Climb the Great (and pointy) Sugarloaf Mountain
You’ll catch a glimpse of the Great Sugarloaf from many places across Dublin. It juts up from the skyline and has a very distinctive pointy peak when seen from afar.
Actually, come to think of it, it looks a little like a wizards hat… Standing at 501m above sea level, the Great Sugarloaf is the perfect place for a casual climb with family or friends.
On a clear day, you’ll be treated to unrivaled panoramic views of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, and the Irish Sea from its summit.
I’ve done this walk many times over the years. It generally takes around an hour and a half at a slow pace. Here’s a full guide to climbing the Great Sugarloaf Mountain.
3. Cycle or walk the Blessington Greenway
The Blessington Greenway is a solid option for those of you wondering what to do in Wicklow that’ll take you away from the crowds.
This route hugs the Blessington Lakes and, although the scenery is fantastic, it tends to be pretty quiet (basing this on my last 2 visits).
The cycle here will be very doable for most fitness levels. Here’s a full guide to the trail with everything you need to know.
4. Soak up the views around Ballinastoe
The Ballinastoe Woods walk tends to go viral online once every couple of days, thanks the a section of boardwalk (above) that looks like something plucked from Lord of the Rings.
There are several walks that you can tackle here, ranging from a handy 30-minute stroll to a lengthy 3.5-hour hike.
The woods are a joy to stroll around, but you need to be careful in certain sections as it’s a popular spot for mountain bikers. Here’s a guide to Ballinastoe Forest.
5. Head off on The Sally Gap Drive
I’ve been doing the Sally Gap drive since I bought my first car about 10 years ago (it’s probably longer, but I don’t want to depress myself..).
The Sally Gap was built after the Irish rebellion of 1798. British Army forces wanted to flush rebels from the hills and thought building a road would help.
6. Try your hand at a bitta wild camping in Wicklow
Myself and a group of friends gave wild camping a lash a couple of years back. It lashed rain, our tent leaked, and I had a chest infection for what felt like a month, but it was still brilliant.
We camped up near Lough Ouler and had the view above from the comfort of our soggy sleeping bags.
I’ll definitely be giving wild camping a go again in the future… I’ll just be spending a little more time researching tents…
7. Grab a post-adventure pint in the iconic Harbour Bar in Bray
I’d argue that the Harbour Bar is one of the best pubs in Ireland. It was established wayyyyyy back in 1872 and over its many years in business, this traditional pub has welcomed everyone from Katharine Hepburn and Bono, to literary giant Brendan Behan through its doors.
If you’re in search of an old-school Irish pub that oozes charm and character by the boat-load, then slap this one on your to-nurse-a-pint-in list.
Visit on a Friday, listen to some live music (takes place every Wednesday to Saturday night), and enjoy a pint and a toastie in the Backroom.
8. Spend a morning at Djouce Woods
The Djouce Woods walk is one of the handier Wicklow trails, and it’s a great way to spend an active morning (you’ll find more Wicklow trails later in the guide).
There’s a long and a short trail that you can head off on here, with ample parking and decent signage, so you shouldn’t have any hassle finding your way around.
This tends to be compared to the Ticknock Hike a fair bit as it follows a forestry track, but the walk here is longer and the views when the forest opens up make it worth a visit.
9. Grab a view and a half on the Bray Head Walk
I’ve been meaning to give this one a crack for a while. If you’re looking for things to do in Bray that’ll have you gulping down fresh air for a few hours, then look no further than Bray Head.
You’ll find this 241m tall hill and headland is slap bang in the middle of the towns of Bray and Greystones.
The Bray Head Walk is an easy to moderate climb to the top and should take you no more than 1 hour (depending on pace) to get to the top and back down again.
At the top of the head, you’ll find a now-iconic concrete cross which was placed there back in 1950. This is one of the best things to do in Wicklow when the weathers’ fine!
10. Then grab a bite-to-eat in Bray Town
One of the beauties of doing either of the Bray walks (the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk being the other) is the post-walk feed.
There are heaps of great restaurants in Bray. Top of the list, in my opinion, is Dockyard No. 8. You’ll find everything from waffles and hearty breakfasts to a lunch that packs a punch here.
11. Take some time to chill and admire the view at Lough Tay
I tend to take a spin out to Lough Tay every couple of months. It’s a handy drive from Dublin and you can perfectly pair it with a trip to Glendalough.
Lough Tay is a small but scenic lake set on private property between the mountains of Djouce and Luggala. If you’re thinking, ‘Isn’t that the place that’s called Guinness Lake’, you’re spot on.
You’ll find a little make-shift parking area next to Lough Tay that you can park in. The view from the lake is just across the road (over the little wall). A mighty view altogether.
As this is one of the most popular Wicklow tourist attractions, it tends to get busy around here at the weekends, so try and arrive early.
Unique places to visit in Wicklow
The second section of this guide tackles the more unique things to do in Wicklow, with a mix of hikes, indoor attractions and ‘hidden’ beaches.
Below, you’ll find everything from the brilliant Lough Ouler to the often-missed (and somewhat painful to reach) Silver Strand.
1. See the slightly creepy statues at Victor’s Way Indian Sculpture Park
First up is arguably one of the most unusual places to visit in Wicklow. This park was known as Victoria’s Way until 2015. Then it was closed by the owner.
Why? Well, he stated that ‘Too many day-trippers came and turned it into a fun park for parents with children. It was designed as a contemplative garden for over 28’s.’
It was reopened in 2016 with new guidelines in place. Now, the aim of Victor’s Way isn’t to shock or, as some websites would lead you to believe, scare kids.
Victor’s Way was designed over 25 years as a contemplation space for adults in need of some rest, recovery and spiritual reorientation. A very unique place to spend some time.
2. Visit the ‘hidden’ Silver Strand Beach
Although there are many beaches along this stretch of coastline, few rival the incredible Silver Strand Beach in Wicklow.
The beach here is nestled between two cliffs and the sand looks glorious when viewed from above. Now, unfortunately, this is one of the more awkward places to visit in Wicklow.
The beach is accessed via a private campsite, and while there’s paid parking at times of the year, the car park is closed at others (more info here).
3. Explore the Devil’s Glen
If you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in Wicklow and fancy exploring somewhere a little off-the-beaten-path, then set your sights on the Devil’s Glen.
Glorious forest walks and an almost prehistoric-looking waterfall combine to make this place the perfect little retreat to clear the head.
The dramatic landscape that you’ll find here was formed at the end of the Ice Age and you can explore it on one of two looped walks.
4. Tantalise the tastebuds at the Powerscourt Whiskey Distillery
The Powerscourt Distillery is one of the newer whiskey distilleries in Ireland, and you’ll find it in the Old Mill House on the Powerscourt Estate.
The visitor experience at the distillery only opened to visitors in May of 2019. Once the hub of all farming activity on the Estate, the Old Mill was carefully restored and extended to accommodate the distillery’s development.
There are two tours that whiskey lovers can head off on here, each of which has racked up rave reviews online. If you’re wondering what to do in Wicklow with a large group, this is a solid option.
5. Head for a ramble in Avondale Forest (the birthplace of Irish forestry)
A visit to the mighty Avondale Forest is another of the more overlooked things to do in Wicklow. Built in the 1770s by a chap named Samuel Hayes, Avondale Forest is home to a range of tree species from all over the world.
The state bought Avondale in 1904 and its magnificent 505-acre estate is strongly linked to the birth of Irish forestry.
It was within these grounds that tree species which are now commonplace in the Irish forest industry were planted and trialed for the first time. Interestingly enough, plots laid down from 1904 to 1913 are still visible today.
6. Climb Tonelagee and have a nosey at Ireland’s heart-shaped lake
You’ll find Ireland’s heart-shaped lake, the source of gallons of wanderlust online, up in the Tonlagee Mountain.
Fancy checking it out from the angle above? Grab your hiking boots and make your way up Tonelagee. It’s a reasonably handy climb on a fine day.
In our guide to Lough Ouler, you’ll find info on where to start the hike (there are two options) and what to expect along the way.
7. Get lost in the Russborough House maze
Just looking at this place does my OCD the world of good. You’ll find the beautifully maintained maze in the photo above at Russborough House in Wicklow, a stones throw from the nearby lakes at Blessington.
If you fancy giving this a lash, you can get a token and map at reception. There’s a statue of Cupid standing proudly at the centre of the maze to help you find your way.
One for the parents: If you’re looking for things to do in Wicklow with the kids, there’s also a fairy trail at Russborough House which should help keep them occupied.
8. Visit Wicklow Gaol (one of the most unique things to do in Wicklow)
Wicklow Gaol is one of those places that tends to get missed by people visiting Wicklow. Situated in Wicklow Town, the Gaol was opened in 1702 to house those that were sentenced under the Penal Laws.
The prison closed many years later in 1900, but reopened to house republican prisoners during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
The last prisoners left the Wicklow Gaol in 1924 and it’s now home to a museum. Visitors can enjoy an audio-visual journey that’s complete with holographic displays, life-size mannequins, a replica prison ship, and interpretative panels.
This is another handy one for those of you looking for places to visit in Wicklow when it’s raining.
9. Visit Hollywood… yes, Hollywood!
Yes, you read correctly – Hollywood! Hollywood is in-fact a little village at the end of the Wicklow Gap that often gets overlooked by those exploring Wicklow.
As you can see in the video above, they even have their very own Hollywood sign in a field near the village where it has some sheep to keep it company.
10. Give glamping a bash
If you fancy sleeping outdoors during your visit to Wicklow but can’t be arsed pitching a tent, then glamping’s the way to go.
If you stay with these lads, you’ll be able to soak up views of the rolling countryside and Irish sea from your private deck or you can take the short stroll down through the adjoining nature reserve.
11. Have a nosey around the Wicklow Wolf Brewery
They now offer guided tours that let visitors ‘see inside the belly of the wolf‘, according to their website.
Beer lovers will be taken on a guided tour of the brewhouse and fermentation room, followed by a guided tasting of some of the Wicklow Wolf beers.
12. Visit the National Bird of Prey Centre
I know several people that have visited this place over the years and every one of them raved about it.
At the National Bird of Prey Centre you’ll have the chance to meet Birds of Prey from around the world as well as Ireland’s own Native Golden Eagle, White-tailed Sea Eagle and Red Kite.
Visitors to the centre will receive a guided tour and talk by a member of staff, before being given the chance to hold some of the centres hand-reared birds.
If you want to meet Little Owls, Barn Owls and Harris Hawks up close and personal, then get your arse in here. Another good one for those of you in search of things to do in Wicklow with kids.
What to do in Wicklow if you fancy exploring on foot
If you’re looking for active things to do in Wicklow, you’re in luck – Ireland’s Garden County is home to some of the best walks in the land.
Below, you’ll find everything from long, tough hikes, like Lugnaquilla, to short and handy rambles, like the Djouce Mountain walk.
1. Conquer Lugnaquilla Mountain (one for the seasoned hikers)
At 925m tall, Wicklow’s Lugnaquilla is the highest mountain in Ireland outside of County Kerry. ‘Lug‘ as you’ll often hear it referred to, is a mountain that you need to be adequately prepared for.
The hike here can take anywhere between 5 and 8 hours to complete and can be exceptionally challenging in places.
The Lugnaquilla hike is only for seasoned hikers that know their way around a map and compass.
2. Take a week off work and walk the Wicklow Way
Over the course of 7 or so days, walkers will take a journey across waymarked trails that take in mountains, upland lakes, steep-sided glacial valleys, beautiful mountain streams, forests, and much more.
The walk kicks-off in Rathfarnham in Dublin and travels through a good chunk of Wicklow before finishing in the little village of Clonegal in Carlow. Here’s a full guide.
3. Grab a mighty view from Djouce Mountain
If you’re looking for places in Wicklow where you’ll be able to dodge the crowds, this next spot should tickle your fancy.
At 725 metres, Djouce is the 74th–highest peak in Ireland. The folks at the OPW (Office of Public Works) have a well-marked route here and there’s an extensive boardwalk made with railway sleepers along a section of the trail.
4. Tackle one of several Glendalough walks
The Spinc Loop is arguably the most popular of the many Glendalough walks. I’ve done this walk countless times over the years with friends, many of whom now live abroad in the likes of London, Canada, and Australia.
It’s one that we tend to do every couple of years and the scenery never gets old. This walk will take you along the Spinc ridge overlooking Glendalough, offering seemingly endless panoramic views over Glendalough and the surrounding hills and mountains.
You’ll return past the Glenealo River via a series of gorgeous waterfalls into the Upper Lough. There is a well-marked trail to follow for the entire walk.
5. Head off on the scenic walk at Powerscourt Waterfall
A visit to Powerscourt Waterfall is one of the most popular things to do in Wicklow. The waterfall stands at an impressive 121m (398ft.) and can be found in a beautiful parkland at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains.
There’s something special about standing on one of the rocks below the waterfall on a warm day and staring up at it as you’re sprinkled with an icy spray of water. The perfect spot for a picnic on a summers afternoon.
As this is one of the most popular of the many Wicklow tourist attractions, it gets busy, so try and arrive early.
6. Spend a morning doing the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones
If you fancy a longish stroll that’ll banish off any lingering cobwebs, then the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk is just the job.
At around 7k in length, this walk shouldn’t take you any longer than 2 hours to complete, and you’ll be treated to stunning coastal scenery throughout.
Kicking off in Bray (or in Greystones, if that’s handier for you), the walk takes you along a stunning coastal path that winds along the side of Bray Head Hill.
7. Saunter through Killruddery House and Gardens
Killruddery House and Gardens is one of Ireland’s most renowned gardens. Kick-start your visit by grabbing a coffee to go from the tea room and head off for a ramble at your own pace.
Filled to the brim with wooded areas, water features, and distinctive outdoor rooms, a walk through the gardens at Killruddery is the perfect way to whittle away an afternoon in style.
8. Head a ramble in Mount Usher Gardens
You’ll find the magnificent Mount Usher Gardens in the village of Ashford, just 35 minutes south of Dublin, and a stone’s throw from Bray.
If you’re in search of a places to go in Wicklow for a coffee and a stroll, then whack this one onto your list. The gardens here are sublime.
9. Get back to nature at Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens
The National Botanic Gardens in Kilmacurragh have been voted as one of the best things to do in Wicklow by Tripadvisor for many years now.
Planted during the 19th century, the gardens biggest draws takes place from early spring when a spectacular collection of rhododendrons flower.
Visitors here can expect to see a collection of plants from everywhere from China to the Himalayas, wildflower meadows, and lots more. Another great spot for an early morning stroll.
What places to visit in Wicklow have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left some brilliant Wicklow attractions out of the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let us know in the comments below and we’ll check it out!
FAQs about the best places to go in Wicklow
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the best places to visit in Wicklow for scenery to where to go in Wicklow when it’s raining.
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 are the best things to do in Wicklow?
In my opinion, the best things to do in Wicklow are 1, to kick things off with breakfast from the Wicklow Heather, 2, climb the Great Sugarloaf Mountain, 3, Cycle the Blessington Greenway and 4, head off on The Sally Gap Drive.
What are the best places to visit in Wicklow scenery wise?
Wicklow Mountains National Park is arguably one of the best places to go in Wicklow for scenery. Places like Djouce, Lough Tay, Lough Dan and Glendalough are bursting at the seams with incredible views.
What Wicklow attractions are good for when it’s raining?
If you’re wondering what to do in Wicklow when it’s raining, the likes of Powerscourt House and Wicklow Gaol are great spots to have a nosey around.