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 more places in Wicklow that are worth a ramble around.
In the guide below, you’ll find an absolute heap of different things to do in Wicklow, from mountain walks and prisons to ancient pubs, award-winning restaurants and more.
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Things to do in Wicklow, Ireland
You’ll find County Wicklow (often referred to as the ‘Garden of Ireland‘), on Ireland’s east coast.
Loved for its endless rolling mountains, lush forests, ancient monuments and gorgeous beaches, Wicklow boasts a little bit of something to tickle the fancy of every kind of explorer.
You’ll discover a mountain (sh*te pun intended…) of things to do and places to visit in Wicklow at any time of the year below.
1. Grab some brekkie in the only gorgeous Wicklow Heather
One of my favourite things to do in Wicklow is to spend a day hiking about a group of friends. Any time we do this, we 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 (although that was savage as well).
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 immediately makes you feel at home.
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 unrivalled 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. Grab a post-adventure pint in the iconic Harbour Bar in Bray
The Harbour Bar in Bray was established wayyyyyy back in 1872. Over its many years in business, this cosy 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.
Some grand aul facts: At one stage, the Harbour Bar doubled up as an undertakers. It’s also said that the pub is immortalised somewhere in James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake‘.
4. 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.
However, if you’re a seasoned hiker/hill walker, this should definitely be on your things to do in Wicklow bucket list.
On a clear day, you’ll be able to enjoy views of the Sugar Loaf, a good chunk of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains, and the glorious Irish sea.
Fancy giving this a bash? We wrote a guide to climbing Lugnaquilla recently that you can use to guide your hike. It contains a LOT of warnings, and for good reason.
5. Spend the night in a very old lighthouse
If you’re looking for an unusual place to stay in Ireland, then this place will be right up your street. You’ll find the delightfully unique Wicklow Head Lighthouse a little over 5kms from Wicklow Town.
Surrounded by the sea on three sides, this lighthouse has safeguarded the Wicklow coastline since 1781.
And it’s now available to rent for a night or two. Perfect for those of you after a night away with a difference.
6. Take a week off work and walk the Wicklow Way
The only goooooorgeous Wicklow Way is one of the most popular walking trails in Ireland (find out more about it in our guide to the best walks in Wicklow).
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 (this was news to me) 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 bit of info on the Wicklow Way:
- Total distance: 127km
- Ascent: 3,200m
- Time to complete: 7+ Days
- Guide: Here’s a full guide from the official Wicklow Way website.
7. Sample the wares at the Wicklow Brewery
I visited the Wicklow Brewery early last year and it was brilliant. You’ll find the brewery, which opened in 2014, in the little village of Redcross. They also have glamping on-site if you fancy spending the night.
Their Irish stout (and as an avid Guinness drinker I don’t say this lightly) is one of the smoothest and tastiest stouts that I’ve ever tasted.
8. 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 activity 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.
It’ll take you around 1.5 hours to reach the summit of Djouce (depending on fitness levels) and you’ll be treated to stunning views throughout.
In particular, the view out over Lough Tay from Djouce is pretty dam special. On a clear day, the views from the summit are out of this world.
9. Visit Wicklow Gaol (one of the most overlooked 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Soak up a bit of 5-star luxury at Druids Glen
OK, so we had our nice and quirky accommodation earlier with the lighthouse (and we’ll have more later when we look at glamping in Wicklow).
Next up on the where to sleep buzz is some fancy 5-star shleepin’. Situated a handy 30-minute drive from Dublin, Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort is nestled in 360 acres of lush countryside between the Wicklow Mountains and the Irish Sea.
If you’re in search of a bit of R&R on your trip to Wicklow, then look no further. The perfect combination of nature and luxury
13. Clear the head with a ramble along Brittas Bay
Brittas Bay is one of the finest beaches on Ireland’s East Coast. It’s one of those places that always stick out in my mind from when I was a kid, off visiting places in Ireland during the summer.
It seemed FAR warmer back then, though. Brittas Bay boasts (there’s a ring to that) roughly 5km of gorgeous white sand that’s perfect for a long, lovely evening or early morning stroll.
A grand aul fact: Brittas Bay has been awarded a European Union Blue Flag (internationally recognised emblem for the highest quality beaches in Europe) for 5 years in a row.
14. 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.
15. Spend an active morning with friends doing the Bray Head Walk
You’ll find this 241m tall hill and headland is slap bang in the middle of the towns of Bray and Greystones.
It’s 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.
16. Chow down on a healthy feast at the Happy Pear
Although the Happy Pear is pretty much a household name in Ireland these days, they’ve come from humble beginnings.
They began their journey back in 2004 with a dream of making the world a healthier and happier place. It all started with a simple fruit and veg shop in their hometown.
14 years on and things have changed quite a bit. The Happy Pear now boasts countless cafes and cookbooks.
Visit their Greystones cafe for hand-roasted speciality coffee and a healthy treat to get you ready for your next activity.
17. Walk The Spinc Loop in Glendalough (one of the best things to do in Wicklow, in my opinion!)
The Spinc Loop is one I’ll always love. 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.
Walk info: If you follow the route outlined in this guide, the walk shouldn’t take you any longer than 4 hours (we tend to finish it in 3.5, and we go at a reasonably slow pace as we’re chatting away).
18. 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.
Traveller Tip: Stick to the trails. It’s easy to lose your way in the forest here if you aren’t careful.
19. 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. And here’s why.
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.
20. Then take the stroll from Lough Tay to Lough Dan
There’s a lovely stroll from Lough Tay to Lough Dan that’ll treat you to spectacular views throughout.
The walk takes around three hours and climaxes with a view out over Lough Dan (a boomerang-shaped ribbon lake near Roundwood).
This is a nice alternative to the Glendalough walks and you’re likely to only encounter a tiny fraction of the people that you would on the likes of the Spinc Loop.
21. Get a big aul feed at the Bridge Tavern
Delicious pub grub, friendly staff, and first-class service combine to make the Bridge Tavern in Wicklow Town the perfect place to rest the legs and refuel.
Ingredients are locally sourced and dishes are said to be ‘Traditional with a modern twist‘… I’m not sure what that means, but their Thai Red Curry and Chicken Wings look to be the dogs bollo…
A grand aul fact: The Bridge Tavern was run as an Inn back in the 1800s, so they’ve been around a fair while.
22. Try your hand at a bitta wild camping in Wicklow
Myself and a group of friends gave wild camping a lash a couple of months ago. It lashed rain, our tent leaked, and I’ve had a cold since, but it was one of the most memorable nights away that I’ve had in years.
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…
23. Tantalise the tastebuds at the Powerscourt Whiskey Distillery
The Powerscourt Distillery is located 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:
- A 50-minute tour (includes an introductory film, a guided tour of the distillery and three samples of Fercullen Irish Whiskeys)
- A 75-minute tour (includes and insight into the whiskey distillery followed by a visit to the on-site maturation warehouse, with three samples of Fercullen Irish Whiskeys in one of the more intimate tasting rooms).
24. Fancy dodging the whiskey? Listen to the music of water crashing at Powerscourt Waterfall instead!
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.
25. Or do all three and visit Powerscourt House and Gardens as well
It’s been around 5 years since my last visit to the Powerscourt Gardens. We visited on an icy day in April and ended up sitting in the seats OUTSIDE the cafe, huddled around piping hot mugs of coffee and admiring the gardens from above.
5 years is a long-ass time, but I still remember our post-coffee stroll around Powerscourt. The gardens here are gorgeous.
Stretching out over 47 acres, they were designed from 1731 onwards and are home to sweeping terraces, statuary and ornamental lakes with secret hollows, walled gardens, and over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs.
26. 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.
Traveller tip: Parked your car in Bray? The Cliff Walk follows the rail line, so you can return to Bray on the Dart once you arrive in Greystones.
27. Fuel up for a day of hiking at the Firehouse Bakery
I literally can’t stop staring at that coffee… Whether you’re stopping by for a freshly baked loaf of bread in the morning or nipping in for wood-fired pizza in the afternoon, you won’t be disappointed after a visit here.
Set in the picturesque Wicklow village of Delgany, the Firehouse Bakery is home to the best bread and coffee for miles around. The perfect place to kick-start a day.
28. 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.
Many years later this route is still being travelled (now you know where the name ‘Military Road’ comes from) along by walkers, drivers, and cyclists as it offers spectacular views throughout.
Highlights of the Sally Gap drive include the Glencree valley, the dark waters of Lough Tay, Kippure Mountain, and Glenmacnass Waterfall.
29. See the slightly creepy statues at Victor’s Way Indian Sculpture Park
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 (their website now also has a tagline ‘For Daytrippers’)…
The aim of this place 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.
30. Grab a pint in a pub named after a smuggler
Now, I know the photo above is crap, but bear with me – it was literally the best one that I could find online. When I can’t find decent photos of a place, alarm bells usually start ringing.
However, the reviews for Jack White’s are A+ which make it the perfect place to refuel after a day in the mountains. What’s all this about a smuggler?!
The story of a pirate named Jack Whyte (or White) goes all the way back to the 17th century.
According to legend, Jack was a first-class smuggler who regularly arranged for shipments of Wicklow wool to be sent abroad to France in exchange for wine, brandy and French luxury goods.
31. Explore Glendalough’s Monastic Site
Glendalough is home to one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites. Founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century, this early Christian monastic settlement led to the development of the ‘Monastic City‘.
The ‘City’ consists of several monastic remains, the most impressive of which is the 30m tall Round Tower that you can see in the photo above
If you’re visiting Glendalough, the chances are you’ll pass here towards the beginning and end of your visit.
32. 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.
There are several different places to glamp in Wicklow, but the photo above is from Knockrobin Glamping.
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.
If you don’t fancy cooking sausages over a campfire, there’s an award-winning restaurant nearby.
Related read: Check out our guide to 27 of the best places to go glamping in Ireland.
33. Head for a ramble in Avondale Forest – the birthplace of Irish forestry
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.
There are several walks that you can head off on here that’ll take you deep into the belly of Avondale Forest.
34. Cool Planet Experience
This is arguably one of the best things to do in Wicklow with kids when it’s raining. Situated in Powerscourt House and Gardens, the Cool Planet Experience is an interactive climate action experience with a difference.
Here, you can immerse yourself in the story of Ireland’s changing climate, the science behind it and discover some innovative ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
The experience connects science, engineering, gaming, and drama, and is suitable for ages 7 and up.
35. Take a tour of the Glendalough Whiskey Distillery
Now, you can’t actually visit the Glendalough Distillery directly – you need to do so as part of a day-long food and drinks tour. Which actually sounds pretty good, to be fair!
This tour brings you behind the scenes of the indigenous Irish food and drinks industry in Wicklow and connects you with the people behind some of the fantastic innovations taking place in Ireland’s food and drink scene today.
36. Grab a fine feed at The Pigeon House
You’ll find the Pigeon House in the heart of Wicklow in the beautiful village of Delgany. It opened in October 2015 and after a year in business was awarded a recommendation from The Michelin Guide.
According to their website they ‘provide a local eatery offering a distinctive dining experience to customers at a reasonable price‘.
The food here is supposed to be ridiculously good. The perfect place to polish off a days exploring.
37. 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.
38. Have a little nosey around the Wicklow Wolf Brewery
Another one for those of you fond of the brewing process. The Wicklow Wolf Brewery was established in late 2014 by two like-minded friends with a common interest in great beer.
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.
39. 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 place in Wicklow for a coffee and a stroll, then whack this one onto your list. The gardens here are sublime.
40. Catch a show at the Mermaid County Wicklow Arts Centre
Another one for the ‘to-do-when-it’s-raining-away‘ list. The Mermaid Arts Centre opened back 2002 and over the years has become a space where ideas, creativity, imagination, and artistic expression flourish.
There’s a packed events calendar and a gallery exhibiting work by some of the finest artists from Wicklow and further afield at the centre, so you’ll have plenty to keep you amused and occupied.
41. Spread your wings at 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.
42. 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 things to do in Wicklow have we missed?
The guides on this site rarely sit still.
They grow based on feedback and recommendations from readers and locals that visit and comment.
Have something to recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!