24 hours in Wicklow: A perfect day in Ireland's Garden County
Short breaks in Ireland
Pól Ó Conghaile goes from munching pizza on Bray's rejuvenated seafront to mountain biking in the Wicklow Mountains.
10am: Early birds in Bray
The Bray Air Display takes off from July 23-24, but this seaside town has been attracting visitors since Victorian times. A revamped Strand Road, with new paths and lighting, has worked wonders along the prom, and you can follow the cliff path all the way to Greystones. Get there around noon, have a stroll, and squeeze in a flatbread or chicken wings at Platform Pizza Bar. #Nom!
How: bray.ie; brayairdisplay.com; platformpizzabar.ie
2pm: On Yer Bike
A hike in the Wicklow Mountains is one of Ireland's iconic outdoor experiences (from Lugnaquilla to the Little Sugarloaf, there's a calf-stretcher for everyone here). For something different, however, rent a mountain bike and hit the trails at Ballinastoe. Tight, twisty single-track and forest roads combine in a 14km-trail that leads to knockout views over Lough Tay. Allow two hours, dress for the weather, bring water, snacks and a phone, and prepare for a sore bum. Sounds like an endurance test, but it's brilliant craic.
How: Bike rental from €30 with biking.ie.
5pm: Food, Glorious food
From €2 doughnuts at Delgany's Firehouse Bakery (get there early, and try the salted caramel) to Catherine Fulvio's cooking classes (from €125) and afternoon tea overlooking the Sugarloaf at the Powerscourt Hotel, Wicklow's foodie pickings are rich. Watch out for the new Beast pizza van in Greystones too, hidden behind The Beach House by the harbour. Its Wicklow Way pizza includes Gubbeen venison salami, wild rocket and nettles from €11.
How: thefirehouse.ie; powerscourthotel.com; ballyknocken.ie; facebook.com/beaststreetfood.
8pm: Bats in Glendalough
Glendalough is a crown jewel of Ireland's Ancient East, a picture-postcard setting of lakes, valleys, hiking trails and ridiculously photogenic ruins. There's more to it than history, however. Summer bat walks bring the chance to watch bats emerge from their roost in the park, before following them through the woods with funky-sounding bat detectors. Bring bug spray.
How: Bat walks take place on July 28 and August 25. See wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie; no booking required.
For more to do, see and eat in Wicklow, see visitwicklow.ie. See also irelandsancienteast.com.