Top things to do in Wicklow during your spring staycation
Renowned for its natural beauty, Wicklow is every staycationer’s dream. From lush gardens and stunning waterfalls, to treetop walks and heritage sites steeped in history, the Garden County has something to offer for the whole family.
Here are ten top attractions to see in Wicklow this spring during your staycation.
Killruddery House and Gardens
Killruddery House and Gardens near Bray has been home to the Brabazon family (the Earls of
Meath) since 1618. The gardens are among the oldest in Ireland and they are a favourite choice for a relaxing stroll or a day out.
The estate has been used extensively as a filming location. It has featured in many famous TV shows and movies including ‘Excalibur’, ‘The Tudors’, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. Killruddery estate is also a working farm. Visitors can also enjoy a trip to the farm shop, try the Grainstore Café or sample produce from local growers at the regular farmers’ market.
Powerscourt Gardens and waterfall
One of Wicklow’s top tourist attractions, Powerscourt Estate offers something for everyone to enjoy.
Dating back to the 13th century, Powerscourt is a country estate noted for its Palladian style mansion and 47 acres of formal landscaped gardens in the picturesque village of Enniskerry.
Powerscourt Gardens is ranked third in the World’s Top 10 Gardens by the National Geographic, second only to the Palace of Versailles and Q Gardens in London.
Powerscourt Waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall and towers at 121m in the Wicklow countryside surrounded by native Irish woodland. It’s a really popular spot for family days out and picnics.
Russborough House and gardens
Considered one of Ireland’s most beautiful Georgian houses, Russborough offers magnificent views of the Blessington Lakes and Wicklow Mountains.
Russborough is also home to renowned art collections, including works collected by Sir Alfred Beit. Visitors can enjoy tours of the house and admire its stunning paintings, furnishings and interiors.
The 200-acre estate offers walks and trails, a spectacular children’s playground and the National Bird of Prey Centre.
Visitors can also see original 18th century features including a circular Hippodrome, the Walled Garden, Lady’s Island with its Japanese inspired bridge, the ice-house, the lime kiln and the serpentine lakes.
West Wicklow is rich in heritage and history so there’s plenty for anyone with an interest inthe past to discover.
One of its gems is Baltinglass Abbey, founded in 1148 by Dermot McMurrough.
The Abbey is situated on the east bank of the River Slaney. There are six Gothic arches on either side of the nave, supported by alternate round and square pillars. Fragments of the Church and traces of the cloister still stand to this day.
Baltinglass sits at the centre of a complex of prehistoric hillforts, the largest in Ireland. Other features include the Piper Stones, Castleruddery Stone Circle and the rich biodiversity of the River Slaney Special Area of Conservation.
Why not make a day of it and visit neighbouring villages including Stratford-on-Slaney and Dunlavin.
Howard Mausoleum, Arklow
Arklow might be best known for its maritime connections, the town is home to one of Wicklow’s most curious buildings.
The Howard Mausoleum or ‘Kilbride Pyramid’ stands in the old Kilbride cemetery on the outskirts of Arklow. The pyramid is located on the highest point in the cemetery and dominates the surrounding landscape.
The mausoleum was commissioned in 1785 by Ralph Howard, Viscount of Wicklow and is the final resting place of 18 members of the Howard family.
If you’re spending the day in Arklow, don’t forget to check out the town’s Maritime Museum, which explores the area’s maritime and industrial history. Any why not stroll along the iconic 19th Arches bridge, an engineering marvel which spans the Avoca River.
Wicklow Gaol offers visitors a journey through the original prison building, while telling the stories of the men, women and children imprisoned there under British rule over two centuries of turbulent history.
The 1798 Rebellion saw the British Government upgrade an existing prison into the extensive stone building that sits there today.
A day out for all the family, it’s also a chance to learn about the 1798 rebellion, the transportation era, the Famine Years and the Irish War of Independence and Civil War.
An audio-visual experience features holographic appearances of the Gaoler and characters from the prison who share their stories of the times.
It’s impossible to compile a list of the tops things to do in Wicklow without mentioning Glendalough.
One of Wicklow’s most iconic locations, Glendalough or the valley of the two lake is a must-see for any visitor to the county.
St Kevin founded a monastery in Glendalough Valley in the sixth century, which would become one of the most famous religious centres in Europe.
The remains of this monastic city are dotted across the glen, and include a round tower, numerous medieval stone churches and some decorated crosses. The valley is also a popular choice for walkers and hikers due to its spectacular scenery.
Nestled between the villages of Shillelagh and Tinahely, Tomnafinoge Wood is a hidden treasure.
This Special Area of Conservation is an ancient woodland dominated by giant oak trees.
Tomnafinnoge Woods offer four different walks of varying distance. The most popular of these are the River Walk and the Beech Walk. South-west Wicklow offers a wealth of walking trails for all abilities.
Many trails loop through local villages including Tinahely and Shillelagh, which provide restaurants, cafes and lots more for visitors to discover and explore.
National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh
Wicklow is home to the National Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh.
The 52-acre gardens were started in the 18th century and further expanded with the advice of the Directors of the Botanic Gardens in Dublin during the 19th century.
Kilmacurragh is particularly famous for its conifer and rhododendron collections, while rare shrubs and plants also abound. Plans are under way to restore Kilmacurragh House, which was destroyed by a series of fires.
The gardens are open year-round and free to enter and explore.
Beyond the Trees at Avondale House and gardens
With breath-taking views of Avondale’s diverse forests, Avondale Beyond the Trees will take you into the very heart of the forest.
Standing 38m above the forest, the 1.4km long treetop walk is the longest in Ireland and the UK. The birds-eye view reveals panoramic 360-degree views over the Wicklow Mountains, the Avonmore River, and the Vale of Avoca.
After you have whizzed your way back down the tower, via the gigantic 90m spiral slide, you can take a tour of Avondale House – a beautiful Georgian building that was the birthplace of Charles Stewart Parnell.
Visitors will arrive to a warm welcome at the new state-of-the-art Visitors Centre and Seed Café, where the creative food offerings are crafted from high quality, local Wicklow ingredients.
The house and gardens offer a variety of walks suitable for all abilities, with the nearby Rathdrum village itself being a gateway to the beautiful Glenmalure Valley and an extensive network of walking trails.