Colours of Wicklow Mountains changes with seasons. Heathers and gorses give brilliance of colours from violet to grey, brown, and yellow to gold. Romantic and mysterious, sometimes gloomy and hazy. With little vegetation and almost no trees. Wicklow Mountains are not giants in height, but have a charm which makes it perfect destination while in Dublin.
It’s a stone throw from Dublin to Wicklow Mountains. When one has a decent condition you can do a cycle trip or a proper climbing training. As you can image we know this area inside out as they are the only mountains we have on a daily basis for good few years. We want to introduce you to a few places worth a visit and depending on a season not always overcrowded.
To navigate hiking routes, we recommend the All Trails app, because in Ireland the mountains are usually unmarked and it’s easy to lose the trail (although the mountains are not forested and it’s easier to find yourself back on track). Load the map at home as there’s often no internet in the mountains and the route will not load.
Glendalough – Wicklow Mountains
They say there are 1.5-2mln tourists passing by Gledalough valley every year. If you are around better visit now then wait few more years and try to time your visit off season. In Glendalough you can find St Kevin’s Abbey and monastic city from 6th century, two lakes and walking path around the valley. Glendalough looks stunning all year round. You can find more info here.
In 2014 Glendalough Gin started to be distilled (distillery located in Newtown Mount Kennedy). Their Wild Botanical gin is available in 42 countries around globe, but only in Ireland you can get seasonal and limited editions, great idea for a gift or a souvenir especially that all wild botanicals are being foraged in Wicklow Mountains. There will be new distillery and visitor centre built by the road just before the valley opening most likely in 2020. Scenic drive to Wicklow Gap starts there as well.
Powerscourt House and Gardens – Wicklow Mountains
Located in Enniskerry house and gardens are perfect location for a trip. Castle originally from 13th century transformed by Viscount Powerscourt into a grand mansion. The main attraction is a beautiful garden amazingly integrated with a landscape. Ticket price is 10 euros and 7.5 for off season. Garden voted by Lonely Planet no 3 in the world and top 10 for houses and mansions. With grand attraction comes grand crowds, it is one of the most popular tourist sites when visiting Dublin.
Powerscourt Waterfall – Wicklow Mountains
Highest waterfall in Ireland (121m) cannot be missed. Great spot for a picnic when sun shines. Located 6km from main house, lie on private grounds and 6 euro tickets have to be paid at the gate.
Sally Gap – Wicklow Mountains
The highest mountain pass in Ireland rising above 500m with scenic roads. You can get there from 4 sides and there is plenty places you can stop for a photo. Empty windy roads invites to go a little faster but be careful there is probably a sheep around next corner.
Guiness Lake – Wicklow Mountains
Actually Lough Tay but everyone knows it as Guinness. Owned by great Guinness family. In Ireland almost every pieces of land belongs to somebody so don’t be surprised people own lakes, forests and so on. The best view is from view point by the road going from sally gap – simply spectacular! But that the closest you can get.
Dan Lake – Wicklow Mountains
We got there spontaneously taking a detour from Roundwood after spotting a sign. We followed the paved road as far as we could passing by Lough Dan Scout Centre. We took a signposted trek and admired the lake from the top. We saw you could reach the lake from the other side.
Wicklow Way – Wicklow Mountains
131km long route thru Wicklow Mountains. Starting in Marlay Park in Dublin going all the way to Clonegal in Carlow. It’s said you need 8-10 days to complete but we think you can do it in 6. We would love to do it but for now we do not really have time.
Great Sugar Loaf – Wicklow Mountains
Great Sugar Loaf it’s a mountain which can be classified as the symbol of the Wicklow Mountains. It
may not have a dizzying height, because only 501m above sea level, but it has a characteristic shape
comparable to a sugar mound – hence the name of the mountain. Great Sugar Loaf is pretty well
exposed, you can see it from many places in Wicklow, including the Powerscourt hotel, where you
can enjoy a drink in the Sugar Loaf Lounge, the coincidence of names is not accidental!
The Great Sugar Loaf is a good hiking spot for inexperienced hikers, the route from parking to the top and back takes around an hour, up to 1.5 hours if you’re really taking it easy. The ascent to the top is quite rocky
and steep, but at your own pace, everyone will be able to climb to the top, and it’s worth it, because
the views are smashing! From the top of Sugar Loaf there is a superb view of the Irish Sea, Bray Head,
hills, fields and other peaks in Wicklow, but it is wise to expect the wind at any time…
Lough Ouler – Wicklow Mountains
Lough Ouler is a picturesque heart-shaped lake. There are two routes to go there. We recommend
starting at the Turlough Hill car park, the path starts just by the main road (we recommend you
google the map on AllTrails and try to find the entrance ) and it leads up to Tonelagee Mountain. The
whole trip takes less than two hours, and the route is not demanding. It’s worth going on a dry day as
it’s a bit wet at the bottom. The second route starts from the Glenmacnass parking lot but is
reportedly always very wet and muddy.
Ballinasloe Woods and Djouce – Wicklow Mountains
The route on Djouce leads through Ballinasloe Woods, home to a favourite photographer’s spot – a
section of wooden path between the trees. The whole trip takes about 3 hours and is rather
undemanding, the views are really great. Most of the route is a wooden footbridge, there are
practically no steep ascents. However, be careful and look at your feet, because unfortunately, the
condition of the footbridge it’s not perfect.
Lugalla – Wicklow Mountains
Guinness Lake can be seen from two sides – from the vantage point and from the top of Lugalla, the
latter option requires a bit of effort, because the trek takes about 2.5 hours. The route runs through
private property, so you have to follow the rules. The initial section goes down the asphalt road, and
only then goes to the top. The route is not very long, but it can be steep in some places, and the
beginning of the climb leads through tall ferns. We recommend it because the views both on the way
and from the top are really amazing!
Lugnaquilla – Wicklow Mountains
The highest peak of the Wicklow Mountains at a height of 925m above sea level. You need a little more time (comparing to other Wicklow peaks) to hike it, around 4-5h and more, all depends on the route you pick. We recommend starting at Glenmalure, where you can leave your car on the car parking next to the 1798 Rebellion Memorial. Camping is popular in the area, so we recommend it if you are looking for a place to stay overnight. It is worth going to Lugnaquilla in good weather, because navigation at the top is challenging – as everywhere in Ireland, there is no marked trail there and it is best to have the AllTrails app with you.
Few places to eat
Wicklow Heather in Laragh – very popular place where reservation is essential in summer months. Tasty food with nice menu. They serving A’la Carte on Sunday which is different to all pubs around which serve carvery . They say it isn’t unusual to meet some celebrities there, not only Irish.
Byrne & Woods in Roundwoods – Byrne is a bar part (with short bar menu) and Woods is a bistro restaurant. It’s popular in Ireland to have public house divided this way. Menu is simple, short and food is delicious. Huge portions of tasty chowder or goat cheese in filo pastry are few to mention.
Powerscourt Hotel – everyone who would like to spend a bit more and find himself in luxurious environment should come down to Powerscourt Hotel. You can visit main Sika restaurant for dinner or enjoy Afternoon Tea in Sugar Loaf Lounge with a spectacular view of Sugar Loaf Mountain. If one wants only a coffee ask for daily dessert selection and choose one of many little pieces of art.
The Roundwood Stores – a great, perfectly polished initiative! The Roundwood Stores is a delicatessen
where you can find local products (but there are also a lot of niche Irish brands, Italian cheeses and
cold meats, excellent wines), as well as sit down meal or a snack. There is also a bakery where
sourdough bread is baked and it’s almost impossible not to buy one, on top of this you can grab
muffins, croissants and other sweet pastries.
Bread baked on site is used to make sandwiches that can be eaten at the table or taken out. The interior is cosy, full of light wood and tiles that resemble Portuguese azulejos, the dining area is intertwined with the shop, and there is a pleasant buzz inside. The place also offers tables outside, in which hanging lamps add charm. The only disadvantage of this place is the price, don’t expect Lidl bakery bill, but sometimes it’s worth spending and pampering yourself a bit!
Keith Grant Master Butchers – it’s hard to find a good butcher shop these days! Widely spread
prosperity has brought chain stores and supermarkets, making local businesses suffer. Luckily it looks
local trade is coming back strong! Keith Grant Master Butchers offers good quality produce sourced
local! They sell, among others, wagyu beef, from cows that are raised in the Wicklow Mountains and
are bought as a whole and being dismantled on site. We love Wagyu beef from there, we eat beef
less often but every time from local good source and Keith Grant is one of the best!
Wicklow is not far away from Dublin, so if you do not find anything satisfactory to eat in the mountains you can just drive to Dublin and there will be no problem with it! Dublin Food Guide will surely be posted here one day, but so far we can recommend you 8 excellent pizza places!