Wicklow, a scenic county South of Dublin, is suitably named “The Garden of Ireland”, and for good reason. If in pursuit of some stunning natural scenes, sights of cultural significance and nature in full swing, look no further.
Less than an hour drive from Dublin, it is a playground for tourists and locals who simply rent a car, hop a bus or train, or join one of the many tour groups exploring the locale.
Although the numbers visiting Wicklow continue to rise, sometimes it is nice to escape the crowds and do something a little off the beaten track.
Here are the top non-touristy things to do in Wicklow.
5. Lough Dan
Located in County Wicklow, this boomerang-shaped lake is an outflow of the nearby – and equally charming – Lough Tay. Set near the quaint village of Roundwood, a venture to Lough Dan is bound to offer some stunning natural sights and not a whole lot of tourists.
With placid waters lapping the shoreline and green rolling mountains surrounding you, it would be easy to think you’re the only person on the planet.
Often a venture to Lough Dan will offer a completely undisturbed experience, so be sure to wear appropriate, supportive walking shoes, bring essential supplies (sun cream, water) and always venture in groups.
For lone wolves, ideally, let someone know you’re off on an adventure before embarking out alone. The Scouts have a centre at Lough Dan.
However, these grounds are specifically for their use. Camping is technically not permitted, but it is well-known people often do and if you get permission from the owners then you can.
Location: Lough Dan, Roundwood, County Wicklow, Ireland.
4. German War Cemetery
As Ireland’s only German war cemetery, this makes for an interesting and unusual attraction that doesn’t garner all that much tourist attention. Situated beside the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is this cemetery which is home to 134 graves.
Spanning WWI and WWII, these graves are mainly belonging to air force fighters (Luftwaffe) who washed up on Irish shores or crashed overhead.
The site is also the resting place of civilian detainees, unknown remains and most notably, an Abwehr agent (which translates to German secret service) named Major Hermann Görtz.
This is an interesting memorial which is not often included in “things to see” when in Wicklow, but is well worth a look if history floats your boat. The site itself can be a bit messy in wet conditions so wear appropriate hiking boots and follow signposts.
Address: Oldboleys, Glencree, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
3. Silver Strand
This little slice of paradise is the perfect place to seek out on a sunny day in Wicklow while trying to avoid the tourist masses. Nestled between weatherworn cliffs, this small and serene Wicklow beach is the ultimate escape; think fine, golden sand, undisturbed sounds of the sea breeze, and crystal blue waters.
When the weather is on our side, a swim would never go amiss, and even if it’s not, Silver Strand is pretty enough for a stroll all wrapped up in winter wear.
This beach is located right next to the Wolohan’s Silver Strand Caravan & Camping Park meaning an elongated beach break is also in the cards.
Location: Silver Strand, County Wicklow, Ireland.
2. Howard Mausoleum Pyramid
It may not be the most “Irish” destination on your Wicklow itinerary, but one thing is for sure: you’re not likely to be bumping shoulders with throngs of tourists at the Howard Mausoleum Pyramid.
This Egyptian-inspired burial tomb is home to 18 members of the Howard family. Built in 1785 by Ralph Howard, Viscount of County Wicklow, this tomb is a direct display of his education and good taste, mimicking the style of Ancient Egypt.
The 30-foot tall structure is not the most common type of crypt found in old Ireland, but it is definitely an unusual attraction to add to your list of things to do.
Location: Howard Mausoleum Pyramid, Old Kilbride Cemetery, County Wicklow, Ireland.
1. Seefin Passage Tomb
The top spot on our list goes to another interesting burial site in Wicklow. This one takes the lead due to its stunning surroundings and a serious lack of tourists.
Neighbouring an active military firing ground, a wander up this steep summit to reach Seefin Passage Tomb is not for the faint-hearted.
Dating between to 3300 and 3000 b.c. this tomb is an intriguing example of ancient Irish burial tombs. It is a stunning show of engineering and craftsmanship and offers some curious carvings well worth a visit.
It’s best to tackle this trek starting at the Kilbride Military Camp. Plan in advance and exercise caution, referring to the Defence Forces and other sources to ensure you don’t intend to visit Seefin on an active firing day.
Location: Seefin Passage Tomb, Wicklow, Ireland