Sally Gap: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

As one of Ireland’s most scenic drives, just a short distance from the capital, the Sally Gap drive is an absolute hidden gem. Here is everything you need to know about the Sally Gap drive.

Sally Gap is a mountain pass located in the rugged and beautiful Wicklow Mountains. This 27 km (16.8mi) drive is truly breathtaking, and it encompasses some of the most stunning sights in Ireland.

Part of the Sally Gap makes up the Great Military Road, a road built so that troops could navigate across the once inaccessible Wicklow Mountains. It was built in the early 1800s by British Army forces with the intention of limiting and hindering the movement of the rebels.

Since its construction, the Sally Gap has become part of an important route across the Wicklow Mountains. Thanks to the assembly of motorways in recent years, the Sally Gap has become mainly a scenic drive.

When to visit – keep an eye on the weather forecast

When to visit Sally Gap.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Due to its elevation of 50 3m (1,650 ft) above sea level, the Sally Gap drive can be prone to extremely cold weather conditions.

It is not uncommon for the peaks of the Wicklow Mountains to become snow-capped, and for the road to get increasingly icy. As such, we recommend that people check the weather during the winter months so that they are aware of any risks.

What to see – beautiful surroundings

Beautiful surroundings of the Wicklow Mountains.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Keep your eyes peeled for one of the most photographed locations in County Wicklow, Lough Tay, otherwise known as the Guinness Lake.

The lake gets its name from its dark peaty colour and its oval shape that has frothy white sand on one side. It is said that this makes Lough Tay look like a massive pint of Guinness.

The Sally Gap is actually a crossroad on which the north takes you to Dublin, south to Glendalough, east to Roundwood, and west to Blessington.

This crossroad is spectacular as it surrounded by magnificent blanket bog. While we wouldn’t suggest making a point and stopping at these crossroads, we recommend having a good look out your window.

Glenmacnass Waterfall is another gem along this infamous drive. This mesmerising waterfall trickles down into a soothing stream.

This is an incredibly tranquil place that is enveloped in the sounds of nature. There are plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic here and watch nature unfold. Given this, it’s no surprise that it is one of the top things to do in Wicklow.

During the summer months, you may be treated to the vibrant purple of the heather that grows across the bogland. This is especially beautiful against the backdrop of the rolling Wicklow Mountains.

Things to know – useful info

Things to know about visiting Sally Gap.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Some of the roads that make up the Sally Gap can be extremely windy and narrow, which some people may find tricky navigating. These become increasingly challenging during the winter months, so we suggest taking your time to enjoy the views.

The route can be completed in an hour with enough time to take short stops at each location. However, it is not uncommon for people to spend a whole day exploring the area on foot. There are countless hikes in the area, which offer breathtaking views.

It is quite easy to navigate the Sally Gap drive, and you won’t need to worry about following odd or strange maps. The Sally Gap drive encompasses the road R759; this can be easily followed on any map app on your smartphone.

The weather on the Wicklow Mountains is usually different than the weather in the rest of the county. As such, we recommend that you always be prepared for all types of weather.

For an accurate weather report of the Sally Gap area, look at weather reports specific to that area and are not a general weather forecast for the entire County Wicklow area.

What’s nearby – what else to see

The Glencree German War Cemetery is nearby.
Credit: Fáilte Ireland

The surrounding region has numerous spots we recommend taking the time to visit if you are in the area for a few hours.

One such spot is the Glencree German War Cemetery. This is Ireland’s only German military cemetery and holds the remains of mainly World War II personnel who washed up on Irish shores.

What to bring – come prepared

Come prepared when you're visiting Sally Gap.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

If you are planning on getting out of your car, exploring the landscape, or embarking on a hike, we recommend that you wear shoes that have a good grip.

Also, bring a rain jacket with you as the weather can get increasingly worse the higher up you go.

Where to stay – fantastic accommodation

The Coach House in Roundwood is a great place to stay.
Credit: Facebook / @coachhouse2006

The Coach House in the nearby village of Roundwood, one of the highest villages in Ireland, is a great place to stay.

This comfortable B&B has double and twin en-suite rooms and acts as the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day spent exploring the area.

With a roaring fire to welcome you and hearty food this is the best place to stay while in the area!

More Info: HERE

Address: Main St.,, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow

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