Wicklow is a stunning, scenic county just South of Dublin city. It hosts a hoard of outdoor and indoor activities, natural wonders, sights and walks.
Perfect for a day trip or mini-break weekend – only an hour from the capital – there is a heap of options depending on your length of stay and interests.
Here are our top five “must visit” spots when in Wicklow.
5. Mermaid Arts Centre
Whilst some may think of Wicklow as an outdoors-only sort of place, they are wrong! Wicklow has some great places to visit on a rainy day or when the winds are sweeping, making adventures on foot that little bit less attractive.
The Mermaid Arts Centre is a fantastic place to pinpoint when it comes to must-see places in Wicklow. Opened in 2002, it is a leading arts centre in Ireland with a strong emphasis on the connection between the visitor and performer. It is a creative space of ideas and inspiration, encouraging community involvement and personal development.
Check out its website for an impressive programme across multiple disciplines, and see what you can not only attend but get involved in!
Location: Mermaid Arts Centre, Main Street, Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland.
4. The Great Sugar Loaf
This postcard image is a natural landmark of the Wicklow Mountains. Standing 501 metres above sea level, the Great Sugar Loaf dominates the landscape and is favoured by hiker’s looking to nab the best view of Dublin and Wicklow.
Often recalled in pilgrim’s journey to the monastic site of Glendalough (also well worth a visit), The Great Sugar Loaf has been a fundamental site of significance for generations.
It is most easily spotted by its conical shape, which rises high up to the clouds, and can be seen far across Dublin Bay. There are many ways to walk the Sugar Loaf, although the most common is by taking the Kilmacanoge Loop Walk.
This is a three-hour loop walk and is graded a “moderate walk”. Just don’t forget your camera, the view from the summit is not one to be missed.
Location: Great Sugar Loaf, Wicklow, Ireland.
3. Wicklow Gaol
Often overlooked by those visiting Wicklow in search of more scenic settings, is the Wicklow Gaol. Now, this may not be the stunning lake view or sky-high vista often seen in tourism brochures, but its quite the experience and well worth a visit.
The former prison, located in the heart of Wicklow town offers an intriguing, shocking and completely captivating look into a cruel and unforgiving environment, which housed some of Ireland’s most deadly and curious characters, as well as giving direct insight into Irish history and prison conditions of the time.
The gaol which is open daily is a fun and educational experience for all ages! They also offer a spooky night tour for those brave enough to go it by dark.
Location: Wicklow Gaol, Kilmantin Hill, Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
2. Powerscourt Waterfall
Powerscourt Waterfall is a stunning display of natural beauty in its fullest form. Set in the surroundings of Powerscourt Estate, not far from the Great Sugar Loaf, this is one of the finest sites to see in the entire county.
As cascading waters billow from a 121 metre high drop, Powerscourt Waterfall sure is a sight for sore eyes. Make it a day trip by donning your best walking boots, packing a picnic and exploring the park at large.
Being Ireland’s tallest and most impressive waterfall, it can garner quite some attention, so mid-week adventures to its base are the best time to see it.
Saying that Powerscourt Estate has a fantastic buzz of life on weekends and holidays, with families and groups of eager adventurers out by the dozen. And, we’re not surprised why: National Geographic ranked Powerscourt Estate as the number 3 Garden in World. Sold!
Location: Powerscourt Waterfall, Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
1. Lough Dan
Lough Dan is arguably the best place to visit in the entire county Wicklow. Located near Roundwood, this curiously-shaped lake is favoured by adventurers, campers, hikers, bikers, walkers, and, well… just about anyone who can’t say no to a bit of unspoiled beauty.
Hike down from Sally Gap to one of the most stunning lakes in Ireland; catch glimpses of wild deer in their natural habitat; feel the world sigh as you’re surrounded by wild mountain ranges – yes, this truly is a little slice of paradise.
During the warmer months, a top tip would be to hike down to Lough Dan and camp overnight. There is a little sandy beach, which is seldom crowded or even populated and there’s nothing better than catching rays and taking a dip amidst nature in full bloom.
Location: Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Read more: the best things to do in Wicklow