Other things to do
SIGHTS TO SEE
Wicklow is a fantastic location for visitors from all over the world. Not only do we have stunning scenery, from mountains to beaches, but there are many interesting and historical sights to see. Here are just a few:
This fantastic museum is housed in the original jail, built in the late eighteenth century. It is said to be one of the world’s most haunted buildings, due to the long history of suffering that took place there.
Their interactive tours allow you to experience first hand what it was like for the prison inmates, who included rebels from the 1798 Rising, those awaiting transportation to the USA and Australia, prisoners during the Irish War of Independence, Civil War and even poor starving families during the famine. Their stories are told by actor guides, audio visual presentation and even the prisoners’ own graffiti on the walls of the jail.
Many visitors from abroad are able to trace their roots in the gaol’s genealogy room.
You can opt for guided or self guided tours, daytime or ghostly night tours, and even paranormal investigation tours.
Free audio hand guides in several languages.
Mount Usher Garden
This fabulous garden was originally constructed by Edward Walpole, who bought a mill and two acres with the dream of creating a ‘managed wild garden’, in the mid 1880s. Over the next four generations the Walpoles, a wealthy family who had made their money in the linen industry, expanded the garden, buying more land in the area to continue Edward’s dream.
The garden now extends to 22 acres and is a world class example of a Robinsonian garden with a natural, informal layout. In fact, Monty Don, a world famous gardener, says it’s one of his favourite gardens.
With 5000 varieties of trees and plants, four world-ranking Southern hemisphere tree collections (conifers, Nothofagus, Eucryphia and Eucalyptus) and extensive collections of rare varieties of rhodedendrons, azaleas and camellias, this garden will delight anyone with a passion for flora. There are a number of record holding tall trees and a tree trail guide to help you locate the many fabulous species here.
This garden is truly beautiful in all seasons, with an array of flowers throughout the year, incredible colours in autumn and its elegant weirs and bridges.
Avoca Garden Cafe, situated here, has a reputation as one of the finest cafes in Ireland, serving a fantastic selection of meals, fresh bread and delicious cakes. You can book your table in advance to avoid delays.
There’s also a shopping arcade specialising in local designers, Irish fashion, jewellery and crafts, equestrian supplies and home & giftwares.
Guided tours and discounted group rates are available.
Black Castle, Wicklow Town
This evocative site, steeped in history, features a castle ruin on a rocky outcrop over the sea.
After the arrival of the Normans in 1169, Earl Strongbow granted the lands along the East coast to Baron Maurice Fitzgerald on the condition that he built castles for protection. In 1645, following centuries of repeated attacks by local clans, the castle was completely destroyed.
Very little of the castle remains but there are stunning views out over the sea and over Wicklow Town, with fabulous coastline walks in the area.
Meet Sammy the Seal
Sammy the seal, viral YouTube sensational and Instagram celebrity is a firm favourite in Wicklow Town. Three times a day he visits the quays to get his meals. Sometimes he even jumps out of the water to find fish from restaurants and the local fishmonger!
Fishmonger and restauranteur, Alan Hegarty, originally spotted the seal in the water back in 2012, and a couple of times went out to give him some fish. Sammy became a regular visitor and now tourists come to visit him at feeding time (9-10.30am, 1-2.30pm, and 3.30-5.00pm).
Please be aware that Sammy is a wild animal, please give him some space and leave the feeding to the locals who are familiar with his requirements.
The Wicklow Way
The Wicklow Way is an incredible 130km sign-posted walking route, providing 5-10 days of hill walking (depending on your pace), or a variety of shorter walks for those that just want to dip in and out. This is a journey not to be missed!
Even though you’re never far from a road, you’ll feel like you’re deep in nature. The Wicklow Way takes you on a fantastic journey through pretty parkland, imposing mountains, gentle farmland, and stunning glacial valleys, along magical forest trails, past beautiful lakes, ruins, memorials, and trickling mountain streams. You’ll see the infamous 7th century monastic settlement in Glendalough valley, fabulous Powerscourt Estate gardens and Powerscourt waterfall, breathtaking Lough Tay, and incredible views from the top of Djouce mountain.
Beginning in Rathfarnham in Dublin, the Wicklow Way travels south west across Wicklow to the village of Clonegal in County Carlow. It’s at its best from April to September and this is the best time to find accommodation along the route. There is a wide range of accommodation, from hostels to B&Bs to hotels. Some are not always open year round and some may have limited availability, so it’s recommended to book in advance.
The Wicklow Way bus service offers transport to Rathdrum train station from Glendalough, Laragh, Glenmalure and Tinahealy. Wicklow Way baggage collect luggage daily from B&Bs along the Wicklow Way and deliver them to the next B&B en route.
There are a number of tour operators who offer guided walks or assistance for your self-guided walks. Guided tours are a great option to help you find all the hidden gems along the route.
Be sure to pack for all types of weather as the weather here is changeable. Even in summer it can be chilly up in the mountains if the sun disappears behind the cloud.
The Lighthouse Walking Trail aka Glen Beach Cliff Walk
This incredible cliff walk showcases the best coastline in Wicklow. The 4km walk starts at Glen Beach just outside Wicklow Town and travels south to Lime-Kiln Bay and on to the Lighthouse Road, then doubles back in a loop.
On this walk you will see stunning views out over Wicklow Bay, Bray Head, the Wicklow Mountains and a number of Wicklow’s lighthouses. The walk traverses Wicklow Head Special Protection Area and you can see many species of local flora and fauna, from pretty wildflowers to various species of bird. If you’re lucky you might also spot some grey seals, porpoise or dolphins. (The grey seals breed at Lime Kiln Bay – please take care not to disturb them, and always keep dogs well clear.)
Several interesting sites can be viewed along the way, from a prehistoric rock shelter, a ruined lime kiln, a ruined church and a holy well. Legend has it that local fishermen used to drink from the well in order to protect themselves whilst at sea.
The path is rough in places, be sure to wear proper footwear.