A 129km walking trail traverses the county, passing through Wicklow Mountains National Park and it is a landscape carved from glacial lakes and rivers with beautiful sites and attractions in both city and country. Here’s a few of our favourites for your next County Wicklow spa break…
A favourite destination that’s highly recommended by both Lonely Planet and National Geographic, Powerscourt Estate is a feast for the senses and an awe inspiring environment. Gardens as far as the eye can see, housing Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121m at the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains (bring a picnic and take it all in), they have also cultivated an Italian garden, Japanese garden and more besides. Meanwhile, the house is a magnificent example of architecture overlooking the breathtaking Sugarloaf Mountain and a beautiful place to sit with coffee and cake. Happily, this estate is also home to the Powerscourt Hotel and Spa – nowhere could be more romantic.
For kids, the National Aquarium Sealife Centre is a wonderful rainy day activity (and we all need one of those trump cards once in a while). One of Ireland’s largest Marine and Freshwater Zoos and the only aquarium on the East Coast of Ireland, it houses over 1100 underwater animals from sharks to seahorses and activities and indoor play areas for children as well.
A ghoulish but intriguing attraction is Wicklow’s Historic Gaol, which tells the story of its prisoners through an interactive tour. War, poverty and rebellion plague the history of Wicklow and so it is that the gaol has inextricable links with its past. This is your chance to learn about pivotal events from times gone by, life in gaol, and the key characters that are still renowned today from matrons to traitors.
It’s hard to miss the Wicklow Mountains National Park, all 20,000 hectares of biodiversity and mountain scenery close to Dublin. Go hillwalking or learn about the flora and fauna that call this place home, and simply marvel and the sheer natural beauty of the environment. Attracting around a million visitors a year, it is a favourite amongst locals and tourists alike.
In Dublin itself, James Joyce House of the Dead was the setting for the famed Irish novelist and poet’s famous story The Dead, and where director John Huston located his film of the story. It is linked to the James Joyce centre which has permanent and temporary exhibitions dedicated to the writer of Ulysses, so it’s a lovely opportunity to bring history to life.
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