County Wicklow (Irish: Contae Chill Mhantáin) is a region in Ireland's East Coast and Midlands. It is also widely known as the Garden of Ireland. This nickname was given with good reason as County Wicklow offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland & indeed Europe.
Wicklow offers tourists & travellers towering mountains, crystal-clear rivers & lush forests, all within easy reach of Dublin, the capital city of Ireland.
Although there are no official regions in County Wicklow there is a notable East/West divide. People in the county are often very proud of being from either West-Wicklow or East-Wicklow & are often very proud of their respective region.
East-Wicklow generally includes all of the land east of the Wicklow mountains which divide the county & generally includes the following towns + villages...
Similarily West-Wicklow generally includes all of the land to the west of the Wicklow mountains & includes (among others).
The major towns of County Wicklow are...
Much of the mountaineous area is covered with a layer of peat and this in turn has heather and conifer evergreen forests growing on it, with gorse in the more dryer areas. This makes for an scenic vegetation and gives it the rugged appearence.
As in the rest of Ireland English is the language spoken by the majority.
The Wicklow mountains, being mountains (and in Ireland), are not particularly well-served by public transport, which is surprising given their proximity to the capital and their popularity among visitors. The main centres within the mountains are Roundwood, Laragh, Glendalough and Rathdrum in the east; Hollywood, Blessington and Tullowin the west.
The nearest airport is north of Dublin. A direct Aircoach bus line serves Bray and Greystones in county Wicklow from Dublin airport, and lots of buses and taxis serve Dublin city centre from where onward transport to Wicklow can be taken.
Dublin Port and Dun Laoighaire Port are the closest passenger ferryports for visitors arriving from Britain by sea. Rosslare Europort is further away, but has links with both Britain and France. It can be reached from Wicklow and most towns on the east coast by road and rail. Stena Line and Irish Ferries are the two biggest ferry companies.
A coastal rail line serves Bray, Greystones, Kilcoole, Wicklow, Rathdrum and Arklow. However, services to anywhere but the first two are infrequent and overpriced and visitors from elsewhere in the EU may be disappointed at the lack of connecting public transport services to anywhere within the mountains. A monthly return ticket from Dublin’s Connolly station to Wicklow town costs €8.90 and takes around 45 minutes. Timetables are available from the website of Irish Rail.
Kilmacanogue, Newtown Mount Kennedy, Ashford, Wicklow and Arklow are served by the Bus Eireann commuter network, with hourly services north to Dublin and Bray, and south to Wexford, Waterford and Rosslare Europort. On the western side of the mountains, Blessington is served by the 180 service from Dublin to Athy, again hourly.
By Bus & Rail
Bus and Rail services are limited to larger towns, and are concentrated on the east coast. Connecting services from towns into the mountains by public transport are almost non-existent, desperate tourists often being forced to resort to either costly taxis or unreliable hitching.
Bus Eireann bus services originate outside the Connolly Station Luas stop in Dublin’s north-east city centre. Timetables and fares can be obtained online the Bus Eireann webpage. Direct buses do operate from Dublin but tend to be either private and expensive (St. Kevin’s Bus Service - 0404 45834 - monthly return a hefty €14) or tour-based and even more expensive (Bus Eireann Tours - www.buseireann.ie - day tour €28).
By far and away the best method of travelling in the area is by car. Spectacular views await drivers on both the Wicklow and Sally Gap roads, and on lower roads such as the Kilmacanogue to Roundwood route via Calary. Besides this, car rental and petrol are relatively cheap (by European standards) and, as mentioned, the public transport options are severely limited. All main international rental firms operate at Dublin airport, ay several locations in Dublin city centre and in Bray.
Irish hitch-hikers used to be a common sight on the roads of Wicklow. Nowadays, it is more often resident Poles, Latvians or Czechs you see with their thumbs out, taking an afternoon away from Bray, Dun Laoighaire or Dublin. If stories are to be believed, Irish drivers are also not as ready to pick up hitchers as in years gone by, when hitchers often formed queues in popular spots while waiting for their next ride. Hitching is never a 100% safe and reliable method of travel. Solo women travellers are especially advised against it.
Glendalough -Historic location with an round tower from possibly the 12th century. There are also two small scenic lakes. It is in a glacial valley.
Turlough Hill -site of the only pumped storage scheme in Ireland built by the ESB in the 1970s. This consists of two small lakes, one of which is artifical and sits on top of the mountain and stores water for later use in generating hydro power. You can hike up to this in a few hours from Glendalough
Somewhere deep in the glen there lies 'Philosophy park', where a nutty (ahem, eccentric), chap imports giant stone statues of Ganesh (with floppy disks) from India. Amongst other masterpieces, there is a 20 foot stone finger standing straight in the middle of the a field, and some signs in a marsh that say things like 'mum freezes'. You won't forget it in a hurry, but you could say the same thing about water torture.
A list of some of the more interesting and higher peaks to hike are:
And for those looking for a 2 or 3 day walk.