A scenic journey to the Wicklow Mountains is one of the best routes in Ireland. You will see heather slopes, wide plains and rugged wilderness combined with beautiful Celtic stone buildings. We wanted to see these mountains, so we rented a car and drove from Dublin airport.
Although there is a good choice of bus tours from Dublin, we decided to do a mountain tour ourselves. Travelling by car gives you much more flexibility and in our case renting a car didn’t even cost more than a daily rate.
The view from the road, Wicklow Mountains Scenic Drive.
To see an even more beautiful terrain, we took the smaller side roads and stopped a lot to enjoy the view. If there was a path, this would be our way of travelling, slowly through beautiful areas.
What is Wicklow Mountain?
Historic Glendalow monastery on the Wicklow mountain.
The Weeklong Mountains are a vast mountain range that covers the area south of the Irish capital. The forestless mountains reach an altitude of 900 m and the climate there is very different from the capital.
Wicklow offers landscapes, swamps, rivers, glaciers and lakes typical of Ireland. However, the main attraction for most visitors is the prehistoric town of Glendalow, which has a magical location near two lakes.
Today, the Wicklow Mountains form a national park, the largest and most popular of Ireland’s six national parks.
Picturesque trip to Wicklow Mountain: Heather slopes and lush gardens.
But there’s more to see in the Wicklow area. The Avoca Valley, east of the mountains, has its own microclimate, allowing tropical plants to thrive in the region. That’s why Wicklow is home to two of Ireland’s largest gardens, Powerscourt and Mount Asher Gardens.
To find out more about the attractions in the Wicklow Mountains, visit the official Wicklow websites:
Wicklow Mountains National Park Site
Visit Wicklow, the land of Wicklow.
Stage trip in the Wicklow Mountains
We wanted to be in Dublin for a week, Monday to Friday, all for business. But because we wanted to see more than just the city itself, we arrived on Sunday morning, rented a car at the airport and spent a sunny Sunday in Wicklow Mountain.
After a nice daytrip we drove back to the same place and took a taxi to the city. What for? We didn’t need a car in Dublin and to get it in the same place we got a good price. So we threw our luggage in the car and started walking. We needed a driver’s manual.
This was our route through the Wicklow Mountains:
Wicklow Mountain Stage Disc on map
Wicklow Mountain map image disk image of Dublin Airport
The mileage was 170 km, which was not tiring after an early morning flight. The distance from Dublin Airport to Glendlow in the south is 70 km (50 km from Dublin City), and it takes half an hour (30 km) by car to get to where the mountains begin.
Zoom in on the map for a better view of Wicklow Mountains National Park, or view the official map of Wicklow Mountains National Park.
So we cross the Irish Sea and will soon land in Dublin:
The Irish Sea, which separates Ireland from Great Britain.
And so two hours later we take pictures of the panoramas of Wicklow Mountain in Ireland:
We take pictures of Lough Tay, one of the small lakes on Wicklow Mountain.
Riding on Mount Wicklow
To get here we first took the M50 halfway Dublin, then we finally arrived on the small side roads:
Drive from Dublin Airport to Wicklow Mountain.
The road started to climb and before we noticed that everything was brown, it was a huge, large area with brown mountainous terrain. The air here was fresh and windy. And we had it all to ourselves! It was just us and a couple of random cyclists on the road.
Mountainous landscape of Wicklow, Ireland.
Wicklow Mountains – A place for both cycling and hiking. The longest hiking trail is the Wikłowski Trail, 132 km long, and there are also many short routes. The map of Wicklow Mountains National Park contains all major routes.
Walking in the Laf Tay Hills
Cowardly Tay, a great place to hike Wicklow Mountain.
So we drove through the remote area of Sally Gap to an area with many small lakes. It is a beautiful Lough Tay where we followed other tourists to see and learn more about the mountains.
Below are more mountain views at Lough Tay: :
Wicklow Mountain by car: The road continues.
The road then took us to beautiful villages and the charming Glendalow valley:
Stage trip in the Wicklow Mountains: Glendalow
Top of Lake Glendalow, Wicklow Mountain.
Glendalow means the valley of the two lakes. The lakes are called the upper and lower lakes.
Two lakes are connected by a river, and at the lower lake there are old ruins. The property has a high stone tower, a small church, a cemetery and a double stone arch leading from the main road to the property.
You have the choice to park in the small village where the monastery is located, or to go to the upper lake and walk back.
Prehistoric site in Glendalow: The church of St. John the Baptist. Kevin and the round stone tower
History of Glendalow
It’s hard to believe this place was once a mighty city. It all started around the year 500, when a nobleman, Saint Kevin, left his family and his rich life to become a hermit. He settled in a cave behind Upper Glendalow Lake and lived there for seven years, sleeping on a bed of rocks and only talking to animals.
Gradually other people followed and Glendalow became a Celtic colony and monastery. The colony attracted more people and stayed there for centuries until the Vikings came and blew up the city. It was on the ninth floor. For centuries.
What remains today is a 1000 year old round tower and a small church, which also has a round tower protruding from the roof. Around the two buildings is a well-preserved cemetery with many high Irish crosses.
Pictures of the round tower and the monastery cemetery:
Old Celtic tower and cemetery in Glendalow, Wicklow Mountain.
This is St. Mary’s Church. Kevin, also known as St. Kitchen. Kevin, because of the unusual round tower, which looks more like a chimney:
St. Mary’s Church Kevin, the highlight of the Glendalow monastery complex.
Here are some more Glendalow crosses:
The Glendalow Crosses
St. Peter’s cave. Kevin, where it all began, hides behind Lake Superior, which is difficult to reach, but there are other beautiful ruins from the time of St. Kevin, the one you can reach.
Here are some other views of the Upper Lake District:
View of Upper Glendalow Lake, Wicklow Mountain.
Walking in Glendalow
Glendalower Lake is a great place for Sunday family outings. There are easily accessible footpaths around the lakes and along the river, between two monastic complexes, large and small, about 1.5 km apart.
Glendalow Hiking trails
Glendalow seems to be a popular place, not only for tourists but also for the local Irish people. On Sunday, many inhabitants of Glendalow gathered for Sunday lunch and in the afternoon many people went to a restaurant. Still, we had breakfast in one of the restaurants before it was time to move on.
Driving on the back roads of Wicklow.
Now we wanted to see what Wicklow Gardens looked like, especially Mount Asher Gardens. Mount Asher Garden is considered the largest garden in Ireland, or at least people have described it as the best garden in Ireland to visit.
The protected eastern slopes of the Cyclades enjoy a climate that allows exotic plants to grow here. That’s why there are so many gardens in Wicklow, including the famous Powershurt and Mount Usher.
At the entrance to Mount Asher Gardens you can see that we would love this place. The baker in the cafe had some great brownies under the cherry trees, it’s a pity we just had lunch. So we went to the gardens.
Visit Mount Usher Garden in the Wicklow Mountains.
Mount Asher Garden was founded over a long period of time by four generations of a wealthy family. At a time when most gardens had an official plan, the gardener of this family built the garden in harmony with nature and the existing landscape.
So the garden has become natural and wild, but contains plants from warm countries all over the world.
There are 4500 different plants in Mount Asher Gardens: Trees, shrubs and flowers are scattered around the area around the family home:
Mount Asher Garden in pictures
There is a small river and suspension bridges leading through the garden.
Later, the family sold their garden to open it to the public. We strolled for a long time in this wild and shady garden, and now I’m sure I prefer such gardens to formal ones.
A little more view of the garden:
Wicklow Mountain Scenic Drive: Mount the Asjer Garden
Mighty Square and Enniskerry
Back on the street.
After spending a long time in the gardens of Mount Asher, another Powerscourt garden was already closed for a day, so there was no way to get in. We have spent so much time moving slowly through the mountains that our time is running out.
Links to garden pages:
Mount the Asjer Garden
So we went to the nearby village of Enniskerry, parked the car and took a short walk in the centre of the village and along the coastline.
Eniskerry looks like this:
The coastal village of Enniskerry, Wicklow.
From Enniskerry it is very short to reach the motorway and return to Dublin and the airport. But because it was still sunny, we wanted to make a small loop to the green hills to see the famous Powerscourt waterfall.
Sheep and waterfall
Picturesque Wicklow Mountain Drive: Moor on the way to Powerscourt Falls
Powerscourt Waterfall, 130m high, is the highest waterfall in Ireland. And it’s locked, too. So we didn’t see a waterfall, but a lot of sheep in a fantastic landscape. A very Irish point of view. Then the sun went down and we had to hurry to the airport.
This is our beautiful ride through the Wicklow Mountains. I think we’ve seen a lot in one day.
Rhododendrons from the gardens of Mount Usher.
More about Ireland Travel
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, check out these articles:
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