The Wicklow Mountains National Park is located in the Wicklow Mountains, just south of Dublin, and is one of six national parks in Ireland. As the only national park located in the west of the country, it is a key feature of this area of Ireland, attracting many visitors each year.
In a nutshell, the Wicklow Mountains National Park sums up the rugged and romantic preconceptions you probably have of Ireland before you've even visited; think rolling hills, dramatic valleys, deep lakes, and vast moors. It's ideal for a scenic drive during your Ireland road trip, or for a day of hiking and exploring with a picnic.
Whether you're after a planned trip to the mountains, or simply a respite from busy Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains National park should be on your Ireland itinerary.
Glendalough is probably the most visited area of the park, with its name deriving from the Irish Gleann dá loch meaning 'the valley of the two lakes'. This is exactly what you'll find in this part of the park: a sweeping glacial valley with an upper and lower lake.
One of the most important sights in Glendalough is its Monastic Site, nestled alongside the two lakes. Founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin who built a monastery on the edge of the upper lake, it's one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland and consists of a round tower, some cathedral ruins, and St. Kevin's Kitchen church. The Glendalough Visitor Centre (opposite the lower lake's car park) is really informative on this part of the National Park's history, so be sure to head there for more info.
Another stunning sight is the Glenmacnass Waterfall, one of the most beautiful and isolated areas of the mountains. You'll find the waterfall in the Glenmacnass valley, where the River Glenmacnass spectacularly tumbles over the edge of the Mullaghcleevaun Mountain. There is a car park near the top of the waterfall and some great walking routes around, but keep your wits about you as the rocks near the waterfall can be slippery and quite dangerous.
It's pretty easy to get to the park from Dublin whether you're travelling by car or on public transport. The national park is also well connected to Kilkenny, if you choose to visit from there.
By car: From Dublin, it's pretty much a straight drive all the way to the mountains and only takes about an hour. Just join up with the R115 once you've cleared the city and you'll cruise all the way down to Glendalough.
From Kilkenny the drive is equally easy, with the M9 taking you most of the way there.
By bus: There is also a bus, known as St. Kevin's bus, which has been running since 1927 and will take you from St. Stephen's Green in Dublin all the way to the Glendalough Visitor Centre. It takes around an hour and twenty minutes and runs twice a day. A single fare costs €13, and a return costs €20.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Ireland A98 HC80