Exploring the Enchanting Houses and Gardens of Wicklow

Nestled in the heart of Ireland, County Wicklow is often referred to as the “Garden of Ireland.” With its lush landscapes, historic estates, and meticulously maintained gardens, Wicklow offers an unparalleled experience for locals and visitors seeking beauty and tranquillity.
The Glendalough Hotel is located right in the heart of Glendalough Valley with lots to explore from our front door. Leave your car in our Guest car park and you can walk to the Monastic Site, to the upper and lower lakes, and choose from several walks and Hikes. The Wicklow Way, St Kevin’s Way, The Miners Walk and many more well-known hikes pass through Glendalough.
This bog introduces you to some of the county’s most captivating Gardens and Houses.

Russborough House, Powerscourt House & Gardens, Mount Usher Gardens, June Blake’s Garden, and the National Garden Exhibition Centre. You may have spotted some of them in Films and TV shows.

Russborough House and Gardens

Location: Blessington
Distance from Glendalough Hotel: 45 km (approximately 50 minutes by car)
Russborough House is a majestic Palladian mansion set against the backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains. Built in the 18th century, it is renowned for its splendid architecture, rich history, and extensive art collection. Russborough offers visitors the opportunity to explore the house with one of their guides where you will see the lavish interiors, which feature fine furniture, tapestries, and paintings. The estate also boasts a beautiful parkland, a maze, and a walled garden that is being restored and planted by volunteers, it is a perfect spot for Garden and history enthusiasts alike.

The drive from The Glendalough Hotel to Russborough is stunning and takes you over the Wicklow Gap through Hollywood Village and then along the N81 to the house. There is a beautiful Walk through forests and along the shores of Blessington Lakes that starts just across the road from Russborough house with food stalls serving a variety of food at The Avon which is at the end of the walk.
Guided tours of the mansion, (the guides are knowledgeable and passionate about this house)
Extensive art collection
Stunning parkland and maze
Seasonal events and workshops

Powerscourt House and Gardens

Location: Enniskerry
Distance from Glendalough Hotel: 30 km (approximately 35 minutes by car)
Named 3rd best garden in the world by National Geographic and Lonely Planet Top 10 houses to visit in the world. Powerscourt House and Gardens are arguably Wicklow’s most famous attraction. The grand estate features a mansion with elegant interiors and 47 acres of gardens that are considered among the finest in Europe. The gardens include formal terraces, serene lakes, Japanese gardens, and the iconic Triton Lake. The estate also houses the Powerscourt Distillery and the Avoca Handweavers café, offering a delightful experience for visitors.
Breathtaking Italianate gardens
Tower Valley and Japanese Gardens
Powerscourt Waterfall (Ireland’s highest)
Shopping and dining at Avoca Handweavers

Mount Usher Gardens

Location: Ashford
Distance from Glendalough Hotel: 27 km (approximately 30 minutes by car)
Described by Monty Don as one of his favourite gardens anywhere, Mount Usher Gardens offers a unique blend of natural beauty and botanical diversity. Designed in the Robinsonian style, these gardens are more informal, featuring winding paths, flowing streams, and over 5,000 species of plants. The gardens are set along the River Vartry, providing a picturesque and tranquil setting. The nearby Mount Usher Courtyard hosts charming boutiques and a delightful café.
The seaside town of Bray is not far from Powerscourt if you want to get a bit of Vitamin Sea after you explore the gardens.
Robinsonian garden design
Diverse plant species
Scenic riverside walks
Quaint courtyard shops and café

June Blake’s Garden

Location: Blessington
Distance from Glendalough Hotel: 18 km (approximately 20 minutes by car)
June Blake’s Garden is a hidden gem in Wicklow, offering an intimate and vibrant horticultural experience. Designed by the renowned plantswoman June Blake, the garden is a riot of colour and texture, showcasing a diverse collection of plants in imaginative combinations. The garden changes with the seasons, ensuring a captivating visit at any time of year.
Blessington is very close to Russborough House, so this Garden is another option when visiting those gardens. These gardens are open Thursday to Sunday but check their website as they do close in off seasons.
Seasonal plant displays
Creative garden design
Peaceful and intimate atmosphere
Workshops and plant sales

National Garden Exhibition Centre

Location: Kilquade
Distance from Glendalough Hotel: 32 km (approximately 35 minutes by car)
The National Garden Exhibition Centre is a must-visit for gardening enthusiasts. It features a series of expertly designed show gardens, each demonstrating different styles and ideas for landscaping and planting. The centre also includes a garden centre where visitors can purchase plants and gardening supplies, as well as a café to relax and enjoy a snack amidst the beautiful surroundings.

Check their website as the Exhibition gardens were being restored at the time we wrote this.
Innovative show gardens
Gardening workshops and events
Extensive garden centre
On-site café


The houses and gardens of Wicklow offer a diverse and captivating journey through history, design, and nature. Each location presents a unique experience, from the grandeur of Russborough House to the modern flair of June Blake’s Garden. Whether you’re a history buff, a gardening enthusiast, or simply seeking the tranquillity of nature, these Wicklow attractions provide a delightful escape.
Base yourself at the Glendalough Hotel and embark on day trips to these magnificent sites, all conveniently located within an hour’s drive. Immerse yourself in the beauty and heritage of Wicklow and create memories that will last a lifetime.
When you book directly with the hotel via our website, guests access exclusive online discounts for longer stays, giving you more time to explore Wicklow.


Glendalough Hotel top 10 things to do in Wicklow as recommended by our team in summer 2023. 

1 Glendalough Valley 

We couldn’t start this list without mentioning our own valley with its stunning landscapes and variety of walks. This unique and serene valley has been favoured by hikers, walkers, photographers, geography fans, bikers, (both motorised and non-motorised), and those looking to connect with nature in a spiritual setting for literally Centuries. St Kevin first set up his retreat here in the late 6th or early 7th Century and you will see why when you visit. We recommend taking time to walk from the hotel down to the Upper Lake via the Monastic City, It’s an easy walk taking a lot in and you can grab a coffee by the lake and plan the rest of your visit surrounded by the Mountains.  

For more information visit https://glendalough.ie/ 

Visit Wicklow also has a Wicklow Passport that offers great suggestions on places to visit https://visitwicklow.ie/passport/ 

2 The Monastic City 

Steps away from the Glendalough Hotel is one of the most important Monastic Sites in Ireland. Founded in the 6th Century by St Kevin this settlement developed and the buildings you now see have survived from the 10th – 12th centuries. The arch that leads into the site is one of the oldest medieval arches in Europe and leads you into the site with its 7 churches and the magnificent tower that stretches 33 meters into the sky. We get to see this site every day and the skyline that frames it makes it look different every time. You may see Sike deer, introduced to Ireland in the 18th Century grazing in the graveyard that surrounds the ancient buildings or a Peregrine Falcon flying overhead. Vikings did attack many times over the years but this school of learning remained until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214AD. The visitor centre across the Glendasan River from the hotel has a model of the site and an audio-visual guide. The staff there are very knowledgeable and will be happy to answer any questions.  

Learn more here http://monastic.ie/history/glendalough/ 

3 Upper Lake 

The upper lake is where St. Kevin first spent years as a hermit living in a cave at the side of the lake. This lake was originally carved out by glaciers and is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland. There are ancient ruins behind the lake where it is thought cattle were kept and many walks that loop around it or pass by such as the Spinc or the Miners walk. If you follow the path to the Miners village you may be able to spot the cave where he lived across the lake. There is a beach near the car park and you can paddle close to the shore in the peaty water. On a blustery day the lake is very atmospheric with the wind blowing down the valley from the Wicklow hills. 

Find out more here https://visitwicklow.ie/listing/glendalough-upper-lake/  

4 The Miners’ Village in Glendalough, Wicklow, Ireland 

The Miners village in Glendalough was established in the late 18th century when lead was discovered in the area. The village was home to a small community of miners and their families who worked in the nearby mines. Today, the village is a popular tourist attraction and visitors can explore the ruins of the old mining buildings, including the miners’ cottages, the mine manager’s house, and the mine itself. The village is located in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It is also close to the famous Glendalough monastic site, which attracts thousands of visitors each year. This year a lot of work has been done to help protect and preserve these ruins, you can see the old and the new work on the houses when you visit. The views down into the valley are beautiful, especially in the morning when the sun is coming up from the valley. 

Find our more about walks in Wicklow here https://www.nationalparks.ie/wicklow/things-to-do/ 

5 Avondale House and Beyond the Trees. 

One of the team recently visited Avondale House and Beyond the Trees in Wicklow, this famous house was formerly the home to Charles Stewart Parnell. The full walk is 4km but there are 3 routes to choose from, all different distances. The tower is where you will find the 90m spiral slide, (the highest in Ireland), this is great fun for the more adventurous, our team member’s top tip is that it’s a good idea to go early if you want to slide as it can get busy.  

The views are stunning and offer a completely different perspective of the landscape, the boardwalk offers lots of places to sit and take in the views with information points telling you about what you are looking at. This is highly recommended. 

Learn more here: https://www.beyondthetreesavondale.com/ 

6 Wicklow Gaol 

Located in the middle of Wicklow town, Wicklow Gaol tells the stories of the prisoners held mainly during the 1800’s here. There are stories of prisoners who were hanged and then dumped out at sea, children who were imprisoned, French prisoners, the traveling hangman, the Gaolers who were cruel and those who drove reform. There are also tales of prisoners who may never have left in the Spooky paranormal tours but for those how like the facts, historical tours are available. Visitors can see firsthand the cramped cells where prisoners slept on straw mats and learn about the harsh punishments that were inflicted upon them for even minor offenses. This is an atmospheric tour and a great place to do it perhaps we have a rainy day in Ireland. 

Find out more here: https://www.wicklowshistoricgaol.com/ 

7 Powerscourt Gardens and Waterfall 

Powerscourt Gardens was once voted top 3 by a National Geographic Top 10 Gardens of the World poll and you will see why when you visit.  With 46 acres of grounds with formal gardens and terraces to explore this could easily be a full day trip by itself when you combine a visit to the house. The house was listed as one of the top mansions to visit in the world.   

The waterfall is the highest in Ireland at 121m high and is located around 5km from the House. There is a car park close to the waterfall so you can decide to visit both on the same or different days, there is a separate ticket for both.  For best value buy a family ticket. There is a 3km trail that takes in the waterfall with views from different vantage points but we recommend that you leave time to wander off the trails and enjoy the scenes along the Dargle river. Driving from the Gatelodge to the Waterfalls car park you will see some of the trees here that date back 200 years including Californian redwoods planted in the 18th century. There is lots of wildlife to see, Sika Deer, Red Squirrels, and birdwatching enthusiasts can look out for some of the locals, the chaffinch, cuckoo, raven, and willow warbler. 

Find out more: https://powerscourt.com/ 

8 Russborough House 

This Palladian mansion and 18th-century estate offer a really different type of tour to the usual Mansion house with stories that span the modern-day lives of the families who have owned Russborough. With great artwork throughout including paintings by Gainsborough, Singer Sargent, and van Ostade. With some really interesting exhibitions of modern innovations in their early stages like photography and film as explored by family members, there is really something for everyone in this beautiful house. The House itself overlooks the Blessington Lakes and surrounding mountains and there are walks around the grounds that include visits to the walled gardens. There is a fabulous Maze with 2000 meters of Beech hedge which will keep your family entertained for quite some time. 

Learn more here: https://www.russborough.ie/ 

9 The Botanical Gardens 

First begun in 1712 and then expanded during the 19th century there are 52 acres of gardens that include rare trees and shrubs. This is the home to one of the most important collections of plants in Ireland. The arboretum is being replanted by the National Botanic Gardens and the ruins of a Queen Anne-style house can be seen when visiting. There are free guided tours and parking on site. 

Visit their website to find out more: https://www.botanicgardens.ie/kilmacurragh/ 

10 Bray Head walk 

Starting along the promenade, (you will see the hill at the end) in Bray or from the car park at the beginning of the path this is a lovely way to get out into the wild and soak up some beautiful coastal views without having to exert yourself too much. The loop is around 9km and takes around an hour and a half, (allow longer for stops, you’ll love the views). There are two walks, the Bray Head Walk and Bray to Greystones cliff walk. To take the Bray Head Walk stick to the path straight on from the car park. There are some stairs to climb on the Bray Head walk which will help you identify the one you want. There is a path at the top of the stairs that is well-worn. The top of the path is a little rocky so take care on the final climb to the top. There is cross the top and views across North East Wicklow and Dublin Bay, with views of Little and Great Sugarloaf, and Carrickgollogan mountain.  

There are plenty of places to eat in the town at the beginning or end of this walk. There are two walks, the Bray Head Walk and Bray to Greystones cliff walk. To take the Bray Head Walk stick to the path straight on from the car park. There are some stairs to climb on the Bray Head walk which will help you identify the one you want. There is a path at the top of the stairs that is well-worn. The top of the path is a little rocky so take care on the final climb to the top. 

To learn a bit more about this walk visit: https://bray.ie/brayheadwalk 

 Glendalough Valley in County Wicklow is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, world-renowned for its historic sites. Glendalough means the valley of two lakes. 

St Kevin identified this glacial valley as a special place, both serene and beautiful, to retreat from the world back in the late 6th or early 7th century. The Monastic city that began its life back then still stands and the round tower is recognised the world over.  Glendalough offers a variety of walking trails, including the popular Minors Walk and Spinc.  

The Glendalough Hotel is surrounded by the valley and is located next to the Monastic City. There are walks and hikes for all abilities all around the hotel and they vary from strolls surrounded by the beautiful mountains and lakes of Glendalough to the more challenging hikes where you climb up to see new perspectives on this Glacial valley.  

The Green Walk

The green walk is a 3 km loop that can start from the visitor centre next to the hotel and continues along the oak woodland trails past the upper lake and then across the wetland’s boardwalk. You may spot lizards lazing in the sun or dragonflies busy hunting insects when you walk along the boardwalk. Did you know that dragonflies can fly backward? This is a flat stroll that takes in some of the most beautiful sites and is easily accessed from the hotel with no need for transport. This walk is graded as easy. 


 The Miner’s Walk

The Miner’s Walk is a gentle 5.4km loop that takes you around the Upper Lake. It’s a perfect walk for families with children or those looking for an easy stroll. The walk begins along a sandy trail along the side of the lake with beautiful scenes and Scott’s pines overhead. Halfway along the trail, the cave known as St Kevin’s Bed can be seen across the lake. There is plenty of wildlife that may be seen along the way with feral Goats, and native Deer, and if you are lucky, you may spot some red squirrels in the trees near the lakes and occasionally Peregrine Falcons in the air above you. This is a beautiful walk with stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. 


The Spinc Trail

For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Spinc trail is a must-do. This 9km loop takes you up to the top of Spinc Ridge, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the valley below. The trail is steep in parts, but the scenery is well worth the effort. Spinc means pointed hill in Irish which tells you a little about the topography of this hike. The view along the valley is different in all seasons and so hikers never grow tired of this walk. There are some beautiful images online of the views from the ridge looking back into the valley. A lot of walkers prefer to do this clockwise, but you can go either way. 


This is just a selection of walks available for our guests to experience the beauty of Glendalough and get some fresh air and exercise. Just be sure to wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water and snacks. So, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, Glendalough has something for everyone. 

Visit Wicklow is a website full of tips and information about walks in Wicklow, to find out more follow the link below. https://visitwicklow.ie/wicklow-walks/ 

If you’re looking for a scenic and peaceful escape, staying at Glendalough Hotel and walking the Wicklow Way is a great option.

Located in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, Glendalough Hotel is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty. With stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests, it’s the perfect place to relax and recharge.

The Wicklow Way is a long-distance walking trail that stretches for 130 km through the Wicklow Mountains. It’s a challenging but rewarding hike that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in Ireland. The trail is well-marked and offers a variety of terrains, from gentle forest paths to steep mountain climbs. It’s a great way to experience the beauty of the Irish countryside and get some exercise at the same time. The Wicklow Way is broken down into stages so you can plan to do the whole walk or choose a stage to do at a time.

Staying at Glendalough Hotel is a great way to start and end your hiking adventure. This family-run 3-star hotel is full of character with many features dating back to its first official recording in the 1860s. The hotel is a comfortable and welcoming base from which to explore the surrounding area. It offers a range of accommodation options that were refurbished in early 2023, from cosy single bedrooms to large balcony bedrooms. Many of the Superior Bedrooms and Balcony rooms have views of the Valley and some overlook the Monastic City also.

The hotel also has a restaurant Caseys’s Bar & Bistro named after the Casey family who have run the hotel since the 1960s. Delicious hearty food is served daily in the Bistro and The Barn outside offers more treats and hot food with seating in the restored 18th Century Barn or on the terrace overlooking the Glendasan River surrounded by the hills of the valley.

Walking the Wicklow Way is an unforgettable experience. The trail takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Ireland. You’ll hike through ancient forests, past sparkling lakes, and up steep mountain paths. The trail is well-maintained and offers plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the breathtaking scenery. You’ll also encounter a range of wildlife, from deer and foxes to birds of prey.

One of the highlights of the Wicklow Way is the Glendalough Valley. This stunning glacial valley is home to the ancient monastic settlement of Glendalough. Founded in the 6th century by St. Kevin, the settlement includes a round tower, seven churches, and a cemetery. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Ireland’s rich history and culture, the Medieval entrance arch is steps from the front door of the Glendalough Hotel.

Overall, staying at Glendalough Hotel and walking the Wicklow Way is a great way to experience the beauty of the Irish countryside. It’s the perfect combination of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, the Wicklow Way has something to offer. This is a trip you’ll never forget.

For more information about the Wicklow way walk visit https://visitwicklow.ie/wicklow-walks/

The Glendalough Hotel is nestled in the valley next to the Monastic City in County Wicklow with a Golfers pick and mix of over 27 Golf courses. Each course has its unique features and that includes some with ocean views.

The hotel has views of the valley and the 9th-12th century St Kevin’s Tower. Glendalough Hotel has a selection of bedrooms, Singles, doubles, and Triples in this family-run 3-star hotel making it ideal for groups. The Glendalough Hotel is a great base for your Golf break with parking on site and the Bistro for evening meals at the end of a busy day playing the local courses.

We have read lots of reviews and asked our Golfing guests for feedback to help us come up with a top 10 list to inspire you, but remember there are 17 more and you may want to add to this list on your visit.

1. The European Club – Designed by legendary golf course architect Pat Ruddy, The European Club offers golfers a true links-style course with breathtaking views of the Irish Sea. http://www.theeuropeanclub.com/

2. Druids Glen Golf Club – Known for its stunning views and challenging holes, Druids Glen is recommended by many sites for any serious golfer and we regularly have guests playing there. https://www.druidsglenresort.com/

3. Powerscourt Golf Club – Set in the beautiful Powerscourt Estate, this course offers a unique and memorable experience for golfers of all levels

4. Wicklow Golf Club – This traditional parkland course is both challenging and enjoyable, with well-manicured fairways and greens. https://www.wicklowgolfclub.ie/

5. Blainroe Golf Club – Located on the coast, Blainroe offers stunning views of the Irish Sea and challenging holes that will test any golfer’s skills, guests always return talking about the views and the challenges. https://www.blainroe.com/

6. Arklow Golf Links has been beside the sea since 1927, this is a fun course, and good food in the clubhouse. http://www.arklowgolflinks.com/

7. Tullferris Golf Course is surrounded by the Blessington Lakes and the Wicklow Mountains making it a scenic course. https://www.tulfarrisgolfclub.com/

8. Woodenbridge Golf Club: One of Ireland’s oldest courses and located in the heart of Wicklow this course is a real hidden Gem and one not to miss. https://www.woodenbridge.ie/

9. Delgany Golf Club – This scenic course is set in the heart of Wicklow and offers a challenging yet enjoyable round of golf, maybe visit Greystones on your way back and take a dip in the sea. https://delganygolfclub.com/

10. Bray Golf Club – Located on the outskirts of Bray, this course offers spectacular views of the Wicklow Mountains and a challenging round of golf for players of all levels and you have no excuse but to dip your toes in the sea before you come home. https://www.braygolfclub.com/

Hope this list helps with the planning of your next trip, for the best rates visit www.glendaloughhotel.com

Glendalough is a beautiful destination within a beautiful destination, County Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.

With lush green landscapes, breathtaking mountains, and crystal-clear lakes, this is the perfect places for a relaxing break. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, County Wicklow and Glendalough offer something for everyone. It’s not called the Garden of Ireland for nothing.

When planning your trip to County Wicklow and Glendalough, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll need to decide when to visit. A popular time to visit is between May and September when the weather is mild and the days are long. However, if you prefer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, you may want to consider visiting in spring and Autumn when nature offers a completely different palate of colours to enjoy and you can hear the birds in the trees above. Autumn adds a new dimension to the dramatic scenery and in spring budding new growth and the yellow flowers on the gorse bushes add a magical feel to the scenes that surround you.

Once you’ve decided when to visit, you’ll need to figure out where to stay. The Glendalough Hotel is the only hotel in the valley with the Monastic City next door to the hotel. Step outside the front door to begin any number of walks and for a spiritual start to the day, The Monastic City founded by St Kevin in the 6th Century is steps from the front door. The family-run 3-star hotel has been run by The Casey family since the 1960s but the hotel itself has been in Glendalough Valley since at least the 1860s when it first appeared in the ordinance survey maps of the area.

Of course, no trip to County Wicklow and Glendalough would be complete without exploring the stunning natural beauty of the region. There are plenty of hiking trails that wind their way through the mountains and valleys, offering spectacular views at every turn. Some of the most popular trails include the Wicklow Way, which runs for 131 km through the mountains, and the Glendalough Spinc and Glenealo Valley Loop, which is a shorter but no less spectacular hike.

If you’re interested in history and culture, there are plenty of attractions to explore in County Wicklow and Glendalough as well. The monastic site at Glendalough is a must-see, with its ancient round tower and beautifully preserved ruins. Other historical sites in the area include the ruins of the Black Castle, Avondale House, and Forest Park with its treetop walks, and the Powerscourt Estate and Gardens.

When it comes to food and drink, County Wicklow and Glendalough have plenty to offer as well. There are plenty of charming pubs and restaurants in the area, serving up traditional Irish fare as well as international cuisine. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as Irish stew, seafood chowder, and soda bread. Caseys Bar and Bistro at The Glendalough Hotel offer hearty meals for visitors and for those magic sun-filled days, The Barn at Glendalough Hotel offers a variety of food that can be enjoyed either in the 18th-century restored barn or on the terrace overlooking the Glendasson river with 360-degree views of the valley.

Overall, planning a break to County Wicklow and Glendalough is a great way to experience the natural beauty and rich culture of Ireland. With so much to see and do, it’s the perfect destination for a relaxing and rejuvenating getaway. So why not start planning your trip today?

To learn more visit: