If you’re looking for that quintessential “Irish countryside” vacation, look no further than County Wicklow. South of Dublin in the east of Ireland, County Wicklow is a dream. With lush, rolling hills; tree-lined streets, and greenery as far as the eye can see, County Wicklow is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. And aside from the scenery, there are many gems scattered throughout the county.
How to Spend 2 Days in County Wicklow
Getting to/Around County Wicklow
The easiest way to get to County Wicklow is by car from Dublin. Depending on where you’re going in Wicklow, the drive from Dublin should only be about an hour and a half. If you’re planning on spending time in Wicklow, I would highly suggest renting a car so that you’re able to move at your own pace and reach the more remote areas in the area.
Remember, Ireland drives on the opposite side of the road than America. While this can be overwhelming and a bit scary at times, just go slow and take your time. The drivers in Ireland are very respectful and good about letting people take their time. If you’re from America and renting a car, you do not need an international drivers license. Just make sure to bring your American license and passport.
Where to Stay in County Wicklow
For a beautiful and relaxing stay, I highly suggest checking into the 5-star Powerscourt Hotel. Here, not only will you have the chance to wake up in the beautiful hills of Wicklow, but you’ll also have the opportunity to use their award winning spa, dine at Sika with views of Sugar Loaf Mountain, visit beautiful gardens and waterfalls, and so much more! Plus, it’s only a 40-minute drive from the Dublin airport.
Powerscourt Hotel is central to all of the incredible things that County Wicklow has to offer.
Day 1 in County Wicklow
On your first day in County Wicklow, explore all that Powerscourt has to offer. Start your day at Powerscourt House & Garden, the third most beautiful garden in the world per National Geographic. Entrance to the garden is €12.50 and you can spend hours here exploring all of the beauty.
Upon leaving the gardens, make sure to grab some local goods from the Avoca food market before heading to the Powerscourt Waterfall, where you can dine outside on one of the many picnic tables set up. Entrance to the Powerscourt Waterfall is €7.
Before heading back to the hotel, make a stop at the Powerscourt Distillery where you can take a tour of the grounds and take part in a whiskey tasting. The Powerscourt Distillery has a dark past and it’s really interesting to learn about. I’d highly recommend joining this tour when you’re in Wicklow.
For dinner, make sure to make reservations at the incredible Sika Restaurant located inside Powerscourt Hotel. The food was absolutely delicious from the raw salmon starter to the cheese board at the end.
Day 2 in County Wicklow
On your second day in County Wicklow, explore outside of Powerscourt by first heading 15-minutes east towards Bray. Here you’ll find the beautiful Killruddery House & Gardens. (Please note, opening and closing times change based on day and time of season; so make sure to check the website before visiting). Killruddery House & Gardens has been home to the Brabazon family since 1618. You can tour the gardens or take a guided house tour to learn about the estate. You should expect to spend at least two hours here exploring.
If you arrive early enough, make sure to visit the Tea Room for delicious scones to start your day, or grab goods from the Farm Shop or Dairy Yard Coffee Shop. Otherwise if you’re visiting from Thursday-Sunday the Pizza Shed opens at 1200.
Upon leaving Killruddery, head south about 40-minutes until you reach Glendalough. In my opinion, Glendalough is the most beautiful area in Wicklow so make sure you have plenty of time to explore the area and enjoy it. You can park outside the park for €4 and once you enter you’ll notice a couple of food trucks and picnic tables set out. There’s also an ice cream food truck – Mrs. Whippy!
Glendalough Valley is located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park. There are tons of outdoorsy things to do here like hiking, swimming, having a picnic, etc. I suggest bringing comfortable walking shoes and a swimming suit that you’re prepared for any activity! In my opinion, the highlight of Glendalough is swimming in Glendalough Upper Lake so make sure to check it out when you’re in the area.
If you have time before heading back to the hotel, make your final stop at Avondale to participate in the Treetop Walk (only if it isn’t raining). The Treetop Walk opened in 2022 and attracts families as well as adventure seekers. You’ll walk for a while amongst the trees before heading up the viewing tower which is 128 feet above the ground. But don’t worry, instead of walking back down you can take the giant slide down! Please note, this attraction is family friendly so chances are there will be many kids around. If this isn’t your thing, you might want to consider skipping this.
The Best Time to Visit County Wicklow
Year round, the temperatures in Ireland and the County Wicklow area are generally pretty mild. The summer are cool and cloudy, and the winters are cold and wet. Because this area has so many incredible outdoor activities, I suggest visiting in the summer months (June-August) for your best chance at less rain. However, no matter what time of the year you visit, make sure to come prepared with a raincoat, boots, and umbrella!
Misc Information About County Wicklow/Ireland
Below you’ll find practical tips about visiting County Wicklow and Ireland in general. These are always my “go-to” tips when traveling to a new country, and I figure that everything else can be learned along the way!
- Language: English
- Currency: Euro (€); everywhere I went accepted debit/credit, so you don’t need to get cash out (unless you want to). When paying with a card, always pay in the country’s currency (in this case €), to avoid fees.
- Visa: Americans traveling to Ireland do not need a visa (unless you’re planning to stay for over 90 days); Ireland is part of the EU but is not part of the Schengen Area so if you’re traveling from another EU country you will need to show your passport.
- When traveling abroad, I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to cover your trip in case anything were to happen. I use and and recommend SafetyWing.
- You will need a converter in Ireland; I use this one
- In case of emergency, the number for police in Ireland is 112 or 999
If you have more time to spend in Ireland there are tons of other gems in the country to explore! See my list below of some of my other favorite locations in Ireland…
- Dublin – Click here for a complete guide to visiting Ireland’s capital
- Howth – A seaside town east of Dublin in Dublin county (don’t miss this tour if you visit Howth!)
- Galway – Ireland’s fun college town
- Dingle Peninsula – A beautiful area where movies like Star Wars have been filmed
- Cliffs of Moher – Sea cliffs on the west coast of Ireland that stretch for as far as the eye can see
For a more visual look at County Wicklow, and more ideas on what to see and do, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel and search “ppinireland” or look for my “Ireland” highlight
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