Affectionally known as the Garden of Ireland, Wicklow is located on Ireland’s east coast, so close to Dublin that the Wicklow Mountains are spread across its borders. Despite its proximity to Dublin, a visit to Wicklow makes the city appear far away with its inspirational rolling countryside and colourful history. Whet your groups appetite with quirky and memorable experiences such as a tour of the local brewery, participate in chocolate workshops, relax in Victorian tearooms, explore Ireland’s oldest surviving working mill, encounter the National Bird of Prey centre, escape the Greenan maze, saunter through stately homes or simply immerse yourself in some of the stunning gardens on offer.
Of the six national parks in Ireland, Wicklow Mountains National Park has the distinction of being the largest covering 20,483 hectares of breathtaking mountain scenery and is used for recreation, education, wildlife and nature conservation. The Wicklow Mountains welcome an estimated 1-million visitors annually with Glendalough Valley the most popular. Combine this with the vast array of flora, fauna, mountains, forests, gardens, lakes and waterfalls that are all easily accessible and you will begin to understand why Wicklow is so deserving of its name, the Garden of Ireland. And if this wasn’t enough, Wicklow is home to Ireland’s most prestigious gardens namely Mount Usher, Hunting Brook Gardens, Botanic Gardens Kilmacurragh, Shekina sculpture garden and Powerscourt.
Impressive stately homes, their gardens and historical pasts never cease to captivate every groups imagination when touring Wicklow. Some of the better well known include Kilruddery House, Russborough House and Powerscourt House and gardens, with each offering an oasis of tranquillity set amid impressive unspoilt countryside. Powerscourt is so impressive that it was included in the ‘Top 10 gardens of the world’ by National Geographic. While these are rightly celebrated and most definitely worth every tour groups time, for those prepared to be more adventurous there is a vast array of hidden gardens scattered throughout Wicklow waiting to be explored.
Without doubt, the area of Glendalough is the most well-known in Wicklow and this may be in part to fans recognising much of it from the world famous television show filmed here, Vikings. Glendalough’s translates to ‘the valley of the two lakes’ and, as the name implies this glacial valley has two main lakes; the upper lake and lower lake. Lough Tay is also referred to as Guinness Lake for two reasons – firstly, the Guinness family estate runs through part of this lake, the second is that from a certain angle the lake looks like a pint of Guinness in thanks to the white sand of the nearby manmade beach. While the lakes are beautiful, they are not the only motivation for many to visit this location. Glendalough enthralls visitors with its early medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century. Apart from Glendalough, Wicklow is home to many other historic sites, including the monastic settlement of Baltinglass, the megalithic tombs and cairns on the mountaintops.
For a more active adventure in Wicklow, choose from some of the challenging activities available to tour groups. County Wicklow’s most popular beach is Brittas Bay due to its powdery white sand stretching along Ireland’s east coast for 5km. A day in the saddle riding along this beautiful beach is mesmerising with the roaring waves, white sand and vast scenery delivering a view like no other in the world. Near Brittas Bay beach is the infamous The European Club golf course where some of the worlds best golfers have played including Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, and Tiger Woods. It has one of the longest links at 7,377-yards surrounded by spectacularly diverse views. In addition to this golf course, nearby are Druids Glen Golf Club, Powerscourt Golf Club and Rathsallagh Golf Club. There are a number of rivers and lakes located throughout Wicklow where groups can enjoy watersports including boating, canoeing, fishing and kayak fishing – whatever the choice, groups will be hooked! These are great for incentive programs focusing on fun and team building or for any group travel program looking to add a bit of spice.
Whatever the season, Wicklow is a prime tour destination that promises a captivating journey for tour groups with it’s historical surroundings, diverse landscape, endless activities, majestic waterfalls, its rich tradition of great music and local folklore and vibrant villages. Every group will enjoy exploring the endless possibilities this wonderland county has to offer. It is a remarkable place that will still the mind, inspire the heart and fill the soul of all those fortunate to visit.