I decided to do a post only about our excursion to Wicklow Mountains not only because it was the best day we had during our staying in Dublin but also because it was a full day with a few stops.In our first trip to Northern Ireland we soon realize the best that this country/countries have to offer is the nature – stunning landscapes and breathtaking views. It was for that reason we decided to go out of the city and visit somewhere outside Dublin.
We ended up with 3 options:
- Cliffs of Moher – but it was too far and we didn’t want to spend almost all day inside the bus
- Howth – a small fishing village and we could travel by train. This end up to be our second choice
- Wicklow mountains – we decided to go on this excursion because the photos looked amazing and it is a beautiful place to visit. Plus we would stop at different locations on the way.
We looked up some companies that offer this kind of excursion and after looking around on the Internet we decided the company “Gray Lines” (https://graylineireland.com/). The reviews were great, the bus would go too early so we wouldn’t be too tired and it would stop at Guiness Lake which was one of the places I really wanted to see.
We booked our tickets online https://graylineireland.com/dublin-tours/wicklow-mountains-tour/ one day before the date. I imagine if you visit Dublin and the weather is good you maybe need to make your reservation a bit early. We were so lucky because we were in Dublin Saturday to Monday and we went on this excursion on Sunday, the only sunny day of these 3 days. On Saturday we got a really bad storm and Monday we got a different bad storm. I couldn’t believe how good the weather was Sunday. I can say if we had got a crap weather we wouldn’t have had fun. This company doesn’t offer drinks or food but they stop in a coffee shop where you can have a coffee break plus buying something to eat (then or later) and in the end you will stop in a small village where you can have pub food or a couple of pints. So let’s move on to the itinerary, as follows:
09:00 Check-in at the Dublin Visitor Centre, 16 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin 1.
09:15 Departure towards the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough
10:45 Arrive at Glencree Cemetery
11:50 Arrive at P.S. I Love You Bridge
12:15 Arrive at Guinness Lake
13:00 Arrive at Glendalough Lake
15:30 Arrive at Avoca Village
17:30 Arrive back in Dublin City Centre
Dublin Visitor Centre
For us it was super handy the check-in and departure being at O’Connell Street, once our hotel was next door, which gave us plenty of time to rest and not to worry if we would get late or not. We arrived 9 am on dot, we quickly did the check-in in the Dublin Visitor Centre and got a seat on the bus. I know you know this but be mindful when choosing your seats (if the bus is not full), you want a big clear window. Our bus was not full but there was a lot of different people from different countries.
Departure and city of Dublin
Since we were leaving Dublin from the city center, we had the opportunity to get a tour in Dublin. The bus driver who was also our guide tour gave us an overview of the city, the history, the problems, the touristic places we could visit giving us an explanation of their importance to the city. You can look at the itinerary and grit your teeth, 1 hour and half until the first stop! But mostly you spend the time visiting Dublin plus the tour guide gives you so much information that seems the time flies.
We stopped at Glencree centre for Peace and Reconciliation where there is a coffee shop and toilets. We didn’t go inside because we wanted to “not waste time” and visit the cemetery and surrounding area properly.
We started from going down the stairs that took us to Lourdes Grotto, not the famous worship place in France, but a small niche replicating it. Around you have an old bridge that crosses a small stream that runs down the hill. It is very picturesque scenario.
After climbing the other side of the hill you can see the Glencree cemetery also called the German Military cemetery. There are 124 graves, 53 identified remains and 28 that are unknown. Although most the graves belongs o soldiers from World War II there are also 6 graves that belong to people the British held as prisoners of war during the First World War.
Overall it is a nice stop to give you a taste of Ireland and the nature involved.
“P.S. I love you” bridge
Our tour guide told us that many people only participate in this excursion because of this bride. Because of the movie, of course. Maybe you have seen the dramatic romance of 2007 with Hilary Swank as Holly Reilly-Kenned e Gerard Butler as Gerry Kennedy. In that movie the couple met each other for the first time in this bridge. If you are a fan you will love it, but if you are not a fan you will love it anyway. The landscape is beautiful and worth of taking a deep-breath and enjoy the view.
For those who want to see the scene of the movie:
Personally, this was the best stop. I was gobsmacked – this place was unreal, so beautiful. Also known as Lough Tay, the Guinness Lake is surrounded by mountain granite cliffs and its name has two double meanings. First the dark-colored water of the lake plus the white sand of the beach located in the north cost can be compared to the surface of a pint of Guinness. Second, an explanation less artistic is this lake is part of the former Guinness estate, owned by Arthur Guinness.
You may wonder if this water is the one used to produce the famous Irish beer, Guinness but it is not. Although the water used to produce Guinness comes from the Wicklow Mountains, it is not provident from the Lough Tay.
The best location to have a great view of the Guinness lake is along the Military Road at the junction with Wicklow way.
Once you get here and start to explore the area you will understand why for thousands of years people have been draw to Glendalough Valley or also called “the valley of the two lakes”. This natural park has a lot to offer including stunning scenery from the lakes to the Poulanass waterfall to the nature when walking along the trails. You also have a Monastic city that you can explore.
To get from the Lower lake to the Upper lake it takes around 15 minutes but you have signs telling how long it would take you to get to a certain point. I recommend to take at least an afternoon to walk around. This was the longest stop of our excursion but if we had more time I would have explore the area deeper.
Last stop of the day before returning home. Avoca village is a small village in the county Wicklow known for its copper mines. Cooper mining started around 1720 and it ended in 1982. Also, Avoca Village was also staged for several movies and television series. In the village there is a pub (you can easily find it) where you can have a meal or like us have a pint or two and maybe try an Irish cider.
If you have opportunity to visit this area of Ireland, please do. It is beautiful and you will get it why Ireland is also about green fields and stunning landscapes. I promise you won’t regret.