Discover Glendalough, a fascinating natural and historic park in Ireland

Located in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, many are the things to do in Glendalough, Ireland. Around its lakes, many attractions entertain the visitors. Glendalough was first introduced to me by a friend of mine who had already been years before and had great memories. So we took a bus from Dublin city center where we were living at the time and headed to what at first seemed a godforsaken corner far from the modern world.

As we got off the bus, there was no house, no car, no sign of modern life, only an abandoned old cemetery under a grey sky. Despite the cold and humid weather, we didn’t get despondent and carried on on our path to see gorgeous views unfold before our eyes. If you are a fan of beautiful greenery and spiritual history, don’t limit your Ireland trip to Dublin and take a day tour to unearth this stunning hidden gem.

things to do in Glendalough
A lake in Glendalough

Is Glendalough worth seeing?

Is Glendalough worth seeing? Absolutely. Glendalough is a monastic settlement dating back to the Middle Age and now a heritage site in Ireland. A charming historical place nestled amidst greenery and lakes, it makes for a perfect trip for both nature lovers and history buffs. Whether you are into medieval history, researching or curious about ancient monastic life, or need some break from a big city, Glendalough offers gorgeous views, fantastic photo opportunities, and a fascinating past to discover.

Its spiritual past makes it one of the favorite sacred places to visit in Ireland and its beautiful nature is the perfect place for long walks. The hiking route can be as long as 10 km so if you are into outdoors, you can spend a whole day in Glendalough with a quick lunch in between hikes.

Top things to do in Glendalough, Ireland

Glendalough is a world-famous monastic site with a tower dominating the view of its scenic lakes and valleys in County Wicklow. A great day trip from Dublin, in Glendalough, travelers can enjoy a charming selection of walks and trails, including the famous Wicklow Way and St. Kevin’s Way.

Close to the southern shore of the lake stands a small church called Temple-na-Skellig, only accessible by boat and a series of steps from the landing stage. The nearby cliffs host a cave called St. Kevin’s bed, aptly devoted to St. Kevin, founder of the monastery. In this cave, St. Laurence O’Toole, saint patron of Dublin, once the abbey in Glendalough, used to spend the 40 days of Lent.

The Glendalough lake is known as a ribbon lake. The upper and the lower lakes were at first united but one of their inflow brought an amount of sediment large enough to divide the original lake into two parts. Close to the eastern tip of the lake is the Wicklow Way, a long-distance waymarked walking trail.

Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most beautiful and peaceful destinations and attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe.

For centuries, people have been attracted to the valley of the two lakes for its spectacular view, rich history, abundant wildlife, and archaeology.

How to access  Glendalough lakes and monuments

The lakes and monuments are accessible in all seasons at any time of the day. You can reach them all on foot, while the car parks may have the barrier down early in the morning and late in the evening.

Activities to do in Glendalough

Golf. There are different levels of golf courses in Roundwood, Glenmalure, Aughrim, and a few other places.

Walking/climbing and hiking. The Wicklow is recognized for the beauty of its landscapes. The very famous walk would be the Wicklow Way which stretches to some 130 kilometers.

Angling. Fishing with a rod for those interested to do river fishing.

Cycling. The diverse landscape of Glendalough offers a range of routes ideal for both beginners and experienced cyclists. If you are interested, you can rent a bike from Rathdrum or Roundwood.

Paddling and swimming. Paddling and swimming are recommended mainly on the eastern end of the Upper Lake because it’s quite sandy, but the authorities warn visitors that they do so at their own risk. For a while, for safety reasons, swimming was not permitted, so I don’t think it’s very safe. Plus, I’m sure it’s always pretty cold!

Hotels in Glendalough

All around Glendalough and Wicklow National Park, you will find plenty of hotels for all types of travelers and budgets. Here are some of the most popular hotels in Glendalough and its surroundings.

  • Glendalough Glamping. Located in Laragh, in Wicklow County, some 4km from Glendalough, this accommodation is in direct contact with nature and offers amenities such as WiFi connection, barbecue, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, and kettle. Included in the booking is also private parking.
  • Heather House. If you prefer the privacy of an apartment, Heather House is a cozy bed and breakfast in Laragh providing free WiFi connection, a garden, a restaurant and à la carte breakfast every morning.
  • Tudor Lodge B&B. This lovely B&B in Laragh provides comfy rooms and cozy cottages equipped with all modern facilities including flat-screen TV and modern bathrooms. Not far, you will find pubs and restaurants, and all around you will be surrounded by lush greenery. Even though your Glendalough trip will take one day, it’s likely that here you will want to stay longer.

How to get to Glendalough from Dublin?

There are a few ways to reach Glendalough from Dublin City:

  • By car. If you are driving, take the N11/M11 south to Kilmacanogue village for some 24km, where you will see the sign to Glendalough. Exit the N11 and follow the R755 to Laragh village for another 25km. Stay on the main road that will become the R756 and after 2km you will reach the valley of Glendalough.
  • By bus. St. Kevin’s Bus private company travels from Dublin city center to Glendalough twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. From Glendalough to Dublin, they operate three times a day. Make sure you check the timetable because you really don’t want to miss the bus.
  • With a private tour. There are several private tour companies operate tours to the Wicklow Mountains National Park, especially Glendalough. This one will take you also to the medieval city of Kilkenny, alongside Glendalough.
about me: Angela Corrias
About the author

I'm Angela Corrias, an Italian journalist, photographer, and travel writer located in the heart of Italy's capital. Welcome to my website, your comprehensive source for your travels and expert guidance for crafting your dream travel experience.

15 thoughts on “Discover Glendalough, a fascinating natural and historic park in Ireland”

    • It’s very peaceful, when I went it was cloudy and little raining, as usual in Ireland. I would recommend, if you can, to plan it when it’s a sunny day and maybe even stay there for the night, I went only for one day, but I believe sunrise and sunset must be gorgeous.

  1. wow…just got back from eire a few days ago. i miss that island so much. our group went to glendalough and man….this picture is gorgeous but nothing but the reality can show how wonderful the lake and monastery really is. in other words…everyone go to ireland!
    glendalough is a short drive from dublin and definitely worth it. as for the comment above me…good luck ‘planning’ for a sunny day, they came at their own discretion


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