The Bottom Line
- One of the most important early Christian sites in Ireland.
- Tranquil setting near lakes in secluded valley with good walking routes.
- Access to site is free, charge only applies to visitor center.
- Driving to Glendalough can be complicated.
- One of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland.
- Connected to St Kevin - whose patience allowed birds to breed in his outstretched hand.
- Woodland and lakeside walks add to the attraction of the area.
Guide Review - Glendalough Monastic Site and Lakes
South of Dublin in a remote valley in the Wicklow Mountains you will find the Glendalough Monastic Site. If you can find it. Unless you take a bus tour you will have to follow the rare signs for Laragh. This insufficient signposting shaves half a point from this otherwise 5-star-attraction.
Why five stars? First of all you have one of the most important early Christian sights here. And its setting is simply beautiful, in a valley beside tranquil lakes. Lovers of history and/or architecture can indulge in two round towers, St Kevin's Kitchen (actually a church) and a cathedral (ruin). Lovers of nature can simply enjoy the walks along the lakes. Both aspects combined make Glendalough a top choice for a visit.
From the spacious car park you are guided to the visitor center where a very good exhibition and an audiovisual presentation are available for a fee. But you can also choose to go directly to the monastic site - no entry fee is charged.
Once actually at the site explore the remains of the monastery and have a few short walks along the well-maintained paths to find that perfect angle for a photo. Expect to spend an hour at least from entering the car park to leaving it, adding another hour if you are exploring the visitor center. If you plan on taking a walk along the lakes you need more time to spend.
One word of warning - injuries and even fatalities are not unknown when visitors decided to "explore" and stumbled upon sudden drops. So be safe and stay on the paths.