The journey to the Glendalough Monastic Site is one of the most rewarding day trips you can make from Dublin. The drive through the Wicklow Mountains is nothing but splendid and the setting of Glendalough is spectacular. Add the fact that this can be enjoyed without charge and you have a sure winner.
- 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 centre.
- Wicklow Mountains National Park nearby.
- Driving to Glendalough can be complicated.
- One of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland.
- Connected to Saint Kevin - whose patience allowed birds to breed in his outstretched hand.
- Woodland and lakeside walks add to the attraction of the area.
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 centre 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.