Day Trip to Glendalough from Dublin, Ireland

Glendalough (Gleann Dá Loch, “Valley of the Two Lakes”), in the heart of Wicklow Mountains National Park, is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the world. Glendalough is a valley between two lakes. The entire area is steeped in history and archaeology and abounds with native flora and fauna. The rich scenery is truly breath-taking.

St. Kevin' s Church

St. Kevin’ s Church

History of Glendalough

A monastery was founded in the valley in the sixth century by St Kevin and the site quickly developed as one of the most important ecclesiastical centers in Medieval Ireland.Mining in Glendalough has been practiced since at least the 1790s and up until 1957 when lead, zinc and small quantities of silver were extracted. At the peak of production 2000 local miners were employed but work in the tunnels was very difficult because of flooding and poor ventilation which caused high incidences of lung and chest problems. Pit ponies also worked in the mines, carting the ore from one location to another. Remains of the mining villages can still be easily accessed. The 20,000 hectare National Park was established to preserve the area’s unique wildlife and ecology. Keep an eye out for those lovely wild geese which have made this valley their home!

Winter at Upper Lake, Glendalough

Winter at Upper Lake, Glendalough

What to See at Glendalough

It’s clear why St Kevin chose this stunning valley for his foundation. Explore its many small stone churches, the impressively tall round tower and the intricately decorated high crosses which are dotted around the valley. You can spend hours reading the many ancient tomb inscriptions and getting lost in its numerous ancient graveyards. Most of the remains of the monastic site date from the early medieval period, between the ninth and twelfth centuries. You can learn much more about the monastery at the modern visitor center.


What to do 

Free activities are held regularly in the park, including nature conservation workshops and field-trips. The area is ideal for walking at all levels, ranging from a short stroll around the ruins to demanding mountain hikes. If you enjoy walking there are lots of magnificent scenic lake and mountain walking trails nearby, including The Wicklow Way. Over half a million tourists visit Glendalough each year and at just an hour’s drive from Dublin City it is any tourist’s dream destination! While it attracts many tourists Glendalough has managed to preserve a feeling of seclusion and tranquility; no wonder it was such a popular pilgrimage destination in medieval times. The splendid nearby hotel offers some scrumptious delights but you may have to wait quite a while to be served in the summer season!

How to reach 

Glendalough is a 1 hour drive from Dublin City and while there is no public bus service, a private company called St Kevin’s Bus, operates a daily service for €20 return. 

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