Deep green hillsides in Wicklow, Ireland.

Where to Stay in Wicklow: The Best Areas, Towns, & Hotels (2023)

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Wondering where to stay in Wicklow? Keep reading for my expert picks!

County Wicklow is known as the Garden of Ireland because of its lush wild spaces. With the Wicklow Mountains, a section of coastline with beaches and swimming spots, and several charming small towns, there’s so much to explore in this Irish county.

I lived in Wicklow for over a year when I first moved to Ireland, and I spent that time exploring the area’s iconic attractions and hidden gems. My absolute favorite spot in Wicklow is Glendalough, a glacial lake surrounded by a great hiking trail and adjacent to a set of monastic ruins that you can explore for free. 

Wicklow is full of hidden gems, but the hike up Trooperstown and a walk through the Clara Lara Woods are undoubtedly two of the best – and you’ll rarely see tourists visiting either spot.

I’ve stayed with family when visiting Wicklow, so this list is all of the hotels, B&Bs, and other stays I’d recommend for exploring the area. Before including them on this list, I considered their locations, ratings on several sites, guest reviews, and photos to ensure that I put together the best possible recommendations.

Table of Contents
Where to stay in Wicklow
Camping in Wicklow
Getting around Wicklow
Is Wicklow worth visiting
What to do in Wicklow
Visiting Wicklow FAQs
Conclusion: Where to stay in Wicklow

Photo shows a stream crossing along the Spinc Trail in Glendalough. This guide for where to stay in Glendalough is organized around visting Glendalough.
A stream crossing along the Spinc Trail in Glendalough.

Where to Stay in Wicklow

County Wicklow is a rather large place, so it can be hard to know where to stay to make the most of your visit.

One of the most popular areas is Glendalough, a small Irish town located near a stunning glacial lake of the same name. The lake is set in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, and the ruins of a 17th century monastic settlement are located a short drive away.

Alternatively, you can choose to stay near Glendalough in the greater Wicklow Mountains. There are charming B&Bs throughout the area that would be perfect for your holiday. Finally, you can choose a hotel or B&B that showcases Irish culture. 

No matter where you stay, you’ll be close enough to drive to other sites and attractions within Wicklow, like the town of Bray, the Killruddery House, or the Avoca in Kilmacanogue.

Photo shows a view from the Spinc Trail at Glendalough. Planning how to access Glendalough is one of the top things to consider when deciding where to stay in Wicklow.
A view of Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains from the Spinc Trail.

Where to Stay in Glendalough 

The small towns of Glendalough and Lauragh offer the quickest and easiest access to both the monastic ruins and the stunning Upper Lake of Glendalough. Both of these towns would be perfect places to stay for a quick visit to Glendalough and to spend some time in the Wicklow Mountains.

There are a couple of restaurants and pubs in town, but options will be limited. There is no grocery store in the town of Glendalough and the nearest convenience store is in Laragh, a 5 minute drive or 30 minute walk. The nearest supermarket is in Wicklow Town, a 30 minute drive.

A view of Glendalough lake from the beach near the car park.
A lakefront view of Glendalough

📍Budget Recommendation: Glendalough Youth Hostel

The Glendalough Youth Hostel is located in the town of Glendalough, perfect for a day of exploring the ruins and hiking the Spinc Trail. From the Glendalough Youth Hostel, it’s a 15 minute walk to the Upper Lake car park and only 5 minutes to the monastic ruins.

The Youth Hostel offers breakfast for an additional fee. Reviews note that there is a well equipped kitchen available for guests to use, and the hostel sells some kitchen basics at a markup.

Alternatively, you can plan to eat at the nearby restaurants, but the selections are likely to be limited.

Book your stay at the Glendalough Youth Hostel

📍Mid Range Recommendation: Heather House

The Heather House is located just up the road from Glendalough in the town of Laragh. If you have a car, this is the perfect base from which to explore Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains. 

For its part, the Heather House is an adorable inn with spacious, comfortable rooms that are well appointed. Complimentary tea and coffee are available throughout the day in a central area. 

Breakfast is not included at the Heather House, but you can eat at the onsite pub, the Wicklow Heather.

Because the area is so remote, you’ll love having a great pub and restaurant just steps away. If you’re tired from a long day of hiking or you’d like to have a few pints in the evening, it’ll be nice to not have a long commute back to your hotel. 

A bed, chairs, table, and television in the Heather House in Wicklow
The Heather House. Photo courtesy of the Heather House.

Book your stay at the Heather House

📍Luxury Recommendation: The Glendalough Hotel

The location of the Glendalough Hotel couldn’t be better, especially if you want to see the monastic ruins and hike around the lake. This historic hotel was built in the 1870s and the beautiful lobby is part of the original building. Several areas of the hotel offer incredible forest views of the Wicklow Mountains. 

The rooms are generally comfortable and adequately appointed, with friendly staff. The restaurant onsite offers breakfast and dinner, so you can explore the area without a car, if needed.

However, many guests were disappointed by the breakfast options; you might be better off eating a meal or two at the nearby Wicklow Heather. 

Candidly, the Heather House and other hotels on this list have better ratings, so location is really the top reason to consider the Glendalough Hotel. 

A room at the Glendalough Hotel, one of the best places to stay in Wicklow
A room at the Glendalough Hotel. Photo courtesy of the Glendalough Hotel.

Book your stay at the Glendalough Hotel

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    Where to Stay in the Wicklow Mountains 

    Glendalough isn’t your only option if you’d like to stay in the Wicklow Mountains. Here are some options in small towns and rural areas throughout Wicklow. Each of these stays are close to hiking, woods walks, and charming small Irish towns. 

    📍Budget Recommendation: Lus Mor

    Lus Mor is a hostel and Bed & Breakfast located in the small town of Roundwood, about a 23 minute drive from the Glendalough Upper Lake car park. In addition to being centrally located within the county, Lus Mor is strategically located along the Wicklow Way, a thru-hiking trail through the Wicklow Mountains. 

    If you’re hoping to fit in plenty of hikes and exploration of the nearby mountains, Lus Mor is a great choice. Note that you’ll need a car to fully explore Wicklow from this location, as it is a 25 minute drive from Bray to the north and a 40 minute drive from Brittas Bay beach to the south. 

    Guests at Lus Mor rave about the fabulous breakfast offerings, sparkling clean rooms, and central location.

    Book your stay at Lus Mor 

    📍Mid Range Recommendation: FOREST VIEW Woodland Lodge

    The FOREST VIEW Woodland Lodge is conveniently located just outside of the town of Laragh, less than 5 kilometers from the Glendalough Monastery. This B&B is a special spot in Wicklow, with lovely rooms, an accommodating host, and attention paid to every detail. 

    Visitors loved the homemade breakfast every morning, which includes handmade raspberry jam and fresh scones. Several reviewers noted that the Woodland Lodge was their favorite stay during their visit to Ireland. 

    You’ll be a short drive from the restaurants and pubs in Laragh, and a bit further from other attractions in Wicklow. For this reason, I’d recommend the Woodland Lodge to visitors with a car for exploring the area. 

    The exterior of the Forest View Woodland Lodge
    Forest View Woodland Lodge. Photo courtesy of Woodland Lodge.

    Book your stay at the FOREST VIEW Woodland Lodge

    📍Luxury Recommendation: Chester Beatty Inn

    The beautiful Chester Beatty Inn in Ashford is a great luxury accommodation near the M-11, closer to the coast than any other stay on this list. The inn is cozy, welcoming, and conveniently located for exploring both Wicklow Town and Glendalough. 

    At Chester Beatty Inn, the rooms are spotlessly clean, the staff are helpful, and the beds are comfortable. 

    Breakfast is included each morning – a full Irish/English breakfast, along with vegan and vegetarian options, is cooked to order for each guest. Guests loved the food at Chester Beatty’s restaurant and noted that the kitchen uses exceptionally high quality ingredients. 

    Pillows tastefully arranged at the Chester Beatty Inn, one of the best places to stay in Wicklow
    A room at Chester Beatty Inn. Photo courtesy of Chester Beatty Inn.

    Book your stay at the Chester Beatty Inn

    Where to Stay for a Local Irish Experience

    If you’re looking for a local Irish experience, you can’t do much better than a stay in a rural Irish town. Although most people visit the populated parts of Ireland like Dublin or Cork, a large part of Ireland is set in the countryside. 

    A stay in a rural B&B or inn can offer insight into the more unique aspects of Irish culture and more opportunities to talk to locals. 

    Here are some of my top picks for stays in Wicklow if you’re looking for traditional hospitality and a local experience in Wicklow.

    📍Your Budget Recommendation: Stirabout Lane B&B

    Stirabout Lane B&B is a classic Irish Bed and Breakfast, set in the center of the town of Rathdrum and a 20 minute drive from the Glendalough Upper Lake car park. 

    This B&B is cozy, with guests raving about the comfortable, spacious rooms and a homey shared sitting area. The breakfast, including vegetarian options, at this B&B also received high marks from many guests.

    Rathdrum is centrally located within the County of Wicklow, so it’s a perfect spot to stay while exploring the area. Despite its central location and proximity to the Wicklow Mountains, Rathdrum is a small and very quiet Irish town.

    Book your stay at Stirabout Lane B&B

    📍Your Mid Range Recommendation: Wicklow Way Lodge

    The Wicklow Way Lodge is a classic Bed and Breakfast located near the Wicklow Way thru-hiking trail, about 15 minutes by car from the Glendalough Upper Lake car park. The lodge is set in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, offering a serene setting to unwind after a day of exploring. 

    A sunny view of the garden at Wicklow Way Lodge in Wicklow, Ireland
    The Wicklow Way Lodge. Photo courtesy of the Wicklow Way Lodge.

    Guests often rave about the breakfast served at the Wicklow Way Lodge, which includes a vegetarian option. 

    The hosts at the Wicklow Way Lodge take pride in providing top notch hospitality and will be happy to provide recommendations for local places to visit, eat, and things to do while you’re staying in the area. 

    A sunny view of a double bedroom at the Wicklow Way Lodge in Wicklow
    A room at the Wicklow Way Lodge. Photo courtesy of the Wicklow Way Lodge.

    Book your stay at the Wicklow Way Lodge

    📍Luxury Recommendation: Powerscourt Hotel

    For a very luxurious and unique stay, book a night or more at the Powerscourt Hotel, Autograph Collection in Enniskerry. This hotel is located in the Powerscourt Estate, a historic country estate that is set on what was originally a 13th century castle. 

    The property is beautiful, overlooking the forests of the Wicklow Mountains and only steps from the Powerscourt House & Gardens.

    A view of the Wicklow Mountains and a fountain at Powerscourt Hotel.
    The view from a room at Powerscourt Hotel. Photo courtesy of MHL Hotel Collection.

    Inside the Powerscourt Hotel, Autograph Collection, you’ll find an elegantly designed hotel with modern amenities. Guests love the spacious rooms, beautiful main foyer, onsite pub with food options into the evening, and delicious breakfast each morning.

    The Powerscourt Hotel is a 40 minute drive to the Upper Lake car park in Glendalough, and a 15 minute drive from the seaside town of Bray. It’s also the closest hotel to Dublin on this list, only a 40 minute drive from the airport or 35 minutes to the center of the city.

    A stately room at the Powerscourt Hotel in Wicklow
    A room in the Powerscourt Hotel. Photo courtesy of MHL Hotel Collection.

    Book your stay at the Powerscourt Hotel

    A fountain in the Powerscourt Garden

    Camping in Wicklow 

    If you have the appropriate gear and are prepared for the elements, you can save money and spend more time in nature by car camping while in Wicklow. 

    The best places to camp are in Glenmalure, where you can set up a tent along the Wicklow Way or in one of several well established (and free!) campsites. Note that camping is not permitted in the Glendalough Valley.

    Alternatively, you can always ask a farmer if they know where you can camp nearby. Often, they’ll offer you a spot on their land, so long as you Leave No Trace and take care of the space.

    I recommend that you start looking for a campsite as early in the day as possible to allow yourself maximum daylight and visibility.

    The view from my favorite campsite in Glenmalure.

    Glamping in Wicklow

    For a more luxurious camping experience, consider glamping in Wicklow. Glamping is like camping, but with more amenities and comforts of home. The adults-only Glendalough Glamping accommodation offers free wifi, a clean, shared kitchen for cooking your own meals, and a bed with linens and towels. 

    You can enjoy beautiful views from your glampsite, which is only a short drive from the Spinc Trail in Glendalough. The Wicklow Heather pub and restaurant is only a 10 minute walk up the road, so you can enjoy a few pints and/or dinner before returning to the glampsite. 

    Book your stay at Glendalough Glamping

    A view from the Clara Vale Woods
    A walking trail in the Clara Vale Woods while the bluebell flowers are in bloom.

    Getting Around Wicklow 

    Unless you’re only planning to see Glendalough, you’ll want to drive or rent a car in order to explore Wicklow. This part of Ireland is rural, with very limited public transit outside of major centers.

    Give yourself extra time when driving in Wicklow because it’s common for you to get stuck behind a tractor or held up by livestock crossing the road. 

    Alternatively, you can visit Glendalough by joining a tour that leaves from Dublin. These tours usually don’t allow enough time to hike around the lake, but you can see many of the major sites in the area. This day tour of the Wicklow Mountains includes a 90 minute guided walk, so you’ll have a chance to stretch your legs. 

    If you need to rely on public transit, check the bus schedules very carefully. It takes about 90 minutes to get from Dublin to Glendalough by bus, and there are only a few buses each day. 

    Book a rental car

    Lough Ouler, a heart shaped lake in the Wicklow Mountains. When deciding where to stay in the Wicklow Mountains, decide if you want to see sites like Lough Ouler.
    Lough Ouler, a heart-shaped lake in County Wicklow.

    Is Wicklow worth visiting?

    County Wicklow in Ireland is absolutely worth visiting, it’s one of my favorite spots in the country. With beautiful mountain views, swimmable beaches, and adorable small towns, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this part of the Irish countryside. 

    No visit to Wicklow would be complete without a visit to Glendalough. For this reason, visiting Glendalough is one of the most popular activities in Wicklow. You’ll find plenty of hiking, forest walks, charming pubs, and hidden gems to explore nearby.

    I also love to visit the Avoca in Kilmacanogue, one of the places I’ve missed most since moving to Cork. This shop and restaurant started as a local handweaver, but today has an adorable collection of gifts, specialty foods, and two onsite restaurants. 

    The purple heather in full bloom along a trail in Trooperstown.

    Is Wicklow Town Worth Visiting?

    It depends. Wicklow Town is worth visiting if you’ll be in the area for more than one day and you’re interested in seeing the gaol (jail). The seaside town has some restaurants, castle ruins, a famous seal who occasionally turns up at a local fishmonger, and a small organic shop that is great for picking up fresh produce. 

    If you’re only visiting County Wicklow for a day and want to see an Irish town, I’d recommend that you skip Wicklow Town and instead visit Bray, Greystones, and/or Enniskerry. 

    The Bray waterfront. Bray head, a small mountain, is visible in the distance. When deciding where to stay in Wicklow, decide if you'll want to visit Irish towns like Bray.
    A summertime view of Bray’s seafront. The cliff walk begins at the end of the beach.

    What to do in Wicklow

    There are so many wonderful things to do in Wicklow, it was hard to narrow them down for this post. 

    Wicklow is, first and foremost, an outdoor destination. You’ll want to spend some time exploring the beautiful Wicklow Mountains, including Glendalough and nearby Trooperstown. You could also swing by the much lesser known Clara Vale Woods for an easy and peaceful woods walk. 

    Bray and Greystones are charming seaside towns, connected by a cliff walk. You can park in one town, hike to the other, then take the train back for a half day activity. You could even stop for a sauna in Greystones or Bray to relax your tired muscles from a few days of hiking, as there are no hot springs in Ireland.

    Finally, check out at least one of the gardens in Wicklow. My three favorites are Powerscourt, Victor’s Way, and the Kilruddery House. You can roam the gardens, stop for a meditative self-care break, or just admire the careful curation that goes into maintaining them. 

    ✔ Hike the Spinc trail around Glendalough Upper Lake
    ✔ Visit Trooperstown
    ✔ Walk from Bray to Greystones on the Bray Head Cliff Walk
    ✔ Visit Powerscourt Gardens and Waterfall

    A view out over the Irish Sea from the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
    The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk.

    Visiting Wicklow FAQs

    Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Wicklow. 

    What is the main town in Wicklow? 

    The main town in Wicklow is called Wicklow Town, located along the coast about 50 minutes south of Dublin. It is home to the Wicklow Gaol, Black Castle, and the Brass Fox, a popular pub. 

    What is the most beautiful village in Wicklow?

    The most beautiful village in Wicklow is Enniskerry. It is an idyllic town that was used as a filming location for Disney’s Disenchanted movie during the summer of 2021.

    Photo shows a shop front that has been altered for the Disney movie Disenchanted. The sign reads "Beauty and the Book"
    An Enniskerry shop during the filming of Disney’s Disenchanted movie.

    What is the best part of the Wicklow Way? 

    The best section of the Wicklow Way is the section from Glendalough to Glenmalure. This stretch offers incredible views of the Wicklow Mountains and has plenty of restaurants and B&Bs where you can rest and refuel.  

    Is Wicklow Walkable?

    The center of Wicklow Town is walkable, but I’d strongly recommend that you rent a car when in Wicklow. The town of Wicklow is very small, so if you’d like to see any of the surrounding areas you’ll need to drive. 

    Conclusion: Where to Stay in Wicklow

    When deciding where to stay in Wicklow, you have several great choices. You could pick a centrally located spot near Glendalough, a stay elsewhere in the Wicklow Mountains, or even an accommodation that’s more focused on offering an authentic Irish experience. 

    County Wicklow is a beautiful place to visit, whether you’re on an extended trip through Europe or just in the county for a holiday. It could even be a great choice for a European workation away from the hustle and bustle of city life, so long as the wifi is strong enough. 

    Wherever you choose to stay, be sure to see some of the top sites in Wicklow. These include Glendalough, a garden like Powerscourt or Victor’s Way, and a section of the seaside. So long as you have a car, any of the stays on this list would be the perfect jumping off point for exploring County Wicklow.