7 awesome things to do in Glendalough
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, there aren’t many itineraries that don’t include a visit to Glendalough. Even though it is always busy with tourists, the sheer size and amount of things to do in this old monastic town means that it doesn’t feel overcrowded. We’ve put together a list of things to do in Glendalough to make sure you get the most out of one of Ireland’s most iconic sites.
1. Glendalough monastic site and Visitor Centre
Glendalough has a rich and fascinating history, from the time St. Kevin started living there as a hermit, through the construction of the monastic settlement and up to the modern day. Even though many of the buildings are falling down on the Glendalough monastic site, the visitor’s centre has a model of what the area would’ve looked like back when it was known for its seven churches. The round tower in Glendalough is iconic, and hard to miss because it is one of the only complete buildings. These towers were built so well because they had to withstand attacks looking to raid the wealthy monasteries. Allegedly a Viking group attacked the monastery on Christmas Day in 835, so this tower saw some use!
2. Upper and Lower lakes hike
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Glendalough and it’s a pretty easy hike, only taking between 2 and 4 hours to do the full loop around both lakes. Starting from the Visitor’s Centre, simply keep the lakes to your left and climb up and around the loop. There are some boggy areas, but railway sleepers have been put down and have good grips on them, so even in the rain, the hike has good footing. Take some lunch with you and enjoy it at the top with a stunning view before making your way back down. If you want to be extra safe, you can take a look at this map of the trial. Make sure to bring plenty of water, as there’s no water available until you’re back down!
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3. Glendalough for pub grub
After the hike, you’ll have worked up a hunger, or at least a thirst, and the pub in the Glendalough Hotel, at the entrance to the park has some of the best pub grub you’ll get. The food is simple traditional Irish food, but it’s exactly what you’ll be craving after the walk, especially if you’re hiking in the colder months.
4. Festival on Good Friday
If you find yourself in Ireland during Easter, you’re in luck! This is one of the most unique things to do in Glendalough. The BD Festival has been on Good Friday for the last 10 years! You can’t buy alcohol anywhere in Ireland on Good Friday, so this event is BYOB, and music fans flock to Glendalough for the one-day festival! Because they can’t sell alcohol at the event, ticket prices are around €40, and includes very few DJs and bands that you’ll know, but who doesn’t want to go to a rave in a forest?
5. Sally Gap and Guinness Lake
On your way from Dublin to Glendalough, the direct route isn’t always the best route, and if you take a drive through Sally Gap, you’ll never want to take the main road ever again! This is one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland, but be careful, these roads are narrow and have sheep all over them! Keep an eye out for Lough Tay, famously known as Guinness Lake not only because it is owned by the Guinness Family, but because of the imported white sand along the top designed to make it look like a big pint of Guinness!
6. Glendalough Whiskey Distillery
This whiskey isn’t as old as Glendalough itself but is, in fact, one of the many new Irish Whiskey Distilleries that are leading the recent whiskey revolution in Ireland. This is still a small distillery and so has the advantage of allowing visitors to actually see the whiskey being made, rather than simply being told, or seeing it on a screen. They of course offer tastings of their whiskey, gin, and Poitín (Irish moonshine) along with the tour.
7. Make a weekend of it
Even though Glendalough is great to visit at any time, if you get an early start you’ll basically have the whole place to yourself. The best way to do this is to stay in one of the many hotels or in the Youth Hostel if you’re on a budget. This is a great way to get a head start on the tour buses that come later in the day, super early risers can catch a beautiful sunrise from the top of the Upper Lake.
So there you have it! Have we missed anything? Let us know. Want to see stunning Glendalough for yourself? Join our day trip to Glendalough and County Wicklow from Dublin
where you will see some of the most beautiful scenery Ireland has to offer. It’s not to be missed. Reserve your space today!