Whether it’s cyclists escaping the hustle and bustle of the nearby capital city, visitors hunting some stunning scenery, or locals enjoying the delights on their doorstep, Wicklow has long been regarded as one of Ireland’s finest cycling spots. Aptly nicknamed the Garden County, its rolling mountains, pristine beaches, and unique attractions such as the country’s highest waterfall make it a must-visit destination for those seeking an impressive and enriching experience.
We discover the county’s best cycling hotspots, facilities and things to do across the hills and valleys of this glorious corner of Leinster, perfect for some new year cycling inspiration!
In the saddle
Occupying the largest area of continuous high ground in the whole of Ireland, the Wicklow Mountains covers a 3000m2 area, offering a wealth of opportunities for adventure and discovery across the county:
- For those seeking a challenging cycle, a loop around the Glendalough Round Tower from Laragh is sure to excite any avid pedaller.
- This route starts off at the Glendalough visitor car park, before heading north towards Blessington, which promises breath-taking views across Poulaphouca Reservoir.
- The loop then brings you back south via Ballyknockan, where you’ll finish at the starting point.
- History buffs will find plenty to pique their interest, too; Glendalough Valley is home to a Monastic Site which dates to the 10th and 11th centuries amongst this rugged landscape. With a visitor centre, amazing walks and cycle routes aplenty, it’s a popular destination for fitness fanatics and those who simply love the great outdoors.
- If you’re looking for a more leisurely jaunt, then Belmont Demesne offers several off-road trails which are widely suitable for all the family.
- Expect gentle forest loops around this working farm, nestled between Bray and Greystones.
- Movie fanatics may also recognise Arthur’s Barn from the hit 2004 movie King Arthur!
- As a challenging 42km route, The Sally Gap is a great option for testing your endurance.
- Promising stunning views of Lough Tay, this route starts off in Blessington and heads south towards Hollywood and Laragh, before looping back to meet your starting point.
- Don’t miss the Glenmacnass waterfall and the charming village of Laragh en route!
- If you’re dreaming of a leisurely ride paired with jaw-dropping views, this 34km loop is sure to get your heart racing.
- Head through quiet roads at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, following the route of the annual Tour of the Falling Leaves.
- Be sure to stop off for a delicious coffee and cake at the Tinahely Farm Shop.
Ballinastoe Mountain Bike Park
- A 14km mountain biking trail, this route takes you through a nice mix of open moorland and dense forest.
- As a fully sign posted route, this was one of the first trail centres built in the country, and also boasts a repair shop and café on site.
- Starting at €30 per day, the park is perfect for both experienced mountain bikers and those looking to try out MTB.
Eat, sleep, repeat
Home to Ireland’s largest national park, highest waterfall and biggest forest cover, Wicklow is the perfect base for any trip, with the county offering a wide range of things to do across the board.
Bray is the county’s most populous town, sitting on the border between Dublin and Wicklow. With its fair share of hotels, bars and restaurants, it makes for an ideal base for your Wicklow adventures.
Only a ten-minute drive away, the world-renowned Powerscourt Estate is a must-visit, with its surrounding garden and parkland being regarded as the 3rd best garden in the world according to National Geographic.
Well connected, you can reach Dublin city centre via DART in as little as 40 minutes. There are also a number of regular bus services with other parts of Wicklow.
Other towns in the county well worth a visit include Greystones, with its impressive beaches and sea-view cafes, and Wicklow Town, known for the town’s famed Gaol, a former prison turned museum and reportedly one of the most haunted buildings in the world!
If you’re looking for more staycation inspiration, take a look at how you can have a sustainable staycation in beautiful Connemara.