Wicklow Way Bus Tour
If you had to think about Ireland as a color, what color would that be? Let me go ahead and guess and say you thought about the color green. Of course you did, and not without a reason! Ireland is known, among other things, for its magnificent green landscapes and scenery. That being said, there is a part of the country commonly known “the Garden of Ireland”. Now imagine how colorful and fresh that place must be! I am referring to the Wicklow Mountains, a place renowned for its rich history and its stunning landscapes, only 16 km south of Dublin and just one hour away by bus from the city.
Our friends at Gray Line offer a fantastic one-day tour for people looking to visit this part of the country, and it’s called “the Wicklow Way Tour”, which takes you on a trip through some of Ireland’s most imposing scenery in the Wicklow area. I got in touch with them and went on one of their tours, and up ahead I will share my experience with you!
Ready, set, explore!
For those of you in the Dublin area, joining one of the Wicklow Way Tours is as easy as going to the O’Connell Street and looking for the red buses from Gray Line. I did this and as soon as I got into the bus was greeted by the friendly bus driver and our awesome tour guide, who kept us entertained all the way with interesting facts and stories from every place we passed by, all of them accompanied of course by some classic Irish sarcasm! The very first stage of the tour takes you through a portion of Dublin, as the bus drives away from the city. We were able to see the Samuel Beckett Bridge (known for its sleek harp shape) and the memorial to the Irish men and women who passed away during the Great Famine.
Once out of the city center, our first stop was Bray. This town, which also happens to be a sea resort, is known for its peaceful coastline and beach promenade. We were given half an hour to explore a bit and walk on the beach. The view from Bray Head (picture below) is stunning. Bray was a cool, short stop to start the trip. Once we were done there we headed back to the bus and off we went to our next destination.
Stop at the side of the road
At one point on our way to our main destination (Glendalough) we stopped at a somewhat hidden valley just on the side of the road. The tour guide advised us to go out and enjoy the view, which also offered a cool photo opportunity to brag to our friends on Facebook (Irish sarcasm: activated), and he was not lying!
At around midday we reached the main destination of our trip: the fascinating town of Glendalough, with its impressive monastic settlement and cemetery. The story behind this place, known as Saint Kevin’s Church is as follows: Saint Kevin arrived to the area in the VI century and lived there in the upper lake on a cave. He then founded the monastery, which flourished despite repeated Viking raids throughout medieval times. The monastery is not only very popular among tourist and nature/history lovers; it is also attractive to pilgrims, since the Pope once said “seven visits to Glendalough have the same indulgence value as one visit to Rome”. Aside from this, Saint Kevin’s Church is also considered to be the best preserved settlement of its kind in all of Ireland. Definitely worth the visit!
After walking around the monastery ruins we were given time and instructions to reach the two famous lakes which give Glendalough its name (Glendalough is Gaelic for “valley of the two lakes”). After a short walk we reached the first one and were immediately left speechless by the beauty of the view:
Glendalough is really a spectacular place and totally worth the visit. If you want to stay overnight in order to enjoy the scenery in a more relaxed way, we heartily invite you to stay at our Glendalough International Hostel!
After spending some time at the lakes we headed back to the bus, which took us to the last stop in our trip: the little village of Avoca. This charming town situated on the Avoca River is well known for its weaving industry, Avoca Handweavers, which owns the oldest working woolen mill in Ireland and is one of the world’s oldest manufacturing companies. It is also Ireland’s oldest surviving business. We didn’t get to go to the famous Handweaver Mills, but we did make it to Fitzgerald’s Pub for lunch, where I had a warm bowl of Irish stew, which tasted like heaven after a day of walking outside in the fresh, crisp mountain air.
After that we headed back to Dublin with a full belly, tired feet and a happy heart. The Wicklow Way Tour is definitely a cool experience and a very convenient and easy way to experience Ireland’s amazing nature first hand. It is also a cool one-day trip if you are around the Dublin area! If you go on the trip, I recommend you take some warm clothes and comfy shoes with you and of course some sort of photographic device to record the experience (I’m sure you will!).
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