If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed I love county Wicklow. However, despite it being right next to Dublin (where I have been based for the last 6 years), I only actually discovered this wonderful county recently and for quite a random reason. My parents would usually come to see me once a year, and after 5 visits to Dublin, let’s just say I started running our of places to show them around. So I went to the tourism office in Dublin and picked up a couple of day-trip brochures. I picked a day trip to Wicklow with Irlanda en Espanol since they were the only company offering trips in Spanish (my parents don’t speak or understand English), and honestly, the trip to Wicklow was one of the cheapest ones. Luckily for all of us, it turned out to be the best decision I ever took, with Wicklow becoming one of my favorite counties! The trip encompassed Powerscourt Gardens, Glendalough, and a final stop at Johnnie Fox’s pub, but for the purpose of this post, I am focusing on the gardens.
These extremely beautiful gardens are located in the village of Enniskerry in County Wicklow. They are definitely one of kind, and my favorite gardens of all the ones I have ever visited. In fact, I don’t think it is just me: they were voted number 3 gardens in the world by National Geographic. Although they did put Versailles in number 1, and I hate Versailles, so I guess we will have to agree to disagree there. But anyway, back on point: even though they are not particularly big (it takes 1 to 2h to see them all at a leisurely pace), they manage to pack such a variety of wonderful and contrasting landscapes I didn’t think possible!
1. Italian Garden
The italian gardens will be the first thing you will find directly in front of you as soon as you enter. You will notice them once you have actually recovered from the initial beauty overdose. Trust me, it takes a couple of minutes! As if the gardens weren’t pretty enough, from this point you will also be able to see part of the amazing surrounding Wicklow landscapes, including the imposing Sugar Loaf.
2. Tower Valley
We usually do our visits in a clockwise manner, starting to the left of the entrance. That means that the Pepperpot Tower is always our first stop. Tucked away in the trees, some of which are over 200 years old, it really feels like it just popped out of a fairytale. If you climb up the winding stairs that bring you to the top you will find some cool canyons that serve as fun photo ops. The view, although not mind blowing, is good too (personally, I always go up for the canyons).
3. Japanese Garden
As you come out of the forested area, you will quite suddenly find yourself looking down at the Japanese Garden. Descending stairs will bring you down to this pretty area which includes a couple of streams, small bridges and even a grotto! If I had to pick my favorite part of the gardens I think this would be it, although be warned: it seems to be other people’s favorite too because it is usually the busiest.
4. Triton Lake
There are a couple of different lanes leading out of the Japanese Gardens, but most of them lead to this spectacular lake. Although there is nothing particularly special about the lake in itself, it is the breathtaking views that really make this part of the gardens special. In fact, it is this view that you will most likely see associated with the gardens in tourism ads. It is such a pretty and peaceful sight, particularly on a clear day! Also, did you know that the fountain is based on the fountain in the Piazza Barberini in Rome? I didn’t!
5. Pets’ cemetery and Dolphin Pond
As you leave Triton Lake you will find yourself crossing through a forest again before you are faced with a choice. The traditional route will continue on past the pets’ cemetery, which as the name suggests, is a rather strange but cute corner of the park where all kind of pets belonging to the families that once lived there are buried. It may sound a little creepy, but it is kind of fun to walk around reading the different types of animals and their names on the different graves. Plus, I think it’s funny how the brochure that they give you as you enter the gardens describes this as ‘the biggest pets’ cemetery in Ireland… I mean, are there more? I had never heard of such a thing before! Another quirky detail that makes these gardens so special.
The other choice is to take a detour along the rhododendron walk, which is a loop walk that ends at the pets’ cemetery and that is definitely worth taking if you have the time.
The last stop in this area is the Dolphin Pond. Originally intended as a fish pond, it is tucked away among the trees in one of the quietest areas of the park.
6. Walled gardens and Julia’s memorial
The Walled Gardens are one of the oldest parts of the gardens as well as the last stop before you find yourself at the Powerscourt House again. This area is usually what I would picture in my head when somebody says garden, except a lot prettier! And I don’t know how they manage but I have visited at different times of the year and it always looks great. Also, if you are into flowers, this is heaven.
Some final information on these wonderful gardens:
- You don’t need to book a tour to visit them. They are actually easily accessible from Dublin. You can take Dublin Bus number 44 from the city into Enniskerry. I think the gardens are about 300m from where the bus drops you.
- Tickets are 8.50 euro (7.50 if you are a student), and you can literally spend your whole day in there.
- There is an Avoca Store and Cafe in the Powerscourt House. If you haven’t heard of Avoca before, it is a cute Irish store that sells a lot of Irish products as well as nice scones. I have never really been much of an Avoca fan, but Irish people generally love it.
- Check out their website: http://powerscourt.com/ They even have what is at bloom on the different times of the year!