Located just to the south of our wonderful capital, Wicklow is absolutely bustling with amazing sights, sounds, tastes, smells and people.
Some of them you’ll never have heard of – and some of them you’ll know, but have never fully appreciated.
Either way, here are 11 reasons to hit up the Garden of Ireland right now.
1. Bray seafront
They call Bray the gateway to the Garden of Ireland – and the seafront is very much the jewel in that particular crown. Or the handle of the gate, if we’re really going to force the metaphor.
Exactly one mile long, it’s full of energy and buzz on even the dreariest and dullest of days – and when the sun comes out, you might as well be on the Costa del Sol.
2. The Cliff Walk
Sure you’re out for a walk on the seafront – and you may as well keep going.
This walk connects Bray to Greystones, overlooking the famous train line engineered by Brunel himself, and is an absolutely stunning way to get from one town to the next.
3. The food and drink
Despite the fact it’s not even in the county, we’ve taken the liberty of describing Bray as the ‘casual dining capital of Dublin’ on these pages before.
And with the awesome selection of places to eat and drink here – and right throughout the county – it’s easy to see why. Sure wouldn’t you need it after all that walking you’ve been doing?
4. Brittas Bay
Bray beach is deadly and all – but it’s stony as hell.
If you’re the type who believes beaches should be long, interrupted stretches of golden sandy loveliness, then Brittas Bay is where you need to be. Absolutely stunning.
Speaking of stunning – one of the most talked-about natural areas in the entire country, there really are few better places to go walking, strolling, relaxing or exploring.
Named after its two lakes (Gleann Dá Locha means ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’), it’s only a short trip from Bray by car, while the St Kevin’s coach service can also get you there.
6. Bray Bowl
And now, for a very different kind of beauty; that of a 16lb ball, curving gently towards the front-centre pin on its way to crafting a perfect Strike.
There really is no feeling quite like it.
7. Kilruddery House
The stately home of Lord Meath, now open to the public – it’s also home to Hell & Back, the race series for the ever-so-slightly deluded. I mean brave.
As well as this guy, who clearly LOVES it there…
8. The Sugarloaf
Part of the Hell & Back course, the Little Sugarloaf is a perfect stroll for people of all fitness abilities. Its big sister – the creatively named Great Sugarloaf – is a bit trickier, but far more rewarding.
And those views from the top?
9. … and Enniskerry
If you fancy breathtaking beauty, but without the altitude, then this little village in the north of the county is where you need to be.
A throwback to when we really cared what our towns looked like – the pride of the locals can be felt right throughout every shop, café and pub.
10. The amusements
There was a time when you couldn’t mention Bray without someone asking about the amusements – in fact, local singer-songwriter and Mercury Prize winner Fionn Regan even alluded to it in the title of his hit song Put A Penny In The Slot.
It may not be as famed an association today – but these places are still a damn good place to have a date. Particularly if you’re the competitive sort…
11. Bray Heritage Centre
For a town that really only came into its own within the last century, Bray has a remarkable history that stretches all the way back to Norman times.
It’s all laid bare in the excellent but underrated Heritage Centre on the town’s Main Street – because who doesn’t love a bit of blood and gore on a Saturday afternoon?
An overview of the town that simply can’t be beat… unless, of course, you traipse up to the top of Bray Head…