Wicklow Town is the county town of County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland; in 2016 it had a population of 10,584. Its English name is simply Wicklow, probably from Wykinglo "Viking meadow", but the same name is also used for the county, so on these pages it's called "Wicklow Town" wherever ambiguity might arise. The Irish name is unrelated: Cill Mhantáin meaning "church of the toothless one", supposedly because a colleague of St Patrick got his teeth knocked out by hostile locals, but still succeeded in establishing a church here.
The River Vartry, which is dammed to supply water to Dublin near its source above Roundwood, reaches the coast 4 km north of Wicklow. There it's trapped behind a spit and forms a long lagoon before entering the sea through Wicklow harbour.
Trains run five times a day from Dublin Connolly via Tara Street, Pearse station, Dún Laoghaire, Bray and Greystones, taking 70 min to Wicklow. They continue south to Rathdrum, Gorey, Arklow, Enniscorthy, Wexford and Rosslare, which has ferries to Fishguard and Pembroke. 1 Wicklow railway station is north end of town by the R999 river bridge.
Bus 133 runs hourly from Dublin Amiens St (it doesn't use Busáras) via the city south side, Kilmacanogue, Newtown Mount Kennedy and Rathnew, taking 90 min to Wicklow. It sometimes extends to Dublin airport but usually you have to change in city centre.
Bus 740A is a faster service every couple of hours from Dublin Georges Quay via city south side, Kilmacanogue and Rathnew, taking 70 min to Wicklow and continuing to Arklow and Gorey. For Wexford and points south, change at Gorey onto the 740 from Dublin airport and city, which bypasses Wicklow.
By car from north or south follow N11 / M11.
Bus 133 runs past Mount Usher Gardens. You need your own wheels to reach Kilmacurragh Gardens.
The local taxi firm is 66100 Cabs tel +353 404 66100.
- 1 Wicklow Gaol, 1 Kilmantin Hill A67 Y337, ☏ . Daily Feb-Nov 10:30-16:30, Jan Feb 11:00-15:30. Notoriously harsh 18th C jail, which often held convicts awaiting transportation to the colonies. It was extended from 1822 and remained in use until 1924. As well as the standard tour, there's also an immersive virtual reality tour. Standard tour Adult €9.50, conc €8, child €6.50.
- Black Castle is the scrappy stump of a Norman fortress overlooking the harbour east breakwater, you just come for the view.
- The Franciscan Friary at the west end of Main Street was also built in Norman times. After the Dissolution it served as an armoury and court house before falling into picturesque ruin.
- 2 Wicklow Head 3 km south of town, is the most easterly point on the Republic of Ireland mainland: on a clear day you might glimpse Snowdonia. There are two lighthouses: the upper structure built 1781 has a front and rear tower. It was wrecked by lightning in 1831 but left as an unlit day-mark; it's available as a self-catering let. A second lighthouse was built lower down, where it was less likely to be obscured by low cloud. It was automated in 1994 and remains active.
- 3 Mount Usher Gardens, Ashford (off Jcn 16 of M11). Daily 10:00-17:00. Grand gardens laid out in 1868 along both banks of the river. No dogs or picnics. Adult €8, conc €7, child €4.
- 4 Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens, Kilmacurragh (6 km southwest of town). Daily 09:00-17:00. Gardens and arboretum laid out by the Acton family from 1712. They're now a branch of the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin. The Wicklow soil is acidic and suits species that don't thrive at Glasnevin, such as rhododendron and the monkey puzzle tree. The Acton's Queen Anne-style mansion alas is derelict and fenced off. Free.
- 5 Avondale House & Forest Park, Rathdrum, ☏ . House closed. 500 acres of forest and parkland with short and long walks. The grand mansion house was the birthplace and home of Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the campaign for Irish Home Rule 1880-90 until mired by scandal. The House is being refurbished so you can't visit.
- 6 Devil's Glen is a scenic ravine loud with waterfalls. Reach it by the lane off R763 ten km northwest of town.
- Golf courses nearby are Wicklow Golf Club on Dunbur Rd on the coast south edge of town, and Blainroe 5 km further south.
- Beach: don't bother with those in town. South is rocky, the centre is industrial, and access to the north is cut off by the railway. You need to drive south 15 km to find sand dunes and clean sand, at Silver Strand, Brittas Bay and Maheramore.
- Wicklow Regatta: snooty Cowes it's not, it's a family and fun event and even the sailing is likely to be in drag on wacky craft. It's held over 10 days in July / Aug, dates for 2021 are tbc.
- Round Ireland Yacht Race is for serious sailing. This is hosted by Wicklow Sailing Club every two years, with several boat classes including multi-hulls. The 2020 event was cancelled so the next is probably June 2022, tbc.
- The big store is Tesco northwest along the main road. It's open M-Sa 07:00-22:00, Su 08:00-22:00.
- There's an ATM at the Bank of Ireland.
- Brass Fox, 14 Leitrim Place A67 Y420 (east riverbank), ☏ . Su-Th 12:30-23:30, F Sa 12:30-01:00. Mostly traditional fare, gets consistently good reviews for quality and service.
- Lots of pizza, Chinese and Indian along Main Street. The Lighthouse serves good seafood.
- The standout is Brunel Restaurant at Tinakilly Country House, see Sleep.
- The Main Street strip includes Bridge Tavern (has rooms, see Sleep), Fitzpatrick's, The Mariner, Ernie's and Tà Sè's.
- Bridge Tavern, Bridge St, ☏ . Pub restaurant with decent rooms. Meals served M-Sa 09:00-21:00, Su 12:00-20:00. B&B double €120.
- Halpin's Town House, 1 Bachelor's Walk A67 E244, ☏ . Friendly comfy B&B on riverside. It's named for Robert Halpin 1836-94, born next door at the Bridge Tavern; he captained the SS Great Eastern which laid transatlantic telegraph cables. Town House is closed through summer 2020.
- 1 Tinakilly Country House, Tinakilly, Rathnew (5 km west of town), ☏ . Upscale hotel in Italianate country villa, with rooms decked out in period style, and extensive gardens. Excellent "Brunel" restaurant is open daily to 21:00. B&B double €200.
- 2 Hunter's Hotel, Newrath Bridge, Rathnew, ☏ . Charming tasteful hotel in old coaching inn with gardens. B&B double €170.
- 3 Chester Beatty Inn, Main St, Ashford A67 VK09 (200 m north of Mount Usher Gardens), ☏ . Coaching inn since 1854, now a classy restaurant with rooms. It's named for Sir Alfred Chester Beatty the mining tycoon, who had a country retreat nearby: his fabulous art collection is in Dublin Castle. B&B double €130.
As of Jan 2021, Wicklow town has 5G from Eir and 4G from Three and Vodafone.
- Glendalough is an extensive medieval monastic complex in a scenic valley in the Wicklow moutains.
- Arklow has a maritime museum and a pyramid.
- Lively Dublin is little more than an hour away.