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Wicklow: Which tour to pick? Kilkenny vs. Sandycove/Laragh


My wife and I are capping off our trip with two half days and a full day in Dublin. For our full day, it looked like a day trip to the Wicklow area would be ideal.

We narrowed it down to two well-reviewed tour companies, Collins and Wild Wicklow. They seem to be similar but have slightly different itineraries. Thoughts on which looks better?

Collins: Wicklow mountains to Glendalough; Wicklow Gap to Kilkenny; back to Dublin. Most walking around time is Glendalough/Kilkenny.

Wild Wicklow: Dublin to Sandycove; then stop at Avoca Handweavers in Kilmacanogue; Sally Gap, Lough Tay, lunch in Laragh, Glendalough, then back to Dublin.

Seems like the main differences are Kilkenny vs. the seaside area like Sandycove?

Would love to hear your thoughts/experiences. Thanks!

Posted by
337 posts

We visited most of these places just last month. Here are my thoughts:

Glendalough is a must-see.

Kilkenny is a lovely town, and you should visit sometime, but be aware that it's not "the Wicklow area" at all. And you won't have time to see everything on a day trip.

Avoca Handweavers is a chain souvenir shop, just FYI.

Sally Gap and Wicklow Gap are similar experiences, though Sally Gap may be a bit more scenic. Any tour should take you through some really pretty scenery.

Laragh is a tiny town, nothing special or scenic, but it's on the doorstep of Glendalough.

Lough Tay is a pretty little lake, which you'll probably view from the road above. It'll take 5 minutes, so don't let this be a deciding factor.

I have not been to Sandycove.

You're right: It's small/historic city vs. seaside. It's your personal preference, and also depends on what else you're seeing on your trip. If you are only in Dublin, the seaside might be nice instead of another city? I think either trip would be interesting, although...

Does anybody offer a stop at Powerscourt? It's really quite beautiful, especially if you want to really see the Wicklow Mountains. I would choose Powerscourt over Kilkenny or the seaside, if you have that option.

I hope this helps a bit. Have fun!

Posted by
10 posts

Hi Stacy, thank you for your reply. This helps a lot! I'm not sure any of the tours we found also includes Powerscourt, but perhaps we can sneak it in at another point in our stay.

Posted by
337 posts

You're welcome. (I wonder why tour co's don't include Powerscourt?) Oh well, you'll have lots of fun anyway!

Posted by
10 posts

I think, based on your recommendation, we've decided to cut into our Dublin time a bit to incorporate Powerscourt! What do you think of the following:

Day 1: Arrive from France at 11am. Hire a car to drive to Dalkey for lunch, and then try to see Powerscourt Gardens before returning the car near our hotel in central Dublin by 5:30pm. Do you think that is too ambitious? Dinner, walk around Dublin for evening.

Day 2: Collins tour of Glendalough/Kilkenny. Return by 6pm. Dinner, walk around Dublin for evening.

Day 3: Wake up early and explore Dublin a bit more. Head to airport for 1:30pm flight.

Posted by
337 posts

I don't think I can steer you in any particular direction, because everyone's preferences are different.

I mentioned Powerscourt because it's near Glendalough, in the Wicklow mountains, so it seemed logical to me that a tour company might incorporate stops at both places in one day.

If it were me, I wouldn't rent a car and spend a day driving to Powerscourt, only to drive back to Dublin (and deal with city traffic), and then get on a tour bus to see Glendalough the next day.

Have you been to Dublin before? Have you been to Ireland before? If not, I would suggest one full day in Dublin. (We didn't visit Powerscourt until our third trip to Ireland, and I never felt deprived!)

As I said, it's hard to advise you. Some people like to do as much as possible in as short a time as possible; others need some relaxation time.

No choice is a bad choice. Follow your interests and your instincts, and have fun!

Posted by
337 posts

I haven't been on the above tour, and this is NOT an endorsement! Just one example of several tour companies that offer day tours from Dublin to BOTH Glendalough and Powerscourt. Google "day tour Powerscourt Glendalough" and you'll see a whole variety of options. Maybe double check ratings on TripAdvisor or on these boards.

If it were me, I'd try and see them both on the same day, and then spend the remainder of my time in Dublin.

Good luck!

Posted by
9 posts

Just did wild Wicklow tour a few days ago. It was good tour that hit some great spots including Sandy Cove drive through, Avocado Handweavers coffee stop, Wicklow Mountains, Powers Court drive through, Glendalough monastic site, and highlight Sheep dog demonstration. Would recommend this tour as nice day trip from Dublin. Niles was a very entertaining driver/tour guide.