Located just 20 kilometers from Ireland’s capital and easily accessible via a short train ride, Bray is a favorite quick getaway for Dubliners. It has pretty much everything for all sorts of travelers. Scenic places for hiking and trekking, picturesque castles and gardens, even unique museums and galleries for those who love history and art. Getting to Bray may be easy, but figuring out what to do or where to go to make the most of your trip might overwhelm you so here’s a list of fun things to do in Bray, Ireland.
12 Fun Things To Do In Bray, Ireland
1.Wicklow Mountains National Park
Located in the Western part of Bray, the Wicklow Mountains National Park is Ireland’s largest national park. A granite range with smooth, rolling peaks rising to a maximum 925 meters, Wicklow is mostly covered with heath, blanket bog, and grassland. When you hike up the Wicklow Mountains, you’ll go through its sheltered valleys with its mossy hardwood forest where you’ll most likely encounter a wild deer while merlins and peregrine falcons are commonly spotted overhead.
The Wicklow also has these interesting prehistoric glaciations that carved out amphitheater-like cirques. You can visit two wonderful examples of these in nearby Lough Bray, both containing lakes.
Monday to Friday during office hours. The Duty Ranger is available Monday to Sunday during office hours.
Address: Wicklow Mountains National Park, Kilafin, Laragh, via Bray, Co. Wicklow A98 K286
Phone:+353 761 002667
2.Great Sugar Loaf
A separate and geologically distinct hill that sticks out in the landscape for miles, the Great Sugar Loaf is one of the best places to see in Bray. Its conical shape makes it look like a volcano, but the Great Sugar Loaf is actually made up of Cambrian quartzite and is an ancient sedimentary deposit on the seabed that has resisted erosion.
For centuries this 500-meter hill was a Wayfinder for pilgrims and scholars traveling to and from the Glendalough monastery high in the adjacent Wicklow mountains. A relatively easy hike despite its daunting slopes, the summit of the Great Sugar Loaf offers a stunning view of the sea, the Wicklow Mountains and Dublin’s sprawl.
Located close to Bray and along the way to Dublin is the Dalkey Castle. This Norman castle was built in 1390. It has been restored several times over the last 600 years and at present is one of the quirkier places to visit in Bray.
An interesting feature of the Dalkey Castle is the team of actors in costume you’ll meet inside, like a barber/surgeon who’ll tell you what sort of grisly operations he performs, a cook baking “hedgehog pie” and an archer with a longbow you can try.
The site also houses a museum that chronicles the history of Dalkey and a writer’s gallery that pays tribute to the likes of James Joyce, Maeve Binchy, and Samuel Beckett. A good way to make the most of your visit is by going up to the battlements for a picturesque view of the town, the Irish Sea and the Wicklow Mountains.
Mon-Fri: 10.00 – 17.30
Sat-Sun: 11.00 -17.30
Address: Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin
Phone: +353 1 2858366
Bray Head is a 241-meter hill that looms over the south side of the town. This is one of the most scenic sights and definitely one of the best things to do in Bray on weekends especially if you’re the active, outdoorsy type. This grade “moderate” walk though is more suited for relatively fit adults or families with older children. It is best to start the hike up the hill Bray’s Victorian promenade, to the summit where you get a panoramic view of Bray, the Dublin Bay, and inland mountains.
A trip to Bray wouldn’t be complete without a walk along Bray Promenade. A stroll along the Victorian promenade with the beach just close by is one of the things to do in Bray especially after a long day of exploring its many other attractions. The scenic walk starts near the Martello Tower, known as the childhood home of the famous Irish writer, James Joyce, and finishes at the foot of Bray Head.
It’s a perfect place to relax whether you’re traveling alone or with family and friends, as the.promenade is lined with restaurants, pubs and ice cream shops. The band of grass known as Seafront Park is made for family picnics, and you can also marvel at the row of painted Victorian houses behind the foreshore. The Promenade is close to the Sea Life Aquarium, making it a perfect place for an afternoon get together or date.
6.Festina Lente Gardens
Located in Old Connaught Avenue, this unique Bray attraction is the largest working Victorian walled garden in Ireland — the
Festina Lente Gardens. Thus 2 picturesque paradise has three areas: a working kitchen 3ee with vegetables and herbs, a pool garden, which has its own terrapin sanctuary, and an ornamental formal garden where there’s a meticulously tended rose terrace, statues, a stunning central fountain, and geometric flowerbeds.
Also in the ornamental garden is a sensory trail, designed and planted by award-winning garden designer Oliver Shurmann from Mount Venus Nursery and Festina Lente Horticulturists.
Monday -Saturday- 9 am-5pm
Saturday-9:30 am -6pm
€3 per person
Address: Old Connaught Avenue, Bray, Co. Wicklow, A98 F702
Phone: 01 2720704
7.Powerscourt Gardens & House
Powerscourt was built during the 1730s, ordered by Richard Wingfield, with the German Richard Kassels as the architect. The house was destroyed by fire in 1974 and was abandoned for two decades until its renovations in the mid-90s. Meanwhile, the gardens were planted in the 19th century after Mervyn Wingfield completed a tour of Europe’s great palaces, like Versailles and Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
The Powerscourt Gardens & House has so much to offer, and during a stroll around, you will see the Italian gardens dotted with statues, the Tower Valley with a Medieval folly, Japanese gardens, walled gardens, Triton Lake and the Wingfield and Slazenger families’ pets cemetery.
Daily: 9.30am – 5.30pm (Last entry 5pm)
Gardens close at dusk in Winter (Last entry during winter is 30 minutes before dusk)
The Gardens are open year-round and only close December 25th & 26th
Child (U13) €5.00
Child (U5) Free
Family Ticket €25.00 (2 adults & up to 3 children)
Address: Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Phone:+ 353 (0) 1 204 6000
The Powerscourt Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Ireland, at 121-metres high, ranking at 687 in the world. One of the most picturesque attractions in Bray, it is nestled in the Powerscourt Estate and sits on the eastern slopes of the Wicklow Mountains, five kilometers west of Powerscourt House. During the 19th century, the grounds on the way to the falls were planted with sequoias, beeches, oaks, and pines, which later matured into giants.
The parkland is also home to a herd of sika deer that was introduced in 1858. Near the base of the waterfalls, there’s a children’s playground and picnic area for those who want to relax and enjoy a scenic view of this natural wonder.
Jan/Feb/Nov/Dec 10.30am – 4.00pm (last admission – 3.30pm)
Mar/Apr/Sept/Oct 10.30am – 5.30pm (last admission – 5pm)
May/Jun/July/Aug 9.30am – 7.00pm (last admission – 6pm)
Closed two weeks before Christmas
Adults €6, Student/OAP €5.50
Child (U12) €3.50, Children (U2) Free
Family Ticket €16.00 (2 adults & up to 3 children)
Address: Powerscourt Estate, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Phone: + 353 (0) 1 204 6000
Killiney Hill is a 153-meter granite hill located in South of Dalkey is, right on the coast and descending sharply to the sea.
Its slopes covered in thick pine and oak woodland and the summit nearly bare save for a bed of heather. The obelisk up in Killiney was built in 1742 as a famine relief project following a crop failure during a cold spell towards the end of the Little Ice Age. From up the hill, you can see some of Bray’s attractions, like the unmistakable profile of the Great Sugar Loaf, and the sandy White Rock Beach.
Address: Claremont Grove, Scalpwilliam, Killiney, Co. Dublin, A96 R6A2, Ireland
10.SEA LIFE Bray
A visit to SEA LIFE is one of the best activities to do in Bray, especially for families. It may not be the biggest aquarium you’ve ever seen or heard of, but it has a variety of exhibits featuring numerous species to impress all ages. There are also talks, presentations and all sorts of exciting events, facilitated by the knowledgeable staff renowned for their excellent customer service.
Winter opening times (26th November 2018 to 15th March 2019)
Monday to Friday 11:00 to 17:00 (last admissions 16:00)
Saturday/Sunday 10:00 to 18:00 (last admissions 17:00)
Summer opening times (starting 16th March 2019)
Monday to Sunday 10:00 to 18:00 (last admissions 17:00)
General Admission -€11.25
Address: The National SEA LIFE Centre, Strand Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
11.Killruddery Country House and Gardens
Killruddery Country House and Gardens is the perfect place to escape for a great day out. It is located in the southern part of the town, surrounded by the Bray Head and Sugarloaf mountains. Its owners since 1534 are the Brabazons (Earls and Countesses of Meath), and some parts of the gardens have been untouched since the 17th century.
The main house though was remodeled in an Elizabethan Revival style in the 1820s. A must see at Killruddery is the orangery, dating to 1852 and with a design borrowed from the Crystal Palace in London. While in the estate, stroll through the picturesque gardens, which was the location for film productions such as The Tudors, Becoming Jane and Camelot.
April – Weekends only, 9.30am – 6 pm
May to September – Daily 9.30am – 6 pm
October – Weekends only, 9.30am – 6 pm
Farm Market, every Saturday, 10 am – 3 pm
Address: Southern Cross, Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Phone:353 (0)1 2863405
12.Mermaid Arts Centre
The Mermaid Arts Centre opened in 2002 and combines a 250-seat auditorium with art studios, a gallery, and a cafe. A cultural hub for Bray and County Wicklow, its vision is to form a direct connection between performers and guests, encouraging personal development, creativity and inspiration. With its main hall where live music, theatre performances, comedy shows, dance and movie screenings are held, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Bray at night.
Mermaid Arts Centre’s gallery on the second floor is open to visitors for free and it hosts exhibitions that are updated every few weeks, so there’s always something different going on It is also home to the tasty Betelnut Café which has a lovely outdoor terrace.
Box Office and Gallery
Monday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and until 7.30pm on performance nights
Open 8 am – 6 pm Monday to Saturday
Closed Sundays except for performances.
Gallery- admission is free
Address: Mermaid Arts Centre, Main Street, Bray, County Wicklow