On our spring break trip to Ireland we had an opportunity to visit the Powerscourt Estate in Enniskerry, County Wicklow about 20km south of Dublin. Powerscourt is one of Ireland's grandest estate properties and also one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. Visiting the estate is a must for anyone staying nearby and it is also an easy day-trip destination from Dublin.
Powerscourt Estate is a 1,000 acre estate located near Great Sugar Loaf Mountain in County Wicklow (known as the "garden of Ireland"). The Estate was originally the family seat of the Viscounts Powerscourt dating back to the 16th century and was purchased by the present owners, the Slazenger family, in 1961. You might find that some parts of the Estate look familiar as it has been the setting for many films and television series including Black Beauty, Far and Away, Ella Enchanted, the Count of Monte Cristo, and The Tudors. The Estate includes the luxurious Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa as well as several popular attractions including the Powerscourt House and Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall, Powerscourt Golf Club featuring two championship golf courses, and the Powerscourt River Walk.
Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa
We flew overnight from Toronto and drove directly to Enniskerry from the Dublin Airport to spend our first two nights in Ireland at the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa, an elegant 200 room Palladian-style hotel located on the Powerscourt Estate with breathtaking views of Great Sugar Loaf Mountain. The hotel, opened in 2007 as a Ritz-Carlton, was re-branded as the Powerscourt Hotel in 2013 and now operates as an independent hotel which is a member of Marriott's Autograph Collection line of luxury boutique hotels. The hotel was recently named Ireland's Leading Hotel 2016 in the World Travel Awards.
This elegant hotel is one of several family-friendly luxury hotels in Ireland that we stayed at during our visit. Our room was both luxurious and spacious and had many amenities that we appreciated including ample closet space, a comfortable seating area, a large marble bathroom with separate walk-in shower, interactive television and other high-tech touches as well as complimentary high-speed WIFI. The three dining options on site include a traditional Irish pub, a fine-dining restaurant and a casual lounge with an incredible view of Great Sugar Loaf Mountain through floor to ceiling windows. There are numerous family-friendly activities available at the hotel and on the Powerscourt Estate including horse riding, hiking, fishing and falconry exhibitions. There are also swings and a playground in the Terrace Garden and bicycles are available to borrow. The Powerscourt Hotel also makes a great home base for sightseeing nearby and around County Wicklow.
The main attraction of the Powerscourt Estate is the formal gardens which are considered to be among the finest in Europe and voted no. 3 in the World's Top 10 Gardens by National Geographic. We headed to Powerscourt Gardens late on the morning of our arrival as our room was not yet ready. It was a gloomy, overcast day and since it was mid-March there was not much blooming yet but the gardens were beautiful nonetheless. The sun came out when we were having a bite to eat at the Avoca Terrace Cafe after touring the gardens and I would have liked to walk around again to re-take photos with blue skies but I knew better than to suggest that to my jet-lagged family.
The design of Powerscourt Gardens which stretch over 47 acres began in 1731 and work on them continued until 1767. A major redesign by Daniel Robertson who was partially inspired by the Villa Butera in Sicily then took place between 1843-1875. Features and attractions of the gardens include The Italian Garden, The Japanese Garden, Pets Cemetery, Triton Lake, Tower Valley and Pepperpot Tower, The Walled Gardens and Julia's Memorial .
The original building on the property was a 13th century castle which was extensively renovated in the 16th century after it came into the ownership of the 1st Viscount of Powerscourt who wished to transform the medieval castle into a grand mansion. Architect Richard Castle designed Powerscourt House around the medieval castle in the Palladian style of architecture and the home was completed in 1741.
Today Powerscourt House is home to many fine boutiques as well as Avoca Terrace Café and Tara's Palace, Museum of Childhood. Visitors enjoy browsing Avoca Stores which offer the best of Irish design in a variety of goods. The café serves delicious freshly-prepared food and is the ideal place to relax either inside or outside on the garden terrace with its lovely view of the gardens against the backdrop of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Families adore Tara's Palace, a 22 room doll palace which was meticulously constructed by some of Ireland’s finest craftsmen and took over two decades to complete.
At 121 metres (398 feet) high, Powerscourt Waterfall is Ireland's highest waterfall. The waterfalls are found in a lovely spot in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains approximately 6 kilometres from Powerscourt Gardens. There are several pathways to explore, a children's playground and this is a lovely spot for a summer picnic.
What You Need To Know
- Powerscourt Estate is located in Enniskerry, County Wicklow and approximately 30 minutes from Dublin City Centre.
- Powerscourt Estate can be reached by private car or by public transportation from Dublin.
- Powerscourt Gardens are open daily 9:30am - 5:30pm year-round and only close on December 25th and 26th. Gardens close at dusk in winter.
- The Avoca Terrace Café is open daily 9:30am - 5:30pm.
- Hours at the Powerscourt Waterfall vary by the time of year and it is closed the two weeks prior to Christmas - check the Powerscourt website for details.
- Check the Powerscourt Estate website to confirm all entrance fees.
- Powerscourt runs a year-round events programme including treasure hunts, guided walks, gardening workshops, bug hunts & theatre evenings. See website for details.