Powerscourt House and Gardens
Very close to Dublin at the northern edge of the Wicklow Mountains, lies Powerscourt House and Gardens, one of Ireland's finest aristocratic shows of ridiculous wealth..
Whilst the house is a fairly interesting but standard stately home tour, the gardens are something else. There are 47 acres of seemingly endless themed formal and informal gardens, woods, terraces, fountains and lakes which you can spend hours exploring. The money shot is the view from the top of the gardens over the multi-coloured hills of Wicklow beyond. Powerscourt has a lot of competition for a stately home with a view - why would a rich Victorian build a mansion next to a cement factory - but this certainly has to rank up there.
This place is also surprisingly a shopping paradise if you're wanting to blow a fortune on the quality but expensive woollen treasures of the famous Avoca brand or try - and probably fail - at mimicking the gardens at the giant garden centre.
Six kilometres from the house and gardens is Powerscourt Waterfall. Whilst at 121 metres this has nothing on Scandivanian counterparts, it's still Ireland's tallest and within attractive parklands so it's certainly an excellent addition to a visit to this area. It's not recommend to walk from the house as the route is not really set up for pedestrians.
A little cautionary note for dog owners: there's a no dog policy everywhere past the turnstiles so that means no gardens, café or anywhere decent to spend time with pooch. Even the riverside walk is out of bounds.