Wicklow and Kildare may be neighbours and have a boundary with Dublin in common, but that's where the similarities end.
Immediately south of the capital is wild, scenic Wicklow. Its most dramatic natural feature is a gorse-and-bracken mountain spine that is the east coast’s most stunning landscape, complete with deep glacial valleys, isolated mountain passes and, dotted throughout, some important historical treasures, including one of Ireland’s most important early-Christian sites and a couple of 18th-century Palladian mansions.
To the west is flat, fertile Kildare, which also has a handful of elegant Palladian piles but is best known as horse country – of the thoroughbred kind. Some of the world’s most lucrative stud farms are here, many with links to the horse-breeding centre of Kentucky in the USA. Kildare is also home to some of the best golf courses in Ireland and the country’s largest outlet mall.