When friends and family ask what we love most about Sligo, colourful autumn days, pretty wildflowers and coastal scenery springs to mind.
Sligo is rich in charm, strong in character and living in this place provided yet another chapter of our life of growing. This is where we feel safe and comfortable – this place has a grip on us like no other on Earth.
Over the past year and a half since we moved from Dublin to Sligo – it was an easy decision choosing where to base ourselves in Ireland – we made an effort to fill our lives with even more adventures and time spent outdoors.
We braved the cold on countless nights just so we can watch sunsets, discovered beautiful waterfalls, enjoyed open landscapes and endless sky, saw many natural wonders, met incredible human beings and ate the best food ever.
We had the privilege of travelling up and down the shores, hike through many woodlands and go surfing and cycling nearly every single day.
We had a chance to attend cookery class with Sweet Beat Sligo, participate in a creative writing workshop with Easkey Britton, and take part in beach cleanups.
16 awesome things to do in beautiful Sligo that will make you stay for more
If you want to witness stunning views and venture into colourful surprises yourself, then pack your bags and come to Sligo! Who knows what exciting places you might uncover?
There are a hundred different answers to the question of what is so unique about Sligo. And, there are a hundred various reasons why we packed our belonging and moved to Sligo for good.
Let us give you a few.
#1. Visit Glencar Waterfall
The vibrant colours and fast rushing water of Glencar Waterfall just make for such perfection and such natural beauty that always draws visitors back to this place.
Embraced by a maze of ancient ferns and gently green moss, Glencar waterfall will make you gasp in awe. We discovered it while staying in Sligo town and the surrounding area many years ago and been returning ever since in different seasons.
#2. Surf wild Atlantic waves
It’s no secret that regarding preferred landscapes, we are ocean folk down to our core. If you are a passionate aficionado of surfing, chances are good; you’ll find yourself in Sligo too. Places like Strandhill, Streedagh and Easkey need no introduction.
With one of the most unchanging beach breaks, Strandhill is a real hot spot for surf minded folks and when the conditions are right, flawlessly surfable waves draws in big crowds.
#3. Enjoy coastal scenery
Nothing beats the way we feel when we are out in the wild where sounds of crashing waves and roaring wild Atlantic winds work in sync with nature, producing one of the most epic waves on this planet.
Bookmark Mullaghmore, meaning ‘the great summit’ on your list of places to visit in Ireland so you can witness brave waterman ride huge waves.
#4. Visit Eagles Flying
Eagles Flying is the largest centre for birds of prey in the country, and it is situated in Ballymote, Sligo. There are live shows that start at 11 am and 3 pm every day, so make sure you arrive on time. We enjoyed our visit and were delighted for an extraordinary opportunity to be so close to eagles and owls.
And not to mention personal interaction with raptors, I was super thrilled to hold out a gloved hand and have an incredible creature land on it, just a few inches from my face.
Before the show started, we walked around at had a chance to talk to the staff who were all enthusiastic and very knowledgeable. After the show, we visited a petting zoo where they had various animals, including mice, pig, rabbits, guinea pig and gerbils.
#5. Take in winter sunrises
Not once have I regretted getting up in the middle of the night – especially in the wintry month – to make it to the shoreline before the dawn. The crisp winter mornings is my favourite time to catch beautiful light; it’s when I feel connected to nature.
Winter in Ireland is a slow season and winter in Ireland is mostly painful dark and wet mess, covering all life outside the window. But then there are these colourful sky moments worth getting out of that I love the most when sleepy nature awakes for a few seconds.
#6. Witness springtime magic
Over the years of exploring Sligo, Hazelwood Demense quickly became one of our favourite places to step back from monotonous everyday life. In the spring the forest becomes alive with bluebells and summertime arrives with an abundance of butterflies.
As the new life began to sprout in woodland this year, we made countless visits to the forest. We could not resist the urge to immortalise all the surrounding beauty and incredible spring wildflowers growing wild and free before they all are gone.
#7. Relax at The Beach Bar
It’s so easy to fall in love with this place – alluring views, ocean, good food (think seafood and a cold pint of Guinness), brilliant surf and live music. The Beach Bar, located on Augris Beach, is one of the prettiest traditional pubs in County Sligo with a wood-burning fireplace and friendly warmth.
There is also a small stretch of land for camping and B&B accommodation right next to it for those who want to wake up in a place where mother nature rules everything. For surfers, it’s an excellent place to escape the crowds, and for photographers, a great place to take pictures of Knocknarea and Sligo Bay.
#8. Feel the wonder of autumn
If you love this time of the year when all the greens get new colours than you’ll enjoy exploring Sligo woodlands because each landscape we choose to discover have a different personality.
With the autumn sunshine trying to push its way through the clouds, somedays bearly reaching the forest floor, you’ll be treated to the beautiful show of warm colours and wistful shadows.
Exploring Sligo in the autumn season gave us a whole new outlook and appreciation for how beautiful this part of Ireland truly is. That’s why saying goodbye to summer never really make me sad; I look forward to the sweet scent of the autumn and burst of colours around every corner.
#9. Go on a photography adventure
With so many unusual compositions and views, Sligo is perfect photographers playground. You can grab your camera and relax by the lake, watch a sunrise, look up the stars, wait up for sunset and then do it all again.
If you decide to travel to Sligo, you’ll be amazed by the range of landscapes to photograph as this part of Ireland provide plenty of appeal to visitors. The best thing is, you can take kick-ass photos without insanely expensive equipment.
We love photographing this part of the country and showing the palette of different colours in Ireland, which is often portrayed as green. At times it is true, but it is also home to bright yellow, soft purple and any other colour in between.
#10. Plunge into Voya Seaweed Baths
The first time we visited Voya Seaweed Baths was in December, and I can tell you; there is nothing better on a cold and miserably rainy day than a hot organic Irish seaweed bath followed by exfoliation treatment and a warm cup of herbal tea.
First, you start with few minutes in a steam room to open up your pores, and then you slip into a bathtub were floating at the bottom of it is hand-harvested seaweed that makes water and your skin instantly soft and smooth.
Well known as the poor man’s doctor in the old days, today seaweed is widely used for its detoxifying, healing and skin-renewing benefits.
#11. Hit the hiking trails
If you are in Sligo and find yourself aching for mountains and looking for a physical challenge, then Queene Maeve Trail is a hike not to be missed. This very short 1.5 h round trip – this, of course, can change depending on your fitness level and how many times you stop for photos, will wow you with beautiful boardwalks, sweeping ocean vistas and lovely forests.
The length of the trail is 2.4 km out and back, and the starting point is located on Strandhill Road, opposite the rugby club. Once on the top, you’ll find an incredible 360-degree panorama of the surrounding countryside, Sligo coastline as well as an impressive burial site.
Legend has it that Warrior Queen Maeve of Connaught is buried upright on top of Knocknarea, so please be respectful of Irish mythology and don’t attempt to climb the cairn on the top of the mountain.
Also, wear comfortable shoes with a good grip, bring plenty of refreshments and healthy snacks and on a sunny day wear sunscreen.
#12. Capture the serenity of sleepy lakes
One of the main defining features of Sligo has to be its coast with plentiful scenic beaches and with many worth visit spots. But if you venture a little bit inland, you’ll find beautiful woodlands and lakes too.
Located south of town is a place known for its beauty. Lough Gill is the most photogenic lake with an incredible display of natural beauty.
#13. Visit beautiful Sligo town
Beating to its very own rhythm, lively Sligo town, located in the northwest part of the country, can charm instantly. Bridges across the River Garavogue join the two halves of the town with restaurants and shops packet tightly together along its banks.
At first glance, Sligo might appear a little bit worn around the edges, but once you go for a walk along the river, see the Italian Quarter, find the Yeats statue and see the fantastic woodcarvings made by the talented craftsman Michael Quirke, you’ll be instantly filled with wonder and delight.
Ruins of a beautiful13th century Sligo Abbey, built-in 1253, and a Nobel Laureate William Buttler Yeats Memorial House can be found in town as well as lots of boutique shops and eventful Irish pubs.
#14. See the incredible summer sunsets
Nature can speak for itself without digital manipulation and over enchantment, and if you ever catch a summer sunset in Sligo, you’ll be rewarded with a proper colour burst.
On our last trip to Strandhill, we arrived at the beach at a prime timing with the sun just seconds away from disappearing for another night. As soon as she sunk below the water, the sky erupted in beautiful colours.
Standing on this very spot and gazing across the ocean, I realised that the depths of wonder found in nature and impeccably flawless and limitless.
#15. Visit Strandhill town
Prior our move to Sligo, we spent lots of time in Strandhill village where we immersed ourselves in Irish culture, explored every single coastal curve, watched local surf championships, participated in the beach cleanups and enjoyed the mind-blowing countryside.
Besides engaging nature, you’ll find a great variety of food outlets with places like Shells Caffe, The Draft House, Strand Bar and Mammy Johnston’s, famous for their honeycomb ice cream, all down by the oceanfront.
Strandhill People’s Market takes place every Sunday from 11am-4pm at Sligo airport with freshly baked goods, and local craft’s on sale. During the December hangar is cheerfully decorated and turns in to one of the most amazing Christmas Markets in the country.
#16. Discover W.B. Yeats playground
When I was a kid, I had a growing passion for literature; I used to read and express my feelings and thoughts through poetry, I enjoyed playing with words, mainly to find balance and reconnect with myself.
Because Sligo is our home now, I enjoy reading W.B.Yeats poetry. It’s captivating to see famous landmarks through his rhythmical compositions in The Lake Isle of Innisfree, Down by the Sally Garden and in my favourite piece The Stolen Child.
Drumcliffe village – a beautiful and quiet place – is best knows as the last resting spot of the Yeats and if you plan on visiting, don’t forget to stop by the church, The High Cross and the Round Tower too.
There are a lovely cafe and tourist shop, selling woollen crafts, quirky cards and a wide selection of Yeats books.
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Now, over to you!
Have you been to Sligo? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Sligo and have travel-related questions!