As soon as we jumped out of the campervan, I could sense the captivating power of the Atlantic ocean. The refreshing breeze brushed against my cheeks, and after a brief moment, exposed to nature’s beauty, my senses erupted.
I couldn’t take my eyes of Ericeira, as she was immensely observing shimmering waves. Her joyful expression touched my heart, and I had an irresistible need to pull her even closer to my chest.
We have been dreaming of Sligo since the day we left her enchanting shores. We both feel attached to this place and to truly appreciate it, we kept on coming back for years, because out of all the adventures we have been on time spent in Sligo has been the most healing and eye-opening.
Hours and days that we dedicated to wandering and surfing along the coast steered us in the right direction and taught us to bushwhack our path taught us to live for simple, non-material things and taught us to go after what makes us happy.
We are glad that we made a choice to follow our dream to move to Irelands West Coast, and we are grateful for such a busy and productive year. With so much natural and diverse beauty on display, it was so easy to fall in love with our life even more.
20+ Memorable Things to do in Sligo, Ireland for every type of traveller
Being situated so close to the ocean, Sligo has the ability to take your breath away with oodles to see and do. With endless options of hiking, surfing, golfing, camping, horse-riding there’s more to do than you’ll find in the best guidebooks.
If there’s one thing we could advise anyone travelling to Sligo, don’t be too quick to dismiss things outside of your comfort zone, because doing something completely new is good for your body and soul.
Have a look and get ready to plan a trip to Sligo because I have to say, there are almost as many reasons to fall in love with Sligo as there are days in a year.
Come to see for yourself!
Fun things to do in Sligo for water lovers
Located on the Wild Atlantic Way Surf Coast, beautiful Sligo with its stunning beaches, lakes and rivers is ideal for surfing, kayaking, bodyboarding and SUP. Either you are a beginner or serious about water sports, there’s something for everyone.
Surfing | Sligo is known as one of the best places in Ireland to go surfing. Here, you’ll find many places to learn to surf or improve your surfing skills. Strandhill, considered to be one of the best beach breaks in Ireland, is perfect for beginners. Beautiful Enniscrone is great for all types of surfers and Easkey beach, with waves breaking over the rocks is more suited for experienced surfers.
Kayaking | Explore beautiful inland lakes of Sligo, take in natural beauty and learn about the history while gliding on the water with a kayak. With Sligo Kayak Tours, you can choose to paddle on Lough Gill, see the seal colony at Ballisodare Bay or partake in an overnight guided trip.
SUP | Discover a different side to Sligo with professional instructors from SligoBaySup. Visit their website and browse through all the available locations – this includes Bonnet River, Lissadel Beach, Raghley Harbour and Mullaghmore – to venture on a truly memorable adventure.
Canoeing | If you are comfortable in deep water, why not take on a canoeing adventure to explore one of the beautiful and tranquil lakes in South Sligo – Lough Talt with Wild Wet Adventures. To experience the open water while paddling the boat is a fantastic activity and a great workout for all ages.
Top trails for hiking enthusiasts
There are many fantastic and scenic trails traversing through the beautiful countryside, some of the paths are short and simple, and some of them require proper planning. Many of the trails are well kept and signposted, yet it’s always a good idea to bring a map. Make sure you have proper footwear and clothing, plenty of water and food too.
The Sligo Way | Stretching for 78 km Sligo Way is one of the most beautiful trails in Ireland. It starts in Larrigan near Lough Talt finishes in Dromaghair and takes around three days to complete.
Benbulben Forest Walk | Benbulben forest walk is our firm favourite, we’ve done it a couple of times by now and always look forward to coming back. The total length of this looped walk is just over 5 kilometres, and it takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
Union Rock | The Union Wood in Ballisodare offer a fantastic opportunity to explore another part of Sligo and make for a lovely place to go for a walk. There are also mountain bike tracks and the trail waving through the peaceful setting and leading all the way to the Union Rock viewpoint is the right length. Once at the top, expect amazing views over Knocknarea, Sligo Bay, Collooney and the surrounding area.
Knocknarea | The hike to the top of Knocknarea to see Queen Maeve’s Grave and stunning views of Sligo is worth the time and effort and can be achieved through three different trails. One starts from the Rugby Club car park, another from the Glen Road on the other side of the mountain and a forest walk from Rathcarrick side.
Killaspugbrone | Taking in a beach, forest, sand dunes and beautiful views, Killaspugbrone Loop Walk is a very pleasant walk around the airport runway and onto Killaspugbrone church ruins. Set off from Strandhill along the path adjacent to the sea, past the airport runway towards church remains from where the trail brings you across the beach through the forest onto the main road and back to Strandhill village.
Top experiences in Sligo for foodies
We love healthy food. Ever since I remember, we have always been curious about its origins and about its power to make us healthy and strong. We had been on a continuous hunt around the globe looking for the best vegetarian dishes only to find them here in Ireland.
Giddy with excitement about living within walking distance from a couple of best cafes and restaurants that Sligo has to offer, we can highly recommend a few places – tried and tested many times over – for you to check out too.
Sweet Beat Sligo | If you refuse to consume cheap and fast food and instead, thrive on fresh, nutritious and plant-based dishes then stop by Sweet Beat Sligo to try their inventive vegetarian dishes. It gets jammed during lunchtime, yet the food is tasty, and you can opt for a takeaway.
Pudding Row Sligo | Located in Easkey and voted as Winner of Best Café in Ireland 2018 at the Irish Restaurant Awards, Pudding Row Sligo is a cosy café that offers flavourful meals to locals and passers-by. The food is filling, delicious and reasonably priced and you’ll find toys and books for children.
Shells Café | Located on the Strandhill seafront Shells Seaside bakery & café is a perfect little place for a quick lunch. It’s a busy spot serving generous portions of fish and chips, veggie burgers and homemade bread.
Best Ice-cream | Stop by Mammy Johnston’s ice cream parole and café situated in beautiful Strandhill village to sample award-winning ice creams. Established in 1983 this cosy waterfront café offers a fantastic selection of ice creams, sweet and savoury crepes and coffee.
Fun things to do in Sligo if you fancy a drink
Sligo has a thriving live music scene, and on any given night of the week, you can catch fantastic gigs in the local pubs such as Shoot the Crows, McGlynn’s and McGarrigle’s. There’s also an annual music festival Sligo Live with great performances and pub sessions.
Have a pint at Hargadon’s | Established in 1868 and situated in Sligo Town, Hargadon’s is a beautifully preserved Irish pub with stone floors, plenty of Guinness, incredibly panelled snugs and lots of character to win you over.
The Beach Bar | Traditional Irish old-style pub-restaurant situated at Augris Head with the views of Knocknarea and Benbulben alone are well worth the drive to the peaceful location. The gorgeous little pub with lots of nooks and crannies is a wonderful place for anyone travelling around Sligo to relax and fill up on good food.
Take a tour of the Lough Gill distillery | Visit a family-run brewery located in Sligo to enjoy many delicious craft beers. Expect each tour, which cost EUR 10 pp, to last up to one hour. During the summer month, you can also combine the distillery tour with the Rose Of Innisfree Boat Tour and have the best Lough Gill experience ever.
Enjoy the live Irish music | If you are in search of an old-school Irish pub that serves Guinness and plays traditional music then make sure you stop at the oldest pub in Sligo – Thomas Connolly. Established in 1861 during a time of plentiful maritime trade when ships from all over Europe brought in linen, tea and rope, it offers plentiful acoustic folk and traditional Irish music session for locals and visitors.
Top experiences in Sligo for photographers
Due to many amazing photo locations and landscapes to photograph in Sligo, it’s a good idea to plan ahead which location you would love to visit and photograph. From capturing Mullaghmore’s crashing waves to Rosses Point with its panoramic views of Oyster Island, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Sunsets | When the conditions are right, the sunsets and sunrises are so crazily vivid in Sligo that people stop in their tracks just so they can take a picture of it. And they are so naturally colourful you don’t even need to saturate the images. Head out to Strandhill, Rosses Point, Culleenamore and Mullaghmore for a chance to capture amazing sunsets.
Gleniff Horseshoe | Beautiful Gleniff Horseshoe, an around six-mile loop drive, is one of the scenic drives in Sligo with plenty of photo opportunities rain or shine. The roads are very small, yet the hilly landscape, numerous waterfalls, the ruins of the school and towering mountains with the massive Diarmuid Agusta Grainne cave high above are a joy to photograph.
Caves of Kesh | The incredible limestone caves, located near Ballymote in County Sligo are absolutely worth a detour if Kesh isn’t on your itinerary – the view from the caves is spectacular and provide great photo opportunities of the surrounding landscape. A decent pair of shoes is recommended to climb the short yet fairly steep trail as it can be a little bit skiddy in dry weather. The place is remote so, bring a flashlight for the caves and plenty of water to stay dehydrated.
Devils Chimney | Visit Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird also referred to as the Devils Chimney which is a 150 metres tall waterfall for incredible views of Glencar valley and fantastic photo options. The walk is a little bit steep in some parts but only around 1.2 km in length and suitable for everyone.
Mullaghmore Head | Mullaghmore is a village that boasts fantastic ocean views, sandy beaches and one of the most photographed subjects in all of county Sligo – Classiebawn Castle. With the skyline dominated by the Benbulben mountains and with the views of Slieve League and Donegal Bay, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied.
Fantastic places in Sligo for culture and art fans
Hawks Well Theatre | A modern 340-seat venue, Hawk’s Well Theatre is a Performing Arts Centre offering a wide range of entertainment from jazz to opera and from amateur theatre to comedy and various kids events.
Blue Raincoat Theatre | Situated at the Lower Quay St, Blue Raincoat Theatre is a place for anyone wishing to see a great and memorable performance. In addition to modern European plays and interesting productions, the theatre also provides teaching and training such as voice and movement training.
The Model | A contemporary arts centre, once a primary school built in 1863 and designed by James H.Owen, located in Sligo Town that hosts various exhibits covering a range of Irish artists is a worthwhile visit. The building itself is an impressive space, both inside and out, the art gallery is free, well looked after and has a lovely coffee shop.
Great things to do in Sligo for families
Eagles Flying | Did you ever want to be up close and personal with one of the majestic birds, learning about them and seeing them fly over your head? Irish Raptor Research Centre, situated in Ballymote, is home to a large number of birds of prey. By visiting Eagles Flying, you’ll get to see a highly entertaining and educational Bird Show with falcons, owls and hawks flying just inches from your face.
Explore beaches | Sligo beaches are clean, beautiful and safe, making them perfect for kids to run around. Streedah beech is a beautiful sandy beach with plenty of room to play and explore the dunes, seek out rocks embedded with amazing fossils and visit the famous Spanish Armada shipwreck site.
Hazelwood forest | Located just outside of Sligo town, Hazelwood Forest is a wonderful place for families with kids to go for a walk along the nature trail and learn about different trees along the route. There’s a free car park, a lovely picnic area and beautiful views of many Lough Gill islands.
Fantastic places to visit for history buffs
Explore Sligo’s rural landscape and find yourself among the oldest megalithic sites. Or you can stay in Sligo town and visit Sligo Abbey, Famine Graveyard and Yeats Building with exhibits about his life.
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery | Sligo is rich in ancient Irish history, and evidence of it can be seen at Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery located just 5 kilometres from Sligo town. The admission fee to the site is Euro 2 for an adult, and you’ll be able to see monuments that are thousands of years old.
Lissadell House | A beautiful house with incredible coastal views and well-laid gardens situated in rural Sligo. In addition to lots of fascinating history, there are also exhibitions in the coach house about the 1916 Rising. To see the interior of Lissadell House – the birthplace of Constance Markievicz – you have to book a guided tour.
Queen Maeve Grave | Reach the summit of Knocknarea to marvel at an impressive 55 metres wide and 10 metres high cairn dating back to 3,000 BCE. For a chance to see the grave and take in the views of Culleenamore and Ballisodare Bay from the top of Knocknarea, you have to hike up the mountain.
Sligo Folk Park | If you wish to be transported back in time and experience rural life and Irish heritage at the turn of the late 19th Century, then head over to beautiful Riverstown village where Sligo Folk Park is located, so you can see how people used to live in days gone by.
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
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!