Ireland Travel Guide: The Best Things to see and do in Beautiful Sligo Town

Spontaneous road trips keep my imagination running wild and feeds my desire to leave home and feel everything in person. That’s why I love where we live in Ireland – Sligo and its rugged terrain embody the true definition of adventure and deserve at least one encounter in a lifetime if not more.

Our second year living in Sligo was completed a few months back and returning home after yet another sweet sally ride where we hopped on bikes and cycled to the town center, I realised that we haven’t written anything about our home town Sligo.

See when most people think of visiting Ireland Dublin, Galway and Cork are the first cities that make a list. But there are many more equally beautiful places worthy of your time and one such a place is the jagged stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way known as the Surf Coast.

This part of Ireland is speckled with some of the most stunning coastal views, endless stopping points, plenty of photo opportunities, and most importantly; some of the best surf beaches in all of Ireland. Exploring the Surf Cost one doesn’t have much time to settle back in the car before layering back up for the next adventure.

The Surf Coast starts in Donegal Town, waves trough Sligo and goes all the way to Erris in County Mayo. While I have a dozen half-baked stories in my draft section about the best towns along the Surf Coast, I wanted to start with our home base Sligo.

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It’s often the simple things in life, like finding a perfectly beautiful door to photograph, that brings joy.

 

 

Ireland Travel Guide: The Best Things to see and do in Beautiful Sligo Town

If youayou thinking about exploring Sligo Town,  and its beautiful surroundings once the lockdown is lifted, but haven’t a notion what to do or where to go than keep reading further because in this blog post we are sharing highlights of Sligo town, as well as nearby villages worth exploring that are blessed with a rich depth of heritage.

Sligo, often-overlooked corner of Ireland,  is a lovely town to explore away from crowds but you won’t find many tourist attractions, that’s why a day or two is just enough to see it all.

 

Start your day by visiting Sligo Abbey. 

Sligo might be best known for its iconic table mountain and being Yeats country, but it got a lot more to offer at any time of the year. Take the amazing Sligo Abbey ruins, for example.  Founded by Maurice Fitzgerald in 1253 and rebuilt after the fire, the Abbey contains beautiful carvings, 15th-century high altar and well-preserved cloister.

Situated right in the middle of the town Sligo Abbey is easily reachable on foot. Although the building has decayed over the years, it’s an amazing experience to walk through the peaceful site and to admire its beautiful arches.

  • Admission fees | Adult: €5.00, Group/Senior: €4.00, Child/Student: €3.00
  • Opening tines | March 26 – October 28. Daily 10.00 – 18.00
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A ruined abbey in Sligo is one of the tourist attractions.

 

Spend some time at The Model

For a good dose of culture, you should definitely visit The Model, located a short walk away from Sligo city centre. The Model is known as one Irelands leading contemporary art centres, and it’s where you can see The Niland Collection. Here you can find bookshop, cafe, digital cinema, artist studio with the views of the town, performing arts space, and various exhibitions.

We first visited the Model once we moved to Sligo and had a chance to attend Shore Shots which was an annual Irish Surf Festival. We met some of the most respected, and well-known surfers, filmmakers, artists, and photographers that used to gather together for one epic weekend.

The festival has been cancelled due to lack of funding, but I still remember my personal experience from meeting Irelands leading female surfer Easkey Britton while attending her creative workshops that weekend.  I am still beyond grateful for the unique energy I received in a process. Participating along with other women, connecting, and sharing stories got my creative wheels turning.

  • Opening times | Tue – Sat: 10am – 5pm, Sun: 10.30am – 3.30pm, Closed: Mon
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One of Ireland’s most important art centres is located in Sligo.

 

 

Visit Yeats Society Sligo & Visitors Centre

Located on Sligos Stephens Street, on the side of River Garavogue is a beautiful 19th-century red brick building known as Yeats Memorial Building. If you are passionate about the Yeats Family and a Nobel Prize winner William Buttler Yeats, then you should stop by Yeats Society Sligo.

The visitors centre is open year-round, and there’s an amazing art gallery, Hyde Bridge Gallery,  on the second floor of the building that displays an extensive collection of Jack Butler Yeats paintings. You’ll also find a small gift shop and a lovely cafe where visitors can relax.

You’ll also be able to see a great deal of W.B Yeats who was one of the most significant poets of the 20th-century  personal artefacts. The exhibition is small but very well presented and interesting.

One of many well known Sligo festivals is Yeats International Summer School and Yeats Festival which takes place in summer (July and August)  and also in January. And celebrates the famous writer and his work.

  • Address | Douglas Hyde Bridge, Sligo
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Sligo is famous for its connection to Ireland’s’s beloved poet W. B. Yeats.

 

Walk to the Doorly Park

Situated just 15 minutes from Sligo town, Doorly Park, named after the late bishop of Elphin, Dr. Edward Doorly,  makes for a fantastic walk. The path to the park runs along the Garavoue River, and once you pass the Riverside Hotel,  it offers magnificent mountain views of Benbulben and the Kings Mountain range.

Doorly Park was originally developed in the 19th century by Colonel W G Woodmartin of Cleveragh who excavated ponds and planted various trees scots pine and oak including. Today the woodland and nature trail is enjoyed by locals and visitors as it makes a perfect setting for walking and picnicking.

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To reach the park and admire the beautiful scenery, follow the path along the riverside.

 

Find Yeats Statue

Often called Yeats Country, Sligo will always be associated with the Nobel Prize-winning poet W. B. Yeats. His mother was from the town, and during his childhood, Yeats was a regular visitor.

To learn more about the famous Irish poet, who helped to found the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, you can visit his grave in Drumcliff Village located 10 km from Sligo. Keep in mind that the grave is more like a memorial, because his ashes were scattered in France. Or you can find his beautiful statue installed outside the Ulster Bank on Stephen Street across from the Glasshouse Hotel.

The statue was made in 1989 by an Irish bronze casting sculptor Rowan Gillespie on poets 50 the death anniversary. The statue is engraved excerpts of his most famous works.

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A life-sized sculpture of Yeats in Sligo Town.

 

Amazing places to visit nearby

If you are staying in Sligo for more than one day, that you can devote your time to visiting nearby villages and go for a coastal drive. You can spend a day surrounded by beautiful woodlands and Benbulben Mountain which is often featured in many Celtic tales.

  • Mullaghmore Village |Sligo has a fascinating coast that drives surfers wild, and when the conditions are right, you can watch the giants march in at Mullaghmore. It takes around half an hour to reach Mullaghmore Village, where you can explore its white-sand beaches, admire fantastic views and see the beautiful Classiebawn Castle.
  • Rosses Point |  You can also drive or catch a bus to beautiful Rosses Point; a little village worth visiting to catch a sunset and glorious views across the bay. In addition to sweeping races, fantastic restaurants, and cliff top walks you can find a Metal Man in the strait, a navigational beacon from 1821 with the cast-iron figure pointing towards the rocks that are out of sight at high tide.
  • Hazelwood | Located 5km from Sligo town is a beautiful Hazelwood Demence offering various walks and incredible views over Lough Gill. As the woods are quite dense and offer plenty of covers, this is a great spot for when it’s raining. The paths are mostly level and are ideal for pushchairs and young kids. The main route follows the lakeshore and along the way you can see many wooden sculptures made by international and Irish artists. Parking is available free of charge.
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Just a short drive from Sligo town, you’ll find many hiking trails with panoramic views.

 

Where to stay in Sligo town

Sligo attracts a fair amount of tourists, and during the summer season, you need to book your accommodation in advance if you want to stay in good places. Most of the hotels in Sligo are centrally located, and there’s also a hostel, perfect for those on a budget, and plenty of cosy B&B accommodation options.

  • Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa | A 4-star hotel located in Sligo that offers visitors a rooftop terrace, a Turkish steam bath, and an indoor pool. There’s a 24/7 reception, a beauty centre, kids pool, and an express check-in and check-out feature.
  • Sligo City Hotel |With 60 modern rooms, Sligo City Hotel is a 3-star hotel located close to bars, restaurants, and shopping and offers express check-ins and check-out services and also childminding service.
  • Riverside Hotel | Situated by the river with a great view and close to the town centre, Riverside Hotel makes for a great place to spend the night or two. The car park is tiny, and you might need to park your car up the road, but there’s a Great pub built into the hotel, and most amenities are within walking distance.
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Just another beautiful spring day in Sligo Town, Ireland.

 

When to visit Sligo

The weather in Ireland is unpredictable, and even if you visit during the summer month can’t be expected to be good. Each season has its own effect on Sligo and the surrounding landscape, but either way, there is always something to see and do.

Early autumn and late spring would be the happy middle-ground for seeing everything Sligo has to offer. And if you happen to explore in winter than treatment at Strandhill seaweed baths is a warm and relaxing alternative to outdoor activities.

  • Summer | Planter boxes overflowing with colourful flowers, long days, plentiful of festivals and pleasant weather make summer a perfect time to visit Sligo. Restaurants and cafés are overflowing, there’s an abundance of festivals.
  • Autumn | Plan a trip to Sligo in the fall and watch the leaves fall onto the streets and receive the best experience for your euro. It’s harvest time, kids go back to school, and tourist attractions are still open. For a more mellow way to round up your visit to Sligo, you can settle in the traditional pub with live music and hearty food.
  • Winter |If you wish to visit Sligo in winter, expect short and wet days that are best spent in cosy pubs. Christmas season sees a spike in crowds and accommodation prices, but January and February can be quite miserable and dreary and calls for proper winter layers.
  • Spring |Beginning of the spring is still low season, and the main event everyone is looking towards to is the annual St. Patrick’s’s Day on March 17. There’s a fantastic parade in Sligo town with music and great fun for all the family.
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Springtime and unfolding of blossoms is a special time on Irelands West Coast.

 

Where to eat in Sligo Town

Irish food in the traditional sense may not be exactly world-famous and mostly consists of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. A national dish in Ireland is Irish Stew, and a classic lunch meal is chicken fillet roll available in shops and gas stations, but in recent years international influences paved the way to sample many exciting dishes.

The streets around the Sligo centre are packed with traditional pubs, restaurants, and cafes. Vegetarians are well catered for with the most places serving at least one meat-free dish. Sweet Beat Cafe, a Sligos very first vegan cafe,  offers a variety of vegan-friendly soups, salads, and sweet treats that are made from scratch every day.

Stop by one of friendly pubs, and you’ll get a chance to fill up on full Irish breakfast served with toast. You can also take a food tour and enjoy amazing culinary delights with Sligo Food Trail

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One of the amazing street arts in Sligo.

 

Getting to and around Sligo

Sligo town is small enough, and you can visit most of the tourist attractions on foot. You can use local bus service Route S1 if you are staying out of town and need to travel between residential areas or Sligo IT. Route S2 connects Strandhill village and Rosses Point to Sligo Centre, and both routes provide reliable and frequent service.

  • Public transport | If you wish to visit Sligo by public transport, then your best choice is to travel by train. Sligo town is serviced by the train station that is located in the centre.
  • Arriving from Dublin | Coming from Dublin Connolly Station you’ll arrive in Sligo within 3 hours. The service is regular both ways and costs around euro 37 return. Tickets can be purchased online or at the train station.
  • Travelling by Bus Eireann | Alternatively, you can travel by Bus Eireann which will drop you off a few metres from the train station. The bus service is reliable and connected to Donegal, Dublin, and Galway.
  • Arriving from Knock Airport | Located 55 minutes’ drive away, Ireland West Airport Knock has flights to many European countries and is served directly by Bus Eireann Route 440 and Expressway Route 64. You can also rent a car and travel independently.
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Sligo town at dusk, Ireland.

 

 

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Now, over to you!

Have you ever been to Sligo Town? Let us know in the comments!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Sligo and have travel-related questions!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

51 thoughts on “Ireland Travel Guide: The Best Things to see and do in Beautiful Sligo Town

    1. We love Sweet Beat Cafe too and used to drive to Sligo from Dublin just to eat there. Thankfully, now we live within walking distance. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva

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  1. The photographs are outstanding Aiva, great work! Sligo looks like quite an attractive town and a lovely place to spend some summer days. This is a really great post with so much great information and illustrated so perfectly. I certainly will not miss Sligo on my next trip to Eyre! All the best, and wishing you a lovely week,
    Francisco

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Francisco, and thanks so much for your lovely compliments. All of the photos for this particular blog were taken within the last seven weeks during our little walks around the town. We stumbled upon places we’ve never even knew existed and were delighted to see what Sligo has to offer away from the traditional tourist trail. Would love to go back to the contemporary art centre to see its exhibitions but might need to wait for a while. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. It’s an overcast yet pleasantly mild Tuesday here on Emmerdale Isle Aiva

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      1. The photographs are beautiful! Loved them! I too have been walking around town…now that we’ve been allowed out…and taking some photographs…I hope you can get back to the exhibitions and to normal life…well, all of us…as quickly as possible. Coexisting with this virus is not compatible with living life as human beings. We were not meant to live like this, like in this new normal that they want to impose upon us…in any event, yes, our weather today looks much like you’ve described yours…take good care Aiva and all the best,
        🙂

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    1. Sligo town is a very small place. There are barely 20,00residents. But what it lacks in size it makes up in natural wonders, beautiful waterfalls and perfect surf beaches. We are getting ready to explore more of Ireland this year, because from what it looks like, flying and going on an international adventure might not happen any time soon. Thanks for stopping by and take care. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, we are coming….as soon as we can travel again. Of course, there is that 14 day quarantine period on arrival. We hope to return to Ireland one day and your area does sound delightful. We have only touched on the area and with your description, feel we should spend more time in Sligo and area. Thanks for the great post Aiva and have a great week. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Allan. You would love exploring the width and breadth of Sligo and its surroundings. We are very fortunate to love where we live and it might prove to be to crucial point now that we are not allowed to travel. Some say travel will resume in September but who would want to go places knowing that there’s yet no vaccine or knowing that you might be affected by the second wave of COVID! Certainly not me. I am very happy to stay in Ireland and explore its coast, swimming lakes, hike and maybe even learn to surf! Thanks for reading and take care. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Definitely saving this post for when I’m able to visit Ireland! I recently read a book that was set in Ireland, and that’s really made me want to visit the country! And you make it sound like such a dream! I’m really loving the fact that you’ve included places to eat because good food can perfectly round off one’s experience in a place.
    Love these photos, and the picture of that lovely blue door is so beautiful and calming!
    Have a great day, Aiva!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Arshia! We used to live in Dublin for ten years and used to go to Sligo for a family vacation. It’s a dream come true moment to finally live on Irelands West Coast, surrounded by dense woodlands and beautiful lakes. We are patiently waiting for the phase three when on July 20 we’ll be able to move freely around the country. I’m already working on my staycation bucket list and can’t wait to uncover Ireland’s hidden gems. Thanks for stopping by, my friend and have a lovely day. Aiva xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Maggie. It’s the Sligo Towns location that made us choose it as our home. And you don’t even need a car to go to the beach or to the nearby forests. We were so used to going on a holiday whenever we wanted, but living on an island and with planes not going anywhere, we have no choice but to find joy in exploring Ireland. Staycation is the new trend now and I am absolutely loving it. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A great promotion of your hometown. I’ll admit that we’ve spent very little time in Sligo – We’ve a lot of connections in Donegal and so tend to head there. We did stay at the Radisson Blu a few years back and really enjoyed some lovely walks along the coast and headed out to Céide Fields. We ate in the hotel and out along the coast so didn’t really explore the town itself. With the likelihood of a strong surge in staycations, maybe this is the year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Marie, how are you doing today? Yes, seems like staycations is going to be a big hit this year. Living on an island we really have no choice and with COVID still making headlines where we would go anyway? I am absolutely delighted to spend my time and money right here in Ireland. I would love to drive the whole coast, listen to the traditional Irish music, purchase Aaran sweater, support local artisans and get to know this beautiful country that we love so much on a deeper level. Thanks for stopping by, I hope you get to make it to Sligo this year! Gives us a shout if you are coming this way! Take care Aiva xxx

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    1. Thank you, Jo. To live within walking distance from some of the most scenic parts Ireland has to offer is a dream come true for us. Having lived in Dublin city for ten years, we greatly appreciate everything there is to see and do in Sligo. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva xxx

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    1. Thank you very much. We absolutely love exploring Sligo and couldn’t be happier to raise a family here. We can easily combine mountains and the sea in one day, what more can one ask to be fully content. With international trave out of the window due to COVID, we are already working on our Irish road trip itinerary! Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day. Aiva

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    1. Sligo is quiet and full of charm and who would have thought that we could so easily transition from city cats to country-dwellers! It must have something to do with getting old. Living in the countryside away from the noise and pollution and stuffing our faces with local produce, seems to agree with us. I love your point about accommodation, we should offer people staying at our place too if they don’t mind a toddler who gets up at 8 am and sings at top of her voice while brushing teeth. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, Aiva! You have me longing for Sligo! The Wild Atlantic Way is so beautiful, and I would love to spend more time there. My most recent trip didn’t get me there — I’m hoping the fall of 2022 will find me in Ireland, and spending some time in Sligo!
    Also, I just finished reading the book Normal People and they talk about Sligo several times! It made me smile and think of you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Allison! Exploring our home town Sligo and seeing surrounding landscape dotted with wildflowers, made me realise how little we actually need to feel happy.

      The electricity of first love between two people who changed each other’s lives was just on the Tv and caused quite the stir. in Ireland. A lot of viewers complained it was too sexy but the fans of Sally Rooney’s novel “Normal People” are devoted types and apparently loved everything about it. I need to get my hands on this Irish novel; thanks for reminding me, my friend and have a lovely weekend. Aiva xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We love exploring lesser-known corners of the world and it brought us to beautiful Sligo Town, nestled in the northwest. We loved it so much, we decided to move there and haven’t regretted once! I hope you get to visit Sligo one day. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Caroline. We love Sligo and its rugged terrain and could not be happier to spend the rest of our lives here. Weare slowly working on our road trip Itinerary around Ireland, for when it’s safe to travel within the country, and are beyond excited to see where it takes us. Have a good day and take care. Aiva

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    1. Thank you very much. All of the photos were taken in the last two month during our walks around Sligo Town while in quarantine. We were allowed to exercise once a day and during those two months living in lockdown, we learned to appreciate little things in life and couldn’t be happier to raise a family in Sligo. Thanks for reading and have a lovely day. Aiva

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    1. Thanks so much, my friend. As much as we love travelling around the world, there is real joy embarking on mini adventures around our home town Sligo. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Everything looks gorgeous! 😍 I had never heard of Sligo before reading your blog but it sounds like a lovely place to visit! Hopefully I will be able to visit one day 😊 Thanks for sharing your great tips and experience!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Juliette. Sligo is famous for its natural beauty and Nobel prize winner Yeats but recently shoot to fame due to Normal People, which starts out as a teen romance but evolves over its 12 episodes into a richer, broader portrait of the way first love imprints itself on the psyche, turns those notions on their head. I personally haven’t read the book or seen the debut on the small screen, but apparently it’s well worth your time. Believe it or not, but picturesque Sligo was used as the backdrop to make the BBC drama. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Toni. One of the reasons why we wanted to move from Dublin to Sligo was for its natural scenery. We don’t even have to travel far to be beside the ocean and that’s what makes our lives even more satisfying. Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, guys and thanks for stopping by. We are doing great, thanks for asking. The restrictions are beginning to loosen, the sun is shining and it’s currently +27’C. Can’t remember last time when Ireland was warmer than Spain! I hope you get to visit Ireland one day, it looks even more beautiful now with its sunlit corners. Take care. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Sligo is a lovely place to add to your Irish road trip as it is less touristy yet offers equally beautiful sights to explore. I hope you get to visit one day. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

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