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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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!