I call myself lucky to live in Sligo. I love the quiet solitude and how everyone greets one another. I love how the seasons change more starkly. I love going for a walk on tranquil country roads and knowing that the beach is only a few minutes away.
Sligo is rich in charm, strong in character and living in this place provided yet another chapter of our life of growing. Over the past three years 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, hiking through many woodlands and going surfing and cycling nearly every single day.
As travel within Irish counties allowed from Monday 12 April, we created a small yet mighty list of some of the best things to do within County Sligo.
This is by no means a complete guide to the best things to do in Sligo – there are simply too many.
11 Amazing Things To Do in 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
Don’t forget to protect yourself and others
Although many countries, Ireland including are easing travel restrictions, the pandemic is far from over and that’s why it is very important, once you rush out the door, to follow the guidelines imposed by the government. Research rules and regulations of the city or a region you are travelling to. Being respectful of the health and safety measures during the pandemic crisis is of paramount importance. Don’t forget that your holiday spot is someone else’s home town, traveling at the moment is a privilege and we can’t do it at the expense of locals’ safety.
- Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within easy reach.
- Make sure you wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
- Wear your mask and change it regularly
- Avoid close contact with others
#1. Explore Sligo beaches
If you live in Sligo and If you feel swept up in a rush of life, running errands and completing never-ending tasks then a visit to one of Sligo’s beautiful beaches can awaken a deep appreciation for the world around you, even with pandemic crises still at large.
Choose Streedagh Beach or Mullaghmore Beach and you are guaranteed to be completely mesmerised by the rugged coast, seagrasses swaying in the wind and shifting skies.
Sligo beaches are beautiful and diverse and while you are enjoying these natural treasures, why not take the time to clean up beach litter? Just by doing a #2minutebeachclean and removing litter that you might see washed up on the shores assures that marine life won’t come into contact with it.
#2. Go for a walk at Hazelwood Forest
Located on the shores of Lough Gill, only a few miles from Sligo Town centre, Hazelwood forest provides peaceful forest walks with views of Lough Gill and the Garavogue River.
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 begins to sprout in woodland this year, make a visit to the forest. You would not be able to resist the urge to immortalise all the surrounding beauty and incredible spring wildflowers growing wild and free before they all are gone.
#3. Watch a sunset
Nature can speak for itself without digital manipulation and over-enchantment, and if you ever catch a sunset in Sligo, you’ll be rewarded with a proper colour burst.
On our last trip to Rosses Point, 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.
The soft and subtle tones of the sunset and endless views over the vast water of the Atlantic ocean provided much needed natural tranquillity and some real downtime.
#4. Visit Mullaghmore Village
Nothing beats an opportunity to endure the full scope of natural elements while being out in the wild where 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 Sligo so you can witness brave waterman ride huge waves. Mullaghmore Head is renewed as Ireland’s ultimate big wave destination and when the conditions are right you might be able to gasp in awe as local big wave surfer Conor Maguire tames soaring swells.
In addition to immense swells, you’ll also find Classiebawn Castle, a stone harbour pier, built in 1828, a white sand beach that’s perfect for swimming and staggering views over the vast Atlantic waters.
#5. 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 capture Knocknarea and Sligo Bay.
#6. Go on a photography adventure
With so many unusual compositions and views, Sligo is the perfect photographer’s 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.
#7. 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 a few minutes in a steam room to open up your pores, and then you slip into a bathtub where 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.
#8. Hike Knocknarea mountain
If you are in Sligo and find yourself aching for mountains and looking for a physical challenge, then Queen 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.
#9. 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 packed 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, grab a bite at the Italian Quarter, learn more about Yeats and see the fantastic woodcarvings made by the talented craftsman Michael Quirke, you’ll be instantly filled with wonder and delight.
Ruins of a beautiful 13th century Sligo Abbey, built-in 1253, and a Nobel Laureate William Butler Yeats Memorial House can be found in town as well as lots of boutique shops and eventful Irish pubs.
#10. Visit Strandhill
Prior to 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 clean-ups and enjoyed the mind-blowing countryside.
Besides engaging nature, you’ll find a great variety of food outlets with places like Shells Caffe, Strand Bar and Mammy Johnston’s, famous for their honeycomb ice cream, all down by the oceanfront.
#11. Stop by Yeats Grave in Drumcliff
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 known 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!