County Mayo has mountains and sea; pristine beaches, stunning landscapes and some of the proudest people you will ever meet.
When we asked for your favourite things to do in Mayo; the response was overwhelming.
With ancient sites, picture-perfect beaches, plunging mountainsides, and unspoiled wilderness, it’s the perfect place to visit or live in.
1. Climb a Mountain:
Not just any mountain of course. One of Ireland and Mayo’s most famous landmarks, Croagh Patrick is located just outside of the beautiful and vibrant town of Westport and is known as the place where St. Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting during his years in Ireland.
County Mayo’s third Highest mountain, Croagh Patrick is known by some as Irelands Holy and Sacred mountain and is perhaps the most famous and certainly one of the most climbed of Ireland’s mountains with up to 1 million people climbing the majestic peak of Croagh Patrick each year.
Generally, it is best to climb in Spring, Summer, and Autumn (March-October). Occasional showers blow in over the bay so raingear is advisable. Croagh Patrick rises to a height of 2510 feet/765m above sea level.
Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend. croagh-patrick.com
2. Visit ‘The Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland’.
The mountain-rippled barony of Erris is undoubtedly off the beaten track.
Stretching from Ballycroy National Park to the Mullet Peninsula, it is covered with blanket bog for its two thirds and has white sandy beaches, wind-swept coasts, and stunning cliffs.
Erris is a real heaven for surfers, walkers and all enthusiasts for sea-sports. On the other hand families will find ideal beaches where children can play safely and have a swim in the clear and crystal water or have fantastic boat trips and maritime adventures. visiterris.ie, ballycroynationalpark.ie
3. Get an Adrenalin Fix
County Mayo is bursting with adrenalin-filled activity options. With its rugged coastline, mountains and seas, it has long attracted fresh-air heads seeking to push the boundaries of adventure activities.
Our pick includes:
- Coasteering in Erris with Wavesweeper Sea Adventures; a family-run soft adventure company based on the Erris Peninsula in North West Mayo. wavesweeperseaadventures.com
- Ask anybody about adventure activities in Mayo and they will know Francois at Pure Magic in Achill. So if you want to try kitesurfing, SUPing, or a whole host of other adrenalin filled options, check out Pure Magic on stunning Achill Island. puremagic.ie/achill
4. Get Stuffed
Mayo is a foodie lover’s dream. With a burgeoning food-produce industry (check out Achill Sea Salt for starters) and a wealth of formal and informal food establishments, there is something for every palate.
Our readers have highly recommended checking out Jack Fenn’s Courtyard Café in the courtyard of the stunning Belleek Castle in Ballina. belleekcastle.com
Also always worth a detour to Castlebar; Café Rua’s cafe and separate deli are family-run, award-winning foodie destination that entirely lives up to the hype! caferua.com
5. Visit Ireland’s Largest Island
Achill Island: Ireland’s largest island is arguably our most beautiful. You could spend weeks exploring the pristine beaches of Keem Bay, surfing at Keel beach or snorkeling at Keem (via @kevlsmith on Instagram)
6. Spend a week in Westport; ‘Ireland’s Best Place to Live’
Westport town has long been synonymous with being one of Ireland’s best holiday destinations. In 2012 The Irish Times awarded it the prestigious accolade of also being the ‘Best Place to Live’
From the culture of Westport House & Clew Bay Heritage Centre to cliff jumping into the wild Atlantic and all things in between, such as, soaking in the atmosphere of the bars & restaurants, cycling the Great Western Greenway or tracing the footsteps of our Patron Saint to the top of the Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick. destinationwestport.com
7. Visit a Field System older than the Pyramids:
There are few places in Ireland where the feeling of being surrounded by the truly ancient is more profound than at the Céide Fields in Belderrig, Co. Mayo, home of the oldest known field system in the world.
Located along dramatic 360-foot high cliffs and looking straight out onto the Atlantic Ocean, the Céide Fields (or Achaidh Chéide meaning “flat-topped hill fields”) is a remarkable neolithic site first discovered in the 1930s. museumsofmayo.com/ceide.htm
8. Explore Mayo’s ‘Camelot’
Continually named among the world’s best hotels, Ashford Castle reached world fame in 2017 when it became the wedding venue of choice for Rory McIlroy and his fiancée.
Situated on grounds covering 350 acres, Ashford Castle overlooks the beautiful Lough Corrib in Cong, County Mayo. While the room rates might be a little steep for some, exploring Cong and the grounds of the castle offer a truly magical, majestic experience. ashfordcastle.com
9. Get Gobsmacked at Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste:
Downpatrick Head is a majestic heritage site found about 5km north of Ballycastle village.
Jutting out into the ocean and rising almost 40m above the waves, it provides unparalleled views of the Atlantic, including the unique collection of islands known as the Staggs of Broadhaven.
You can also spot the nearby Dún Briste sea stack, with its different coloured layers of rock and nesting seabirds. dunbriste.com
10. Experience a bygone way of life at the National Museum of Ireland Country Life
A visit to the National Museum of Ireland Country Life is a great day out for the whole family, with plenty to see and do for everyone.
Home to the national collection of objects representing the traditional way of life in Ireland since 1850, the National Museum of Country Life is set in modern exhibition galleries in the spectacular grounds of Turlough Park House and surrounded by magnificent gardens and lake. As well as the Museum Galleries and the 19th-century Victorian Gothic house, the extensive grounds of Turlough Park feature gardens, woodland walks, a river and lake all overlooked by an ancient round tower. museum.ie/en/intro/country-life
11. Visit a Lost Valley
We couldn’t finish at ten; there were too many good ones to leave out. This one is definitely a hidden gem.
The Doolough Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Ireland. The area is bogland which is uninhabited except for the intrepid sheep who seem quite content to have it to themselves.
Poignantly it is also home to a memorial of the Great Famine;. The memorial itself is a plain stone cross engraved with the words ‘Doolough Tragedy 1849’. A yearly walk is held along this route in memory of the Doolough dead and to highlight the starvation of the world’s poor still today. loveconnemara.com/item/doo-lough-valley/
Other Insider’s Tips:
- Visit the Nephin Whiskey Emporium in Lahardane on Lough Conn
- “Louisburgh for surfing and fishing. Mweelrea for mountain top views. Wild camping at Silver Strand. Cliff diving at old head and coasteering at Clare Island.” – Nora Gibbons.
- Blogger Val Robus recommends glamping at Belmullet Coast Guard Station. This was voted one of the Top 50 places to stay along Ireland’s coastline by The Irish Times.
A huge thanks to all contributors. If you think we have missed something from this list please let us know firstname.lastname@example.org