We have been overwhelmed with the passion of Sligonians for things to do in their county that keeping it to just 10 was a struggle!
One of the very best things about Sligo is that it is a small county. For those visiting or already living here, all of the suggested things to do below aren’t more than 30 minutes away from Sligo town.
The other great thing about this beautiful county is that because it’s off the beaten path, even in the height of summer, you can find the most beautiful empty beaches where nobody will bother you for miles. Locals aren’t jaded by volumes of visitors and so the welcome is always a warm and personal one. We can vouch for that.
Here are our Top 10 Things to Do in Sligo.
1. Climb a mountain
Whether you are looking for a short hilltop hike or the excitement of conquering Sligo’s Table Mountain, there are mountain-climbing options in Sligo to suit all fitness levels.
- Climb Knocknarea. In Irish mythology Knocknarea is the burial place of the beautiful Warrior Queen Maeve of Connaught. She is said to be buried upright in the cairn at the summit of Knocknarea, spear in hand, still facing her enemies in Ulster. Until 2014 those wanting to visit Queen Maeve’s cairn on the summit of Knocknarea had to use the rugged path from the car park on the south side of the mountain. This is a shorter route (about 45 mins) and has the added benefit of a little crepe stall in the car park for a treat when you get back. The new Queen Maeve trail enables you to climb Knocknarea directly from the village without the need for a car. The trail is 2.4km in length and involves an ascent of about 300m. The climb takes approximately 1 hour and the descent approximately 40 minutes (1.5 – 2 hours total duration). Good footwear/boots are recommended as the trail can be both wet and slippery.
- Climb Ben Bulben: AT 526 METRES high, it’s no small task to climb Sligo’s famous mountain. The journey to the summit takes about two hours, but the views you get at the top are jaw-dropping. Undoubtedly Ireland’s most iconic mountain, Ben Bulben is the most distinctive peak among the Dartry range, it was formed during the ice age by massive glaciers segmenting the landscape.
More at SligoWalks.ie
2. Spend a day in ‘Ireland’s best seaside surf village’
There is no doubt that Strandhill is having its day of glory. Hipsters abound with flat whites and surf boards. A day out at Strandhill (especiallys Sundays) is a must for any visitor to Sligo if only for the people-watching.
Any visit to this buzzy surf village has plenty of activity and entertainment options. Our favourite list: a coffee at Shells, climb the huge sand-dune then run down into Shelley Valley, visit the Strandhill People’s Market, walk the Killaspugbrone loop, have a Voya Seaweed Bath and finish by watching sunset from the prom.
More from gostrandhill.com
3. Hike the Sligo Camino
Walk the Sligo Way: The Sligo Way is a 74 km route that traverses the County of Sligo in the northwest of Ireland from Lough Talt, in the Ox Mountains near the Mayo border, to the town of Dromahair in County Leitrim. Stunning landscapes and unadulterated solitude rewards those who are willing to take even short sections of this enchanting route.
4. Catch Some Waves:
Sligo proclaims itself to be Ireland’s surf capital. With the Surf Summit visiting in November 2015 and Mullaghmore regularly making international headlines for its world-class waves, it seems they have a legitimate claim. There are surf spots all along the Sligo coasts. If you haven’t surfed before check out any of the surf schools in Strandhill; they’ll get you on a wave in no time. Other suitable surf breaks for beginners include Streedagh or Dunmoran Strand. If we told any of the other secret spots we would be in trouble.
5. Get your Adrenalin on in the Lakes and Woods
With so much focus on surf and the beaches, it’s easy to forget the Sligo also has some of Ireland’s most beautiful lakes and woodlands. Kayak with Sligo Kayak Tours on Glencar, Lough Gill or the River Bonnet or mountain bike through Slish Woods or Union Wood with North West Adventure Tours to experience the exhilaration that participating and seeing these stunning locations from another viewpoint can offer.
6. Hear the Best of Trad Music
Although the Fleadh is over and moving on, Sligo still lays claim to being the home of traditional Irish music and no matter what night of the week, you can head out for a night of great music. Find nightly traditional music sessions in pubs like McGarrigles, McGlynns, Shoot the Crows, the Journeyman and O’Connors in Ballisodare. The annual Sligo Live music festival takes place this coming October 21-26 with a huge programme of big concerts and smaller pub sessions.
7. Visit a Weekend Market
From a market in an airport hangar to one in a bucolic country hall straight from the Darling Buds of May, Sligo has lots of weekend markets to while away a few hours with local produce and craft providers. On Saturdays there is a market in Rathcormack, IT Sligo and Beltra Country Market while on Sundays the Strandhill People’s Market always has music, plenty of people-watching options and failing that the Rescue Helicopter usually provides a good distraction.
8. “….for peace comes dropping slow…”
In 2015 Sligo celerated 150 years since Yeats’ birth and the county has seen a plethora of happenings allowing locals and visitors alike to revisit why Yeats’ retreated to Sligo when he wanted to get away from the world.
A Yeats-inspired visit to Sligo should include at the very least Hazelwood, Lissadell House, and Yeats’ grave at Drumcliffe where apparently he is buried ‘Under bare Ben Bulben’s head” and a stop-off at The Model to see the beautiful paintings by Jack B. and other members of Yeats’ family. Visitors to Sligo town will also notice two new murals of Yeats and Maud Gonne commissioned for Yeats2015.
Yeats2015 has two great tours of Yeats County articulating what Yeats’ could expect to discover on a contemporary journey through his favourite Sligo haunts:
9. Get Stuffed
Sligo’s food scene has exploded in recent years with a really strong growth of casual dining options offering great, local and seasonal product.
Recently listed as one of Ireland’s Top 10 Foodie Towns, Trip Advisors’s top listings for Sligo include the new plant-based café Sweet Beat, the extremely popular artisan ice-cream maker Fabio and the newly opened Knox on O’Connell St which has a great outdoor seating right on to the street.
Great epicurean haunts for stocking up include the always busy, always buzzy, Kate’s Kitchen and a visit to Cosgroves Deli is a total experience, especially for the staff in their old school white coats.
Outside of town, Strandhill has a plethora of options including Shells whose fish and chips are that of local legend status and the newly opened Draft House offering great gastropub fare.
North Sligo also has a wealth of eating options including the seafood doyenne Eithna whose eponymous Mullaghmore restaurant is a must-visit destination for fish and seafood-lovers.
Visitors to South Sligo also rave about the recently opened Pudding Row Café in Easkey.
10. Drive to an Island
Get your tide times right and you can have a day of wandering around the stunning Coney Island which is nestled in the bay between Strandhill and Rosses Point.
The island is accessible by boat from the pier at Rosses Point, but the most popular route is by way of Cummeen Strand when the tide is out. This strand is exposed at low tide and is marked by 14 stone pillars for a distance of 5km leading to the island. Wind the windows down and get the amazing coastal air on your drive out.
It’s worth it for the drive alone but you can easily while away a few hours wandering the island, have a pint in the local pub if its open or bring a picnic and hang out on Carty’s Strand.
Sligo.me has a handy list of Sligo tides.
Mullaghmore Head, Raymond Fogarty
SUP and Kayaking via SUPforAll
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