When exploring Ireland, it is often the smaller regional areas that get overlooked as people flock to the bigger tourist areas, like Galway and Dublin. Some of the smaller locations in Ireland have the most to offer a visitor when they come to the island. Sligo, nicknamed ‘Yeats County’, in honour of famed Irish Poet, William Butler Yeats. Sligo lies in Ireland’s North-Western region in the province of Connacht. This county is positioned as one of the landmark locations along the Wild Atlantic Way, an initiative that highlights the beauty of Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coastline. Sligo has a lot of history throughout its borders. As mentioned, W.B.Yeats, one of Ireland’s most esteemed 20th century poets grew up in Sligo and drew his inspiration from its mystic nature. His twelve line poem titled ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ is inspired and refers to the Isle of Innisfree that lies on Sligo’s Lough Gill. If visitors to Ireland are considering adventuring away from the usual destinations, Sligo is one of the most unique places and is guaranteed to offer incredible experiences to the guest. Below is a handy list of activities and things to do for anyone wanting to visit Sligo, explore more of Ireland or want to discover something new!
1) Hiking and Mountaineering:
Sligo is home to some of the most picturesque mountains, woods and trails in Ireland. Situated not too far outside the city limits are two of the most infamous mountains in Sligo; Knocknarea and Benbulbin. Knocknarea Mountain is the more popular mountains to hike out of the two and offers a path just off of the main road for hikers to begin their ascent. With fresh ocean air in your face and the hillside nature surrounding you on your climb, Knocknarea gives its visitors not just a nice trail to climb but also incredible views that look out into the neighboring village of Strandhill and view out to the Atlantic. Knocknarea also plays host to the tomb of one of Connacht’s greatest rulers, Queen Meábh. Lying in the Dartry Mountain Range is the poignant Benbulbin Mountain. It is the more rugged mountain of the two but luckily a number of local companies can accompany climbers as they hike the beautiful mountain. Sligo based companies High Hopes Hiking and North West Adventure Tours facilitate and escort visitors to Benbulbin. It is recommended that hikers and those interested in visiting Benbulbin approach from the south face as it is easier and less dangerous of the two, For a weekend visit to Sligo, I’d highly recommend tourists to visit (Weather permitting, obviously!) and attempt these trails as not only is it a great way to explore Sligo’s natural area but the views are unbeatable…
2) Adventure Tourism:
The beauty with Sligo is that it lies on the coast of Ireland and gives visitors access to a lot of activities on the water. One of Sligo’s biggest adventure sports is Surfing! The surf in Sligo and in the North West of Ireland is world renowned for each beach offering plenty of good waves. Discover Ireland lists Sligo as one of the best surfing destinations in Ireland. For those who have never tried surfing before and want to try something new on your trip, Sligo has an abundance of surfing schools and centers for people to try out! North West Surf School, Sligo Surf Experience and Perfect Day Surf School are just some of the surf schools to help anyone get on a board and catch wave! As well as surfing, Sligo offers a range of adventure and activities from Stand Up Paddle boarding to Horse Riding to simple walking tours of the town! For those having a short stay in Sligo, indulging in something adventurous is something I would I strongly recommend! Stand Up Paddling is one of my favourite adventure activities in Sligo, and is very good for those who want to both relax and take in the Sligo lakefront and seascape scenery!
3) Food and Drink:
If there is one thing Sligo can boast an ample amount of is good food and excellent eateries. Each street in Sligo town has delicious food places that anyone visiting the area and surrounding locations is recommended to come and try! Not only is Sligo a great place for people to come and taste lovely food but its also the perfect destination for anyone wanting to EXPERIENCE Food. Sligo plays host to a number of incredible food and drink producers like White Hag Brewery, Carrow Coffee Roasters and Knocknarea Honey to name a few. Some of these items can be tasted and enjoyed throughout different restaurants and cafes in the town. Sligo Food Trail is a great service in the area for people to experience different foods and beverages. *One of my recommended stops in Sligo is to the WB Coffee House where visitors can enjoy their unique Oyster Experience!* Restaurants, Cafes and Bars in Sligo are brimming with high quality food, drink and service. Here is a few places I would recommend for anyone visiting Sligo:
*Note: Most bars in Sligo offer weekend live music! (A * indicates my favourite places in Sligo)
4) Local Villages:
Sligo Town does have a lot to offer each visitor in terms of culture, food, adventure and history, but Sligo’s surrounding areas are to be heavily admired also! The villages of County Sligo offer many unique experiences and activities for people visiting the North West. As noted in point 2, Strandhill, a bordering village to Sligo Town, offers a lot of aqua adventure and unique food and holistic beauty experiences like Voya, that offer incredible seaweed treatments. Strandhill is close to the Knocknarea Mountain and gives visitors some exceptional food experiences with The Strand Bar, Mammy Johnson’s Ice Cream Parlour and Shells Cafe all along the seafront. The dunes in Strandhill as well as the beautiful coastal walks along the beach are profoundly therapeutic. In the village also is the Strandhill’s Peoples Market. This market offers the best of Sligo’s artisan food and crafts all under one roof in Sligo Airport’s hanger. Similarly, Rosses Point, which is about 8km outside of Sligo Town is a coastal village that offers great golfing locations, several blue flag beaches, sea angling and some really high quality food spots like The Driftwood and the Little Cottage Cafe which give visitors ocean views as they eat! Like Strandhill, Rosses Point is a great place for walks along the Atlantic. On a couple of occasions, my family have taken our dog to Rosses Point, and she definitely recommends it. She gives the waves a solid 5 out of 5. Another coastal location in Sligo definitely worth checking out if you have a bit longer in Sligo is Enniscrone! Enniscrone is a place my family I visited when I was younger and it has an incredibly relaxing beach as well as some of its dune landmarks. Be sure to check out the Valley of Diamonds!
These are some of the places I have been to, have eaten in and experienced in this North West hub and what I think makes for a great weekend or trip to Sligo! For those visiting Ireland, definitely look into adding Sligo to your itinerary if you have time as it is one of Ireland’s most beautiful locations! For more on Sligo or the North West Region, feel free to hit me up on my social media or via mail on the home page!