Sligo is one of the lesser-known areas of Ireland. And yet, for those who do make it to this northern region, they will find themselves greeted with some of the best sites and best activities in all of Ireland. From the Neolithic to world-renowned poets, nature and muse all call Sligo home. Additionally – there are simply so many fun things to do in Sligo, Ireland, you can fill one day or a whole week. For the perfect mixture of just a little bit of hiking, a little bit of relaxing, and a whole lot of fun, keep reading this Sligo Itinerary!
Address: 7C5G+G6 Upper Strandhill, County Sligo
Open year-round, free
One of the most impressive Neolithic sites in the Green Isle, Knocknarae presents a light hiking challenge with wonderful rewards. It’s just a 15-minute drive from Sligo Town, and it can get fairly busy in the tourist months. So, head out early in the morning to start your day!
The hike takes you past a series of sights. First, you’ll cut through some farms with curious cows with fresh wild berry bushes lining the path. Feel free to stop for a refreshing blackberry as you climb. You will start to see the views pretty quickly. If you turn around about halfway up, look back at the scenery. You might be able to glimpse the stone cairns on the tops of each hill in the distance. They form a fascinating line that is best viewed on a sunny day.
Careful of the slippery mud and gravel, but make your way to the top where the star of the show, Queen Maeve’s Grave, lies. A massive stone cairn, it dominates the landscape at over 10 meters high. Queen Maeve is a warrior queen in Celtic mythology, and it is a magical site. The wind whistles through and the clouds part to reveal one of the best views in the country. Ben Bulbin’s iconic silhouette to your right, the ocean waves to your left. Take your time here before making the climb down.
Strand Hill + Seaweed Baths
Voya Seaweed Baths Address: Shore Rd., Carrowbunnaun, Strandhill, Sligo County
The Venue Address: Top Rd., Larass, Strandhill, Sligo County
In order to properly recover, take a jaunt to nearby Strand Hill where you can relax in the fabulous pastime that is a seaweed spa. It might sound weird at first, but the large leafy seaweed is perfect for preserving heat and relaxing your muscles. It’s also very moisturizing!
VOYA Seaweed baths provide options for solo travelers and couples. 50 minutes of steaming away will cost you just 30 euros. You can also book a range of other spa treatments, such as massages and facials to complete the full-body relaxation. Their seaweed-based skincare line products also make fantastic gifts for friends and family. Make sure you book ahead, these baths are popular with tourists and locals alike!
When you walked out, all of the morning’s exertions will have drifted away. The force of the ocean’s waves will cool you off immediately once you leave, as Strand Hill is situated directly on the ocean. If you haven’t yet had the chance to experience seafood chowder, stop in for lunch at The Venue. The food options in Strand Hill are limited, but it’s one of the better choices and it’s hard to go wrong with seafood chowder in Ireland.
Address: 7F2J+74 Bayview, Sligo County
Before heading back to Sligo Town, there’s another fantastic Neolithic site nearby. The Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary (not to be confused with Carrowkeel – another fantastic site that’s a bit too far away for this itinerary) is home to a collection of dolmens. Like the stone cairns, these are buriel places. But instead of a pile of stones, they’re arranged similarly to Stonehenge (just smaller).
The site is free and there’s a demonstration of what’s on the inside of Queen Maeve’s Grave. Don’t forget, there are more dolmens on the other side of the road as well! Once you finish up here, it’s time to head back to Sligo Town to get a feel for the home of William Butler Yeats, famed poet.
Address: Hyde Bridge, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
Entrance fee: 3 euros
This is the main attraction in Sligo Town, and it is rather small. It’s designed for complete newbies to Yeats’ work, and for his most ardent fans.
For those who don’t know, Yeats was one of the most influential poets in the world. And, he grew up in Sligo (he is also buried in the Sligo region in Drumcliffe). Many of his works reflect on places and situations in the area, and it can frequently feel as though you are stepping into a poem as you explore Sligo.
This museum is very small, with just two rooms. The information is mainly given through large storyboards that are nicely put together. It’s a great introduction to Yeats, and for his biggest fans, there are first edition copies of his works, as well as the works of his brother (a fairly famous painter) and sisters (they made beautiful embroideries). You can view more of the brother, Jack Yeats, paintings in The Model, a nearby museum.
The best thing about the Yeats Building is the Yeats Society, which frequently holds events such as poetry workshops, or literary walking tours around town. Be sure to check in with their website before heading to Sligo to see if there’s something you’d be interested in.
Address: Abbey St., Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
Entrance fee: 3 euros
Sligo Abbey is the other main site to see in Sligo that doesn’t require a guide to explain it to you. It’s quite small, but it’s a beautifully preserved old abbey ruin. Apparently, just a few decades ago they used to host parties here! Sounds like a good tradition to bring back.
The abbey was founded in the 1200s and damaged in a fire – you’ll have to come here to learn some of the myths and legends that surround the burning of Sligo Abbey! There’s a reason the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, got a lot of inspiration from the creepy tales of Sligo – his mother grew up here!
More fun things to do in Sligo
It should be noted that during the warmer summer months it is possible to see more. Even in October, you can jam-pack your day. But, if you’re looking for more, consider Carrowmore and the Caves of Kesh – although further away and with more hiking, they are both wonderful sites that shouldn’t be missed. In that situation, you’re less likely to appreciate everything you see. Take your time and rather stay a day longer and enjoy all the things to do in Sligo.
If you’re looking for more places to visit, check out everything to do in Dingle! Another area with simply too many beautiful sites to count.
Best Restaurant in Sligo: Eala Bahn
Address: 5 Rockwood Parade, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
Eala Bahn For Dinner The best “fancy” restaurant in Sligo, the prices are pretty reasonable for some truly delicious food. Set alongside the black Caravogue river, it’s also a fantastic spot to wander in the evening. If you get in from 5 PM to 6:20 PM, you will be able to get dishes off the set menu for just 35 euros. This is significantly lower than what you would have to pay for each dish separately and includes a starter, main, and dessert. The braised pork belly is a particular favorite! They also have vegetarian options.
Sligo Pubs for Live Music
McLynn’s Address: Old Market Street, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo
Finding a great “trad” session, or a pub playing traditional Irish music, can be surprisingly difficult outside of Galway. And in Galway, if you visit the city at the wrong time, it can take hours of waiting to get in for the music. Here, if you know where to go, it’s easy to find a cozy session.
McLynn’s is cramped, warm, old, and friendly. They have a great selection of whisky, cider, and beer to help you loosen up and get ready to listen. The pub has been in the same family for four generations and the memories are soaked into the wood-paneled walls. It’s a must-visit in Sligo.
Getting to Sligo
Getting to Sligo is very easy if you are renting a car or if you are basing yourself in Dublin. From Dublin, you can take a train to Sligo. However, if you are doing a circuit of the island using only public transportation, you will have to take a bus from Galway with Sligo through Bus Eireann for 17 euros which will take two and a half hours.
Where to Stay in Sligo
There are not a ton of options for the budget-conscious in Sligo, but the Railway Hostel is a good choice. You’ll have to email the owner ahead of time as they don’t have online booking. But, the prices are cheap and the bedrooms comfy! For those with a little more cash to spend, the Glasshouse Hotel is located right on the river with lovely views of the old bridges and shops.
And that’s our best Sligo Itinerary! Have you been to Sligo? Tell us about your trip below! In the meantime, check out the Two Week Ireland Itinerary.
Things to do in Sligo, Ireland – Guest Post by Emily Posson from The Tiny Tumbleweed