Famously nicknamed “The Land of Heart’s Desire”, Sligo is one of the most scenic (and often overlooked!) counties in Ireland. With gorgeous beaches, epic mountains, delicious food and so much more, Sligo is the perfect destination for a weekend away! This guide will tell you everything you need to know before you go, including where to eat, where to stay and what you should get up to in Yeats’ county.
WHERE TO STAY IN SLIGO
The Glass House Hotel
The 4 Star Glasshouse Hotel is an ideal base for your weekend away in Sligo. It is situated in the heart of Sligo town, in walking distance to the best nightlife, bars and restaurants that Sligo has to offer.
The rooms are lovely and spacious, and the staff are extremely friendly. The hotel also has an amazing restaurant and upstairs bar which offers fabulous views of the Garavogue River.
If you’re looking to get away from the city for a few days, I cannot recommend a stay in Strandhill enough. It is one of the most charming, unspoiled villages on the West Coast of Ireland. Plus there is so much to do in Strandhill, you could spend the whole weekend here!
The Strandhill Lodge and Suites is a new, family run lodge nestled under Knocknarea Mountain. The lodge provides beautiful views over Strandhill, as well as large rooms and free parking.
If you are visiting Sligo on a budget, you can’t go wrong with a stay at SurfnStay. This is less glam, but a more affordable option, offering a selection of private and dorm rooms. As the name suggests, they also offer surfing lessons for any residents!
WHERE TO EAT IN SLIGO
We’re going to take it fairly easy on Friday evening, assuming you’ve just gotten out of the car after a long drive! Head straight to your accommodation, drop the bags, and grab some grub.
Rugatino is a cosy family-style restaurant run by Italians on the banks of the Garavogue river. Serving delicious pizza, pasta, burgers, and vegetarian options.
Cool urban bistro which has won the Best Restaurant award five years running. This is a fine dining experience, serving fresh, locally sourced Fish and Steaks.
If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, their sister restaurant Hooked is a great option, serving locally sourced seafood.
The Blind Tiger
Best spot for a bit of nightlife in Sligo! Cool bar with live music, and cocktails that come in little baths and bins, so cute!
The food here comes from Camille, a delicious Thai restaurant.
This is a Steak and Seafood restaurant, serving great local food with a fantastic view! This is the oldest pub in Strandhill, so the place has a very relaxed atmosphere. The dining room faces out to the Atlantic. After eating, you can head down to their pub, where you’ll find a cosy snug, warm fire, and live music.
Stoked is a relaxed restaurant that gives off surf/ocean vibes. The menu is selected from all over the world, bringing the best word cuisine to Strandhill.
They serve both small and big plates, allowing you to get the best of everything with Tapas Style dining.
The Strand Bar
Family run, traditional Irish Bar in Strandhill village. This spot is really popular with the locals, and with good reason! They serve bar food from 12 pm to 4 pm, and speciality, stone baked pizzas from 4 pm onwards.
Come here for an authentic Irish pub experience.
WHAT TO DO IN SLIGO
We are going to start off the morning strong with (and I’m not being dramatic) the most delicious coffee I have ever had. Rover’s coffee lab is a specialty coffee shop in Sligo town, and they also offer delicious pastries and treats. After this, you’ll want to head to the Tourist Office at the top of O’Connell Street for a free walking tour of the city, which kicks off at 11am from Monday – Saturday. The tour is about 2 hours long, and brings you to some of the town’s most significant historical sites. This includes visiting gothic Cathedrals, hearing how Sligo Town inspired the book Dracula, and the medieval burial place of Kings and Princesses.
After the tour, you might want to grab some lunch in Sligo town. I’d highly recommend Kate’s Kitchen for soup and a sambo, or Baker Boy’s for more of a brunch vibe.
THE CAVES OF KEASH
HOW TO GET THERE
Next we are going to check out the ancient caves in Sligo that are older than the Egyptian pyramids! The caves of Keash are a series of 17 caves which make up an ancient passage tomb. You’ll want to park here, just beside St.Kevin’s church in the town of Keash.
INFO ABOUT THE HIKE
The climb to the caves takes about 20-25 minutes, and the pathway is mainly gravel. However, when you get to the top, the grass can be quite slippy in places, so I would recommend bringing a good pair of walking shoes. The views from the top are incredible, so spend a bit of time up here taking it all in and climbing through the caves.
If you’re not feeling totally exhausted from the day, we are now going to head back towards town, and out to Parkes Castle. This is a 17th Century Castle located on Lough Gill, and is technically in Leitrim (but that won’t stop us from going).
Here you can do a full tour of the castle, including the banquet hall and family rooms. Or you can simply explore the castle gardens and look out on the famous Lake Isle of Innisfree.
Once you’ve finished up exploring, you’ll probably be ready to head back to the hotel, freshen up, and go out for dinner in one of the delicious restaurants mentioned above!
Today we are going to head to my favourite village in Ireland, Strandhill! And you’re in luck, because on a Sunday they have gorgeous Strandhill People’s Market, which is located in the Sligo airport hangar. In the market, many small businesses showcase their delicious food or handcrafted goods in little stalls. It’s really cool even for a walk around, and I’d highly recommend checking it out.
As I’ve mentioned before, there is a lot you can do in Strandhill. Here’s some of my top options:
Strandhill is an extremely well known spot among surfers. Whether you’ve surfed before and are looking to build your confidence, or you’re a total beginner, this is a perfect spot to hit the waves. I’ve surfed a good few times with the Strandhill Surf School. Their office is located right on the beach and they offer lessons for all ages and abilities. The lessons last about 3 hours long, and they offer changing facilities and showers for after.
Knocknarea is a 2 hour roundtrip hike. At the top, you’ll find the ancient burial place of Queen Maeve. It’s said she was buried standing up, facing out so that she could watch over the land. You’ll want to park here, and bring good hiking shoes as the path is quite steep! The hike goes through the forest, and at the top, you’ll be rewarded with amazing 360 views of the Atlantic coast!
The Killaspugbrone look walk is a 6.8km walk around the dunes of Strandhill. The walk will bring you to the remains of Killaspugbrone church, where it is said that St. Patrick visited. Beside the church, there is also a peaceful swimming bay. The route goes through the forest, and ends in Strandhill village. As this is quite a long walk, I’d recommend some good footwear.
LUNCH IN STRANDHILL
After a busy morning, you’ll deserve a treat. As I’ve said before, Strandhill is a great spot for food. The Strand pub is a great option if you’re looking for something substantial, and they serve delicious wood fired pizzas from 4pm. Another pretty famous spot is Shell’s Cafe, which has delicous coffee, pastries, light bites or larger plates depending on what you’re in the mood for! Grab some food here and sit out by the sea. After you’re finished, if you’re not absolutely stuffed, you have to check out Mammy Johnson’s Ice-cream Parlor. This is another small, family run business which has been in Strandhill for three generations.
THE GLENIFF HORSESHOE
Next we are going to head out on a 30 minute drive to the Gleniff Horseshoe. This circular drive goes through a Glacial Valley, and is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon in Sligo. Before heading out, I’d very strongly recommend checking out the route on google maps. You’ll see the oblong shaped circular road, which resembles a horseshoe, hence the nickname! Roll down the windows and enjoy the stunning views of the Dartry mountains, and make sure you stop for some photos. You’ll get an amazing view of Benbulben from your car, and feel free to get out and explore some of the nearby trails.
Our final stop on our Sligo adventure is Glencar Waterfall. This waterfall reaches 50ft high and is situated at Glencar Lough. It is a very short walk from the carpark, with multiple viewing platforms. Entry and parking are free, and you can also walk a short distance to The Devil’s Chimney, which is Ireland’s highest waterfall. It is about an hour walk out and back to the waterfall, and you will need sturdy footwear as the trail is quite slippery in places.
‘Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,’
AND THAT’S A WRAP
And that’s it! I really hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you’ve had the best time in one of my all favorite counties in Ireland!