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Achill Island Guide: Attractions, Food + Maps

Achill Island Guide: Attractions, Food + Maps

Ireland’s Achill Island is home to a wealth of beaches, walks, viewpoints, scenic drives and historical sites.

Connected to the mainland at Achill Sound by the Michael Davitt Bridge, Achill is the largest of the Irish Isles, located on the west coast of County Mayo.

Recently featured in the movie The Banshees of Inisherin, the island has several coastal towns that you can explore from, like Keel.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do on Achill to places to stay and where to grab a pint!

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Achill Island


Although a visit to Achill Island in Mayo is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location  

Achill Island is a rural retreat on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in County Mayo. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge at Achill Sound. The nearest large towns are Westport and Castlebar (50km and 60km away respectively).

2. Getting to Achill

Getting to Achill Island is easy. The Bus Éireann Route 450 connects the towns of Westport, Newport and Louisburgh to the island. If you are driving, the Michael Davitt Bridge makes getting to Achill a breeze.

3. The Greenway

The Achill to Westport Greenway is a 43.5km cycle and walking route that takes between 3 and 4 hours, depending on pace. The Achill section was extended by 5km in 2024 to include a new section from Achill Sound to Cashel. The plan is to continue extending it towards Keel.

4. Well worth visiting

Achill Island is steeped in 5,000 years of history, with megalithic tombs and forts a-plenty. High cliffs and peat bogs provide hikers with many spectacular views while the island’s countless beaches are a joy to saunter along. If you only have 1 day, try the Atlantic Drive itinerary!


About Achill Island

Keem Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

Achill Island has a population of around 2,500 in several coastal communities including Keel, Dooagh and Dugort.

Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, this western point of County Mayo covers over 36,500 acres although 87% of it is peat bog.  

Topography and terrain

Achill’s 128km coastline includes stunning sandy coves and the highest sea cliffs in Ireland on the north side of Croaghaun Mountain, 688m above sea level.

These are also the third highest cliffs in Europe, and nearly three times higher than the more famous Cliffs of Moher in Clare.


Gaelic traditions 

Achill is a Gaeltacht stronghold with many locals speaking Irish as well as English.

Traditional sports abound including Gaelic football and hurling along with golf, fishing, surfing and all types of watersports. 

Things to do on Achill

So, as there’s an almost endless number of places to visit here, I’ve created a dedicated guide to the best things to do on Achill Island.

Below, you’ll find a quick overview of what there is to see and do (here’s the full guide!).


1. The Atlantic Drive   

When it comes to scenic drives, the Atlantic Drive on Achill Island is hard to beat, especially if you only have 1 day.

The route is well signposted as you head to Kildavnet church and tower house.

The road from Cloughmore to Dooega offers some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Ireland and is not to be rushed!

View the uninhabited island of Achillbeg, Dún na Glaise promontory fort and Clare Island before ascending steeply to look down on rocky Ashleam Bay.

This Achill Island road trip continues through Dooega to Minaun Heights (466m) and dramatic views of Keel and Keem before completing the loop. 


2. Beaches Galore  

There are some might beaches on Achill and several are arguably some of the best beaches in Mayo.

Keem Bay is one of Ireland’s finest beaches and is frequently listed in the world’s Top 50.

Neighbouring Keel Beach (Trawmore Strand) is popular for its surf school and watersports while Dooega Beach is a sheltered summer resort for families.

Dugort is home to two beaches – the main Dugort Beach which hosts the annual New Year’s Day dip for hardy locals and beautiful Golden Strand, 2km east.


3. The Croaghaun Sea Cliffs 

The Croaghaun cliffs are a dramatic sight, towering 688 metres above the wild Atlantic waves.

The sheer cliffs are the highest in Ireland but are inaccessible by road.

You can hike along the cliff top from Keem Bay or view them by boat from the sea.

Look out for the peregrine falcons (fastest diving birds on earth) that nest on the cliffs and the dolphins, whales and basking sharks that inhabit the sea below. 


4. Watersports

Keel Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

With its sandy beaches, freshwater lake and Blue Flag waters, Achill Island is a great destination for watersports enthusiasts.

Keel Strand is the place to head for surfing with easy access, surf school and equipment hire.

The 3km bay is good for windsurfing although novices may prefer the less choppy waters on nearby Keel Lake.

It’s a good spot for canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and kitesurfing while snorkellers and scuba divers can explore the Blueway Marine Trails.

Related read: Discover 30+ of the best things to do in Mayo this month!


5. The Great Western Greenway

Although the Great Western Greenway doesn’t wind it’s way around Achill Island, the 43.5km rail trail is a fantastic way to reach Achill Island on foot or bicycle.

The traffic-free Greenway runs from Westport to Achill.

It’s the longest off-road trail in Ireland, following the former railway which closed in 1937.

The trail runs through the pretty villages of Newport and Mulranny offering scenic coastal views for most of the route.


Achill Island accommodation  

Achill Island has all types of accommodation for visitors, from village inns and scenic AirBnbs to historic hotels in harbour-front villages.

In our Achill accommodation guide, you’ll find some that should suit most budgets.

If you’re visiting during the summer, book as far in advance as you can, as accommodation gets snapped up quickly here.


Places to eat on Achill

Beehive Coffee Shop Achill

Photos via Beehive Coffee Shop on FB

Although there aren’t many restaurants on Achill, there are some long standing favourites that have been keeping bellys happy for many a year.

If you’re there for lunch, try and nab a seat in the Beehive Coffee Shop at Keel.

On a fine day, the outdoor seating provides glorious views of the sea and cliffs.

Another good spot is Ted’s over at Cashel South. This is a cosy pub that dishes up a fine bit of grub (there’s an outdoor area for summer, too!).


Pubs on Achill

Ted's Bar Achill

Photos via Ted’s on FB

There are some fine pubs on Achill Island, but they are fairly spread out!

Search out brilliant Lynott’s Pub or the mighty Annexe Inn at Keel for Trad Nights.

Then there’s Ted’s Bar at Cashel with a 1950s ambience and Patten’s Bar in Achill, one of the oldest licensed premises on the island.


FAQs about visiting Achill Island in Mayo

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from can you drive over to Achill to what there is to see when you arrive.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

Can you drive to Achill Island?

Yes! You can drive straight over to Achill Island thanks to the Michael Davitt Bridge connecting the island to the mainland.

Can you stay on Achill?

Yes. However, accommodation on Achill, particurally during the summer months, can be hard to come-by.

Is there much to do on Achill?

There’s everything from beaches and watersports to hikes, walks and scenic drives that you can head off on.

How long do you need on Achill Island?

A minimum of 2.5 hours is needed to see Achill. However, the more time the better. You could easily spend 2+ days here.

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