Nestled almost halfway between Drogheda on the east coast, and Navan on the M3, Slane is an historic village that sits on the River Boyne.
The area around Slane, like many corners of County Meath, is steeped in myth and history and it boasts both Neolithic and Norman sites to visit.
The town is also home to the mighty Slane Castle and the mythical Hill of Slane, too.
In the guide below, you’ll find everything from things to do in Slane to the best places to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-know before visiting Slane in Meath
Although a visit to Slane in Meath is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Only an hour up the N2 and M2 from Dublin, Slane is easily accessible from the capital city, and also from other nearby towns of Drogheda (15-minutes), Navan (15-minutes), Kells (25-minutes), and Dundalk (30-minutes). The village is on a steep hillside, with the River Boyne winding its way through the valley.
2. Steeped in history
Humans have inhabited the area in and around Slane since Neolithic times. It’s been a seat of Christianity since the middle of the first millennium, and the historic remnants of the old town date back to Norman times. Slane has been home to heroes and rebels, local kings and princely monks alike.
3. A lovely base to explore Meath from
There’s endless things to do in Meath and having a convenient base to explore it from is essential. Slane is just such a place, within an easy commute to all the major sites and sights, it’s no wonder it’s such a popular little village. With a range of accommodations, pubs, and eateries, Slane can easily accommodate its guests every wish and need.
There’s no better way to get to the heart of Irish-ness than by immersing yourself in one of Ireland’s most mythical counties. Slane, in County Meath, is rich in history, archaeology, and of course, hospitality.
An historic region, there’s been human habitation here since Neolithic times, and with the castle on the Hill of Slane, as well as Slane Castle watching over this stretch of the River Boyne, it’s never been easier to see why.
Slane, and the Christian settlement on the Hill of Slane, were mentioned in the stolen 1092 Annals of Inisfallen, and with the earliest village structures dating to the time of the Norman Invasion. The most original town structure is, however, the Motte and Bailey, which dates back to the feudal lordship of the Fleming family.
The village was remodelled in the 18th century to follow Georgian ideals, with identical houses, and a clearly defined town centre which is in the shape of an octagon. Over the town’s history, it has played host to Royal Irish Constabulary barracks and a gaol, and also incorporated a famous ‘Gallows Hill’ where rebels from the failed 1798 uprising were executed.
For much of Slane’s history, the Fleming family were the feudal lords. That is until the Nine-Years Wars, and the Williamite confiscations saw their lands granted to the Conynghams.
Since coming into possession of the new family, Slane Castle has flourished, and with it the village. Whilst the layout of the village is typical of the 18th century in design and layout, the castle has benefited from stylistic modernisations by the likes of Capability Brown.
Things to do in Slane (and nearby)
Although there’s only a handful of things to do in Slane, the attractions that it’s home to pack a fine punch.
Below, you’ll find some places to visit in the town along with heaps of things to do a stone’s throw away.
1. Slane Castle
Sitting just to the west of the village of Slane, the ‘new’ Slane Castle sits on a gently rising hill above the River Boyne. The castle is famous as an outdoor music venue and has played host to many big names in the music industry.
There are tours of the stately home, as well as extensive gardens and grounds that can be explored at your leisure. On-site, you’ll find various options for refreshments, including the unique and mobile ‘Silver Fox’ cafe.
2. Slane Whiskey Distillery
Slane Whiskey Distillery is open to the public from Thursday – Sunday, and you can book a variety of tours to gain a greater appreciation for both Slane’s Irish Whiskey, but also of the process that goes into creating this very special drink.
As tour bookings are required before arriving, you can easily choose which of their tours tempts you most. With everything from making a true Irish Coffee Class, to their ever-popular ‘Evening of Slane Irish Whiskey, Storytelling & Folklore’ there’s sure to be a tour for you.
3. The Hill of Slane
Less than 5-minutes drive from the village of Slane, the Hill of Slane is its older sibling, and as the name suggests, this site is set upon a hillside. To access the ruins upon the hill, park in the small car park below, and pass through the iron gate before rambling up to the ruins.
Why would you want to? Well, if you love your history or Irish mythology, or have a passion for deities, then this is the spot for you.
Legend has it that there’s a holy well here that heals the Irish supernatural beings, the Tuatha Dé Danann. The site is also reputed to be where St. Patrick lit his Paschal fire and brought Christianity to Laoire, the High King of Ireland.
4. Littlewoods Forest Walk (5-minute drive)
Just north of the Hill of Slane, Littlewoods Forest and its Walk makes for a lovely way to start or finish a day’s outing. Covering 28 hectares with a mix of tree species, it’s a 2km loop trail that covers the perimeter of the woodland and takes approximately 40-minutes to complete.
Eagle-eyed ramblers will be able to spot a variety of trees, including Oak, Alder, Ash, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, and Beech all in the upper levels of the tree canopy. Below that, you’ll see Birches, Holly, Hazel, Rowans and Elms, and even a Blackthorn or two.
5. Brú na Bóinne (12-minute drive)
It doesn’t come more incredible than Bru na Boinne, a Neolithic ‘palace’ complex of burial tombs and Megalithic passage graves, the most notable of which are Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.
There are an additional 90 monuments on the 780-hectare site, with UNESCO classifying it as a World Heritage Site since 1993, with the name Brú na Bóinne since 2013.
With human settlement in the area for at least 6,000 years, and the major structures dating to approximately 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, the site at Brú na Bóinne has been fascinating visitors for centuries, least of all due to its alignment towards the sunrise at the equinox. However, visitors are now only able to go on-site via booked guided tours.
6. Balrath Woods (15-minute drive)
The Balrath Woods walk really is hard to beat. This is a quaint woodland park with a variety of walks to suit all levels of fitness, enthusiasm, and weather conditions.
Park in the nearby car park and take a stroll along the perimeter, or criss-cross your way through the grounds to discover all the educational snippets left by the forest custodians.
There is an easily traversable pathway route for those with mobility issues, or those with buggies, which takes in a gravel trail through woodland and passed the wetlands and play areas. Do note, there are no amenities at this woodland park, however, there are educational displays, and a free library.
Places to eat in Slane
There are several incredible places to eat in Slane, for those of you in need of a post-adventure feed. Here are our favourites.
1. Inside Out
With a unique aesthetic of bringing the outside world in, this restaurant manages a delicate balance between a formal Mediterranean with a romantic setting and a cosy atrium with an encompassing verdant feel.
Earthy tones with bursts of light from chandeliers, the seating is traditional and the menu uses the best of local Irish produce. Make a booking, and sample their Daubed beef cheek, or relax over an Inside Out ‘Sophia Loren’ pizza.
2. Conyngham Arms Hotel
Step inside this restored 18th-century coaching inn and you’ll instantly feel embraced by the tranquil setting of pale pastels, soft furnishings, and calming air. The restaurant radiates fine dining in its chic aesthetic and a la carte menu.
Choose from classics and favourites alike, or why not try something new? Their Sizzling Tiger prawns and Chorizo is stunning, as is the Irish goat’s cheese crostini with red onion jam.
3. Georges Patisserie
This is the spot you’re looking for when it comes to the convenience of food on the go. With an impressive menu of baked goods, you can choose between all the usual breads, cakes, pastries, and sweet treats you’d expect to find. However, you can also get a hearty breakfast from George’s before setting out for the day!
Choose from their traditional Irish ‘Fry-Up’, or ‘Amazing Scrambled Eggs’ with or without salmon, or even a spicy chicken bap. Don’t worry if you’re not a breakfast person, they also do coffee and lunch to go!
Pubs in Slane
There’s a handful of mighty pubs in Slane, too, if you’ve worked up a thirst climbing the Hill of Slane. Here are our favourites.
1. Boyle’s of Slane
No matter whether you’re looking for a cheeky half-pint in the middle of the day, or if your tastes fall more to a lively night out, Boyle’s of Slane will see you right. With a traditional wooden bar, and pints pulled the old way, there’s no better spot to bend your drinking arm. Open 7 days, 12-11:30pm.
2. Boyne Valley Inn
With a popular following amongst the locals, the staff has rightly earned a good name for themselves for their hospitality and service. The Boyne Valley Inn offers patrons two respites from the world, the lively traditional bar, and the quieter lounge for more personal conversations. Open at standard times throughout the week.
3. The Village Inn
Is the local hangout, with live football, rugby, and GAA games televised, it’s always a lively affair. The Village Inn also houses an impressive collection of rock concert memorabilia for you to admire while you sink a pint or two. Open when the doors are unlocked, and closed when the lights are out.
Accommodation in Slane
So, there’s a handful of places to stay in Slane in Meath, with something that’ll hopefully suit most budgets.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. Rock Farm Glamping
Take your holiday into the wild, and visit one of the most unique places to go glamping in Meath. Rock Farm, run by the castle’s heir and his wife, is an organic farm and offers a range of accommodations, including glamping in yurts or bell tents, shepherd’s huts, cabins, or in Lime House or River House for the less daring. See the website for further details and bookings.
2. Conyngham Arms Hotel
Let yourself sink into the plush bed linens of your double, triple, or family rooms, and feel the day melt away. This boutique hotel is styled with a chic French air and provides their guests with every comfort and luxury needed to unwind. Expect blackout curtains, bathrobes, chic furnishings and handmade toiletries.
3. Slane Farm
For the more adventurous, or gregarious, a stay at Slane Farm is perhaps the best of the bunch. The accommodations range from hostel or cottage to on-site camping with facilities, whichever you choose you’re bound to be well-rested and satisfied with your stay. See the website for accommodation the fine details.
FAQs about visiting Slane
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are the best things to do in Slane with kids?’ to ‘Where is there to eat?’.
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.
What are the best things to do in Slane?
You can take a tour of Slane Castle, explore the grounds, visit the whiskey distillery, ramble up the Hill of Slane and grab a tasty meal in the the village
Is Slane worth visiting?
Yes! The castle, the distillery and the ancient Hill of Slane are three excellent reasons to visit this historic corner of Meath.
Monday 28th of March 2022
I just want to mention how much I am enjoying your series on visiting various areas of Ireland. You have given me some great ideas of what to see in this area! Thanks so much!
Tuesday 29th of March 2022
Thanks Barbara - appreciate the kind words!