If you’re debating staying in Sligo Town, you’ve landed in the right place.
Sitting astride the Garavogue River as it pours into the Atlantic, Sligo Town is a lively base to explore some of the best places to visit in Sligo from.
Steeped in history, surrounded by beauty, and with a charm and character all of its own, it’s a lovely place to spend a weekend or more. Here’s what you need to know.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Sligo Town to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Sligo Town
Although a visit to Sligo Town is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Sligo is the county town of Sligo County in northwest Ireland. It’s situated on the banks of the Garavogue River, which flows from Lough Gill into Sligo Bay, before spilling out into the Atlantic. It’s a beautiful area of rolling green fields, imposing mountains, craggy coasts, and quaint villages.
2. A lively little town
Sligo isn’t the biggest town in Ireland, but it’s up there with some of the liveliest! It’s a hotbed of traditional Irish music, with almost nightly sessions in venues across the town. On top of that, there are festivals dotted throughout the year, celebrating the local culture as well as themes from across the globe.
3. A fine base for exploring
You could spend a month in Sligo Town, and you’d still have heaps more to see and do. The town itself is full of attractions and historic sites, while the surrounding county is strewn with everything from hiking trails to ancient monuments.
A very brief history of Sligo Town
The area in which Sligo Town is now situated has long been an important area, with an abundance of prehistoric monuments and sites in and around the town.
Geography no doubt plays an important role, with the sea providing much-needed food and nourishment. Indeed, the name Sligo comes from the Irish Sligeach, which translates to ‘shelly place’.
Shellfish are abundant in the area, and have sustained humans in the Sligo area for millions of years. Ancient sites are almost as abundant as shellfish, with tombs, cairns, and forts strewn across the town and its surroundings.
In more recent times, Sligo Town has grown from a street settlement and castle built in 1245, to the lively, charming town we know today.
Nowadays, it’s known as a hotbed of traditional music, art, and a great craic. The inspiration of countless poets and authors, it’s a truly wonderful town that’s just waiting to be discovered.
Things to do in Sligo Town
As you’ll discover in our guide to the best things to do in Sligo, the town is home to a clatter of historical sites that are well worth exploring.
Below, you’ll find everything from the Yeats Building and Sligo Abbey to the brilliant Sligo County Museum and much, much more.
1. Sligo Abbey
Sitting in the very heart of Sligo Town, Sligo Abbey is one of the town’s longest surviving structures. It dates back to the 13th century, when the town itself was founded. Parts of the original Dominican friary are still standing after 900 years, and stepping into the ruins seems to transport you way back in time.
You can almost hear the friars’ prayers on the wind, as you take in an array of relics, carvings, and exhibits. Check out the only surviving sculptured 15th century high altar in Ireland, as well as Gothic tombs, and the amazingly well-preserved cloister. Guided tours are available, offering a fascinating insight into the history of this stunning monument.
2. Yeats Building
World-famous Irish poet and Nobel laureate W.B. Yeats drew enormous inspiration from Sligo Town’s charm and beauty, as did his brother, the renowned artist and illustrator Jack Butler Yeats.
The Yeats Building is a celebration of these iconic artists. Home to the International Yeats Society, the arts and crafts style building is packed with all-things Yeats.
There’s a cozy library filled to the rafters with chronicles and novels, as well as numerous exhibits and displays showcasing the work of the Yeats family. Even if you don’t go inside, the building is a joy to gaze upon, with its quirky style and impressive facade.
3. Sligo County Museum
The free-to-enter Sligo County Museum has a host of exhibits and displays covering a huge chunk of history. Some highlights include the stone-age display (showcasing ancient tools and crafts discovered in the area), and a 100-year-old firkin of ‘bog butter’.
The Yeat’s Room displays a number of manuscripts and letters from the iconic W.B. Yeats, as well as a copy of his 1923 Nobel Prize winning medal. You’ll also find a complete collection of his poems, and paintings by Jack B. Yeats and other iconic Irish artists, such as Sean Keating and George Russell.
4. The Model: Home of The Niland Collection
Art lovers will be right at home at The Model, a contemporary art centre and gallery. Throughout the year, a number of exhibits are on display, showcasing works from local and international artists alike.
The main attraction is the Niland Collection, which contains more than 300 works by renowned artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Paul Henry, Estella Solomons, George Russell, and Louis Le Brocquy.
Within the Model, there’s also a cinema/concert venue, with regular movie showings and events to indulge in. In addition, there are 8 artist studios for rent, and an artist in residence program.
Accommodation in Sligo Town
Although we go into where to stay in more detail in our guide to the best hotels in Sligo Town, I’ll give you a taste of what’s on offer below.
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.
An array of hotels in Sligo Town cater to every taste and need. The Glasshouse, situated on the banks of the Garavogue River, boasts a superb location, an ultra sleek, modern design, and top-notch facilities. Meanwhile, smaller boutique hotels, such as The Driftwood, offer a more rustic vibe and personalized charm. If you’re looking for a little pampering, there are also several spa resorts in and around Sligo.
B&Bs and guesthouse
If guesthouses and B&Bs are more your thing, you’re once again spoiled for choice in Sligo. There are several superb choices in the town, offering exquisite breakfasts and a warm Irish welcome. Innisfree Guest House provides a fantastically homely feel, while Harbour House offers comfort at a superb price.
Pubs in Sligo Town
Sligo Town is dotted with wonderful places to grab a pint after a long day’s sightseeing, and more often than not, you’ll probably be treated to some live music sessions. Here are some top picks.
1. Hargadon Bros.
Stone floors, wood panelling, clay jugs, and an amazing array of beer, whiskey and wine, Hargadon Bros boasts everything you need in a good pub and more. It’s full of character, and provides the perfect environment for anything from a quiet, intimate pint in the snug, to a special meal with the family. Locally sourced ingredients go into each and every dish, leading to an award-winning dining experience.
2. Thomas Connolly
Dating back to 1780, Thomas Connolly is a true heritage pub, packed full of history and stories. Inside feels like stepping back in time, with hardwood cabinets housing knick-knacks from yesteryear, and a glorious bar taking centre stage. You’ll find a range of local craft beers, small-batch gins, and Irish whiskey. In fact, it’s the home of the Sligo Whiskey Society, and offers a wide range of ‘the water of life’ from across the globe, as well as regular tasting sessions. On top of that, look out for the regular live music nights!
3. Shoot the Crows
Stained-glass windows, exposed brickwork, and a gorgeous fireplace, Shoot the Crows is one of Sligo’s most renowned pubs. It’s known internationally as one of the top places to catch live traditional Irish music, with sessions at least 3-nights a week – not to be missed! You’ll find a warm welcome and a good selection of beverages to whet the whistle, while the cosy atmosphere makes you feel right at home from the first sip to the last gulp.
Restaurants in Sligo Town
Although we’ve covered the best restaurants in Sligo Town a good bit in the past, I’ll give you a taste (terrible pub intended…) of what to expect if you’re visiting the town.
Quirky decor and good hearty dishes makes Hooked a top choice for somewhere to eat in Sligo. They serve a range of dishes from around the world, as well as a few Irish staples. Local ingredients play an important role, with plenty of fish and seafood making it onto the menu, as well as vegetarian options, burgers, and much more. To wash it all down, they’ve also a great range of local beer and other beverages.
This small, independent bistro in the heart of Sligo is a great place to tantalize your taste buds. The menu is short and to the point, while offering amazing variety and versatility, featuring cuisine from across the globe, alongside more typical Irish fayre. Fresh, honest food and drink, with seasonal menus, a special coffee blend roasted in Ireland, and local craft beers. Amazing, friendly service rounds everything off and lends a personal touch.
3. Coach Lane Restaurant
The family-run Coach Lane Restaurant has been serving up superb dining experiences in Sligo for more than 20-years. Pioneers of the ‘eat local’ ethos, the ingredients for all their dishes are sourced locally and seasonally, providing sumptuous flavours year-round. Seafood is a big hit, but you’ll also find a wide array of lamb and beef dishes, as well as vegetarian options. They also boast a stunning wine list, with pairings to match your choice of meal.
FAQs about visiting Sligo Town
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from whether Sligo Town is worth visiting to what to do in the town itself.
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.
Is Sligo Town worth visiting?
Yes! Sligo Town is well worth a visit. However, it’s best suited as a base to explore the county from, as it’s a stone’s throw from many of Sligo’s top attractions and there’s lots of accommodation.
What are the best things to do in Sligo Town?
Arguably the best of the many things to do in Sligo Town is to take a tour of Sligo Abbey, see The Model: Home of The Niland Collection, wander around Sligo County Museum and to explore the Yeats Building.
Are there many places to eat in Sligo Town?
Yes – there’s plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants in Sligo Town, from tasty pub grub and fine dining to casual cafes and much more (see above).
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.