Welcome To Strandhill Beach In Sligo: One Of The Best Surf Spots In The West

strandhill beach sligo
Photos via Shutterstock

The gorgeous Strandhill Beach is one of my favourite beaches in Sligo.

And this surfing paradise isn’t just a stunning spot for super swells – this popular beach also borders the idyllic coastal village of Strandhill, a perfect base to discover Sligo from. 

Although you can’t swim on Strandhill Beach due to dangerous rip currents, it’s a fine spot for a ramble with a coffee.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything you need to know, from how to try surfing on Strandhill to where to grab a fine cup of coffee to keep you warm as you stroll.

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Strandhill Beach

Strandhill Beach
Photo by Christian Antoine (Shutterstock)

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

1. Location

Strandhill is located west of Knocknarea Mountain on the Coolera peninsula and is about 6 miles west of Sligo town, as well as being the closest point on the west coast to Dublin (takes around 2½ hours to reach by car). The dunes are covered by marram grass and you can enjoy captivating views of the surrounding hillside from the beach.

2. Parking

Parking is free on the seafront, however, it can be difficult to find a spot (especially at the weekends or on fine days). There is some parking at the promenade and there’s another car park up the main road (which should take you less than a 5 minute walk to get back to the beach).

3. NO SWIMMING

While you will see a swarm of surfers on the strand, you might notice nobody is actually swimming on Strandhill Beach, and for good reason! There are permanent and very dangerous rip currents here, so please do not try and enter the water.

4. Surfing

Strandhill Beach is one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland. The beach is northwest- facing which means it picks up all that good quality swell from southwest to north. You’ll find info below on surf schools.

Things to do at Strandhill Beach

So, while you can’t go swimming on Strandhill Beach, there’s still plenty to see and do if you’re visiting the town.

From coffee and sweet stuff to pints and food with a view of the waves, here are some of our favourite things to do when visiting this beach.

1. Kick-start your visit with something tasty

shell's cafe strandhill
Photos via Shells Cafe on Facebook

There are two legendary little spots for a tasty treat right next to Strandhill Beach. I’m talking, of course, about Mammy Johnston’s Ice Cream Parlour and Shell’s.

At Shell’s, you can nab some of the best coffee (and tea) in town, along with everything from cookies and scones to vegan dirty fries and breakfast burritos.

The brilliant Mammy Johnston’s has been operating at Strandhill Beach for nearly 100 years. You’ll find few places in Ireland that knock out Gelato like these lads!

Related read: Check out our guide to the best accommodation in Strandhill (with something that’ll suit most budgets)

2. Take surfing lessons from one of the many surf schools

strandhill beach sligo
Photos via Shutterstock

If you’d like to try surfing in Strandhill, you’ve your pick of surf schools to choose from, some of which have been operation for well over 10 years.

If you’ve never hit the waves before, don’t worry – each surf school in Strandhill offers beginner lessons, tailored to suit those that have never surfed before. 

Below, you’ll find a handful of surf schools to check out:

3. Grab a pint from the Strand Bar and soak up the views

strand bar sligo
Photo via the Strand Bar

There are plenty of great restaurants in Strandhill if you fancy a feed and The Strand Bar is one of our favourites. You’ll find it a few minutes walk from the beach and it has been in operation since way back in 1913.

The food here is excellent but the Guinness, in our opinion, steals the show. If you arrive when it’s fine, you can sip a pint out back while watching the waves roll in.

When the sun sets, the bar really springs to life, especially on a Wednesday when it’s Trad music night or on weekends when there’s live music. 

Things to do near Strandhill Beach

One of the beauties of the beach is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other things to do in Strandhill.

Below, you’ll find everything from food and walks to the very unique Glen and much, much more. Dive on in.

1. Nip into one of the town’s many restaurants

strandhill beach food
Photos via the Strand Bar on Facebook

There are heaps of great restaurants in Strandhill, with something to tickle every tastebud. From casual cafes and pub grub to fancier places for a feed, you’ll find the best food near Strandhill Beach here. See our Strandhill food guide for more.

2. Or stretch the legs on the Knocknarea Walk

Knocknarea Mountain Walk
Photo by Anthony Hall (Shutterstock)

The Knocknarea walk is arguably one of the best walks in Sligo. And it’s at the top of Knocknarea Mountain that you’ll find the tomb of Queen Maeve. Here’s a guide to the walk (it’s well worth doing).

3. Head for a walk through The Glen

the glen strandhill
Photos by Pap.G photos (Shutterstock)

The Glen is situated on the south face of Knocknarea and because of the many different species of flora here, is considered a natural phenomena. This is one of the more unique walks in the area, and it’s easy to miss. Here’s a guide to finding it.

4. Step back in time at the Carrowmore Tombs

Carrowmore sligo
Photos via Shutterstock

The Carrowmore Tombs are the second biggest group of megaliths in Europe and the biggest in Ireland. You can find the tombs if you take a quick 10 min drive southeast of Knocknarea. Here’s a guide on what to expect.

5. Take a boat to Coney Island

coney island tide times
Photo by ianmitchinson (Shutterstock)

Coney Island is home to a few wonderful secluded beaches and it even has a pub. You can take a boat to the island or you can drive, walk or cycle, however, proper care is required. See our guide here.

FAQs about visiting Strandhill Beach

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from can you swim in Strandhill to what to see nearby.

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 swim in Strandhill?

No. Dangerous strong rip currents mean swimming at Strandill his forbidden at all times of the year.

Where do you park for Strandhill Beach?

You can park right at the beach (next to Shell’s) or there’s another car park up the main road.

Is Strandhill Beach worth visiting?

Yes. Especially if you grab a coffee or something tasty from Mammy Johnston’s beforehand and head for a ramble.

Originally from County Tyrone, Johnny's yearning for new experiences and cultures has taken from Bundoran to Bangkok and everywhere in between!

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