If you’re debating staying in Strandhill in Sligo, you’ve landed in the right place.
This lively seaside village in Sligo is not only a mecca for surfers, swimmers and sunbathers (OK, that might be a stretch), but it’s also a haven for walkers and food lovers, too.
Strandhill offers visitors ample opportunity to hike, golf, kayak, horse ride, windsurf, explore forests and kick-back with some tasty food by the sea.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Strandhill in Sligo to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Strandhill in Sligo
Although a visit to Strandhill in Sligo is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Strandhill is widely regarded as one of the best places to go surfing in Ireland. With Strandhill Beach facing northwest, it picks up all that good quality swell from south to north. If you can’t surf, don’t fret – there are loads of surf schools in the area.
3. A great place to explore from
One of the beauties of Strandhill is its proximity to an almost endless number of things to see and do. Couple this with the fact that the town is packed with great places to eat and drink, and you’ve a fine little base for a road trip.
A very brief history of Strandhill
The name ‘Strandhill’ comes from the towns’ location: in front of the village is a strand, and behind it is a hill, thus Strandhill.
The small coastal village gradually became a popular seaside resort in the early 20th century. Strandhill sits on the Cúil Irra (Coolera) peninsula – a place steeped in history, folklore and legend
The village is situated at the western base of Knocknarea, a large prominent hill that stands at a height of 327 metres (1,073 ft).
Although it’s still a small seaside village, it attracts visitors in their droves, especially during the summer months, many of whom visit for the beach, the Knocknarea hike and the abundance of restaurants and pubs.
Things to do in Strandhill in Sligo
There are plenty of things to do in Strandhill, from food and walks to surfing, islands, unique attractions and more.
Below, you’ll find everything from hikes and walks to the brilliant Strandhill Beach and the Knocknarea walk to where to grab a tasty feed.
1. Kick start your visit with breakfast from Shell’s Cafe
You can’t visit Strandhill without a quick trip to the legendary Shells Café. This vibrant spot boasts a huge selection of tasty treats, with something to tickle most tastebuds.
From the breakfast burrito and the top-notch coffee to the delicious dirty vegan fries, there’s a bounty of delish options to dive into here.
Shell’s is located conveniently next to the beach, which makes it a nice stop-off point before you ramble onto the sand.
2. Then head for a stroll along Strandhill Beach
Strandhill Beach is a popular surfing spot not only in the summer, but throughout the year! From the beach, you can enjoy panoramic views of Knocknarea and Benbulben.
There are also some fantastic walks from the beach to Culleenamore Strand and to Killaspubrone.
Although you can’t swim at Strandhill Beach (the currents are too strong!), you can saunter along the sand and watch the surfers tackle the waves. This is one of our favourite beaches in Sligo for good reason.
3. Brave the cold with surf lessons
Fancy learning why Strandhill is said to be the best surfing spots in Europe? You’re in luck, there are heaps of surf schools in Strandhill where you can take lessons.
Each surf school offers both beginner and intermediate lessons (the latter tend to be more expensive) which are given by experienced surfers.
You’ll find the various surf schools in the area in our Strandhill Beach guide. If you’re looking for things to do in Strandhill with a group, this is a great shout.
4. Or stretch the legs on the Knocknarea Walk
You can also find Queen Maeve’s grave, the biggest unopened cairn in Ireland, at its summit! The entry point for the walk is about a 25-minute stroll from Strandhill Beach.
And, although it’s a tough aul climb to the top, it’s well worth it. Read all about it in our guide to the Queen Maeve Trail.
5. Make your tastebuds happy at Mammy Johnston’s
Mammy Johnston’s started its journey around 100 years ago and it has been in the Byrne family for three generations. The current owner, Neil Byrne, even went to Cattabriga Gelato University in Italy to study ice-cream making!
Mammy Johnston’s isn’t just famous for its incredible, award-winning ice-cream – they also dish up amazing crepes, too. Get in and make your belly happy.
6. Soak up the sights and sounds at The Glen
A visit to The Glen is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Strandhill. The Glen is a narrow, deep chasm located on the south face of Knocknarea.
It’s considered to be a natural phenomena due to the varied selection of flora that live there. The cleft is around three quarts of a mile long with a depth of roughly 60ft and width 40ft, but it’s what’s inside that is most fascinating.
The Glen is like one big botanical garden; home to sycamore, beech, Scots pine and oak, with hazel, holly, and honeysuckle thriving between the cliff faces. Discover more in this guide.
7. Grab something tasty from Strandhill People’s Market
Situated in the unusual venue of Hangar 1 at Sligo Airport (which is only a few minutes from the beachfront), is the Strandhill People’s Market.
Open from 11am to 4pm every Sunday, the market offers a huge selection of foods, local crafts and textiles. There is even live music at the market and a free car park on site too!
There are also stalls buckling with European and Asian cuisine, home baked goodies, fair trade coffee, cheeses, ICE-CREAM and specialty teas. There’s plenty of other restaurants in Strandhill to choose from!
8. Step back in time at the Carrowmore Tombs
Carrowmore is not only home to the biggest group of megaliths in Ireland, but it’s also the second biggest in Europe.
Situated southeast of Knocknarea and a 10 minute spin from Strandhill, this prehistoric cemetery is home to monuments that range from 5500 to 6000 years old, making them older than the Egyptian Pyramids.
WB Yeats referred to Carrowmore as “the Fir Bolgs”. This is because the dolmens found here were actual burial chambers, with many having capstones, which indicated that there were burial chambers underneath.
9. Head for a ramble along Culleenamore Beach
If you head south of Strandhill’s main beach, you can find a wide tidal estuary where the peaceful beach of Culleenamore lies.
When the tide is low, you might even catch a glimpse of Ireland’s biggest seal colonies chilling on the central sandbanks.
There is also an excellent and very easy looped walk around the mouth of the estuary, which leads you straight back to Strandhill.
10. Discover the story behind Killaspugbrone Church on the coastal walk
Killaspugbrone Church is so old that St Patrick was said to have visited it. Standing boldly on the extremity of the Coolera peninsula, the ruins date as far back as 1150!
There’s a lovely coastal walk that you can head off on here, and that tends to be quieter than some of the more popular walks in the area. Tap play above to check it out.
11. Take a boat to Coney Island
A visit to Coney Island is another of the more unique things to do in Strandhill. The island can be reached by boat, by car or on foot/bike.
The island is small (around 1½ miles long by ¾ mile across), but the empty, secluded beaches are incredible.
If you’re driving or walking, it’s ESSENTIAL that you understand the tide times. You’ll find out how in this guide.
Although we go into where to stay in more detail in our guide to the best accommodation in Strandhill, 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.
1. Strandhill Lodge, Hostel & Surf
Perfectly located on the seafront and only a few minutes away from Strandhill Beach is this fun and vibrant hostel. It has dormitory-style rooms but also offers private rooms and camping too. Aside from a great location, they have film nights in their communal lounge and provide breakfast in the morning! It’s best suited for solo travelers or couples on a surf break.
2. Strandhill Lodge and Suites
This 4-star accommodation affords guests wonderful views OF Strandhill Bay, with some rooms providing views of Knocknarea Mountain. There are 4 superior suites and 18 deluxe rooms, each of which comes with a king sized bed, TV/DVD player, toiletries and tea/coffee making facilities.
3. Surfers Getaway – Room Staycation
This apartment comes with a balcony offering lovely sea views and it’s only a 2 minute walk from the beach and has free private parking. Guests can take advantage of the fully-equipped kitchen or chill out watching TV in the lounge after a long day of adventures.
There are some mighty pubs in Strandhill, from the insanely cosy Strand Bar (above) to the brilliant Dunes bar and more. Here are our favourites.
1. The Strand Bar
In the heart of the village is the well established, family run Strand Bar, which has been serving thirsty travellers since 1913. Aside from great pints and a warm atmosphere, this traditional pub is well-known for knocking up a fine bit of grub, too!
2. The Dunes Bar
If beers, burgers and music tickle your fancy, get yourself to the Dunes. The burgers on offer here are some of the best in the land! There’s also a varied menu packed with everything from nachos to buffalo fries. A great post-surf spot.
3. The Venue Bar and Restaurant
Although The Venue is a paradise for meat-lovers, there are also plenty of vegetarian and seafood options on offer, too. There are also some great seafood options (the mussels in particular are delish!) along with some gorgeous views.
There’s an almost endless number of incredible restaurants in Strandhill. From tasty, casual eats, like the Burger Shack, to tasty tapas at Stoked, there’s something to tickle every tastebud.
If you fancy discovering the best food on offer in the town, you’ll find ’em all in our Strandhill food guide.
FAQs about visiting Strandhill in Sligo
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Sligo that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Strandhill in Sligo.
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 Strandhill worth visiting?
Yes! Strandhill is a great base for an active weekend away. It’s close to endless things to do, there’s some great places to eat and drink and it’s right next to the sea.
What are the best things to do in Strandhill?
Kick start your visit with breakfast from Shells Cafe. Then head for a stroll along Strandhill Beach. Brave the cold with surf lessons. Or stretch the legs on the Knocknarea Walk.
Are there many places to eat in Strandhill?
Yes – there’s plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants in Strandhill, with everything from fancy feeds to cheap and tasty eats on offer.