An Unforgettable 18-Day Road Trip That’s Packed With The Best Places to Visit in Ireland

Day #12 – More Mayo Before Tipping on to Sligo

Today, we’ll be visiting a place that’s older than the pyramids, before driving along the gorgeous Mayo coastline that leads to Sligo.

Grab your breakfast in Brannen’s and then get on the road!

Here’s everything you need to know about day 12!

What we'll be doingWhere we'll be sleepingWhat you'll need
    • The 6,000 years old Céide Fields
    • An even older sea stack at Downpatrick Head
    • Lunch by the beach
    • A grand hike in Sligo
    • Fish and chips by the sea
    • A waterfall
    • One of the best places to visit in Ireland if you’re a photographer
The Benbulben Farmhouse B&B, Sligo
  • Hiking boots
  • Rain gear
  • Some snacks for the hike
  • Water

Day 12 Stop #1 – The Céide Fields

Newport to the Céide Fields – 1 hour and 5-minute drive (leave Newport at 9:030, arrive at the Céide Fields for 10:05)

Our first stop of the day is the Céide Fields.

Beneath the boglands of North Mayo lies the Céide Fields – the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world.

The Céide Fields consist of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs.

the Céide Fields county mayo
Photo by Peter McCabe

The magnificent stone walled fields, which extend over thousands of acres, are a whopping 6,000 years old.

6,000… mad stuff!

the Céide Fields
Photo by Peter McCabe

Enjoy the drive on the way from Newport and then drop into the Céide Fields visitor centre for a ramble around.

Day 12 Stop #2 – Downpatrick Head

Céide Fields to Downpatrick Head – 18-minute drive (spend 1 hour at the Céide Fields, arrive to Downpatrick Head for 11:25)

You’re in for another early-morning treat.

This is hands-down one of my favourite places to visit in Mayo.

downpatrick head walk
Photo by Alison Crummy

Jutting out of the ocean and rising roughly 40m above the wild Atlantic waves, Downpatrick Head treats visitors to unparalleled views of the enormous Sea Stack known as Dún Briste.

Dun Briste (and the surrounding cliffs) were formed around 350 million years ago when sea temperatures were higher and the coastline was a greater distance away.

There’s something incredible about stand out near the edge of the cliff (be careful!) at gazing at 350 years’ worth of exposed rock layer.

Spend a bit of time having a gander.

Day 12 Stop #3 – Enniscrone for lunch and a walk on the beach

Downpatrick Head to Enniscrone Beach – 48-minute drive (spend 35 minutes at Downpatrick head, arrive to the beach for 12:48)

We’re going to grab a spot of lunch in Gilroy’s Bar in Enniscrone.

Get fed and then head to Enniscrone Beach for a stroll to let the food settle.

Day 12 Stop #4 – Walking the Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail

Enniscrone Beach to Knocknarea – 47-minute drive (leave Enniscrone at 14:00, arrive at Knocknarea for 14:47)

We’re going to take the Queen Maeve Trail up Knocknarea Mountain, which should take us around 1 and a half hours to complete.

Knocknarea queen maeve trail
Photo Via Go Strandhill

This mountain dominates the Sligo skyline from many angles, so you should get a good look at from the distance as you approach.

When you leave the car park, follow the path along the bog bridge all the way until you reach the summit.

You’ll be treated to panoramic views of Sligo from the top.

Day 12 Stop #5 – Fish and Chips by the sea

Knocknarea to Shell’s Cafe – 11-minute drive (leave Knocknarea at 16:40, arrive at the cafe for 16:51)

You’ll have built up an appetite after the stroll, so we’re heading to Shell’s Café for fish and chips by the sea.

Eat up, grab and coffee (and a cake, if you like) and walk outside to soak up a lungful of sea air.

Day 12 Stop #6 – Glencar Waterfall

Shell’s Cafe to Glencar Waterfall – 30-minute drive (leave Shell’s at 17:30, arrive at Glencar for 18:00)

If you’re familiar with the work of W.B. Yeats, then you may recall mention of a line in his poem ‘The Stolen Child’ that goes, ‘Where the wandering water gushes From the hills above Glen-Car’.

The place he referenced was none other than Glencar Waterfall, stop #6 for today.

This is a beautiful place to spend some time listening to the music of the water as it tumbles into the water from above.

Day 12 Stop #7 – The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive

Glencar Waterfall to the start of the Gleniff Horseshoe Drive – 35-minute drive (leave Glencar at 17:25, arrive for 18:00)

The final stretch of our day takes us on a lovely little drive that’ll take you through a part of Sligo that has graced many an Instagram feed.

gleniff horseshoe sligo
Photo taken by @erinleighnixon

Pop ‘Gleniff Horseshoe Drive’ into your phone or sat nav and start making your way there.

The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive is a roughly six-mile loop of single lane road enveloped by spectacular mountain views.

We’re going to take our time on this drive. Get out of the car at will and bask in the beauty that inspired one of Ireland’s most celebrated poets.

Day 12 Stop #8 – Enjoying Benbulben from your Bed

We’ll be heading straight here from the drive, so aim to get to the b&b for 19:00)

Tonight, we’re staying in a place that featured in our guide of the best 20 places to stay in Ireland if you’re looking for an out-of-this-world view – Benbulben Farmhouse b&b.

benbulben farmhouse bed and breakfast
Photo via Benbulben Farmhouse Bed & Breakdast

Check in and chill for the evening.

You’ll be waking up to an incredible view of Benbulben from the comfort of your b&b the following morning.

Where the road trip will take us on day #13 (en route to explore the wonders of Donegal)

I would have liked to have had another day in Sligo, but I’m wary of time and all that’s left to see.

The next few days are going to be well spent soaking up Donegal – lets get going!

Move onto page 14 below to check them out!