There are MILLIONS of things to do in Sligo…
OK… maybe not millions, but this mighty little county is home to an almost endless number of things to do and places to explore.
If you’re fond of hikes, walks, scenic drives, deadly food and post-adventure pints in LOOOOOOVELY pubs, Sligo will be right up your street!
Below, you’ll discover a clatter of the best things to do in Sligo. So, g’wan – get scrolling and have a nosey below.
Sidenote: If you’re wondering what to do in Sligo during a weekend in 2020, hop into our 48-hours in Sligo road trip guide.
Table of Contents
The Best Things to do in Sligo
- Visit the often missed Streedagh Beach
- Explore the Caves of Keash (one of the many unique things to do in Sligo)
- Sip a post-adventure pint by the sea
- Walk the mighty Sligo Way
- Conquer the Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail
- Hit the waves at Strandhill (one of the best things to do in Sligo with a group)
- Head for an early-morning ramble on Mullaghmore
- Tip along the Benbulben Forest Walk
- Spin along the Gleniff Horseshoe Drive
1. Visit the often missed Streedagh Beach
If you’re looking for places to visit in Sligo that many of those who visit tend to miss, carve out some time to visit Streedagh Strand.
Streedagh Strand is an impressive 3km long sandy beach that’s finely plonked on a sandbar that links Streedagh Point to Connor’s Island.
Those that stroll along Streedagh can soak up views of the mountains of Donegal on one side and the mighty Benbulben (as seen above) on the other.
2. Explore the Caves of Keash (one of many unique things to do in Sligo)
The Caves of Keash are an ancient passage tomb cluster that are believed to predate the Pyramids of Egypt by a whopping 500-800 years. That alone has me itching to visit!
Geological and archaeological inspections in the 1900s revealed that early man used and lived in the caves at Keash.
Evidence has also been uncovered that showed bears, wolves, arctic lemming, and other wildlife have lived here over the years.
There are 17 caves in total here and you can visit them via a guided tour that leaves from the Keash visitor centre
3. Sip a post-adventure pint by the sea
If you’re looking for things to do in Sligo after a hard day of exploring, get yourself to the Beach Bar at Aughris Head for a creamy post-adventure pint with a view.
This is a gorgeous, traditional Irish thatched pub that’s nestled right beside the sea. The pub treats visitors to views of the Ox mountains and the majestic peaks of Knocknarea and Benbulben.
You can chill inside this old-school pub while lapping up the views or you can tip outside, perch yourself on the wall across from the pub and gulp down some fresh sea breeze while you nurse a pint or a cup a tae.
4. Walk the mighty Sligo Way
The Sligo Way is a long-distance ramble that’s best completed over the course of three days. The route kick-starts at Lough Talt and finishes in Dromahair in Leitrim.
The route is waymarked, so you’ll be able to follow wooden marker posts and metal fingerposts throughout the walk (you’ll still need to plan the walk well in advance).
The Sligo Way will take you off-the-beaten-path and through corners of Sligo that many of those that visit miss. Expect scenery along with plenty of peace and quiet.
5. Conquer the Knocknarea Queen Maeve Trail
The Queen Maeve trail up Knocknarea Mountain is, in my opinion, is one of the best walks in Sligo. It takes you up to Knocknarea’s summit and treats you to incredible views out over Sligo and Ballisodare Bay.
If you give this walk a bash, you’ll make your way up the northern slopes of Knocknarea, past Megalithic and Bronze Age remains, and through forests along a raised boardwalk to the summit.
If you reach the summit on a clear day, you’ll have views that stretch out as far the Slieve League sea cliffs in Donegal.
6. Hit the waves at Strandhill (one of the best things to do in Sligo with a group)
If you’re wondering what to do in Sligo with a group of friends, head out to Strandhill and give surfing a lash (there’s plenty of other places to surf in Sligo!)
Strandhill, similar to Lahinch in Clare and Bundoran in Donegal, is known and loved by surfers the country over.
I’m going to recommend that you visit the lads at Strandhill Surf School. Give one of their lessons, which will take you a little over 2 and a half hours, a bash and have the craic.
7. Warm the bones post-surf with a seaweed bath
There are few things that’ll warm the bones post-surf like a seaweed bath. If you’ve just spent a morning trying to conquer the waves on Strandhill, ramble over to the nearby VOYA Seaweed Baths.
For €30, you can spend 50 minutes flaked out in a private seaweed bathing room with a traditional seaweed bath.
Now, I know as much about seaweed baths as I do about fixing the Virgin Media box in my living room (which is very little), but these baths are said to moisturise the skin, increase circulation and promote healing.
8. Follow it up with something TASTY from one of the oldest ice cream parlours in Ireland
Mammy Johnston opened an ice cream parlour in Strandhill back in the 1930s. And it’s still there today… That’s pretty damn impressive!
From gelato and pancakes to scones, doughnuts, and plenty more, Mammy Johnston’s is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth after a day at the beach.
I’m currently sat in an attic in Dublin, chomping away on a bruised apple… the photo above is giving me serious FOMO!
9. Head for an early-morning ramble on Mullaghmore
Mullaghmore is a little village that boasts sandy beaches, ocean views and a skyline dominated by Benbulben mountain.
The coastal walk here is a solid way to clear your head after a day spent stuck indoors or travelling.
Set off from Bunduff strand and follow the coastline around to Mullaghmore head. You’ll catch the view above of Classiebawn Castle and Benbulben along the way.
On a clear day, you can expect spectacular views of Donegal Bay, Slieve League, and the Dartry Mountains.
10. Grab a coffee and a cake from Pudding Row and visit the often-missed cliffs at Easkey
You’ll find the cliffs in the photo above near the little village of Easkey in Sligo. Now, here’s a solid little walk/treat combo for you.
Nip into Pudding Row in Easkey village first and grab a coffee and a cake (the stuff these lads bake = deadly!) and then head off on your merry way.
There’s a nice walk here that takes you from the village centre up along Easkey River, on to the castle and then out towards the gorgeous Atlantic coast.
11. Brave the chilly water at Rosses Point
Rosses Point was awarded its first Blue Flag (a certification proving a beach meets stringent standards, according to Wiki) in 1988, the first year the programme ran in Ireland.
It’s one of Sligo’s smaller beaches, stretching just 400m, but it packs a mighty punch for its size.
If you visit during the colder months, drop into the nearby Little Cottage Cafe and grab something hot that you can wrap your hands around while you walk.
12. The Benbulben Forest Walk (one of my favourite things to do in Sligo!)
This Benbulben walk is one of the best strolls on this section of the Wild Atlantic Way, in my opinion. I did it first 2 or 3 years ago with a group of friends and I’ve been recommending it to people wondering what to do in Sligo ever since.
Benbulben is arguably Ireland’s most distinctive mountain. It’s almost table-top-like appearance makes it hard to miss and even harder to forget.
One of the best ways to see it is on the Benbulben Forest Walk, a 1.5-hour stroll that’ll treat you to views of Donegal Bay, Slieve League, and Mullaghmore along the way.
13. Spend the night somewhere swanky
If you’re planning a trip to Sligo and you’re looking for unique places to stay, Markree Castle may tickle your fancy.
You’ll find it a stone’s throw from Strandhill and many of the most popular places to see in Sligo. Visitors to this 15th-century castle can expect:
- Spacious interiors
- Cosy reception rooms (look at the one above…)
- Towers and turrets
- A secluded 500-acre estate to explore.
I know several people that have stayed here and, going off how much each of them ranted about the place, it’s up there with the best castle hotels in Ireland.
14. Or grab a bed with a view
If you read our guide to the best places to stay in Ireland if you fancy an out-of-this-world-view, then you’ll recognise this place.
Benbulben Farmhouse B&B is situated at the foot of Benbulben, smack bang in the middle of Yeats Country.
Just look at the view from the breakfast table… Apparently, the only thing better than the view in this place is the host.
15. Grab a coffee from Tracy’s and head for a ramble on Enniscrone beach
The gorgeous seaside town of Enniscrone is another fine spot for a coffee and a stroll. Nip into the village and grab a coffee to go from Tracy’s.
From here, take the 5-minute ramble down to Enniscrone beach. This is a beautiful golden beach that stretches for an impressive 5km.
Several surf schools operate in the area, so the chances are you’ll be able to watch groups battle the waves and the icy Atlantic as you saunter along… with yer nice warm coffee!
16. Spin along the Gleniff Horseshoe Drive
The Gleniff Horseshoe Drive is one of the most scenic drives in Ireland. That is until you do it on a misty day (happened to me a couple of months ago) and you can barely see out of your windscreen…
This drive (or walk/cycle) takes you on a roughly six-mile loop that’s enveloped from start to finish by spectacular mountain views.
This one tends to get missed by people visiting Sligo for the first time. Make sure you check it out the next time you visit.
17. Stretch the legs on the Killaspugbrone Loop walk
Sligo is home to an almost endless number of walks and hikes that’ll treat you to views that’ll stay with you long after you leave.
The Killaspugbrone Loop is a lovely looped walk that passes the early Christian site of Killaspugbrone church.
It takes between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete (depending on pace) and takes walkers along a smattering of coastal habitats, including sand dunes, salt marsh, and pine woodland.
Expect magnificent views of Ben Bulben, Knocknarea, Sligo Bay, and more. If you’re looking for things to do in Sligo that’ll clear the cobwebs after a night on the beer, give this a lash!
18. Enjoy some traditional music in the oldest pub in Sligo
I love a good pub. I love an old pub that plays trad music a whole lot more. Places like Thomas Connolly’s make me very happy altogether.
This pub was first licensed way back in 1861. It was then bought by Thomas Connolly in 1890. The same year that he became the Mayor of Sligo.
If you’re in search of a solid old-school Irish pub that places an emphasis on a fine pint and traditional music, get yourself here for an evening.
19. Explore Lough Gill from the comfort of a kayak
This is another solid option for those of you looking for things to do in Sligo with a group of friends. You can’t bate hopping into a kayak and hitting the open water.
The folks at Sligo Kayak Tours offer a guided tour of Lough Gill that takes you alongside pristine old-growth forests to the lake’s many islands.
20. Visit Queen Maeve’s Grave at the summit of Knocknarea
Those that reach the summit of Knocknarea will find the largest cairn (man-made pile of stones) in Ireland, outside of Brú na Bóinne in Meath.
Standing at an impressive 55 metres wide and 10 metres high, the cairn remains unexcavated but it has many characters of a passage tomb.
It’s believed that the cairn dates back to 3,000 BCE and that it is the resting place of Queen Maeve of Connacht. According to legend, she is buried upright, facing the enemy in Ulster.
21. Nurse a pint in another mighty traditional pub
When you take a little detour off Sligo main street and ramble into Hargadon’s, it’ll feel like you’ve just taken a step back in time (and I mean that in the best way possible!)
Established in 1868, Hardagon’s is home to gorgeous panelled snugs, stone floors, and the charm and character that’s becoming increasingly hard to find in an Irish pub these days.
Visit for the Guinness (some of the best in the land) and stay for the old-world brilliance that comes with a carefully preserved traditional Irish pub.
22. Wondering what to do in Sligo when it’s raining? Visit this waterfall!
If you’re looking for things to do in Sligo when it’s raining, then this is just the job. Why? Well, you can only see this waterfall when it’s raining, or after heavy rainfall.
At a staggering 150m, Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird (also referred to as ‘the Devil’s Chimney’ online) is one of Ireland’s highest waterfalls.
There’s a 45-minute moderately strenuous walk that’ll take you up to see it in action. Just keep in mind that if you visit when it hasn’t been raining it won’t be flowing.
23. Warm the bones post-surf at Shell’s
Regardless of whether or not you’ve spent the morning or afternoon up to your neck in the icy Atlantic, Shell’s in Strandhill is a solid spot for a feed.
If you arrive on a chilly day, take refuge inside and soak up the sounds and smells. If the sun is shining, grab something to go and have it as you saunter along the beach.
24. Get sand between yer toes on Culleenamore
Our next stop takes us to a beach that’s perfect for an evening stroll. It’s also, interestingly enough, well-known for seals and oysters.
You’ll find Culleenamore towards the southern end of Strandhill’s main beach, inside an estuary. If you visit when the tide is low, it’s possible to catch a glimpse of one of Ireland’s largest seal colonies.
The oyster beds at Culleenamore are said to be the oldest in Ireland. Oysters were a staple in the diet of locals here many years ago.
Some years back, huge mounds of oyster shells were discovered below the surface of the beach, revealing that people used to gather here and eat them along the shore at Culleenamore hundreds of years ago.
25. Have a wander around Sligo Abbey
Sligo Abbey is a medieval Dominican abbey that was built back in 1252. The abbey was accidentally burnt to the ground in 1414 when a candle left lighting in the building set the whole place alight.
It was damaged even more during the 1641 rebellion. According to legend, worshippers saved the abbey’s silver bell by throwing it into Lough Gill. It’s said that only those free from sin can hear it ring.
You can visit the Sligo Abbey visitor centre for more insight into its history. There’s also plenty more to see, like a Renaissance tomb sculpture and the only sculptured 15th Century high altar to survive in any Irish church.
26. Drumcliffe Church and the grave of W. B Yeats
Drumcliffe is best known as the final resting place of literary giant W.B. Yeats. Beautifully set against the backdrop of Benbulben, Drumcliffe has become a Mecca, of sorts, for Yeats fans visiting Sligo.
His grave is marked with a simple headstone with an inscription that reads, ‘cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by‘. There’s a coffee shop on-site if you fancy taking some time out.
27. Visit the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland
You’ll find the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland at Carrowmore in Sligo. Archaeologists have discovered over 60 tombs here (only 30 are visible) that range from 5,000 to 5,800 years old.
That’s pretty incredible when you think about it! New information from DNA suggests that the monuments at Carrowmore were used by people from France who travelled to Ireland by sea over 6,000 years ago.
It’s said that these people brought the first cattle to Ireland and they also re-introduced the red deer to Ireland. There’s a guided tour here that lasts between 45 minutes and an hour.
Tip: If your looking for things to do in Sligo that’ll immerse you in some of the county’s history, the tour here is supposed to be well worth doing!
28. Clear the head with a stroll through Hazelwood Forest
If you’re visiting Sligo Town and looking to escape the hustle and bustle for a bit, then this place should be at the top of your list.
The gorgeous Hazelwood Demesne is found a stone’s throw from Sligo town at Half Moon Bay, along the shores of Lough Gill.
There are several short walks you can head off on here that’ll provide you with spectacular views of Church Island, Cottage Island and Goat Island, along with the tranquil waters of Lough Gill.
29. Spend a rainy afternoon working your way around Yeats Building
You’ll find the Yeats building on Hyde Bridge in a beautiful 19th-century red brick structure. The building is the Headquarters of the international Yeats Society.
It houses a permanent exhibition along with a fine library that’s packed with over 3,000 books. If you visit, make sure to check out the ‘Yeats in the West’ exhibition.
It offers an insight into the Yeats family genealogy, the people and places that influenced him, and much more. Guided tours are available upon request from a local volunteer.
30. Lissadell House and Gardens
The Lissadell Estate is best known as the childhood home of Constance Markievicz, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, and the first woman to be elected to Dáil Eireann.
The Estate is now the home of Edward Walsh, Constance Cassidy, and their seven children. After 70 years of neglect, the couple undertook an intensive self-funded restoration of the house with a vision to transform the estate into a flagship for tourism in Sligo.
You can take a 45-minute tour of the house followed by a cake in the tea rooms and then a stroll through the gardens.
31. Let your belly lead the way on the Sligo Food Trail
Last and by no means least is the Sligo Food Trail. Something that’s kept me going back to Sligo time and time again over the years (aside from the scenery, as that goes without saying!) is the food and drink.
There’s an almost endless number of fantastic restaurants, cafes, and pubs scattered across this absolute peach of a county. A tour that’s part of the trail that I’ve wanted to try for a while is the Sligo Food Tour.
This tour will help you explore Sligo’s vibrant food scene on a leisurely walk with Gaby and Hans (the guides). On the 3 to 3.5 hour you’ll try, taste and take part in:
- An oyster experience
- A seaweed dish along with Sligo’s own coffee roasters
- Fermented foods and drinks
- A local beef tapas with a tasty wild lemonade
- Real sourdough bread, and sweet pastries,
- Italian gelato (I’m sold) with seasonal flavours
- Locally brewed craft beers
What to do in Sligo: Where have we missed?
The guides on this site rarely sit still. They grow based on feedback and recommendations for readers and locals that visit and comment.
What things to do in Sligo and places to visit have we missed? Let me know in the comments section below!