Welcome to an easy-to-follow (and scenery-packed) Sligo road trip guide.
If you’ve read our guide to the best things to do in Sligo, you’ll know that this corner of Ireland is home to endless things to see and do.
So, knocking up an itinerary for your trip can be tricky, but that’s where this guide (hopefully) takes that pain out of planning.
Below, you’ll find a 2 day Sligo itinerary that’s filled with beaches, hikes, scenic drives and more. There’s also advice on where to eat, sleep and drink. Dive on in!
Our Sligo road trip: A quick look at the itinerary
I’m going to lash an overview of our Sligo itinerary below. This is just a quick overview of the 2 days – you’ll find more detail below.
Is this the perfect itinerary? Of course not – what’s ‘perfect’ in my eyes could look crap to you. But I’ve followed this a few times, and it’s a solid way of exploring the county.
- Breakfast in Strandhill
- Surfing, Coney Island or the Knocknarea hike
- Lunch in the town
- The Glen (a very hidden gem!)
- Sligo Town for the night
- Waterfalls, The Lough Gill Drive or Union Wood
- The Gleniff Horseshoe
- Sligo Town for the night
Sligo road trip: Day 1
Day one of our Sligo road trip takes us straight to Strandhill where we’ll be kicking things off with breakfast and coffee.
From there, you’ll have an option of picking one of several activities, with a mix of surfing, a handy beach walk or the brilliant Knocknarea walk.
This guide uses Sligo Town as the base for the road trip. The reason for this is that, in my experience, it’s an awful lot handier to get accommodation in Sligo Town.
The town is also nice and close to most of the county’s main attractions and it’s home to loads of places to eat and drink.
1. Strandhill for breakfast
If you have a nosey in our guide to the best restaurants in Strandhill, you’ll find plenty of places to grab an early morning feed in Strandhill.
It’s hard to beat Shell’s (above) for breakfast. Get in and make your belly happy. Just keep in mind that if you choose activity 2 below, you’ll want to leave plenty of time between eating and surfing.
2. Activity option 1: Knocknarea
On a clear day, the Knocknarea walk is out of this world. You can start it from Strandhill and the trail up to Queen Maeve’s grave couldn’t be easier to follow.
This is a 6km trail that’ll take between 1.5 and 2 hours to complete. It’s tough enough, but the views from the top make it worth the effort. Here’s a guide with everything you need to know.
3. Activity option 2: Surfing
Strandhill Beach is arguably one of the best beaches in Sligo for taking surf lessons (Rosses Point Beach is another popular spot).
There are several surf schools operating from Strandhill and each of them offer beginners and intermediate lessons.
The lessons tend to range from a half day slot to a full day. Find out more about the surf schools in this guide.
4. Activity option 3: Coney Island
The third option for the morning of day one of our Sligo road trip is Coney Island. Now, you can either reach the island by boat, or you can drive, walk or cycle.
If you’re making your way there yourself, read this guide, as it’s extremely important that you’re aware of tide times in advance of your visit.
The island is home to a gorgeous beach and there’s a nice walk you can head off on that’ll treat you to glorious views of the Sligo coast.
5. Lunch, ice cream and a handy ramble
Hop into our Strandhill food guide to find a place for a post-surf or post-walk feed (the Strand Bar is hard to beat!).
When you’ve finished, grab an ice-cream from Mammy Johnston’s – this parlor has 100+ years of history and its current owner learned to make Gelato over in Italy.
Mammy Johnston’s is a stone’s throw from Strandhill Beach, so head over there for a stroll on the sand when you’re ready to rock.
6. The Glen
You’ll find The Glen at the side of Knocknarea Mountain, a short drive from Strandhill. This is arguably one of the most unique places to visit in Sligo.
The Glen, which looks like a scene from Lord of the Rings, is a very hidden gem, and it can be tricky to 1, get parking near it and 2, find the entrance.
You’ll find links to where to get parking and where to locate the entrance in this guide.
7. A room for the night
I’m going to recommend staying in Sligo Town for this road trip, but you can stay wherever you fancy (note: the links below are affiliate links).
The beauty of Sligo Town is that, as there’s a good range of hotels and B&Bs, you can get something to suit most budgets. You’ll also rarely struggle to find a place to stay.
The town is also a short drive from all of the places we’re visiting on day 1 and 2 of our Sligo road trip (and it’s home to endless places to eat and drink!).
Accommodation wise, The Glasshouse Hotel, the Sligo Southern Hotel and the Clayton Hotel Sligo are three good options, depending on how much cash you have to work with.
8. Food and the oldest pubs in Sligo
After checking in, there are plenty of great restaurants in Sligo to grab a tasty bite-to-eat, as you’ll discover in our Sligo food guide.
There are also some brilliant old-school pubs in the town, like Thomas Connolly, Hardagon Bros. and Shoot The Crows. Get in, get fed and head for a drink if you fancy!
Sligo road trip: Day 2
Day 2 of our Sligo road trip follows a similar enough pattern to day one, in that you’ll find several different walk and drive options to kick-start the day.
This neck of the trip also uses Sligo Town as a base, as it’s a short spin from many of the best places to visit in Sligo. Right. Let’s dive in.
1. Activity option 1: Waterfalls
So, your first option for the day is a couple of Sligo walks that are a little bit out of the ordinary. The first is the Glencar Waterfall walk (it’s in Leitrim).
It’s a 15-minute spin from Sligo Town to the car park at Glencar, and there’s a lovely long and short walk here (see this guide for details).
The second option is the Devil’s Chimney walk, which also kicks off a 15-minute spin from the town. Just note that the Devil’s Chimney is only visible after heavy rain.
2. Activity option 2: The Lough Gill Drive
People tend to overlook the Lough Gill drive. This route kicks off just 10 minutes from Sligo Town and it’s packed with walks along the way.
The full loop takes around an hour but, if you follow this guide, you’ll find plenty of lovely rambles along the way that you can head off on.
The route (as seen in the map on the right) also includes a stop-off for lunch along the way, so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to eat.
3. Activity option 3: Union Wood
Union Wood is also a handy 15-minute drive from Sligo Town and it’s here that you’ll find 2 trails: the long trail (2 hours long) and the short trail (1.5 hours).
Each of the trails are reasonably doable and both treat you to fantastic views (however the longer trail packs more of a punch scenery wise, in my opinion).
You’ll find an overview of the trails in this guide. If you’re looking to kick-start day 2 of your Sligo road trip with a nice long ramble, you can’t go wrong here!
4. Gleniff Horseshoe
Right, after you’ve completed one of the 3 activities above, it’s time to explore a little bit more of Sligo (without spending too much time stuck in the car).
The next stop on our Sligo road trip takes us 30 minutes from Sligo Town, out along the Gleniff Horseshoe loop. You can drive, walk or cycle this, depending on what you’re in the humour for.
The scenery here is spectacular and, unless you visit during the busy summer months, the chances are you’ll only meet a handful of people while you’re there.
Take your 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.
5. Lunch and a stroll at Mullaghmore Head
Mullaghmore is a handy 15-minute spin from the Gleniff Horseshoe. If you’re in need of a feed, Eithna’s By The Sea (one of our favourite restaurants in Sligo), is a great spot for food.
When you’ve had you’re fill, it’s time to head off for a stroll along the stunning coastline of Mullaghmore. Set off from Mullaghmore Beach and follow the coastline around to Mullaghmore head.
You can walk this (allow around 2.5 hours) or you can drive it. On the way, you’ll be able to soak up mighty views of Classiebawn Castle.
6. Dinner and drinks in Sligo
When you finish up at Mullaghmore, you’re a sgort 15-minute spin from Sligo Town. Get back and chill for a bit.
When you’re ready to rock, head to Hargadons for the evening for food, pints or whatever you fancy (or try one of these restaurants in Sligo).
When you enter Hargadons for the first time, it’ll feel a little like you’ve just taken a step back in time. An excellent spot to round off our two day Sligo road trip.
Accommodation wise, The Glasshouse Hotel, the Sligo Southern Hotel and the Clayton Hotel Sligo are three good options, depending on how much cash you have to work with (these are affiliate links).
Wrapping up our Sligo road trip
And that’s a wrap on our Sligo road trip. Hopefully you’ve found the guide above useful in planning out your own Sligo itinerary.
Sligo’s a peach of a county and you could easily spend a month exploring it and still have only scratched the surface.
However, if you’ve only got 2 or 3 days to play with you can still see plenty, so don’t be worrying!
FAQs about our Sligo trip
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what’s the best Sligo itinerary for 2 days to which packs in the most walks.
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.
What’s the best Sligo road trip for 2 days?
If you follow the guide above, you’ll base yourself in the town for the 2 nights and explore around you without having to drive much (full itinerary above).
Is it worth spending 48 hours in Sligo?
Yes, it absolutely is. You just need to make sure your itinerary is planned out in advance to make the most of your time.
Can the Sligo itinerary above be done with public transport?
No, unfortunately not! It was mapped out with a car in mind, for flexibility, so it wouldn’t be possible if you’re reliant of buses and trains.
Sunday 11th of September 2022
I am travelling alone, following meetings in Dublin, to Sligo for three days. 25-28 Sept. I have a reservation in a B&B in Sligo Town. I am interested in this itinerary but would very much like someone to do this with me. It is not fun to do such nice things alone! My fitness levels are good. I will not have a car, as I do not have an international driver's license. I love the outdoors: hiking and cycling. Is there possibly a guide who can do this with me? Or someone else (a trustworthy local? My nationality is South African. I am from Pretoria/Johannesburg. Hoping to hear from you! Eleanor Cornelius
Wednesday 14th of September 2022
Hey Eleanor. I don't think you'd find an organised tour that'd follow a route like this, unfortunately. I'm also not sure about the best way to find a local to join you. I know this reply is of absolutely no use, but I didn't want to leave it unanswered. Have a great trip!