The pretty town of Westport on the shores of Clew Bay in Mayo is one of the most sought-after places to head for a weekend away.
The historic Georgian-style town is a lively place that charms people with its tree-lined streets and vibrant pub scene.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about visiting the town, including where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about visiting Westport in Mayo
Although a visit to Westport in Mayo is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Westport is an old town in the south-east corner of Clew Bay, an inlet in the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Located in County Mayo, it’s close to many of the best attractions in this picturesque part of the country, with Croagh Patrick providing a stunning backdrop.
2. A lively little town
Westport is known as a lively and vibrant seaside town. It’s been voted as one of the best places to live in Ireland, so it’s no surprise that it has a charming appeal to it. You’ll find plenty of great pubs and restaurants in the historic centre with tree-lined streets and the peaceful Carrowbeg River flowing through with old stone bridges.
3. A fine base for exploring
Westport’s fine location means that you easily explore many of Mayo’s best attractions as well as further afield on the Wild Atlantic Way. From Achill Island and Croagh Patrick close to town, to Connemara in Galway further to the south, there’s plenty to do from the coast to the tops of mountains.
Westport gets its name from a 16th century castle, Cathair na Mart, meaning the “stone fort of the beeves” or the “city of the fairs” owned by the powerful O’Malley family.
The original town was located on the front lawn of Westport House, until it was moved to the present site in the 1780s by the Browne family to make way for the gardens of their estate.
The town was specifically designed by William Leeson in a Georgian architectural style. Westport is quite unique in that it is one of the few planned towns in the country.
Many of the original features still stand today, including the iconic Clock Tower, tree-lined boulevard on the Carrowbeg River and the old stone bridge.
The charm of Westport
The area around Westport has attracted tourists and visitors for a very long time. The historic estate Westport House has been open to the public since 1960, which was a sort-of pioneering move at the time.
Things to do in Westport and nearby
Now, we go into what to do in the town in detail in our guide to the best things to do in Westport, but I’ll give you an overview here.
Below, you’ll find everything from hikes and walks to cycles, scenic drives, pubs and much more.
1. Climb Croagh Patrick
Otherwise known as the Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick is a 764m high mountain just 8km west of town. It’s an important pilgrimage site, as it’s where Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD.
People flock from all over the world to climb the mountain in honour of the Saint. The views from the top are incredible stretching across the town and bay and are certainly worth the effort of the climb to the summit.
2. Cycle the Great Western Greenway
The Great Western Greenway is the longest greenway in Ireland, stretching for 42km in County Mayo. It begins in Westport town and ends in Achill, passing through Newport and Mulranny along the coast of Clew Bay.
A cycle or walk along the trail provides incredible views of the nearby mountains and the many islands out to sea. It’s fast becoming one of the most popular ways to explore the Atlantic coast, with plenty of bicycle hire options in town.
3. Take a trip to Silver Strand
Just 38km south of Westport on the Atlantic coast, Silver Strand beach near Louisburgh is a hidden gem of a beach in Mayo. Located at the mouth of the Killary Fjord, this long sandy beach is one of the most beautiful places anywhere in the country.
The beach is popular for swimming with the rocky headlands and high sand dunes offering plenty of shelter for the otherwise wild sea. While it’s not lifeguarded, you’ll find plenty of parking right by the beach and it can still attract a decent crowd on warm summer days.
4. Explore Achill Island
Lying almost 50km north-west of Westport town, Achill Island is known for its dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches, including Keem Bay and Dooagh Beach. You can reach it easily by car across the mainland bridge or by bicycle on the Great Western Greenway.
It’s a popular place to head on a day trip from Westport, with plenty of outdoor activities on the island, as you’ll discover in our guide to the best things to do in Achill Island.
You can head off surfing at some of the secluded bays or go hiking up see the enormous Croaghaun cliffs, all amongst impressive Atlantic coast scenery.
5. Visit Westport House
Perhaps one of the most well-known attractions in Westport town, Westport House is an old estate on the banks of the Carrowbeg River between the town and the Quay area. It was built back in 1730 by the Browne family, with the house and gardens having been welcoming visitors for over 60 years.
It’s considered one of the best places to take the whole family, with a range of things to see and do in the estate grounds. From tours of the old house to taking the kids to the Pirate Adventure Park, the estate has loads of fun to entertain you all day.
Where to stay and eat in Westport
Right, now that we’ve tackled things to do and given you a little bit of insight into the history of Westport in Mayo, it’s time to look at where to eat, sleep and drink.
Below, you’ll find everything from fancy hotels and cheap places to eat to the best pubs in the land and more.
Hotels in Westport
There are plenty of hotels in Westport from luxury escapes to family friendly lodges. There are some particularly nice options in the Quay area overlooking the harbour, including Westport Coast Hotel and Ardmore Country House. While you can also opt to be more central, with Clew Bay Hotel and the Wyatt Hotel being popular choices in Westport town.
B&Bs in Westport
There’s also plenty of great B&Bs in Westport. You’ll find a range of nice boutique guesthouses, with some overlooking the harbour such as the Pink Door or the Waterside B&B. Otherwise, you can also check out some located right amongst the action in the centre of town, including Clooneen House or An File Guest House. There’s also some great Airbnbs in Westport and some very unique self catering in Westport, too!
Pubs in Westport
There’s an endless number of great pubs in Westport, with plenty offering live music almost every night of the week. The most iconic pub is definitely Matt Molloy’s, owned by the flutist from The Chieftans, which offers traditional Irish music live every night. If it’s too busy, there are plenty of other options including centuries old Toby’s Bar and local favourite Mac Brides Bar.
Restaurants in Westport
If you’re looking for a good feed at one of the busy restaurants in Westport, you can find something to suit everyone’s taste. From fresh seafood to mouth-watering traditional cuisine, there’s plenty of great restaurants to try.
You can’t go wrong with a meal at the award winning An Port Mor, located in the centre of town this is one of the best places to eat. If you want to try some delicious seafood, go to Cian’s on Bridge Street or if you prefer Italian, head to La Bella Vita.
FAQs about visitng Westport in Mayo
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from is Westport worth visiting to what there is to do in the town.
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 Westport worth visiting?
Westport is definitely worth staying in, as it’s close to some of Mayo’s top attractions and there’s lots to do in the town at night. The town itself is worth visiting – park up, grab a coffee and head for a stroll around, from the Fair Green up and around the town and back along the water.
What is there to do in Westport?
You can tackle the Westport Greenway, visit Westport House, climb Croagh Patrick or visit one of the many nearby attractions mentioned above.
What is Westport Ireland known for?
Westport tends to be known by many as a picturesque little town with great places to eat and a thriving nightlife scene.
Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.