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    Sligo Destination Spotlight: 10 Things to See and Do in Sligo

    8 min read

    By Dawn Rainbolt, Marketing Executive
    More by Dawn

    Located in northwest Ireland, Sligo is a little-visited county but is one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s most hidden gems. Learn more about things to do in Sligo, this quiet corner of Ireland.

    1. Ireland’s national poet WB Yeats lived in & was inspired by Sligo.

    Sligo - Lough Gill - WB Yeats

    Admiring the view over Lough Gill, romanticised forever by WB Yeats.

    William Butler Yeats and his brother Jack both spent many happy childhood years in Sligo, and the windswept landscapes, lush forests and quiet lakes had profound effect on Yeats’ work, with Sligo and Leitrim appearing in many of Yeats’ poems. As a romantic poet, much of Sligo has been immortalised by the famous WB Yeats – such as the well-known “Lake Isle of Inishfree” – a poem based on an island in Lough Gill, Hazelwood Park, Dooney Rock, and more.

    2. Overshadowing Sligo town is the iconic Ben Bulben, under which is the cave of Diarmuid & Grainne.

    Ben Bulben Sligo

    Craggy Ben Bulben is Sligo’s most iconic landmark.

    County Sligo’s iconic landmark is a natural element – which says a lot about Sligo. This compact county is full of outdoors lovers as well as amazing landscapes to explore. Whether you opt for the challenging Ben Bulben hike, or you prefer a more gentle coastal ramble at Mullaghmore or perhaps forested walk in Union Wood, Sligo is a place to get outdoors. Not far away is the famous Cave of Diarmuid & Grainne, Ireland’s doomed-to-be-tragic lovers a la Romeo and Juliet. After falling in love and eloping, the lovers are pursued by jilted fiancé Fionn MacCool the giant of the Giant’s Causeway. View their cave  – one of many were legend claims they hid together – nearby in the Gleniff Horseshoe.

    Learn more about Ireland’s tragic lovers, Diarmuid and Grainne, in our series about Irish myths & legends.

    3. Sligo’s name in Irish Sligeach means “shelly place.”

    Sligo Lissadell mussels

    Lissadell mussels are a traditional dish in Sligo.

    “Sligeach” means “shelly place” in Irish (Gaelic) and you’ll still see evidence of that today. From megalithic times, the people of Sligo have sustained themselves largely on shellfish. In fact, you can still spot megalithic middens here – piles of shells cast away after consumption. Today, the Lissadell Mussels (and oysters) are famous both in Sligo and beyond. They were once much sought-after by high-end London chefs and are still consider a delicacy, though you can find them in most Sligo eateries. Learn more about traditional Irish food here.

    4. Beaches like Strandhill, Easkey & Mullaghmore have some of Europe's best surfing waves.

    Surfing in Easkey Sligo

    Sligo’s waves are perfect for surfing

    Because of the way the coast is faced, the beaches of Strandhill, Streegah and Easkey get some of the best wind and therefore some of the best waves on the Wild Atlantic Way – and people come from all over Ireland and even Europe to get a taste of local surfing, nicknamed Ireland’s Surf Coast! Mullaghmore is home to some of the biggest waves, attracting big wave surfers in winter storm season – Mullaghmore even held the record for biggest wave surfed until quite recently! Another good place to check out if you’re into surfing is Donegal, an even more remote and rugged corner of northwest Ireland. Of all the things to do in Sligo, this is perhaps one of the most exhilarating.

    5. Sligo town is a place caught between land and sea.

    Sligo town on the Garavogue river

    Lake to river to sea, Sligo town straddles all three.

    Where is Sligo? To the west is Lough Gill, to the east, the Atlantic Ocean, and in between is the Garavogue River, one of the shortest rivers in Ireland. So, the Garavogue may or may not be the shortest river in Ireland (that honour debatably goes to the 6km long River Corrib in Connemara), but it’s still quite short. Starting on the magical shores of Lough Gill, the river winds its way through town, under bridges and past charming parks to the bay and estuary and finally the Atlantic. This proximity makes Sligo perhaps one of the best places to experience fresh, salt and brackish water within a small radius.

     

    6. Sligo is a hotspot of ancient megalithic sites older than the pyramids of Giza.

    Carrowkeel megalithic tombs Sligo

    Two dozen ancient tombs dot the hills at Sligo’s Carrowkeel.

    There have been people inhabiting the Coolera Peninsula and area around the Garavogue River since megalithic times, meaning more than five thousands years ago.  They created monuments, tombs, cairns and other sites that are still scattered around the Sligo countryside that actually pre-date the pyramids!

    Some examples of such monuments are the giant cairn atop Knocknarea Hill, the megolithic tombs at Carrowkeel and Carrowmore, as well as the other tombs dotting the landscape like the impressive court tombs of Creevykeel and Deerpark, and the hard-to-reach but very visible cairn atop Keashcorran Hill.

    7. Local folklore claims the monastic island of Inishmurray successfully resisted a Viking raid.

    Inishmurray Island Sligo

    One of the dry stone huts remaining from the monastic days on Inishmurray.

    Though at the moment the island is closed to visitors, Inishmurray is a historically fascinating place. Once home to a small but thriving monastery, it was invaded by Viking raiders looking for gold and other precious goods in the 9th century. While this was a pretty normal instance at the time, what was unusual is that legend states that Sligo mainlanders, who rallied behind the monks, together successfully managed to barricade the island from the invaders and and stave off the second Viking raid. Legend also states that the Vikings didn’t return after that…

    Please note that, due to problems with the landing pier, the island is currently closed to visitors. We hope that this will change soon!

    8. Knocknarea's massive cairn is legendary burial site of warrior Queen Maeve.

    Knocknarea Hill Sligo

    The massive cairn – and legendary burial site of Queen Maeve – at the top of Knocknarea Hill.

    Another legend – Sligo seems to be full of them! – refers to the supposed burial site of Queen Maeve, a formidable warrior of the region Connaught, a nemesis of mythical giant Cuchalainn credited with shaping the Giant’s Causeway. A giant cairn on the top of Knocknarea hill, the cairn is actually a megalithic tomb re-associated with Queen Maeve. To follow the legend, you’ll have to bring up a stone from the bottom of the hill to add to the massive cairn.

    9. Home to the Sligo Food Trail, Sligo is an up-and-coming foodie destination.

    Sligo Food Trail food

    Brunch at Shell’s Cafe in Strandhill is just one of the amazing eateries on the Sligo Food Trail.

    Though most people think of potatoes and stews and chowders when they think of Irish cuisine, Ireland actually is a significant up-and-coming foodie destination as part of Ireland’s contemporary culinary culture. The Sligo Food Trail plays a role in Ireland’s newfound and growing culinary reputation as a collection of eateries that work together to focus on using fresh, local products to create intriguing, healthy dishes.

    Some of the standouts include the oceanfront Shell’s Cafe in Strandhill (yummy all the time but a standout brunch spot), Eithna’s by the Sea in Mullaghmore (a menu of just-caught seafood), Sweetbeat Cafe (innovative vegan cuisine), gastro pubs like Hargadon’s or Coach Lane/Donaghy’s in Sligo town – or simply great pubs like traditional Shoot the Crows or craft beer haven, Swagman’s – Knox for brunch or even Irish tapas, or the wee Pudding Row cafe in Easkey for cosy home cooking. For such a small place, Sligo has a lot of great places to eat!

    10. Sligo is renowned for its seaweed baths at Enniscrone and Strandhill.

    Seaweed baths in Strandhill

    Enjoying the benefits of a seaweed bath in Strandhill and Enniscrone.

    Taking a bath laced with seaweed is actually a lot more refreshing than it might sound! The mineral elements and vitamins released by seaweed in water hold many health benefits – containing moisturising and natural anti-aging properties, it contributes to smoother skin, as well as helping the thyroid regulate metabolism, reduce eczema and repair damaged skin cells.

    Visit the magical region of Sligo on our guided biking and yoga escape. Cycling at a gentle pace, the trip is perfect for beginners and for those who simply want to relax as you slowly explore the rich environs of Sligo!

    Or, visit Sligo by water – try a hiking and kayaking combination to see Sligo from every angle!

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    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 17th Sep - 23rd Sep 2022 €1,9104 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking- The Dingle Way 20th Sep - 28th Sep 2022 €8902 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking - The Wicklow Way 24th Sep - 28th Sep 2022 €8203 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 24th Sep - 30th Sep 2022 €1,9103 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking- The Dingle Way 25th Sep - 3rd Oct 2022 €8902 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking- The Dingle Way 26th Sep - 4th Oct 2022 €890Trip Full
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 1st Oct - 7th Oct 2022 €2,3506 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 8th Oct - 14th Oct 2022 €1,9104 place(s) leftBook Now
    Private Departure - Autumn Foods 11th Oct - 17th Oct 2022 €5,8503 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Cycling - The Wilds of Sligo 16th Dec - 22nd Dec 2022 €1,0503 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 11th Mar - 17th Mar 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 25th Mar - 31st Mar 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 25th Mar - 31st Mar 2023 €1,9606 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 1st Apr - 7th Apr 2023 €2,3508 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 15th Apr - 21st Apr 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 15th Apr - 21st Apr 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 22nd Apr - 28th Apr 2023 €2,6008 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 22nd Apr - 28th Apr 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - Ireland Coast to Coast 6th May - 12th May 2023 €2,3108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 6th May - 12th May 2023 €1,9106 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 6th May - 12th May 2023 €1,9608 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Connemara & the Aran Islands 13th May - 19th May 2023 €2,4908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 13th May - 19th May 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 13th May - 19th May 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking- The Dingle Way 17th May - 21st May 2023 €1,070Trip Full
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 20th May - 26th May 2023 €2,3508 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking - The Wicklow Way 21st May - 26th May 2023 €950Trip Full
    Self Guided Walking - The Wicklow Way 21st May - 25th May 2023 €8202 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 27th May - 2nd Jun 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Wicklow Way 27th May - 2nd Jun 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - Ireland Coast to Coast 3rd Jun - 9th Jun 2023 €2,3108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 10th Jun - 16th Jun 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 10th Jun - 16th Jun 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Drive - Ireland's Ancient East 13th Jun - 19th Jun 2023 €1,5002 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Wild Atlantic Way 17th Jun - 30th Jun 2023 €4,650Trip Full
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 24th Jun - 30th Jun 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 24th Jun - 30th Jun 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Bike Tour - The Kerry Peninsulas 24th Jun - 30th Jun 2023 €2,8208 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 1st Jul - 7th Jul 2023 €2,3508 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 8th Jul - 14th Jul 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 8th Jul - 14th Jul 2023 €1,9608 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 8th Jul - 14th Jul 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 15th Jul - 21st Jul 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Donegal From Cliffs to Coast 15th Jul - 21st Jul 2023 €2,6008 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - Ireland Coast to Coast 22nd Jul - 28th Jul 2023 €2,3108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 22nd Jul - 28th Jul 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 29th Jul - 4th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Wild Atlantic Way 29th Jul - 11th Aug 2023 €4,650Trip Full
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 29th Jul - 4th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 5th Aug - 11th Aug 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 12th Aug - 18th Aug 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Wicklow Way 12th Aug - 18th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 19th Aug - 25th Aug 2023 €2,3508 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 19th Aug - 25th Aug 2023 €1,9608 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 19th Aug - 25th Aug 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 26th Aug - 1st Sep 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Bike Tour - The Kerry Peninsulas 26th Aug - 1st Sep 2023 €2,8208 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 26th Aug - 1st Sep 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 2nd Sep - 8th Sep 2023 €2,3508 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry 2nd Sep - 8th Sep 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided Walking- The Dingle Way 6th Sep - 14th Sep 2023 €9702 place(s) leftBook Now
    Self Guided+ Cycling - Wild Atlantic Way Southwest 7th Sep - 13th Sep 2023 €1,5502 place(s) leftBook Now
    Bike Tour - Connemara & the Aran Islands 9th Sep - 15th Sep 2023 €2,4908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 16th Sep - 22nd Sep 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal 16th Sep - 22nd Sep 2023 €1,9908 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - Ireland Coast to Coast 16th Sep - 22nd Sep 2023 €2,3108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - Dingle Way 23rd Sep - 29th Sep 2023 €1,9608 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking - The Mountains of Connemara and Mayo 23rd Sep - 29th Sep 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Hiking - The Kerry Mountains 30th Sep - 6th Oct 2023 €2,3508 place(s) leftBook Now
    Hiking and Island Hopping - Ireland's West Coast 7th Oct - 13th Oct 2023 €1,9108 place(s) leftBook Now
    Deluxe Family Adventure - Legends of the Southwest 9th Apr - 15th Apr 2024 €2,8506 place(s) leftBook Now

    Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

    “American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Poland, France and now Ireland home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich Irish culture and sweeping landscapes of Ireland. Armed with a Masters Degree in Tourism Marketing and a love of writing and photography, she is Wilderness Ireland's Marketing Executive since 2017.”

    View profileMore by Dawn

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