We’ve lived here for 15 years but had never made it as far north as Sligo, a county in the north-west of Ireland that’s doing it’s best to tick the boxes and encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism. However, having now seen the beautiful coastline, the striking mountain range and the passion of the people who are proud to live in this historic county, it won’t be the last time.
County Sligo, (home of Connacht Gold, a company that has over 1,000 diary farmers supplying them with milk), and just one of several counties marked on the Wild Atlantic Way, offers lots of activities that cater for all ages, abilities and budgets with a more eco conscious ethos.
Whether you’re looking for some adventure or quieter meals and walks there are lots in Sligo to keep you occupied.
10 Fun Things To Do in Sligo
1. Sea Trails
Auriel Robinson, a qualified maritime archaeologist, is a font of local, historical, maritime knowledge which she’ll happily share with you in various ways. From prehistoric walks to more rugged treks, you’ll find yourself swept away and more interested in Irish history than you might possibly have imagined. Auriel accompanied us on the horseriding trip, sharing tales of three ships from the Spanish Armada that were wrecked on Streedagh Beach.
It’s one thing learning about this historical invasion in school text books, quite another when you can picture the scene in front of you. She also takes local groups out on regular beach clean ups, something that’s becoming more necessary as the big storms sweep ocean litter up onto the beaches.Take a look at seatrails.ie for more information on the variety of interesting tours available.
2. The Yeats Experience
I covered the Yeats Experience in another blog post but this unusual dinner party encompasses so much of the what defines the responsible traveller.
Damien manages to weave art, history and poetry alongside the natural beauty of the surrounding hills and lough, while his wife Paula and her helpers, present guests with locally sourced, home cooked food.
3. Walking Tour of Sligo Town
Sligo tourist office can give visitors with a signposted walking tour map of Sligo that points out all the interesting parts of the town itself.
If you’re visiting during the summer months however, I’d urge you to take a two-hour walk with Niambh (the time flies by) who will open your eyes to the trouble and strife the town faced during the days of the cholera epidemic in the 1800’s.
She might also regale you with tales of what might have inspired Bram Stoker to write the scary Dracula story he’s famous for. The tours leave daily from the Tourist Office. See here for more details.
4. Horse Riding on Sligo Beach
If you like horses, a trip to the family run Island View Riding Stables in Grange is a heavenly treat. With horses, ponies, guides and instructors available to cater for all experiences, as well as hats, boots and chaps, the stable will make sure everyone on the ride gets a taste of what they’re expecting.
From a slow, gentle walk, to a more bouncy trot or a hearty canter along the sandy beach, you’ll be well looked after. Island View offer a range of riding experiences, from half hour rides to B&B Holidays. For more information take a look at their website here.
5. Stand Up Paddling & Guided Canoe Tours
Stand Up Paddling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and if you fancy your chances of balancing on the loughs, it’s available in Sligo from the Perfect Day SUP School.
Everywhere we went people were recommending we try this unusual form of travel but time didn’t let on this occasion. I don’t think I’ll be trying the yoga poses pictured in some of the literature but a gentle paddle sounds tempting. For those of you who prefer a more relaxed time on the water, Adventure Gently offer guided tours in Canadian canoes that might be more to your liking.
6. Seaweed Foraging
If you want to use seaweed in your kitchen or garden it’s essential that you harvest it sustainably and just like hedgerow foraging, it helps to know what you’re picking. As a life long seaweed forager, Prannie Rhatigan is a real expert in this field. Keep an eye out for her workshops. From the brief time we spent with Prannie, I can guarantee you’ll come home armed with enough information that you’ll want to cook with seaweed as much as possible.
7. Seaweed Baths
If you’re looking for a relaxing activity, the Seaweed Baths in Strandhill might be for you. Luxuriate in the healing waters and feel all your troubles drift away as the essential oils are released. Afterwards you might like to pop next door into the award-winning Shells Seaside Bakery, Shop & Cafe for a delicious juice or a slice of home-made cake..
8. Surfing on the Atlantic coast
Sligo is apparently the 4th best location IN THE WORLD for big surfing waves and has one of the most consistent swells in Europe. Whether you’re a beginner or a fan of the giant waves, there are several kite surfing or general surfing schools dotted around the Sligo coastline, or just bring a board and find out where all the locals are surfing. For more information check out the Sligo tourism page.
9. Relaxing on a Green Coast Beach
Sligo boasts five Green Coast Beaches and they really do live up to their awards. Unspoilt and scenic, they’re the perfect place to spend some time if you’re looking for a beach that’s not surrounded by chip shops and souvenir shops. Bring a picnic and grab a copy of Prannie’s seaweed guide as these are the places you can carefully harvest seaweed for a home bathing or cooking experience.
10. Secret Gardens of Sligo
There are several hidden gardens nestled in Sligo from large to small, privately owned and open to the public on various dates throughout the year to raise funds for various charities. There’s no admission charge but all donations greatly appreciated. Take a look at the Secret Gardens of Sligo website for more information.
Where to stay in Sligo
From Dublin you can pick up a train or bus that will take you directly there, but from Carlow or Kilkenny it isn’t the easiest place to travel to.. It would have several taxi, bus and train changes to get us there, so I car shared with Susan from Vibrant Ireland for this trip.
We stayed in the very groovy 4 star Glasshouse Hotel in the centre of Sligo town, which meant we were within walking distance of local shops, restaurants and bars.
Notable were Donaghy’s, famed for their chicken wings among other dishes, Osta Cafe & Wine Bar who can serve you up a tasty tapas on the riverfront, and the very helpful Wine Buff who can recommend exactly what wine’s to taste with which cheese, handy if you’re self catering.
If visitors haven’t done their homework, they might be in for a surprise when they walk into the family owned but very contemporary designed Glasshouse hotel, unlike any other I’ve stayed in! I had a peek online before we traveled and loved my orange room with river views, smart television and family sized bed. The rooms were spotless, the service friendly and the car park free for residents.
Where to eat in Sligo
If you visit Sligo during a festival, it’s likely you’ll be able to choose from over 25 local food establishments that take part in the Food Trail, with each one offering a signature dish for just five euro.
Outside of the town we dinned in Eithna’s By The Sea, a delightful seafood restaurant in Mullaghmore, where we sampled the delicious tasting menu, with plates piled high with locally sourced lobster and mussels, seaweed salads and king prawns.
I hope that’s given you a flavour of some of the things you might experience if you have the opportunity to spend a few days in Sligo. If you have any other tips about places to see or visit there, please leave them in the comments below as I’m looking forward to returning sometime soon with my family and it’s great to hear about places you may have been.
Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Connaght Gold who want to share and shout out about all the lovely things their County has to offer. The fact that the trip was sponsored has in no way influenced anything I’ve written, as the one thing I hope you’ve come to expect from my blog is honesty and transparency. See here for my full disclosure policy.