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County Sligo Ireland
Tucked away on Ireland’s west coast, County. Sligo is one of the best-kept secrets in Ireland. Bordered by Co. Mayo, Co. Roscommon, and Co. Leitrim, Co. Sligo is one of the smaller counties in Ireland. That said, Sligo certainly packs in a ton of natural beauty include many of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches.
With its prime location along the Wild Atlantic Way, Sligo is fairly easy to reach by car, bus, or train.
By car, Dublin to Sligo will take around two and a half hours traveling almost entirely on the N4. If driving in Ireland isn’t your thing, the Dublin to Sligo train is one option to consider. Leaving Dublin Connolly Station, the journey to Sligo takes approximately three hours.
Alternatively, there is a Dublin to Sligo bus which takes around the same time as the train.
Sligo town is the main urban area within Co. Sligo. With a population of just under 20,000, Sligo town is as charming a town as you can get in Ireland. The River Garavogue winds its way through the center of town, creating one of the best urban scenes in Ireland.
Throughout Sligo town, you’ll find adorable shops owned and operated by multi-generational families.
Outside of Sligo town, the remainder of the County is dotted with several quaint small Irish towns and villages worth spotting in. As you explore the county, keep an eye out for Moygara Castle, Classiebawn Castle, and Ballymote Castle. All three are castles in Sligo that must be seen up close.
5 Things To Do In Sligo
The expression, “there’s something for everybody” couldn’t be more accurate when writing about things to do in Sligo. If you love sports, there are great golf courses in Sligo to play. Love nature? Sligo has tons of great walking trails and some of the best beaches in Ireland. If you love art, you can visit The Model, Sligo’s contemporary art museum. With so many options to choose from, make sure you pack wisely.
As we travel for food, most of our things to do in Sligo center around eating and drinking. Irish food has been transforming over the past decade. A much greater focus is being made by Irish chefs to use fresh, local, Irish ingredients.
Sligo is one of the areas leading this Irish food transformation. Here’s a look at some of the food and drink-focused things to do in Sligo.
Take A Food Tour
Make sure to come with an empty stomach for this two and a half hour food tour around Sligo. Led by restaurateur and Sligo food champion, Anthony Gray, the Taste of Sligo takes you around Sligo town sampling some of the very best of Irish food and drink.
In addition to stopping at Anthony’s own Hooked in Sligo, the tour visits a variety of shops to sample locally sourced and made chocolate, oysters, Irish craft beer, and Irish whiskey. The mix of fine dining and Irish comfort food will certainly leave you pleasantly full.
Sample Super Fresh Irish Oysters
Since moving to Ireland, one of our best discoveries has been the high-quality Irish seafood found throughout the country. Alongside Irish brown crab, we simply can’t get enough of Irish oysters.
While most of Ireland’s oysters are exported, there are plenty of opportunities to sample them when traveling around Ireland including in Sligo.
Led by Sligo native Aisling, the Sligo Oyster Experience And Farm Tour has been shucking some of Ireland’s best oysters since 2018. The experience begins with a scenic walk and history lesson about Sligo, oysters, and of course Y.B. Yeats.
After reaching their oyster farm, Aisling and her husband Glenn welcome guests with an “Oysters 101” explaining how they grown and farmed.
And of course, there’s the tasting of the oysters. If you can’t get out to the farm, you can pop into Aisling’s cafe in Sligo town, WBs Coffee House for a tasting. WBs is one of the nicest cafes in Sligo for a quick coffee, snack, and yes, tasting oysters.
Visit A Historic Irish Pub
Located in the heart of Sligo town, Thomas Connolly’s Pub is a piece of Irish pub history not to be missed. A licensed pub since 1861, Thomas Connolly’s isn’t the first pub to occupy the building on Markievicz Road.
As far back as 1780, there’s been a pub at this location. What started out as a “heritage pub”, wholesale grocer, and spirits merchant evolved over time into today’s Thomas Connolly’s Pub.
The folks behind Thomas Connolly’s are proud supporters of local craft beer brewers including Lough Gill Brewery and the White Hag. While Thomas Connolly’s pour a nice pint of Guinness, try ordering up these local Irish craft beers.
Looking for a wee dram of Irish whiskey? Thomas Connolly’s has got you covered with a large Irish whiskey selection including locally distilled Athrú whiskey from Lough Gill Distillery.
If you do find yourself in Sligo, definitely pop into Thomas Connolly’s. And if Godfry is working, tell him Amber and Eric say hello.
Relax In A Seaweed Bath
Looking for a little relaxation during your trip to Sligo, head over to the coast and the town of Strandhill to visit the Voya Seaweed Baths. It turns out that bathing in seaweed has long been a tradition in Ireland.
Seaweed baths possess many therapeutic benefits including stress release and improving skin health. And it’s a unique experience.
For over 20 years, Voya Seaweed Baths have continued this Irish tradition but with an eye on the environment. Using sustainable and environmentally-friendly harvesting practices like hand harvesting the seaweed, Voya is ensuring future visitors to Sligo a seaweed bath unlike any other.
The experience begins with a steam shower to loosen up the pores of your skin. Next, it’s time for the bath. The water needs to be fairly warm to release the healing properties in the seaweed.
Now comes the hard part. Relax in the tube for 40 minutes and let the seaweed do its job. After 40 minutes, shower off and enjoy a complimentary seaweed infused tea.
Easily Sligo’s most iconic feature is Benbulben. Part of the Dartry Mountains, Benbulbin is a flat-topped rock formation that dominates the landscape. You could say it’s Sligo’s version of Cape Town’s Table Mountain with a cooler name.
At over 1,700 feet, Benbulben offers nature lovers the opportunity to explore one of Ireland’s most stunning natural landmarks.
Self-guided and guided hikes of Benbulben are available. The hike is considered moderate in terms of difficulty and lasts between 4-5 hours. If going to the top of Benbulben isn’t your thing, the Benbulben Forest Walk will bring you right up to the base of the mountain.
Where To Eat In Sligo
There’s one thing for certain about any trip to Sligo, you’ll eat really well. Having access to the sea means you are going to find incredible Irish seafood. Throughout County Sligo, the land is dotted with local farms producing top-quality products like eggs, meats, and dairy.
With an abundance of fresh, local ingredients it’s no surprise that many of the cafes and restaurants in Sligo produce mouthwatering dishes. Here’s a look at just a few of the places we ate in Sligo.
From the Irish Gaelic word for white swan, Eala Bhán is easily the most recognizable restaurant in Sligo. The recipient of numerous Irish restaurant awards, Eala Bhán prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients to create innovative contemporary dishes. One such dish is Eala Bhán’s trio of duck and Cashel blue cheese ice cream. Simply divine.
While the food at Eala Bhán is the star and main attraction, the restaurant is so much more. Eala Bhán is located in heart of Sligo town adjacent to the River Garavogue. This setting and the white swans that frequent the Garavogue gave Eala Bhán its name.
Eala Bhán’s owner Anthony Gray makes each and every guest feel like they are part of the family. The dining experience he’s created is second to none with a combination of incredible food, a fabulous location, and a warm and welcoming environment.
With its sister restaurant Eala Bhán taking care of more refined dining in Sligo, Hooked focuses on every day, feel-good eating. While the two restaurants focus on different types of dining, one thing remains constant, using locally sourced, top-quality Irish ingredients.
Serving from lunch to dinner, Hooked’s menu features several mouthwatering dishes including Anthony’s father’s recipe for his award-winning Irish sausages. As a self-proclaimed “lover of all things pork,” I will say these sausages were unreal and unlike any other sausages I’ve had in Ireland.
Behind the sausages I can’t stop thinking about, Hooked serves up a wide range of traditional and innovative dishes. One such dish is Hooked’s beer-battered fish n’ chips. The batter for this dish uses one of Lough Gill Brewery’s IPA. The result is a lighter than air batter the crips up to perfection.
Eithna’s By the Sea
If you list on your menu a seafood platter featuring Irish brown crab claws, Irish mussels, lobster, and freshly caught mackerel, you’ll have Amber and me as customers for life. And guess what, Eithna’s By the Sea in Mullaghmore, Co. Sligo has got us for life.
Located feet away from fishing boats full of fresh Irish seafood, Eithna’s By the Sea is not only one of the best restaurants in Sligo but one of the best seafood restaurants in Ireland. It’s no surprise that Eithna’s has been going strong for the past 16 years, receiving multiple awards for their cooking.
Eithna’s By the Sea is approximately 30 minutes north of Sligo town and certainly worth the drive.
Nook Cafe & Restaurant
What’s not to love about a restaurant that features Korean-inspired dishes, creative and mouthwatering sandwiches, and is painted bright pink? Well, that’s Nook Cafe & Restuarant in Colloney, Co. Sligo.
Located 15 minutes south of Sligo town, Nook is owned by Chef Ethna Reynolds. Chef Reynolds has spent 15 years cooking up tasty dishes both in Ireland and abroad. At Nook, they say they “offer something for everyone” including vegan, gluten-free, and kid-friendly menus.
For me, it was all about the sandwiches at Nook. While Amber was laser-focused on the Korean chicken, I was left with decision paralysis. Unable to decide, I called in help and was told to go for the “Naanwich.” Stuffed with buttermilk fried chicken, chipotle mayo, and greens, the Naanwich exceeded expectations.
As you can probably tell, Sligo is loaded with tons of great places to eat. I can’t stress enough how fantastic it is to see cafes and restaurants in Sligo using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Whether it’s a venison Shepard’s Pie at Nádúr Cafe & Restaurant in Coolaney or super tasty and healthy salads and sandwiches at Shell’s Cafe in Strandhill you are going to be the best local ingredients when eating in Sligo.
Where To Stay In Sligo
There is no shortage of options when it comes to accommodations in Sligo. From seaside B&Bs to luxury castles there’s something for every budget and preference. Hotels in Sligo range from sleek, 4-star Glasshouse Hotel to simpler budget hotels.
In addition to providing a good night’s rest, many Sligo hotels provide a wide range of services such as complimentary breakfast, parking, as well as pools, and gym. Here’s a look at some of the accommodations in Sligo we visited.
Dating back to the 17th century, Markree Castle is one of the largest privately-owned castles in Ireland. If you are looking to stay in a castle in Ireland and you are in Sligo, this is your place.
The property went under extensive renovations which were completed in 2017. Now fully restored, the castle plays host to private events, weddings, and travelers.
One of the most recognizable castles in Sligo, Markree sits on 500 acres of pristine Irish countryside.
Guests are welcomed to Markree through its iconic port la coeur. Entering the castle’s Grand Hall, you are surrounded by stained glass and carved dark wood. All 31 rooms have been luxuriously restored making Markree one of the best castle stays in Ireland.
Check out pricing and availability here.
Sitting on over 1,000 acres of County Sligo and dating back to the 1660s, Temple House Manor is a destination within a destination. This Georgian-style manor house has been home to the Perceval family for over 350 years.
On the grounds, guests will find miles of walking trails, a lake for catch and release fishing, a working farm with over 1,600 sheep, and to top things off, the ruins of a 12th-century castle.
Only a 20-minute drive from Sligo town, Temple House Manor is ideally located to explore the surrounding area. Temple House can accommodate up to 14 guests in an intimate and welcoming setting.
The entire house can be rented for private events, special occasions, and of course weddings.
After a long day exploring Sligo, Temple House is a relaxing setting to spend a quiet evening by the fire. But not before enjoying a home-cooked meal using locally sourced ingredients.
With views of the Knights Templar castle just outside the dining room, guests gather to enjoy their dinner around a large mahogany table.
A great option for families thanks to its indoor pool and leisure center, the Radisson is only a 7-minute drive into Sligo town. The Radisson Blue Sligo is centrally located to explore the county.
It’s within a 10-minutes drive of Rosses Point Beach, 15-minutes of Benbulbin, and 20-minutes of Streedagh Point. You can also easily access Strandhill and Coney Island.
After a long day of exploring attractions in Sligo, unwind at the Radisson’s lovely spa. The spa is equipped with a unique Thermal Suite circuit, including sauna, tropical shower, and a light crystal steam room.
Check out pricing and availability here.
Additional Hotels In Sligo Town
You can’t be more centrally located in Sligo town than at the GlassHouse Hotel. The unmistakable glass facade of the appropriately named GlassHouse Sligo overlooks the city center and Garavogue River.
Sligo’s only city center 4-star hotel, Glasshouse hosts Chef Alan Fitzmaurice’s The Kitchen Restuarant. Chef Fitzmaurice puts a modern twist to traditional Irish recipes using locally sourced ingredients.
Check out pricing and availability here.
From a couples weekend away to a family staycation, the Clayton Hotel Sligo is worth checking out. The property features a leisure center equipped with a gym, swimming pool, and relaxing spa.
Located just outside of Sligo town center, the hotel is only a 5-minute taxi ride from pubs and restaurants in Sligo.
Check out pricing and availability here.
Overlooking the Garavogue River, the Riverside Hotel Sligo provides its guests with stunning views and quick access to the center of Sligo town.
Only ten minutes from the Sligo bus and train station, Riverside Hotel Sligo is a great option for a weekend away in Sligo.
Click here for pricing and availability.
Other Accommodations In Sligo
In our travels around Ireland, we’ve stayed in a variety of accommodations. It’s one of the nice things about travel in Ireland, you have choices. Thankfully, this holds true with accommodations in Sligo.
While there are some great hotels in Sligo, you don’t always want to stay in one.
B&Bs are very popular in Ireland. During our first trip to Ireland in 1999, most of our accommodations were B&Bs. They are a great alternative to hotels if you are on a budget.
You can find B&B rates for $25-30 per person, per night. In some cases, you might have to share a bathroom with other guests but private baths are available at most B&Bs.
If you are looking for a B&B in Sligo, click here to see pricing and availability.
Looking to connect with nature? Sligo has got you covered. Throughout County Sligo, you’ll find a number of outdoor accommodations options available.
Camping in Sligo, whether in a tent or caravan has always been popular. You’ll find several camping options in Sligo here.
Additionally, if something a bit more unique is what you are after, “glamping” in Sligo is on the rise. Glamping sites are usually a bit more high-end compared to traditional camping sites.
In some cases, they might feature unique sleeping accommodations such as a treehouse, double-decker bus, or even an airplane.
Pubs In Sligo
No town in Ireland is complete without having a few great pubs to enjoy a pint and the craic. Thankfully, there are a bunch of Sligo pubs worth checking out. We are not naming any “best pubs in Sligo”, we learned our lesson with our Best Pubs in Limerick post. These are just some of the Sligo pubs we visited during our trip.
We love both giving and receiving recommendations on where to eat and drink. Thanks to our friend Mark, a barman at Patsy’s Flannery’s in Limerick, we discovered Shoot the Crows.
It’s everything we love in an Irish pub.
From a great pint of Guinness to the decor on the walls, and of course great craic. Shoot the Crows also features live music nearly every night of the week.
Occupying a building built in 1864 that once housed a grocery and spirits wholesaler, Hargadons is a must for any visit to Sligo.
A gastropub serving up high-quality dishes, Hargadons prides itself on using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. The interior of Hargadons has been meticulously restored to its original setting giving diners a trip to the past.
Pour a creamy pint Guinness as they do at the Swagman and I’m a customer for life. But the Swagman is so much more than its delicious pint.
When we asked around for recommendations on which pubs in Sligo to visit, Foley’s came up time and time again. That’s exactly what you want to hear when you’re limited on time and looking for a great pint. Its corner location in Sligo makes it super easy to spot and will not disappoint.
Located just outside Sligo town in Aughris, the Beach Bar is well worth the drive. The Beach Bar is set in a traditional Irish thatched cottage turned pub. Feet way from the shore of Aughris Head, you can enjoy a pint of Guinness or Irish craft beer while taking in a wee bit of surfing in Ireland.