Sligo in Ireland is the county town of County Sligo, an absolutely stunning location and a must-visit on any Ireland itinerary. One of Ireland’s largest towns, Sligo has the incredible backdrop of Benbulben – a striking flat-top rock formation that is over 300 million years old.
Sligo is known and loved for its scenic beauty and traditional Irish music, rolling hills, sandy beaches, quaint woodlands, and archaeological sites are all on the cards when you go to Sligo, and it also has a widely-recognized literary and cultural scene.
There are many exciting places to visit in Sligo so keep reading to find out all about the Sligo highlights, including sights, scenery, food and drink, history, and more.
Top things to do in Sligo
With so many wonderful things to see and do, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you go to Sligo.
Sligo Abbey is a Dominican friary which was built in the 13th century. It was created by Maurice FitzGerald, who also founded Sligo, and was partly destroyed in 1414 when it was badly burnt by a fire caused by an unattended candle. To this day, the abbey is home to a number of attractions in Sligo town, including the O’Craian Tomb, the Love Knot, and Sligo Abbey Courtyard.
Legend has it that when Sligo Abbey was damaged after the Rebellion of 1641, worshippers salvaged the silver bell and threw it into Lough Gill. They say that those who are free of sin can still hear it peal. Without a doubt, visiting Sligo Abbey is one of the best things to do in Sligo town because, not only is it a striking building, it can give you a good idea of the town’s history and culture.
A must-visit on the Sligo map, Strandhill Beach is a beautiful place on the Wild Atlantic Way’s surf coast.
This is an excellent place to take part in water sports such as surfing (it’s popular to take surf lessons here) and kayaking. Water sports aren’t the only type of activity here though, you can do plenty of other activities like golf, yoga, and meditation, too.
Sligo food and drink is known to be delightful, and you can get a real taste of it at Strandhill Beach. There are some fantastic dining options here to match anyone’s palate. A trip to Strandhill beach is absolutely one of the most exciting activities in Sligo as there is so much to see and do. This would be a really lovely day out.
Lissadell House and Gardens
Home of Edwards Walsh, Constance Cassidy, and their 7 children, Lissadell House and Gardens is open to the public during certain times of the year and you can take a tour of the house – minus the private family rooms.
This house isn’t just one of the best activities in Sligo because it’s a beautiful building, it’s a historical site with strong links to William Butler Yeats, Jack Butler Yeats, Leonard Cohen, and Countess Markievicz.
When you visit the Lissadell House and Gardens, you’ll be able to experience the exhibitions on show, and see the celebrated Russian art on display. On-site is the Kitchen Garden and the Alpine Garden. The Kitchen Garden is a fruit and vegetable garden and the Alpine Garden is a stunning display of flora.
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery
Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is amongst the top places to see in Sligo. Just South West of Sligo, it’s the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland, with over 30 tombs with most of them are still being visible. There are also historic forts and standing stones in the same area, the oldest being nearly 6,000 years old! This is one of Ireland’s most loved attractions and is an awesome place to visit for any history buffs.
Tobernalt Holy Well
When you’re looking for things to see in Sligo, don’t miss out on this wonderful addition to Sligo sightseeing. The Tobernalt Holy Well is one of Ireland’s hidden gems and is nestled in a truly gorgeous, tranquil setting.
Near to Lough Gill (a freshwater lake), the well itself has ‘double sanctity’ as it was blessed by St Patrick and the waters of the well were used to celebrate mass in the Penal days.
This natural spring well created itself within a primeval forest and was standing even before Christianity came to Ireland in the 5th century. The Penal laws were at their most harsh in the 18th century and, during that time, faithful people would see Tobernalt Holy Well as a secluded haven where they could celebrate mass and not get caught.
Tobernalt Holy Well is one of the best things to see in Sligo and it’s still not a particularly widely known attraction in the area.
When you explore Sligo, make sure you add Benbulben to your list. Also known as Benbulbin and Ben Bulben, this is one of Sligo’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s a flat-topped rock formation in the Dartry Mountains, or “Yeats Country”.
You can take a walk called the ‘Gortarowey looped walk’ alongside Benbulben mountain. This walk gives you amazing views of Benbulben and the bay of Donegal. Hills and mountains make up the dramatic backdrop of Sligo, the most notable being Benbulben, Knocknarea, and Annacoona Top.
Sligo Dark Tales Tour
The Sligo Dark Tales Tours is a walking tour that takes you through Bram Stoker’s history in Sligo and where you can learn about how his writing was inspired by the cholera epidemic. Bram Stoker was an author from Ireland who wrote the highly celebrated 1897 novel Dracula. On this tour, you’ll also find out about the dark crime and punishment that happened in the 19th century, Sligo Gaol, and the story of Sligo Abbey which inspired W.B. Yeats, a famous Irish poet.
Taste of Sligo Tour
If you’re a foodie, the Taste of Sligo Tour has got to be at the top of your list of things to do in Sligo because it’s an awesome opportunity to make the most of the incredible Sligo food and drink.
Your tour guide will be Anthony Gray and he’ll take you to 5-7 of Sligo’s best food and drink venues. You’ll be able to sample the best of food and drink in Sligo, including gourmet baking, Sligo Bay oysters, fine dining, wine tasting, Irish whiskey, and craft beer.
This tour is definitely amongst the most fun things to do in Sligo for food lovers, so make sure you book!
Rosses Point, on the Wild Atlantic Way, is a village and one of the best places to go in Sligo. A gem in the crown of Sligo tourism and home to some extraordinary sights and outdoor activities, Rosses point is a really exciting place.
When you go to Rosses point, you’ll find its stunning beaches which have been awarded the Blue Flag, an accomplishment which means it has been certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education. There are 3 beaches: First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. They’re great for open water swimming and are wonderful places to relax and take some time out.
Also at Rosses Point are opportunities for land and water-based activities, such as sea fishing, paddle boarding, kite surfing, golf, yoga, and horse riding.
There is an excellent collection of pubs, restaurants and cafes here, so you can wine and dine while you’re there too. Plus, you can also get to the famous Coney Island from Rosses Point.
Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird – The Devil’s Chimney
Also known as The Devil’s Chimney, Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird is a beautiful waterfall on the Dartry Mountains.
Sruth In Aghaidh An Aird means ‘stream against the height’ and it’s Ireland’s tallest waterfall at 150m/142ft. This waterfall is also known as The Devil’s Chimney because, when the wind blows in from the South, the water will blow up and back over the cliff. It can look spectacular, especially after heavy rain.
This is one of the top Sligo tourist attractions, especially for those of you who love outdoor activities. You can take a walk around Glencar Lake to see this beautiful waterfall.
Now that you have all of the best things to do in Sligo at your fingertips, where are you going to head to first? Have a fantastic trip to Ireland!
How many days do you need in Sligo?
Ideally, 2 days in Sligo if your trip itinerary can allow it! One day in Sligo will allow you to explore the town of Sligo itself, but 2 days in Sligo (or even a day and a half) will give you time to get down to the beach, perhaps do some surfing, and see the highlights of the shore beyond the town.
Where to Stay in Sligo
You have a couple of areas to stay in Sligo: Sligo Town, Strandhill, and Rosses Point. Sligo Town is the recommended place to stay in Sligo as you’ll most likely be doing most of your sightseeing here unless you’re visiting for surfing. If that’s the case, head to Strandhill. Here are a few top choices for in town:
- The Glasshouse: Set on the river, this luxurious hotel is the most photographed in Sligo.
- Riverside Hotel: As the name suggests, this hotel is also on the river and has an exceptional location.
- Sligo Southern Hotel: A hotel with lots of amenities that is a great choice for road trippers.