And the best part is you can experience so much of Mayo in just a few days.
The buzz and beauty of Westport on the shores of Clew Bay makes it a great place to start your trip to Mayo. Wander down the colourful streets and you’ll soon have a mile-long list of award-winning restaurants and historical buildings to visit, if you’re not pulled into a local trad session first.
Westport House & Gardens
Just a short stroll from the centre of town is the magnificent Westport House. Discover the ancestral seat of the Browne family, direct descendants of the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, who ruled the Mayo seas in the 1500s.
Explore over 30 rooms and see if you can find the Chinese Room with its 200-year-old wallpaper. Enjoy Victorian Afternoon Tea in the Old Kitchen Café before walking the grounds or having a spin on the attractions at the Pirate Adventure Park.
It’s only 15 minutes from Westport to the trailhead of one of the most iconic mountains in Ireland, this is a great chance to tick Croagh Patrick off your bucket list.
St Patrick is believed to have fasted at the summit for 40 days and 40 nights in 441, and every year many walkers, some without shoes, make the pilgrimage up the rocky trails to the chapel at the top. The climb takes about three and a half hours, so come prepared and reward yourself with panoramic views of Clew Bay.
Great Western Greenway
Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere of Westport, hire a bike and explore Mayo on one of the country’s most stunning greenways. The Great Western Greenway starts in Westport and hugs the breathtaking coastline of Clew Bay as it makes its way to Achill Island, 42km away. This really is an experience not to be missed with loads to do and see in Achill when you get there.
Achill Island and Clare Island
World-Class Achill Island
You can almost feel the pace of life relax as you reach Achill Island, home to five picture-perfect beaches, some of Europe’s highest cliffs, and a wealth of history dating back 5000 years.
Take in ocean views along the cliffside drive up to Keem Bay, the jewel in Achill Island’s crown. The cliffs surround the idyllic golden sandy beach and a 1.5km hilltop walk has countless photo opportunities. Jump in with the swimmers and snorkelers in the crystal clear waters at Keem Beach, or keep your eyes peeled from the shore – you might just spot a basking shark out at sea.
Kitesurfing & SUP
Of course, you can always pick the pace up on Achill with a world of outdoor adventure to explore. A 15-minute spin from Keem, you’ll find Pure Magic, who’ll have you kitesurfing the waves of Keel Lake like a pro. Beginners can try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) first to get a feel for the water – and you can even bring your dog.
Achill Cliff House Hotel
It would be a crying shame to leave the island without sampling some fresh, local seafood. Head to the ‘Michelin Recommended’ restaurant at Achill Cliff House Hotel. From lobster to oysters to wild salmon, the seafood dishes come direct from the Atlantic waters of Achill. The views over Keel Strand at sunset are particularly special.
Natural Clare Island
From Achill travel back through Westport, past pretty villages like Louisburgh, to catch the ferry to Clare Island at Roonagh Pier. Another option is to hop on the Clare Island Ferry while you’re in Achill for a day trip to Clare Island. Whatever way you get there, this island in Clew Bay is a real unexplored gem.
One of the many great things about Clare Island is the journey there. Sailing across the blue waters of Clew Bay is a truly memorable experience. With only 145 islanders living there, enjoy unrivalled peace and quiet on the magical island.
Clare Island Blue Flag Beach
The pristine beach near the main harbour is a very popular swimming spot and you can look out to the sea where the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley once lived. Catch sight of the puffins and peregrine falcons flying overhead to the northern cliffs, as you wander around the beach and nearby castle. You’ll see why Clare Island is one of the top seabird sites in the country.
Sailor’s Bar & Restaurant
There aren’t many places that can say their staff actually caught some of the fish on the menu every day, but Sailor’s Bar & Restaurant is one of them. Music at Sailor’s Bar goes with the flow and anybody who brings an instrument can happily join in.
While you’re in Mayo
Inishturk Island Loop
Amble along the 5 or 8km trail, depending on the path you choose, on the beautiful Inishturk Island Loop, 15km off the coast of Mayo on Inishturk Island. Discover the base of Cairn Hill’s grassy slopes dotted with rocky outcrops on the sparsely populated island. The path ends where it began by the ferry at the harbour and St. Columba’s Church.
Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park
Less than an hour from Westport, explore the untouched beauty of Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park. The flat, earthy lowlands of Owenduff Bog contrast with the peaks and troughs of the Nephin Beg Range, leaving you in awe. Don’t worry if it rains – the park’s boardwalk is cleverly designed to preserve one of Ireland’s last active blanket bog systems, and allows for the landscape to be explored year-round, in any conditions.
If you have more time in Mayo
Take a drive towards Louisburgh and explore the unique landscapes of The Lost Valley, home to the only fjord in Ireland and as the name suggests, a real undiscovered treasure. Hikers are rewarded after a steep walking trail with powerful views of the valley, but if you’d prefer a gentler route, walk the trail to the abandoned village left in ruin since The Great Famine.
Wherever you visit in Mayo, you can’t beat the unspoilt, faraway feeling it gives you. See you there on your next trip.