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HomeDestinationsSligoPlan a three-day weekend ...
Plan a three-day weekend in Sligo
Head west to County Sligo.
Fionn DavenportFionn Davenport is one of Ireland’s best-known travel writers. He has written multiple guides for Lonely Planet, including working on every edition of the Ireland and Dublin guides since the mid-1990s.
Sandy beaches, great nightlife and world-class waves are all part of a visit to Sligo, and that's before you take a dive into the landscapes that inspired one of Ireland's greatest poets, the Nobel-Prize winning WB Yeats. Sligo is small, but it's packed with sights and activities, so you'll need more than a couple of days to even make a dent in them.

Going away for a long weekend or a three-day break? Here's our guide to some of Sligo’s best bits.

Explore Sligo Town

Compact, tidy Sligo Town is an enticing mix of the traditional and the very modern. The pedestrianised centre is a jumble of lovely shopfronts and music pubs, while on the edges of town are the gleaming glass towers of the contemporary town.

Sligo’s top art gallery, the The Model – Home of the Niland Collection, is housed in an original 19th-century school building which features a modern atrium made of glass and steel. Inside you’ll find one of the most important contemporary art spaces in the country, centred on local librarian Nora Niland’s Jack B Yeats paintings, which she began collecting in the mid-1950s.

On the other side of the Garavogue River, which cuts through the middle of town, is Sligo's best known landmark. Sligo Abbey was built by the Dominicans in 1252 but burnt down in the 15th century; despite this (or because of it), it was spared the worst ravages of the Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, so the original Gothic carvings are still intact, while inside is a sculpted tomb from the Renaissance. If you opt for the organised tour, listen out for the chiming of the silver bell: if you can hear it you must be doing something right as legend has it that the bell was through into Lough Gill and only those who live sin-free lives can hear it ring.

Sligo Abbey in County Sligo
Can you hear the bell ring at Sligo Abbey?

Just over Hyde Bridge you’ll find the Yeats Building, a medieval revival style structure that’s home to the Yeats Society Sligo. Inside, you can learn about Yeats and his accomplished family, including his famous artist brother Jack. Upstairs, the Hyde Bridge Gallery features the work of new artists, with exhibitions changing roughly every month.

On the edge of town, you’ll find Seatrails, a company that offers guided walks along the Wild Atlantic Way. Join head guide and archaeologist Auriel Robinson on the Moytura Mythology Trail to explore the area's impressive megalithic monuments and the site of the mythological battle between the Tuath dé Danann and the Firbolgs.

Where to eat and stay in Sligo Town

Sligo's dining scene is a dynamic mix of traditional and contemporary cuisine. One of the best meals in town is at Hargadon Bros, a traditional pub from 1868 that specialises in locally sourced seafood; just down the street, Walker 1781 also serves tasty seafood as well as wood-fired pizzas. 

If you're in the mood for steaks or are looking for some veggie or vegan options, Eala Bhán is a brasserie-style spot where virtually everything on the menu is sourced locally - including the seafood.

The striking, angular front of the Glasshouse is hard to miss in its central location overlooking the Garavogue; inside this four-star you'll find stylish, contemporary rooms decorated in bright colours as well as a popular restaurant serving modern Irish cuisine. 

The Glasshouse Hotel in Sligo Town.
Stay in the angular Glasshouse Hotel in the heart of Sligo Town.

Slip into Strandhill

Sligo is one of Ireland's premier surf destinations, and at the heart of the action is Strandhill, only 10 minutes west of Sligo Town by car. The long golden beach is the star attraction here, and much of the town's activity takes place along and around it.

Strandhill is an all-year surf destination, and new in 2023 was the National Surf Centre, a glass-fronted building on the beachfront that is home to three of the town's four surf schools, as well as changing rooms and a dedicated space for lessons. The female-owned Rebelle Surf is one of the schools here, offering lessons for all levels, as well as Sligo Surf Experience.

Two surfers paddling in the ocean at sunset in Strandhill, Sligo
Strandhill is noted as one of Ireland's top surfing destinations.

Later, you can recover and rejuvenate with a therapeutic VOYA Seaweed Bath, which is next door to the centre. Sink into a cast iron Victorian tub of locally hand-harvested seaweed and warm seawater and let the natural oils soothe your body – heaven.

Strandhill is also the starting point for some great walks. Walk north along the beach and you'll hit the Killaspugbrone Loop, a 7km walk that takes you around the headland to the remains of Killaspugbrone Church. There's a lovely beach here too that is a fine spot for swimming; it's also a nice spot to catch a sunset. Strandhill is also the starting point for a hike up Knocknarea (see below). 

A woman in a seaweed bath at VOYA Seaweed Baths in Strandhill, County Sligo
Relax at VOYA Seaweed Baths.

Where to eat and stay in Strandhill

All that seaside activity can work up an appetite, and Strandhill has plenty of great spots to satisfy a hunger. The best known place in town is Shells Café, right on the beachfront - serving hearty breakfasts and lunches to surfers and visitors looking for a prime spot to watch those tackling the waves. A more recent opening is Honestly Farm Kitchen, which specialises in steaks and burgers (all from their own herd of cows) and biodynamic wines. 

If you want to stay overnight, Strandhill Lodge & Suites is a four-star hotel in the shadows of Knocknarea overlooking the golf course. If you want to really soak up the surfing atmosphere, there's Strandhill Lodge - Hostel and Surf School, which has dorm-style accommodations as well as self-catering options. It also has board storage facilities and a surf school. 

If you want to explore Sligo in a really eco-friendly way, check out our detailed guide on how to visit Strandhill and Rosses Point without a car.

Discover Yeats Country

Nobody is more intimately associated with Sligo than Jack and William Butler Yeats, and you could easily spend a few days visiting the sites and locations associated with the family - beyond the Yeats Building in Sligo Town.

William is buried in the graveyard at Drumcliffe Church, 10km north of Sligo Town. The poet's wish was to be buried in the shadows of Benbulben, which is visible from the plot. His tombstone bears his famous epitaph, which he penned himself: “Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman, pass by.”

If you're visiting Sligo during the summer months, you can stop into Lissadell House, the restored estate that was the childhood home of Constance Gore-Booth, who later became the Irish revolutionary Countess Markievicz. She was a close friend of the Yeats brothers, and hosted them many times in the Greek Revival-style mansion. The house is seven kilometres north of Drumcliffe, by the shores of Sligo Bay. 

The Regency style Lissadell House.
The Regency style Lissadell House.

All of the locations connected to Yeats are included in the recently launched Yeats Trail, a signposted touring route incorporating 14 stops, including the famous island of Innisfree on Lough Gill (subject of one of Yeats' most famous poems, published in 1888); Slish Wood (an ancient wood surrounding Lough Gill) and Sligo's other distinctive peak, Knocknarea, the final resting place of mighty Queen Maeve of Connaught. Yeats was enchanted by the myths connected to the mountain, and in 'Red Hanrahan's Song' he wrote, 'the wind has bundled up the clouds high over Knocknarea, And thrown the thunder on the stones for all that Maeve can say'.

It's a relatively straightforward hike to the top of the mountain along the paved Queen Maeve’s Trail. Your reward for the 2.5km walk to the summit is the hilltop cairn that is Maeve's tomb and some wonderfully panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Hiking shoes are recommended, as the trail can get slippery in wet conditions.

People hiking Knocknarea Mountain in County Sligo
Conquer incredible Knocknarea Mountain.

You can climb the mountain on your own, but if you fancy adding some historical context as well as some climbing buddies to your adventure, you can head up with the experts at High Hopes Hiking for their guidance and navigation. 

Want to do more than hike? Book in with Northwest Adventure Tours for some excitement by foot, bike or sea in Sligo. 

Where to eat and stay in Yeats Country

No more than 200m north of the cemetery in Drumcliffe is Davis' Restaurant and Yeats Tavern, a popular spot for carvery style lunches made with locally sourced ingredients; it also has an excellent wine cellar. In the village of Grange, about 8km north of Lissadell House, is the award-winning Langs Bar & Restaurant, which serves top notch pub grub, from burgers and fish 'n chips to more sophisticated dishes like panfried seabass and spicy lentil chilladas. 

Three of the houses on the Lissadell estate have been converted into luxury self-catering accommodations that are amongst the very best in the country – and are open throughout the year. The three-bedroom Garden House is decorated with original Tiffany light fittings; the exquisite Lissadell on the Beach (the old estate manager's house) is an opulent property complete with original artworks loved by Yeats and a kitchen that would make a professional chef drool; while Lissadell on the Sea is a two-bedroom property right on the sands of Drumcliffe Bay.  

Discover more of Sligo

Whether you’re after adrenaline-filled days, cultural encounters or a mix of both, Sligo has plenty to entice you west for a short break. Discover more beaches, historical sites and delicious food experiences in glorious Sligo.

More to discover
On the waterSpend a car-free day in Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon

There’s plenty to see around Sligo, from the local stretches of untamed coastline to the mountains that frame the edge of the city. But if you’re basing yourself in Sligo town, it’s well worth putting time aside to explore the town itself, whether you want to amble around a gallery or soak up the local café scene. When you’re ready to explore further afield, hop the border into Leitrim to spend some time in the pretty market town of Carrick-on-Shannon, just a short train ride away.

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