Travel Guide: Best Things To Do in Sligo, Ireland
“You’ll thank for me for this when you’re older!” my mom said years ago, as she filled out paperwork and brought me to get my passport picture taken. And she was right (about a lot of things, but also this). She was getting me my dual citizenship for the U.S. and Ireland, which is so special to me now and one of my favorite fun facts about myself.
I’m able to have the citizenship through my grandmother, who was born in Southern Ireland. She’s one of 8, and moved to the U.S. after meeting my grandad when he traveled overseas as a Marine during WWII. I always loved their story, and feel a really strong connection to Ireland. Visiting the Emerald Isle was probably the biggest thing on my bucket list.
Fast forward years later, and I’ve cofounded a social media & influencer marketing company – Royal Horizon Media (something I never dreamed I would be able to do and still feels like a dream). One of our clients, Oak Realty, has rental properties in Sligo, Ireland (Stay in Sligo), and wanted to know if we can make a winter trip out to visit the properties, shoot brand photography, and showcase how beautiful the West Coast of Ireland is. To not only be able to visit Ireland, but to do it for a client of my own company is an incredible experience I will never forget!
Just like that, off we went to explore Ireland! Sligo is on the West Coast, which is about a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin airport. There’s also an easy train that goes between the two cities if you don’t feel like driving. Pro tip: Ireland drives on the left side of the road AND the right side of the car, so if you do rent a car be sure to get the full insurance. Many tourists end up popping a tire (we were no exception!), so make sure you have a phone number to reach out to in case you need a tire fixed!
I don’t think any of us were prepared for the beauty of Sligo and the West Coast. Our house was in Doorly Park (stay tuned for that post coming soon!) which is walking distance to the town of Sligo, grocery store, restaurants, shops, bars, and anything you might need. Read on to see the shenanigans and adventures we had in and around Sligo!
1. Horseback Riding Along the Beach at Island View Riding Stables
I bet you didn’t know you could go horseback riding along the beach in Ireland! If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience, look no further. Ursula and her team at Island View Riding Stables took us out for a couple hours of riding along the beach. Ursula herself has an incredible story, and she and her husband live just across the water on their private island, where the horses roam when it’s not their shift to take riders.
Island View Riding Stables is open year round and can arrange beach rides and equestrian activities for the whole family. From a gentle 30 minute lead rein trek for small children (4 years old & up), or a scenic 1 or 2 hour each ride (suitable for all), to an exhilarating day ride with a gallop across the shallows to their private island (only for experienced riders).
Here’s Ursula! She is so wonderful, friendly and knowledgable about all things horseback riding.
The bright side of Ireland’s rainy weather is these incredible rainbows we got to see. If you look closely you can see a castle in the distance too!
My horse was strong and sassy but sweet enough to stand still for a snap!
2. Gleniff Horseshoe Drive
Short drive, big meaning. There’s a reason Ireland is known for faeries, magic and getting back to nature, and it’s because of places like Gleniff Horseshoe Drive. This 6 mile horseshoe-shaped drive gives you epic views of Ireland greenery, mountains, sheep, waterfalls, and moss-covered stone ruins, all within just a few minutes drive from Sligo. Words don’t do it justice, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here.
3. Trails & Caves
Dublin is a fun, vibrant city, but there’s something so innately calming about getting back to nature and into the countryside. On our way driving to Sligo from Dublin, we were redirected off of the main road due to construction. Take any chance you can to explore here!
We ended up finding an easy hiking trail filled with greenery that led to unbelievable views and these ancient caves just outside of Sligo!
The vantage point once we reached the caves was unreal, and we were lucky to catch golden hour and to see the sun setting from here.
This was definitely not part of the trail but I can’t be stopped from exploring!
This was right before I slipped and fell on my hands (it was pretty rainy so the ground was all muddy). The plus side was getting to rinse them in the little cave showers!
Despite the rain and the cold, I really felt rooted and grounded in Ireland, it’s tough to explain exactly how or why.
4. Town of Sligo
Welcome to Sligo! A town of friendly people, delicious food & fun pubs, and colorful buildings which straddle the Garavogue River where it meets Sligo Bay.
This was one of our favorite restaurants in Sligo – fittingly named Hooked (and we ARE hooked)! Ireland really goes all-out for holiday decorations, and Hooked was no exception. The food was so delicious, and they even have baked goods you can purchase to go as you stroll around the town’s cobblestone streets. Our waiter gave us a full list of places to visit when we told him we would be driving up to Northern Ireland – people are SO friendly here and go out of their way to help each other.
5. Other Fun Sligo Activities (Not Shown)
These are other Sligo activities, which we weren’t able to get to on our trip but came highly recommended:
Sligo Surf Experience
Devil’s Chimney Waterfall
Kill the Crows Pub
Voya Seaweed Baths
Final Thoughts on Sligo
Everyone we asked said how happy they are in Sligo. Many said they had left to go live in major cities and ultimately came back because they missed Sligo so much. We still talk about Sligo, so I can attest to this.
Whether you’ve already visited Dublin, or you want to see more of the country and a local Irish town during your trip, Sligo is sure to give you all the magic Irish feels! You can easily take the train or challenge yourself to drive on the left side of the road – it will lead you to ancient caves, incredible views, magical drives, horseback riding along the beach and memories you’ll never forget!
P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Have you been to Ireland? What about Sligo?
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Please note: With current world events, I know travel is restricted and I’m not suggesting to travel at this time. I’m excited to continue to provide content, entertainment, and inspiration for places to go once travel bans are lifted and everything has calmed down a bit. Thanks for understanding!
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