While most people have heard of Galway, Kerry or Clare counties, County Sligo is an underrated Irish county which people often skip on their travels to Ireland.
But with so many things to do in Sligo County, skipping this underrated gem is a mistake.
From beautiful (and plenty of easy) walks, lush green countryside, great beaches and swimming spots as well as castles and hidden gems, here’s how to make the most of a weekend in the area with the best places to visit in Sligo.
How to spend a weekend in Sligo
2 days in Sligo is of course never enough to do everything, but if you’re on a time crunch or it’s a stop on a longer Ireland road trip you’re doing, 2 days in Sligo is plenty of time to experience the natural beauty of Sligo, the hotspots in the city, the coastal gems and the great outdoors in the county!
I spent two weekend’s in Sligo and this is my summary of the best things to do in Sligo for a short trip.
What to do in Sligo: Day 1
Breakfast at Baker Boys
If you’re staying in Sligo town, don’t miss Baker Boys for a spot of breakfast to start your day.
For coffee, don’t miss MIlligram Coffee on Wine Street.
Both are great breakfast spots to kick off your big day of exploring.
Benbulbin Forest Walk
Kick off your day with a nice, easy walk with great views.
Benbulbin Mountain (sometimes spelt Benbulben Mountain) is often referred to as Sligo’s Table Mountain thanks to its dramatic flat-top shape and spectacular ridges. In fact it’s only one of a handful of table top mountains in the world and the only one in Ireland - so it really is a must-do on your list of things to do in Sligo, Ireland.
It’s important to say you can also climb Benbulbin and it’s one of the more popular activities in Sligo, but with moderate difficulty rating and standing over 500m tall, it will take around 4-5 hours depending on conditions. The trail starts from Luke’s Bridge and you’ll need to arrive early to get a space.
For the purpose of this guide and if you’re limited to a day or two in the area, the forest walk along the base of the mountain offers just as spectacular views and is completed in around 2 hours.
Start from the car park which is labelled as ‘Benbulbin Walk’ on Google Maps. The walk is a loop and it’s graded easy. It will lead you along the base of the mountain before looping away along the treeline where you’ll have views of Yeats County (famous poet WB Yeats was born here) and the Wild Atlantic Way.
I’d recommend doing this first thing in the day or last thing in the day because the car park is small and the limited spaces do fill up quickly during the daytime, particularly in good weather!
After your walk, take the short 20 minute drive to Gleniff Horseshoe.
There’s nothing I love more than an easily accessible walk or drive with incredible views and straight after the Benbulbin walk, Gleniff Horseshoe delivers more incredible views.
This short six mile loop drive can be done in either direction (or both if you really want to soak it in!). You’ll be surrounded by the dramatic towering faces of Benbulbin, Benwiskin, Tieve Baun and more.
I recommend plenty of stops to soak it all in. Also make sure to stop at the top of the loop where there’s a set of ruins, making this dramatic landscape even more interesting to photograph!
Another short 20 minute drive directly west will bring you to Mullaghmore Head, a peninsula on the Sligo coast.
This small area of land really packs a punch for things to see and do…
On your first stop on Mullaghmore Head, don’t miss the several vantage points to view Classiebawn Castle.
Classiebawn Castle was built in the 19th century and is famous for being the holiday home of Louis Mountbatten, the infamous member of the British Royal Family who was assassinated in the area in 1979.
Unfortunately it’s not possible to visit Classiebawn Castle, but it can be seen from several areas on the Peninsula, with the coastal road being the most popular because you can see and photograph the castle with Benbulbin’s dramatic aspect in the background.
To get to this road, head towards Knocknafaugher but follow the road to the right instead of the left. Or you can search Google Maps for ‘Castle Classiebawn VIewpoint’ this location and along the whole road here is perfect for photos. I’d also suggest going at golden hour for great light and a beautiful stroll!
Bishop’s Pool Wild Swimming Spot
After your stop along the Peninsula coastal road, continue driving north along Mullaghmore Head to reach this beautiful natural swimming pool.
There are plenty of secret rock pools in Ireland to swim in along the coast, but this one is less of a secret - especially in peak summer!
The pool is located right on the edge of the road, you’ll see plenty of cars parked along the verge.
But it really is a beautiful way to end your day with a dip in the refreshing Atlantic in the afternoon before dinner!
You can also easily find the location by searching for Bishop’s Pool on Google Maps.
Dinner at Walker 1781
Head back to Sligo Town for dinner at Walker 1781.
As you might guess, this pub dates back to 1781 and is now updated serving locally sourced produce with a mixture of traditional pub grub and contemporary food too.
They have the standard pizzas, burgers and pub food but also an extensive menu of local fish and meat as well as a whole vegan section of the menu!
They’ve also got a lively outdoor area which is great for a few drinks.
I’d recommend calling ahead to book a table though as this is a popular spot and we didn’t manage to get a table the first evening we tried!
What to do in Sligo: Day 2
Le Fournil Bakery for Breakfast
Another great food spot in Sligo Town.
Make sure to grab some baked goods from Le Fournil to start your day as they close at 3pm and don’t open on Sundays or Mondays.
Their pastries, cinnamon rolls and doughnuts are epic.
Kick off your day with another great easy hike at Knocknarea AKA Queen Maeve’s Trail, called that because at the summit is Queen Maeve’s Cairn, a neolithic tomb believed to be the tomb of Maeve who was a Queen in Irish mythology believed to be a goddess.
This walk is a bit steep but it’s also short and took about 1.5 hours up and down, around 5km total. We saw quite a few families on the trail, so even though it’s a bit steep, it’s short and doable for young kids.
The Queen Maeve parking area is also a great size so this is a walk you could do any time of day if you prefer and the views are worth it for sure!
If you need some refreshments after your walk, head to the coast nearby to Shells Cafe on Strandhill Beach for some coffee, baked goods and refuelling before your next stop!
After all the walking, you’re about ready to take it easy on the beach for a while and Streedagh Beach is absolutely stunning; one of the best beaches in Sligo. It’s also one of the most popular, family friendly things to do in Sligo thanks to how easily accessible it is.
This breathtaking beach is 3km long and stretches out from the mainland almost like a sandbar (just check out the pictures!)
With the Atlantic on one side and the lush green mountains on the other, this is a beautiful beach to relax, take a long walk, destress or have a fun afternoon with the kids.
The car park is large so no worries there and it’s dog friendly too.
If you’ve got time or you’re not a fan of spending too long on the beach (I hear ya!), take the 30 minute drive inland to Glencar Waterfall.
Technically this waterfall is just over the county border and is located in County Leitrim, but it’s really nearby and easily accessible waterfall and a great one to add to your list of things to see in Sligo, Ireland.
Directions to the waterfall are clearly marked, as is the car park. Cross the road from the car park and follow the short path, you’ll quickly reach the waterfall after a minute or two.
Depending on the time of year, this waterfall could be a trickle that’s good to swim in, or in the rainy months, it is a heavy crashing cascade that can only be enjoyed from the wooden viewing platform. Either way, it’s beautiful to see!
Summary: Best things to do in Sligo on a 2 day trip
Hopefully this Sligo travel guide has given you some inspiration for how to spend two days in Sligo, but as you can also see, there’s so much to do in the area and the surrounds, you could easily spend longer here exploring the trails, the coastline, castles, scenic drives and other top places to visit in Sligo.