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- 29 May 2020, 3 nights
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Set on Ireland's wild west coast, there's a touch of magic about Sligo. Surrounded by rugged landscapes and mountains worn smooth by time, the town is a jumble of colourfully painted buildings and medieval ruins, with the Garavogue river rushing through its centre. Follow in the footsteps of Irish poet W.B. Yeats and head out into the countryside to be inspired by crumbling castles, lively rural farmers' markets and quietly breathtaking scenery.
Hostels in Sligo range from beachside surfer digs, to stylish rooms in the town centre or a cosy hostel in a rural village. You can even camp by the ocean. En-suite rooms are common, and accommodation is flexible, with options to go it alone in a single or bunk up in a sociable family room. Look out for a Sligo hostel with regular Irish music sessions and perks like surfboard storage. A spot with an on-site bar lets you relax with a Guinness while you plan tomorrow's adventures with free Wi-Fi.
Sligo is small enough to be navigated by streets rather than neighbourhoods. O'Connell Street, Wine Street and Grattan Street are all about shopping, while Rockwood Parade bustles with riverside bars and restaurants. Along the coast, the small town of Strandhill is nestled in towering sand dunes and is known for its surfing and bathhouses offering therapeutic seaweed treatments. Many visitors explore the area around Lough Gill known for its natural beauty and the 18th-century Hazelwood House. Here you'll find the Isle of Innisfree, immortalised in a famous poem by Yeats.
Top attractions in Sligo include its abbey, founded in 1253. Although it was gutted by fire in 1414, much of its original stonework remains. The town celebrates its connection to Yeats with an annual festival of literature and music each July. Hikes around the Knocknarea mountain offer sweeping views over Strandhill and the coast. You'll also find Queen Medb's Cairn here – a 30-foot pile of rocks that's 5,000 years old and believed to be the final resting place of the legendary Connacht queen.
The closest airport is Ireland West Airport Knock, 55km away. The airport offers car rental or you can reach Sligo in about an hour by Bus Éireann route 64. Trains take 3 hours from Dublin and Sligo has bus links to cities across Ireland. In the town centre, it's easiest to get about by walking. For trips out to the countryside, a hire car or bike comes in handy.