Tucked away from the wild Atlantic swells is Ireland’s inlet town of Westport. It sits on the banks of the Clew Bay estuary in County Mayo and is packed with Georgian charm, from its tree-lined promenades to its town houses. Behind its elegant appearance, there’s a fun-loving Irish spirit where locals linger over a pint of Guinness and enjoy singing and dancing to traditional Irish music.
Like the town itself, a Westport hostel is full of character. Stay in an old stone building that was once an 18th-century brewery, a traditional lodge house with a crackling fire and landscaped gardens or in a hostel with a mountain view. You can expect a free breakfast and free Wi-Fi in most Westport hostels. You’ll also find shared dorms, as well as private rooms with en-suite bathrooms for a bit more privacy.
As Ireland’s first planned town, Westport is easily walkable. Shops and pubs line its pretty promenades and riverside, while Croagh Patrick mountain provides the backdrop to the town. Towards the coast, Westport Quay is roughly a 20-minute walk from the centre. You’ll find some cosy waterside bars and restaurants here, as well as the Clew Bay Heritage Centre. To see some of Ireland's countryside, take the off-road biking and walking trail the Great Western Greenway, which goes from the town to Achill.
Westport House is one of the town’s standout out attractions. Set by the quayside, overlooking its gardens and the Atlantic Ocean, this historic house has some impressive views. After you've had a stroll around the gardens and inside too, head to the estate's pirate adventure park and have a go at archery and zip lining. Also by the Quay, there are kayaks for hire. With the mountains in the distance, it’s a tranquil place to go for a paddle. Westport’s pubs are not to be missed: you'll find traditional taverns with cosy, dark-wood interiors and live music from local bands.
From Dublin, you can get the train into Westport’s main station: the journey takes about 3.5 hours. You can also fly into Ireland West Airport Knock and take the bus to town (about 50 minutes). Getting around is easy by foot, but if you want to head out to some of the surrounding areas, the best option is to hire a bike or a car.