When you think of Ireland, Sligo isn’t usually the place that pops to mind. However, Sligo has some really fun and unique things for couples to do.
If anything, Sligo is ridiculously underrated as a holiday destination.
Not only is it far cheaper than more touristy places like Dublin or Galway, but there are also far fewer tourists you have to battle with to see the sights, even during the peak summer season.
I have lived in Donegal for almost 15 years, and I regularly take the trip to County Sligo because there’s always something different to do.
Whether it’s food, drink, hiking, or surfing – Sligo has something for everyone.
So, here are my top fun and unusual things for couples to do when they visit Sligo, Ireland.
1. Walk The Caves Of Keash
The caves of Keash are a beautifully unique part of the Sligo landscape.
Naturally formed, these 17 cave formations can be found on the hillside of Keshcorran Hill near the village, Keash.
This incredible passage tomb formation predates the Great Pyramids of Egypt by anywhere from 500 to 800 years and archaeologists even found animal bones and human teeth from the Early Iron Age period.
Some years ago, a public walkway was created to make visiting the caves much easier. However, this walk takes anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and can be tricky in places. So pack plenty of water and wear a good pair of walking shoes.
2. Surf And Sunsets In Strandhill
If you have always wanted to give surfing a go, then Strandhill is one of the places to be.
This quaint coastal town has attracted surfers for decades, thanks to the beautiful Strandhill beach and the surrounding cafes, pubs, and coffee shops.
If you are a beginner, there are loads of amazing surfing schools where you can book an afternoon’s lesson. Most lessons will include surfboard and wetsuit rental.
Once you’ve got the most out of hitting the waves, you can relax in the well-loved Shells cafe and watch the glorious sunset.
*if you visit on a Sunday, you can find the Strandhill People’s Market in one of the aeroplane hangars at Sligo airport. Here there are local arts & crafts, as well as an array of delicious food from 11 am to 4 pm.
3. Take A Break In Osta Cafe
There are many wonderful places to eat in Sligo but nestled smack in the middle of Sligo town, right beside the roaring river that rushes through the centre of town is a small but mighty cafe called Osta Cafe & Wine Bar.
If you need to take the weight off your feet after a day of wandering the streets of Sligo, this should be your stop. They serve delicious food and refreshing drinks but their cakes are worthy of an award (in my opinion).
If you want to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll love Osta with its mega-sized cake portions.
Need a recommendation? Their berry cheesecake is my go-to order every time I visit.
Plus, if you visit in the summer you can enjoy the outside seating area, listen to the river that is edged by hundreds of colourful flowers and do some people-watching.
4. Stock Up At The Sligo Farmers Market
Every Saturday morning in the Sligo ATU car park from 9 am to 1 pm you will find foodie heaven.
The Sligo Farmers Market is chock full of local artisan craft and food stalls. Sample some hand-baked bread and local farmer cheeses, and even pick up a bunch of flowers from the flower seller.
Amble around this vibrant market and rub shoulders with the locals. If you’re planning a walk later, pick up some delicious treats for a countryside picnic.
5. Unwind At Kilcullen Seaweed Baths
If you and your partner are looking for a unique yet romantic way to relax and unwind when you visit Sligo, then take a trip to the Kilcullen Seaweed Baths.
And yes, it’s exactly what you think it is.
Open since 1912, the Kilcullen Seaweed Baths have been run by the same family for 5 generations and the building still holds all of its gorgeous Edwardian charm. You’ll feel like you have been transported back in time as soon as you step through the front door.
Seaweed baths are thought to help skin ailments such as psoriasis and eczema while also helping to soothe aching muscles – perfect if you have spent your days hiking around the Sligo landscape.
Even if you don’t have any issues that you need magically cured by local Irish seaweed, it’s an experience you won’t forget.
6. Hike The Devils Chimney
One of Sligo’s most unique offerings for visitors who love to hike trails is the Devil’s Chimney waterfall.
However, this incredible sight is dependent on the weather.
It might seem a bit ironic but, if you want to see the Devil’s Chimney waterfall in all of its glory, you will want there to have been a large amount of rainfall recently.
If you visit during a particularly dry period, the waterfall will have dried up and there will be nothing to see apart from the still beautiful sheer drop.
Luckily, a loop walkway was created for visitors to make the trail to this wondrous waterfall much easier. It will take you around 45 minutes there and back.
Just shy of 150 meters tall, the Devil’s Chimney is often called the tallest waterfall in Ireland.
But be careful of slippery areas if you visit during a wetter period.
7. Enjoy A Drink At The Snug
It’s not a holiday in Ireland if you don’t visit a traditional Irish pub and The Snug is one of the best places to visit in Ireland.
Nestled in the center of busy Sligo on the edge of the river, The Snug is a classic Irish pub.
Every night you can expect to enjoy live music and you may even get the pleasure of enjoying the music played by traditional musicians.
Full to the brim with atmosphere, charisma, and good old Irish craic, The Snug is the place to be if you want to enjoy a delicious pint and experience an authentic Irish pub.
8. Visit Diarmuid And Grainne’s Cave
I do think I have saved the best for last here.
Tucked away on the north face of Benbulbin (the tabletop mountain in Sligo), it is said that this cave was the hideout spot for Diarmuid and Grainne, a soldier and princess from Celtic mythology. This cave is the backdrop for Diarmuid’s final betrayal and subsequent murder by the giant, Fionn mac Cumhaill.
This cave system is only 400m from the nearest car park but, BEWARE, the majority of that 400m is an almost vertical climb.
Not a hike for the faint of heart.
The difficult trek to the cave will prove to be worth it though, when you stand at the mouth of the cave and look out over the whole of Sligo. It’s a view you can’t get anywhere else, so don’t forget your camera.
Yes, it is dangerous. So, make sure you have proper footwear and you go when the weather is as good as possible but if you have the cajones to brave this climb, you’ll be rewarded in the best way Ireland knows how – a view that will etch itself into your memory forever.
What Is Sligo, Ireland Known For?
Sligo is most famous for its abundance of artists, writers and creatives, although it’s almost equally as popular for its wide range of outdoor activities, like surfing and hiking.
W. B. Yeats is one of Sligo’s most famous exports. A poet, playwright, and prose writer, Yeats was considered to be one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.
One of the driving forces behind the Irish literary revival, these days you can visit his gravesite in Drumcliffe, Sligo.
Is Sligo Catholic Or Protestant?
Catholicism is the predominant religion in the Republic of Ireland, including Sligo. In 2016 it was stated that 78.3% of the population considered themselves Roman Catholic.
However, as the years have passed the diversity of the religious beliefs in the country has increased.
So, although the majority of people who have a religious belief state that they are Catholic, there are many protestants, Muslims, Sikhs, and even Buddhists all around the country.
Is It Worth Going To Sligo?
In my opinion, it is 100% worth it to go to Sligo. No matter what you are interested in – food, shopping, culture, pub life, or scenery – there is something for everyone, all nestled away in one single county.
Why Is Sligo Called Sligo?
Sligo is an anglicized version of this county’s true Irish name, Sligeach.
Meaning “abounding in shells” or “shelly place”, the name refers to the abundance of shells found in the area. Shells that were once used as local currency among the native people.
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I am a British-born copywriter who moved to Ireland over a decade ago and have been captivated by Irish culture, landscape and folklore. I enjoy sharing my passion for Ireland through my writing as a freelancer.