View from Keem Beach - one of the top things to see in Mayo

Top 10 Things To Do In Mayo

Did you know that Mayo is has some of Ireland’s best beaches, the biggest stone age site in the world, and Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park? I should also mention Croagh Patrick and the vibrant town of Westport too… There are so many things to do in Mayo – here are my top ten.


Mayo is the county in Ireland that surprised me the most. There are so many things to do in Mayo, I feel like I only scratched the surface. I am already planning my return visit, but in the meantime here are ten things to whet your appetite!




1. Explore Achill Island


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Ireland’s largest island is a must see if visiting Mayo, and you don’t even need a boat to get there! You can drive across the Michael Davitt Bridge or choose to cycle there on the Greenway. I recommend spending a full day there, (or longer if you can), and arrive early. Drive straight to the far end of the island to Keem Beach and I guarantee you will be blown away by its beauty. Make sure you hike the mountain behind the beach to catch the best views.


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Keel Beach is another stunning beach and it is a great location for water sports. There surf schools here and it is a popular beach with families and students. There are also some great restaurants and shops to explore nearby. Read more about the beaches in Mayo here.


If you like hiking, don’t miss the opportunity to hike the Croaghaun Sea Cliffs – they are the highest in Ireland and the third highest in Europe. Many believe that the Slieve League Cliffs in Donegal are Ireland’s highest at 1,972 ft, but they are only the highest on Ireland’s mainland, the Croaghaun Sea Cliffs are actually higher at 2,257 ft and are three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher!


If hiking is not your thing, you can drive to a great view point called Mweelin. It is located near Dooega on Minaun Mountain. You can see the whole of Achill Island and Clare Island on a clear day.

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2. Visit Downpatrick Head


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Downpatrick Head is one of Ireland’s most dramatic locations. You will find the ruins of a church that was founded by St. Patrick, as well as a WW2 look out point, and one of the Eire signs that was marked into the ground during the war, to show pilots that they were flying over neutral ground. 


However, it is the majestic sea stack Dún Briste (broken fort) that impressed me most. It was remarkably quiet considering we visited in July, and I loved how close we could get to the cliff edge. There are no visitors centres or designated walk ways like you would find at the Cliffs of Moher, but perhaps that is part of its charm. I advise you to visit before the crowds arrive! 

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3. Cycle the Great Western Greenway

Cycling the Great Western Greenway is one of the top things to do in Mayo

The Great Western Greenway is a wonderful walking and cycling trail that stretches from Westport all the way to Achill Island. You can choose to cycle the full 42km, or pick up the trail in the coastal towns of Newport or Mulranny and cycle part of it. This was something I wish we had time to experience, but it is a good excuse to make sure I come back! 

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4. Enjoy a night out in Westport

visit westport

I visited the vibrant town Westport many times, and it is no surprise that it is one of Ireland’s most popular holiday towns. The colourful centre is home to some great restaurants and pubs, and its location on the coast makes it the perfect base to explore the Wild Atlantic Way.


Don’t miss the chance to visit the 18th century Westport House. You will find something here for all the family including a Pirate Adventure Park for children. It is one of the top things to do in Mayo with kids.

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5. Drive through Doo Lough Valley to Connemara

Doo lough Valley drive from Mayo to Connemara

The drive from Louisburgh through Doolough Valley to Connemara is one of the most beautiful drives in Ireland. The mountainous landscape is breathtaking, as are the the two lakes that you pass by in the valley. The drive leads you into the pretty town of Lenane, where the movie The Field was filmed. Many of the pubs that were used in the film are still there today. 


There is also a famine memorial located in Doo Lough Valley, dedicated to the victims of the “Doolough Tragedy”. During the Great Famine many people died while walking through Doolough Valley due to starvation. Mahatma Gandhi asked “How can men feel honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings? – this quote is now engraved in the cross.



6. Climb Croagh Patrick 

Climbing Croagh Patrick is one of the top things to do in Mayo

Ever since St Patrick fasted at the top of Croagh Patrick for 40 days in 441 AD,  “The Holy Mountain” became one of the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in Ireland. Some people climb it barefoot as an act of penance, but from what I am told, it is a difficult climb even with the appropriate footwear!


Croagh Patrick is located just five miles from Westport and if you do manage to make it to the top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the 365 islands in Clew Bay – assuming you climb on a clear day.

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7. Discover the Erris Peninsula  


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The Erris or Belmullet Peninsula is one of Mayo’s best kept secrets. The coastline is lined with dramatic sea cliffs, white sandy beaches and acres of mountains and bog. The Erris Loophead walk is a 5k walk that is ideal for all fitness levels, and the Ballycroy National Park has an abundance of hiking trails to choose from. It is also home to Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park.


Don’t miss a trip to Claggan Island. It is a tidal island that can be reached by walking along low tide. The beaches are arguably the best along the Wild Atlantic Way, if not in Ireland.

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8. Visit the Ceide Fields


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The Céide Fields are one of the world’s biggest stone age sites and are home to the oldest known field systems in the world. They are older than Egypt’s pyramids and have been preserved due to the surrounding bog environment. The exhibit includes stone walls, megalithic tombs and extraordinary rock formations.


This site is in UNESCO’s tentative list to gain World Heritage status, so perhaps now is the time to visit before this happens! It is located a mere twenty minutes drive from Downpatrick Head, so they are an ideal combination for a day out in Mayo.

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9. Take a boat trip to Clare Island 


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Clare Island was once home to the famous pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, and you can view her burial place that remains there. You can expect dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches as well as archaeological remains. The clear waters are popular with swimmers as well as scuba divers, and the Clare Island ferry runs regularly from Roonagh so it is easily accesible. See timetable here.


10. Beaches, Beaches and more beaches


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I was blown away by Mayo’s stunning coastline. I received over 20 recommendations of beaches to visit in Mayo, but unfortunately due to time constraints we had to narrow it down to three! Keem and Keel beach on Achill Island are practically iconic, but the lesser known Silver Strand beach near Louisburg is also a must visit. The water is crystal clear, it is surrounded by high sand dunes and green headlands, yet thankfully because of it’s remote location it manages to avoid the masses.

Read: 3 Beaches in Mayo you have to visit





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The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery





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