Recognized as one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties, Mayo is rich in natural beauty archeological wonders and heritage sites. They all have stories to tell that mirror Ireland’s colorful history. Take a look at our list of things to do in Mayo, pick one or five or all, and enjoy what this county has to offer.
11 Best Things To Do In Mayo, Ireland
Located in the west of County Mayo’s Achill Island which is the largest island in Ireland, Keem Bay is one of the most suggested stops when navigating the Wild Atlantic Way.
Formerly the site of a basking shark fishery and a British army lookout post, Keem Bay is a picturesque secluded valley at the very western tip of Achill Island. Stroll along the pristine white sand beaches or climb the nearby cliffs for a view you won’t soon forget – Keem Bay is a definite must visit in Mayo. It’s even more beautiful during the warmer months when the strand is a magnet for beach-goers and those interested in scenic walks.
The stunning Achill is attached to the mainland by Michael Davitt Bridge and is the largest island off the coast of Ireland. Situated off the west coast of Mayo, it has a small population of 2,700 in an area of 57 square miles.
This is the perfect place to be if you’re looking for fun, adventure-filled things to do in Mayo, as it is popular among those who like to swim, surf or even paddle board. If you’re not into water sports though, Achill island has hiking trails that will take you to a stunning mountain lake with views of the sea and the mainland.
A fun thing to do in Mayo is a trip to the Westport House, a 300-year old heritage site that was once the castle of Irish pirate queen Grace O’Malley (also known as Gráinne Mhaol) in the city of Westport. This place is now a treasure trove of Irish history and fun as it also has the Pirate Adventure Park within the grounds, a tribute to Grace’s sense of adventure.
A tour of the house takes you through the 30 rooms on display, as well as six exhibitions, while the remains of O’Malley’s castle can be seen from the dungeons. Aside from the adventure park, the Westport House also has their birds of prey shows where you get to meet various owls and falcons and watch them in action as they fly around the grounds with their trainers.
January- May- 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Extended hours for Easter Midterm Break: April 12th- 26th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
June- August-10:00am -6:00 pm
September- Open for Sensory Day on September 1st to families with children with Sensory Processing Disorder. Closed for the rest of September.
October-November-10:00 am-4:00 pmOpen from 12 pm – 5 pm
November-Open from 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm during the school midterm from the 1st to 3rd November inclusive.
Closed for the remainder of the month.
House & Gardens ( Online Price)
Adult Pass – € 12.85
Senior (Over 65’s)-€ 9.50
Student (must have current student id)-€ 9.50
Child (3 years and under)-Free
Address: Westport House, Westport, Co. Mayo, Ireland.
Phone: 353 (0)98 27766
Email: [email protected]
The Doolough Valley or Famine Valley is a scenic area with a sad, tragic story that was the reason for its name. It was the site of the grueling march during the Great Famine in Ireland in 1849, where hundreds of people died. There’s a stone memorial here in memory of those who perished, engraved with quotes from Gandhi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Aside from that sobering reminder, Famine Valley is a stunning place that makes it one of Co. Mayo’s attractions. With green hills on each side, the area is uninhabited bogland except for the occasional sheep. There are also small waterfalls that flow down both sides of the valley. The Doolough / Famine valley is not easily accessible but it is definitely worth the journey.
5.Abandoned Village On Inishkea Island
An attraction off the beaten path and with a sad story to tell is the abandoned village in Inishkea Island. It was once home to a lively fishing village until tragedy struck and almost all the men of the town drowned in a fishing accident. Left with no way to sustain themselves, the survivors abandoned the Islands and headed to the mainland.
A favorite spot for photographers and those who simply wanted to enjoy having an island to themselves, spending time at Inishkea Island is one of the more interesting activities to do in Mayo. Pack your camera, wear comfortable shoes and take the ferry to the island where the only company you’ll have are the donkeys and sheep. You can spend hours wandering the island and all of the abandoned stone structures. This is one of those excursions where you won’t want to leave your camera behind!
6.Great Western Greenway
Biking has become one of the most popular things to do in Ireland and if you want to explore Mayo, cycling through the Great Western Greenway will take you to some of its most stunning attractions. Spanning 26 miles with 18 miles of it across Co. Mayo, the Great Western Greenway allows you to stop and stretch your legs in between enjoying Mayo’s top attraction such as Croagh Patrick, the Céide Fields, a deserted famine village in Achill, the National Museum of Country Life, and the Ballycroy National Park.
The Greenway is the longest off-road walking or cycling experience in the country, stretching from Achill Island to Westport. Named as a European location of excellence, a walking or cycling tour through the Great Western Greenway is one of the best things to do in Mayo on weekends.
The third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin, Croagh Patrick is also referred to as the holiest mountain in Ireland. Situated just outside of the vibrant town of Westport, it is known as the place where St. Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting during his years as a missionary in Ireland. It is an important pilgrimage site, and also one of Mayo’s attractions.
A usual site here are pilgrims climbing the 2,500 ft mountain to the church at its peak. It is a tough climb but if you’re a non-Christian, a hike to the top is also worth it as you get magnificent views of the Mayo countryside and Clew Bay.
One of Mayo’s finest, the picturesque Keel beach is known to most tourists as a surfing location. If you’re not into riding the waves, however, you can still enjoy Keel’s fine, golden sand and stunning views from the shore. Located at the foot of Achill Head, it is one of the most popular places to visit in Mayo.
From the beach, you can see Slievemore where the famous Deserted Village is sheltered, as well as Mweelaun Cliffs and the Bill, a legendary isolated arrangement of three rock stacks. The scenic villages of Keel, Dooagh, and Doogort are also within easy reach. The artist Paul Henry lived and worked in Keel from 1910 to 1919.
One of the best places to visit in Mayo, Downpatrick Head was once a popular pilgrim destination. At present, crowds still gather here on the last Sunday of July – known as Garland Sunday – to hear mass at this sacred site. It is located just a few miles north of Ballycastle village in County Mayo and one of those places that are ideal for a leisurely, relaxing stroll.
Downpatrick got its name from St. Patrick, who founded a church in this area. You can still see the ruins of the church building, a stone cross, a holy and a statue close to the cliff edge dedicated to the patron saint.
10.Ballycroy National Park
Located in the western part of Co. Mayo, Ballycroy National Park is Ireland’s 6th national park and is a popular designation among hikers and adventure lovers, as well as those who enjoy leisurely strolls.
It is home to a massive portion of blanket bog (the bog is 11,000 years old!) and is Ireland’s first dark sky preserve. This place is a must for those who love photography, specifically those into taking photos of the night sky. A haven for stargazers and astrophotography enthusiasts, a visit to Bsllycroy National Park is one of the best things to do in Mayo during the night. Pack your camera gear and take epic Milkyway photos or lay on the grass and enjoy gazing at the unspoilt night sky.
Named after Saint Deirbhile (Dervilla), a local saint who arrived at Falmore in the 6th Century, the Deirbhiles Twist is a modern-day stone circle that resembles evokes monuments and is part of the North Mayo Sculpture Trail.
It is comprised of 22 giant granite slabs that form a circular twist formation, and one of the most popular stops along the Wild Atlantic Way. The Deirbhiles Twist is located at Falmore and one of the things to do in Mayo that is easily accessible for everyone as it is easily reached via a short walk from a parking lot.