The west coast of Ireland attracts visitors throughout the year, with destinations like Cork, Clare, Galway and Kerry up there with the most-visited counties in Ireland. The Heather County of Mayo is one county that should be on any would-be visitors’ list of places to visit for a weekend break this year, with so many great towns and villages just waiting to be explored.
Boasting the longest stretch of Atlantic coastline, and more islands of its coast than any other country – including Ireland’s largest, Achill Island – Mayo is full of charm and natural beauty, and just waiting to be enjoyed. One town in particular that proves to be a hit with visitors time and time again is Westport, so if you’re planning a weekend getaway to Westport, here are 10 things to consider doing when there.
10 Things to do in Westport
1 Visit Clew Bay Islands
With some 100 islands to explore (although many are too small to spend any time on), Clew Bay is a land steeped in history, none more so than the area’s largest island, Clare Island. Boasting ancient megalithic sites, a famous lighthouse and a 16th-Century castle, Clare Island is well worth taking some time to get familiar with. Another island worth visiting in Clew Bay is Dorinish Island, which was once famously owned by John Lennon. Hop on board the Clewbay Cruise and enjoy a guided tour of this wonderful landscape.
2 Cycle the Great Western Greenway
If you’re looking to get out and explore the great outdoors when visiting Westport, then get on your bike and cycle the 42km Great Western Greenway route. This off-road cycle trail takes you from Westport to Achill Island, passing Clew Bay and the towns of Newport and Mulranny on the way: a special way to enjoy the magnificent Mayo coastline.
3 Westport Golf Club
If you’re looking for something a little bit more relaxing, then grab your clubs and tee off at Westport Golf Club, a picturesque 18-hole parkland golf course that is up there with the very finest in Mayo.
4 Westport House and Gardens
This stunning 16th-Century house is one of Mayo’s most iconic heritage attractions, and a must see when visiting the town of Westport. With stunning interior finishes and spectacular gardens, join a guided tour of Westport House and get to know more about the history of the property and land, a history that takes you back to the 16th Century, when the legendary Grace O’Malley (the Pirate Queen of Connacht) ruled the land and seas surrounding the estate.
5 Climb Croagh Patrick
Located about 15km from Westport is Croagh Patrick, one of Ireland’s most famous pilgrimages. With wonderful views out to Clew Bay, set aside some time to scale the ‘Holy Mountain’, and if you’re really feeling up to it, follow in the footsteps of thousands who have scaled Croagh Patrick barefoot.
6 Westport House and Pirate Adventure Park
A must visit if you are holidaying in Westport with kids, Westport House is also home to the popular Pirate Adventure Park, a treasure trove of family activities. From adventure rides like the Cannonball Run Slide and Pirate Queen Swinging Ship to Go-Karting and the Pirates Playground, there is plenty of activity to keep the family busy for the day.
7 National Museum of Ireland
Located about 15 minutes from Westport in the town of Castlebar, the National Museum of Ireland, Museum of Country Life, is another attraction to add to your list. The museum provides a great insight into rural life in Ireland, with exhibitions taking you on a journey back to the days of the Great Famine in 1850. The museum is free to enter and is open across the year.
Take a stroll through the Georgian streets of Westport and make your way towards the town centre where you can look forward to a memorable shopping experience that mixes traditional and modern in equal measure. From local craft producers to high-street fashion brands, you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to hitting Westport’s many shops.
9 Discover Beautiful Achill Island
Okay, so this is a bit of a drive from Westport (about 45 minutes), but no trip to Westport, and indeed Mayo, would be complete without visiting Ireland’s largest island, Achill Island. Home to many stunning beaches, including Keem Bay, Achill Island will certainly give you plenty to see and do. Watersports like sailing and kayaking are popular on the shores surrounding Achill Island, while you can also make the most of your time in Achill by trying your hand at some horse riding on the beach.
10 Grab a Pint
If there’s one thing that Westport has built up a reputation for over the years its the famous Westport nightlife, so whatever your day has in store for you, be sure to take time and sample the wonderful Westport hospitality by visiting one of the town’s many popular bars. You’ll find everything from traditional Irish pubs to modern bars with entertainment throughout the year.
Plan Your Westport Adventure Today
Have these 10 reasons given you plenty to think about when considering Westport for a weekend break? Check out the latest Westport hotel deals here, and plan your trip to Ireland’s stunning west coast today.
For more ideas on things to see and do along Mayo’s coastline, check out our four-day itinerary for Bay Coast, which takes you from Belmullet in Mayo to Galway City.
Images via Fáilte Ireland