County Mayo: The Perfect Blend of History, Culture and Fun

County Mayo

Updated On: April 05, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Mayo is the third largest county in Ireland, the place you imagine seeing when planning a trip to Ireland. From its inviting Irish charm, its wild, unspoilt nature and landscapes make it hard not to fall in love with the County.

It is a place to explore if you are interested in culture, heritage, and history, as County Mayo is steeped in all three. It is a destination that has something to offer all visitors. Surrounded by the beautiful Wild Atlantic West, County Mayo is such an alluring place to spend your time.

County Mayo
County Mayo

Towns and Villages in Mayo Worth Visiting

Mayo is the third biggest county in Ireland, and it offers a variety of small and large towns and villages to visit. It is a place full of character and charm; each town has something unique and inviting. The smaller villages will be perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing trip to County Mayo. The bigger towns offer a livelier atmosphere bursting with things to do.


This is probably one of the most famous towns in the county to visit. Westport was designed during the 18th century by James Wyatt. It has become one of Ireland’s top tourist areas. It is well-known for its stunning tree-lined boulevard, ‘ The Mall’. Every year, the place seems to be becoming more popular with visitors worldwide. Westport boasts great restaurants known for its incredible seafood, which you must try. You’ll also find a lovely selection of traditional pubs that provide a friendly and warm atmosphere that isn’t to be missed.

One of Westport’s biggest attractions is the Westport House, which connects Adventure Park and offers a unique blend of culture and adventure with that welcoming Irish hospitality.  It is also home to Croagh Patrick, considered one of Europe’s best places for Pilgrimage. You’ll also find an 18-hole Championship Golf Course with great golf and scenic views.

Westport is a great place to enjoy horse riding and pony trekking, as there are a few local equitation centres. Also, not to be missed is Westport’s great selection of sandy beaches, many of which are Blue Flag winners.

Westport is home to many interesting and exciting festivals throughout the year. From the Westport Horse & Pony Show, the Westport Folk & Blue Grass Festival, the Sea Angling Festival and the Westport Music Festival.

Achill Island

Beach on Achill Island, County Mayo

The county is home to the largest island in Ireland, Achill Island. The island is famous for its beautiful sandy beaches, sea cliffs, and welcoming hospitality, which draws people back repeatedly.

If you enjoy exciting water sports, Achill Island is the place for you, with its two adventure centres on offer. At the adventure centre, you can try out windsurfing, abseiling, sailing, diving, surfing, and more. A must for visitors to Achill Island is to check out the popular Atlantic Drive, which takes you on an amazing scenic journey.

The Island is also home to County Mayo’s best festival, The Achill Seafood Festival. Held usually in July, it is your chance to try some of the best seafood in Ireland, along with plenty of music, fun, and good times.

Another significant part of Achill Island is Scoil Acla, one of Ireland’s oldest summer schools. The school offers a variety of workshops on traditional music, set dancing, and creative writing. There are also art exhibitions, painting courses, and an opportunity to learn Gaeilge (the Irish language).


This is one of the quieter villages in County Mayo but offers one of the best locations. The village lies between Clew Bay’s shores and the Famous Croagh Patrick mountain. One of its most notable features is the National Famine Monument, an impressive sculpture created by John Behan that depicts a coffin ship. It was designed to remember the people who perished during the Great Famine.

The village has been popular amongst pilgrims worldwide. In the 1400s, Pope Callistus 3 founded an abbey here. It is also the starting point of the ancient Croagh Patrick Mountain.

Located near the village is lovely Berta Beach, an EU Blue Flag-awarded beach that is perfect all year round.

Each year, Murrisk holds its annual Pattern Day Festival, usually on the last Sunday in August. Pattern Day is for both young and old, with a variety of events held all day. The day starts with a mass at the Murrisk Abbey, followed by dancing, music, children’s entertainment, stalls, and much more.


Next is the pretty town of Louisburgh, first constructed in 1795 by the 3rd Earl of Altamount, John Denis Browne of Westport. It was created for Catholic refugees escaping sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. The town is named after Browne’s uncle, Captain Henry Browne, who fought during the battle of Louisburg in 1758. To this day, the town still retains many of its 18th-century features. It is also rich in archaeological heritage, with over 700 monuments and 20 areas of scientific interest.

Louisburgh is a place full of character, charm and awe-inspiring natural beauty. It is famous for its beautiful unspoilt beaches such as Carramore and Old Head. Louisburgh is an excellent location if you enjoy walking, climbing and exploring, as there are various walking trails to be discovered that are met with incredible scenery.

Attractions in Mayo

If you are looking for things to do in Mayo, you are lucky, as the country has lots to offer. It is home to many offshore islands with a rich history and heritage to explore. Take to the sea or the mountains and check out the rugged landscape and amazing coastal scenery. Whether you’re visiting for fun, culture, or heritage, you’ll find it all here and much more.

A Trip to Westport House

Westport House
Westport House

One of the top things to do while in the county is to visit the impressive heritage site of Westport House. The house dates back to the 1500s when the legendary Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley used it as one of her many castles. Westport House has now become a treasure of Irish History, where visitors can tour over 300 years of Irish heritage in the house and enjoy the many attractions available on the grounds of the estate.

A tour around the house is not something you would quickly forget, with over 30 rooms to explore, where visitors can immerse themselves in the life of 16th century Ireland, which Grace O’Malley ruled.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Westport House during one of their birds of prey demonstrations, you’ll be in for a treat. Here, you’ll meet various falcons and owls and see them in action as they fly around the grounds. This is one of those unique experiences that will make your trip even more memorable.

Cycle the Great Western Greenway

Great Western Greenway, County Mayo
Great Western Greenway, County Mayo

If you enjoy being outdoors, the 40km stretch of trail known as the Great Western Greenway between Achill Island and Westport Town is a must. We highly recommend hiring one of the electric bikes and touring around this trail. You can rent these bikes with Clew Bay Bike Hire, which has been number one on TripAdvisor for 7 years and received the ‘Best Tourism Service Provider Award’ at the Mayo Business Awards in 2015.

These electric bikes are pretty cool. They help you travel for longer and give you a boost when going uphill. It makes the journey more enjoyable and is one of the fun things to do in Mayo, where you get to experience some beautiful scenery and nature along the Great Western Greenway trail.

Go Coasteering in County Mayo

Coasteering County Mayo
Coasteering County Mayo

The idea of coasteering might be something new to you, but it’s becoming an exciting adventure and activity to enjoy in Ireland. In the county, there is ‘Wavesweeper Sea Adventures’ that offers thrilling coasteering adventures. For those unsure of what coasteering is, it is where you suit up in a wetsuit and helmet, swim along Ireland’s hidden caves, and jump off cliffs. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are; expert guides will assist you around the rocky coast. One of the most exciting activities in County Mayo is exploring Erris Coast and finding your inner dare-devil.

The Best Beach in Mayo: Keel Beach

While in County Mayo, you must visit one of their most magnificent beaches on Achill Island. It is a 3km long Blue Flag Awarded Beach, considered one of Ireland’s best surfing spots. Keel Beach is also famous for other water sports, including sea kayaking, windsurfing, sailboarding, and boogie-boarding. Take some time to climb the nearby cliffs, as you’ll be mesmerised by the views. Overall, Keel Beach will surely be a hit and a great place to relax and take in the surroundings.

The Holy Mountain: Croagh Patrick

Views from Croagh Patrick, County Mayo
Views from Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

Croagh Patrick, considered the holiest mountain in Ireland, is a must-see in Mayo. The mountain’s history stretches back 5,000 years, and its religious significance dates to the time of the pagans. It is thought that people gathered here back then to celebrate the start of harvest season.

Croagh Patrick is also famous for being associated with Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. It is believed that he fasted at the summit of the mountain for forty days back in 441 AD. Many people since then have followed in his footsteps, using the mountain as a place of worship.

At the top of the summit are stunning views of Clew Bay and the surrounding Mayo that make the hike up worth it.

We could go on and on about all the county has to offer, but then we would leave no surprises for you to discover. But we promise Mayo is one of those unique places in Ireland that will have you returning for more. It offers the perfect blend of history, culture and fun all in one place.

Other worthy reads:

Mesmerising Beauty of County Sligo| Castle Coole: A Great Neo-Classical House in Ireland| Castle Ward: A Place with a Remarkable History| The Enticing Nature of Northern Ireland in County Carlow| Famous Landmarks in Ireland| Waterford Ireland’s Oldest City|

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