County Mayo is not considered to be “the place to go” when visiting Ireland, it is just around there, a place on the Wild Atlantic Way. The fact that it’s rarely advertised means that tourists often miss it as they prefer locations like the Cliffs of Moher and Dog’s Bay. You know… the type of places that you see on Facebook and are truly synonymous with the Island of Ireland.
However, the really nice places aren’t the ones that are easy to find. They are slightly remote, and people need to work hard to find them. We did the hard work for you, and in this article we will show you the best 5 things to do with your family in County Mayo.
In all fairness, the whole island is fun. It’s an Irish thing, to keep things simple and to entertain, there is an abundance of places to see here, for now, we will stick to this small piece of heaven. If you are visiting Co. Mayo be prepared for lots of outdoor activities and wild, splendid nature.
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Hike, Stop, take it all in, Hike some more.
Croaghaun Mountain has the highest cliffs in Ireland and the third-highest cliffs in Europe and it’s located in County Mayo, on Achill Island.
For people who are used to hiking tall mountains and valleys, the height of 601 meters might not sound impressive. But, you need to remember that beneath it all is the Ocean, and nothing compares with the feeling of freedom, savageness, and pure adrenaline that you get when you are on top of an entire island looking out upon the vast Atlantic Ocean.
The track is pretty difficult, but it’s okay for a well-organized family. It’s important to make sure that children stay on track, as there are some dangerous, slippy, paths.
To get there all you have to do is drive. Even if it’s on a small island, there is a bridge so no need to book a ferry.
Go To The Pub
Taking your kids to a pub might seem like a horrible idea. But wait, this is Ireland, we do things differently here. Pubs are not just about alcohol. Yes, they serve alcohol but, pubs in Ireland are about community and are stitched into the fabric of Irish society.
There is something more, there is a type of magic that can only be found inside a pub. Children are always welcome (up until 8pm), and there is food to suit every taste. But the most important aspect is the people you will meet who will make you feel welcome and will brighten your day with their stories and humor.
Campbell’s Pub in Westport is one of the oldest pubs in Mayo and the owners have great advice for hikers, so that could be a great place to start.
Take Boat Cruise On Lough Corrib or from Westport
Using a boat to get around can be fun for the kids and romantic for the grownups. There are a few cruises along Lough (Lake in Irish) Corrib departing from Cong.
You will be cruising next to a beautiful, large castles and the boat will take you to breathtaking sights. Most cruises are short, so you will be able to do it in half a day, but it’s totally worth it.
As with pubs, it’s not just about the activity. It’s also about the people. The captain and the crew will teach everyone on board about the history of every landmark they pass, and about funny things that happened in every place that you will be visiting.
Clew Bay, Westport
With so many Blue Flag beaches in and around Westport it’s no wonder that boating and cruising are such popular family activities in the county. Boat cruises around Clew Bay are run daily and you have to be sure to get out on a cruise to see the 400 strong seal colony. In addition what better way to see the beautiful Croagh Patrick than from the water. Be sure to have your camera with you.
Visit The Céide Fields
This is a ancient field system and amongst the oldest in the world of an agricultural nature.
What are field systems, you ask? It’s the study of how to use the land as some is used to grow crops, some to farm animals and some fields are left alone to regenerate.
The Céide Fields is over 5000 years old, and it has thought us a lot about how we evolved and how our agriculture evolved with us. It is a piece of history that is worth exploring.
As you make the drive to the Céide fields area, the landscape is so beautiful in its desolation. One can’t imagine the hardship of those who did live in the area here. As you travel, watch out for the many house ruins and ‘famine’ houses.
Take A Trip On The Great Western Greenway
Did you know that Ireland has miles and miles of cycle paths and most of them are in the wild?
That’s right, you can rent a bike, any bike (no need for a fancy mountain bike to go off road) and just visit the entire county.
In Mayo, you will find the Great Western Greenway. It is a state funded, well maintained, cycle track. The Greenway will take you through historic places to nature trails, to the seaside where the Wild Atlantic meets the most remote beaches.
The cycling route is 26 miles long and has plenty of interesting stops on the way. Accommodation can be found on the go or you can bring a tent with you.
In Ireland you can ask a farmer/landowner if you can pitch your tent on their land. In this area of Mayo, people are used to tourists and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the landowner. However, always act sensibly and be respectful and take your waste away with you.
In addition, be very mindful of your surroundings. If you encounter the sign “Mind the Bull” it is not a joke. Do not place your tent on that property. Bulls are to be feared and respected. Luckily that is the only thing that you need to fear.
Conclusion – Wild Mayo for a Family Adventure
Visiting Mayo can be an extraordinary experience, the views are absolutely incredible and landscape so beautiful in the fact it is so bleak in places. There aren’t as many tourists as you would find in other well-known locations around the country.
There is no shortage of activities for families in Co. Mayo. I have just listed 5 such outdoor activities here but there are so many more. Why not drop into the Tourist office in Westport or explore their website and plan your family excursion in advance or on the fly.
The truth is that all Irish people are welcoming and full of humor that they want to share, but in Mayo you can also witness-old traditions and listen to people talking in Irish in the Gaeltacht areas. Hearing the ancient tongue being spoken in Mayo is surely delight you and your family on a trip to this beautiful corner of the Emerald Isle.