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A Family-Friendly Short Break in Mayo



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Exploring a lost valley, island hopping, camping in the wilderness and cycling along stunning coast: Mayo is the perfect choice for a short family breakWith just the right mix of real outdoor adventure and fun things to do, a few days in Mayo promise lots of great family memories and the perfect chance to reconnect.

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Louisburgh

Famous for its many unspoiled beaches and sandy coves, Louisburgh is a dream spot for a dip in the sea, paddling and a picnic. Families love Silver Strand, sheltered by the rocky headlands and high sand dunes, and the views out towards Inishturk and Inishbofin are unbeatable. 

Once you’ve dried off, one of the most unique landscapes in Ireland awaits you at The Lost Valley. Book your fully-guided adventure through this privately-owned land and you can experience the West’s cultural heritage through the ruined famine village, or take on the steep hike up the walking trail (with older kids) for powerful views of the Valley. Time your visit just right and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the dolphins who frequent Ireland’s only fjord, Killary. 

Croagh Patrick

Climbing Croagh Patrick is a bucket list item for many, but it’s not an easy trail. Though thousands of pilgrims take it on barefoot every year, the rocky, steep climb isn’t suitable for younger kiddies. Teens, however, can lace up their hiking boots, and even if you only get halfway up, the views over Clew Bay are spectacular.  

Westport House 

A 15-minute spin away is Westport, the ideal base for a short break in Mayo, with its colourful streets, award-winning restaurant and traditional pubs. A short stroll from the centre is Westport House, which contains hours of family fun. Hop on the colourful Westport Train Tour and journey around 46 sights in the town and the House’s grounds, discovering the fascinating history dating back to Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen. 

 
  • Silver Strand beach. County Mayo
  • Climbers on Croagh Patrick
  • Zipline at Westport House
 

Westport Cruises

With its rich maritime tradition, you can’t leave Mayo without taking to the sea. Get up close and personal with the seal colony in Clew Bay with Westport Cruises. Departing from the harbour between May and October (check their website for the latest timetable), enjoy a round trip of Clew Bay’s islands aboard the Spiorad Naomh Phadraig, with its heated lounge and upper outdoor deck and café. Get a panoramic view of John Lennon’s island, known as The Reek, and sail in the summer months to see the new seal pups join the 400-strong colony — cute! 

The Great Western Greenway

Hop on your bike, or rent one in Westport, and cycle the incredible Great Western Greenway. A 42k stretch from Westport to Achill, taking in Newport and Mulranny, the route hugs the breathtaking coastline of Clew Bay. 

If you’re travelling with smaller kids, jump in at the stretch from Newport to Achill, for a gentler and more accessible cycle — it’s possibly the most beautiful stretch so you won’t feel you’ve missed out. Many bike hire companies offer shuttles to allow you start and stop where you want, and you can also get kids’ trailers and tag-a-longs for the smallies who just want to enjoy the ride.

A family cycling on the Greenway in Mayo

Achill Island

Feel life slow down as you cross the bridge onto Achill Island. It’s the kind of place where sheep roam freely, and you’re never far from a stunning Blue Flag beach. The jewel in Achill’s crown is Keem Bay, a secluded beach at the western tip of the island. Enjoy the incredible cliff-side drive up, before joining the swimmers and snorkelers in the crystal clear waters. 

For adventurous families, drop into Pure Magic on the way back down — they’ll have the adrenaline going with kitesurfing or paddleboarding on the waves of Keel Lake. A firm family favourite, especially on rainy days, is the Achill Experience Aquarium, where kids can meet Dory (blue tang) and Nemo (clown fish), and learn about tropical fish like piranhas. Touch tanks allow to them feel local sea creatures like starfish, urchins and scallops too. 

While You’re in Mayo 

Hit the road south through the stunning mountain pass of Doolough, then along the shore of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord, or go north to Ballycastle and the Belmullet peninsula via Castlebar and Pontoon. Drop into the visitor centre at Céide Fields, where you’ll journey back 5,000 years at the most extensive Stone Age site on the planet. (Note: during the summer of 2020, the Céide Fields visitor centre and restaurant will be closed for renovations, with tours of the outside site available only.)

If You Have Time in Mayo

Hop on the ferry at Roonagh Pier, just outside Westport, over to Clare Island. Half the fun is in the journey, with stunning views of Clew Bay at every turn. It’s a swimmer’s paradise, and the beautiful Blue Flag beach near the main harbour is the most popular spot for a dip. Bring a picnic along and get the kids to spot the puffins and peregrine falcons that call the island home. 

No matter where you land in Mayo, kids are guaranteed to enjoy the feeling of being free in its wilds, so the only question is, where do you want to start? However, be sure to contact individual attractions and businesses in advance to confirm they're ready to welcome visitors again and avoid disappointment.

And with a new focus on public protection here in Ireland, social distancing and safe travel measures will be essential everywhere. Take a look at the new nationwide COVID-19 Safety Charter for more information.

After you make your escape in Mayo, it's time to start thinking about what you'll explore next on the Wild Atlantic Way. Want to go further afield? Find out more about how to make a break for other regions of our amazing island...

 

IRELAND HAS NEVER FELT BIGGER

It's finally time to pack your bags and make your escape


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