With its untamed coastal beauty, rich cultural heritage and laidback surf spirit, Ireland's best-kept secret is?well and truly out - here we chat to Sligo's resident artists and adventurers about why you need to make a beeline for this buzzing, blissed out county...
Something special is happening in Sligo. From its flourishing foodie scene to its thriving creative community and well-earned title of Ireland's adventure capital, it has evolved into a must-visit destination and the country's newest design hub - a home away from home for droves of adrenaline junkies, outdoor enthusiasts and art lovers looking to the wave-ravaged periphery of Europe for inspiration.
We took a salt-tinged tour through the not-so-hidden gem of the west with some Sligo creatives and found out the'spots that shouldn't be missed on a visit...
1. FOR AWE-INSPIRING WAVES.??Mullaghmore is my favourite place in Sligo. It's a world-class big-wave spot that commands respect. I make a point of always being there when the wave off the headland breaks.? Barry Mottershead, Sligo Kayak Tours
2. FOR DINNER WITH A VIEW.??One of my favourite spots is The Beach Bar thatched cottage at Aughris Head. I go for a pint and a plate of mussels with the view of the ocean.? John Monahan, NOJI Architects
3. FOR A SEAWEED BLISS-OUT.??A climb up Knocknarea is a must - pack a picnic and a wind jacket for the top. A visit to Voya Seaweed baths is another treat I highly recommend; try a massage too, as the therapists are amazing.? Jane Lamberth, Shells Caf? and Little Shop
4. FOR RAVE-WORTHY VIEWS.??Benbulben is a never-ending font of beauty. Every time I hike up there, I find a new angle or see something that drops my jaw. That mountain is special.? Christian McLeod, photographer
5. FOR BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS.??The Alpine Garden at Lissadell House is my favourite spot. I love the colours of the plants and flowers, but also, on a clear day, the sea looks a most beautiful sea-green and you can look back on Knocknarea and Strandhill.? Denise Rushe, Starling Digital Media Direction
6. FOR A MYSTICAL WALK.??My studio is beside the Deerpark Forest and the Giant's Grave. I love walking there early in the morning when the mist is lying low. Alternatively, I'll take a drive around the Gleniff Horseshoe, or a picnic out to Beezies Island on Lough Gill. And of course it wouldn't be a visit to Sligo without taking in the stunning coastline! Walk it, swim it, surf it - it's amazing! No tips here - go explore!? Rebecca Marsden, fashion designer
7. FOR A POST-SURF WARM-UP.??I love picnicking with friends in the dunes on Strandhill Beach on a sunny day covered in salt from a little surf. A close second would be catching up with the whole village outside Shells on a Sunday morning. It's the new mass!? Aoife Porter, Swell Sligo
8. FOR SOME ALONE TIME.??I have one or two really favourite spots, but for sure the top one is a little piece of exposed cliff near where I used to surf growing up. It's on the edge of our bogland just before the Atlantic, and it is where the reason I am here becomes most clear.? Ashleigh Smith, Atlantic Equipment Project
9. FOR A WARM-WEATHER WANDER.??Coney Island, off Rosses Point, near my home, can be accessed by foot or by car at low tide. There's a lovely beach with waves, a calm harbour for pier-jumping, blackberries for picking, and a pub that, as a child, I remember often going to for mass!? Elizabeth Clyne, Salt of the Earth Studio.