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Is Westport Ireland Worth Visiting? 13 Memorable Things to Do

Discover things to do in Westport, Ireland including cycling the Great Western Greenway and experiencing the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.
Westport is one of my favorite off-the-beaten track places to visit in Ireland. 

Where is Westport? This charming Irish town is in County Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way in the Northwest of Ireland. 

How long does it take to get to Westport from Dublin? You can take the train from Dublin to Westport in about 3 hours (tickets start as low as 10 EUR each way with advance purchase). 

Westport is an ideal summertime destination with gorgeous scenery, trails, and festivals. Westport is also an ideal weekend break destination from Dublin and one of my favorite places to visit in Ireland by train

Let's explore some fun things to do in Westport Ireland that will make you want to visit and return again and again like we did.

Is Westport Ireland worth visiting? Stone bridge in Westport

1. Head to the Octagon at the Heart of Westport

The Octagon is the heart of Westport and all roads seem to lead to and from it.  Colorful pubs and homes line Westport's Octagon and it's a great point of reference for exploring the town or to grab a pint.
Westport town in County Mayo Ireland Clocktower in Westport Ireland and flowers

2. Enjoy A Warm Welcome to Westport and Homemade Truffles 

Christy's Harvest is a quaint coffee shop just off the Octagon in Westport. We were drawn in for a cuppa which was served in colorful patterned mugs.  

Christy's Harvest is tiny but cozy.  We managed to wedge into two stools along the wall.  We couldn't resist trying Christy's homemade truffles. Amazing!  

Westport Ireland: Truffles and Coffee at Christy's Harvest

Christy's is also nice for a bit of a chat.  The owner seems a bit gruff at first but when you start talking, he warms right up.  The cafe is family run with yer man's grandson helping out on the weekends.  

We got to chatting about computer science programs and I even was able to offer a bit of career advice for the lad which he seemed to appreciate.  

3. Listen to Music Al Fresco Along the Sidewalks of Westport

One thing that we noticed about Westport that seemed a bit unusual (in a good way!) was the tendency for bands to set-up outside the pub rather than in a dark corner inside. We spotted a great trad session in front of a pub on the Octagon and sat down to listen.

Westport Ireland - Trad on the Octagon

4. Experience Views of County Mayo's Croagh Patrick

The scenery in Westport is spectacular especially when the sun is shining as it was during our weekend visit. A key feature of the landscape is Croagh Patrick.  

Croagh Patrick mountain has been a popular pilgrimage spot for centuries, first for pagans celebrating the summer solstice and now for Christians as St. Patrick reportedly fasted for 40 days atop this County Mayo peak in the 5th century. Be on the lookout for Croagh Patrick as you're exploring Westport.

Croagh Patrick near Westport Ireland

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other ideas for places to visit in Ireland that are accessible by train?
  1. Discover the myriad of things to do in Kilkenny for a weekend including walking the grounds of Kilkenny Castle.
  2. Exploring things to do in Limerick City and paying a visit to Limerick's famous Milk Market or King John's Castle for a weekend?
  3. Spend 24 hours in Galway and take a walk on the NUI Galway campus, one of the most picturesque university campuses in Ireland.
  4. Find out what to do in Cork City. You can also go a bit further afield and spend a weekend in Kinsale or a day sampling the best things to eat in foodie West Cork.

5. Westport's Summer Flowers

When we were in Westport for the weekend at the end of June, the whole town and surrounding countryside seemed to be in bloom and it's one of the things I remember fondly about our trip to the West of Ireland.
Flowers in Westport Ireland

6. Sip Craft Brews on Westport Quay

Westport Quay is about a 20 minute walk from the center of Westport Town.

We walked out to the Quay and then quenched the thirst we'd worked up on the way with Irish craft brews at The Towers Bar from The Independent Brewing Company of Ireland and Kinnegar.  They have a lovely 'beer garden' with views overlooking the bay and Croagh Patrick. 
Westport Ireland Craft Beer

7. Chase Pied Wagtails and Other Birds

I'm an opportunistic bird watcher.  I don't have the patience to stake out a place and wait for hours to see an elusive species but I will definitely try to capture that perfect shot when birds present themselves.  

We saw a few different species in Westport including the Pied Wagtail.  This is a tricky little fellow that is often flitting about so capturing the photo was the biggest challenge.  

It was worth the effort though as these guys are striking.
Pied Wagtail in Westport Ireland

8. Get Sheep Shape in Westport

In Westport, it's impossible to forget that you're just a stone's throw from rural Ireland.  We spotted sheep lapping up a bit of water near Westport Quay.
Sheep in Westport Ireland

9. Visit Westport House

Westport House in Westport Town, County Mayo Ireland

Westport House featured a variety of summer fun activities. You can book a tour of this historic Georgian manor for 14.49 EUR per person. Alternatively, pay as you go to experience a variety of outdoor activities. My favorite were the swan pedal boats (5 EUR).

Westport House - Swan Boats

10. Cycle the Great Western Greenway

The Great Western Greenway is absolutely my favorite thing to do in Westport. Repurposed from an old railroad track, the Great Western Greenway now serves as a premier cycling destination.

Sheep along the Great Western Greenway in County Mayo, Ireland

We liked the idea of cycling from Achill Island to Westport town, but were concerned that we weren't in good enough shape for the ride. 

Cue the electric bikes! 

Clew Bay Bike Hire's Silver Package which included an electric bike, roadside assistance, and one-way shuttle service cost 50 EUR per person at the time of our trip. 

With our main concerns appropriately managed, we decided to give cycling on the Great Western Greenway a go. I'm happy to report that we cycled the entire way from Achill to Westport and are so glad we embarked on the journey. 

Here are eleven reasons why cycling the Great Western Greenway on electric bikes is a "must" thing to do in Westport.

1. County Mayo's Dramatically Changing Scenery

The scenery in Ireland's County Mayo is truly outstanding and changes rapidly over the 40 km Great Western Greenway cycling route from Achill Island to Westport town. From sea, to farm land, to rocky landscape; we saw it all. 

On bicycles there is the added advantage of being able to stop easily to take some of the photographs in Ireland. Our electric-assist bicycles also ensured that we could mount the hills and enjoy the sweeping vistas.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Dramatically Changing Scenery

2. Carpets of Wildflowers on the Great Western Greenway

We cycled the Great Western Greenway in June. The lands surrounding the trails were covered in many places by carpets of pink and yellow wildflowers. It was a stunning sight to behold.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Carpets of Wildflowers

3. Cycling Past Historic Ruins

As we cycled, we spotted historic ruins along the Great Western Greenway; typically old farm buildings with the thatch roofs long gone. 

In one spot along the route between Achill Island and Westport, a sculpture installation added a bit of modern contrast to the scene.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Historic Ruins and Modern Sculpture

4. A Glimpse of Achill Island

We started our bicycle ride at the bridge to Achill Island, another area of outstanding natural beauty. We wish we had time to explore Achill Island in depth but we just rode across the bridge to test out our electric bicycles at the start of our journey. We'll be back!
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Achill Island

5. A Cycling Pitstop for Sheep Along the Great Western Greenway!

Ireland is a country awash in sheep. As we were cycling along, we encountered many sheep along the Great Western Greenway. 

I was particularly excited when I saw a mama and her lamb heading right for us. Every once in a while, she would nudge the baby to keep it moving along past those odd creatures on the strange two wheeled machines. Priceless!
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Sheep

6. Cycle Past Gorgeous Birds

The weather gods were with us on this cycling day trip in County Mayo and the sunny but brisk weather enticed the birds out. We saw chaffinches galore on fenches and posing atop pretty branches.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Chaffinches

7. A Taste of the Farm Life in County Mayo

Our cycle ride along the Great Western Greenway also gave us a small taste of farm life. Setting up this amazing public works involved the cooperation of dozens of landowners along the length of the trail. 

As a result, we cycled through a variety of working farms with tractors proudly on display and livestock grazing in the fields.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Tractor and Sheep

8. A Stroll through Newport

Newport town in County Mayo marks the two-thirds point on the cycling journey starting from Achill Island and ending in Westport. We parked our bicycles at the Clew Bay Bike Hire depot here to give our backsides a break and explored the Newport town on foot. 

The Newport River runs through town and offers stunning views. We even spotted a horse out for a trot with its owner along the river side.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Newport Town

9. Refuel with A Carvery Lunch in Newport, County Mayo

Even with electric assist, you still get a great workout cycling the Great Western Greenway. By the time we rolled into Newport, we were famished and ducked into Walsh's Bridge Inn for a hearty carvery lunch and a pint.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Carvery at Walsh's Bridge Inn in Newport Town

11. County Mayo's Happy Cows

The Great Western Greenway is an idyllic ride and it's made even more so by the creatures we encountered along the way. In addition to countless sheep, we also spotted cows galore. They definitely added to the atmosphere as we cycled past.
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Happy Cows

11. The Great Western Greenway's Grazing Donkeys

What better way to be welcomed to Westport town, the final destination of our bicycle journey, than by an adorable donkey grazing on a field of wild yellow flowers. 
Cycling the Great Western Greenway - County Mayo, Ireland - Grazing Donkeys

As we rolled into Westport, tired from a day of cycling (but not exhausted thanks to the electric assist bikes from Clew Bay Bike Hire!), we reflected on our amazing ride across the quintessential landscapes of County Mayo in the West of Ireland. 

With the sun shining, there is no better way to spend a day near Westport than cycling the Great Western Greenway on electric bicycles.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for other ideas of places to go cycling in Ireland? Check out the Waterford Greenway near Dungarvan for an energizing day out in Ireland's Sunny Southeast.

Pony in a field of yellow flowers near Westport Ireland

11. Experience the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival

Festivals are the perfect excuse to travel and explore a new place. 

We decided to come back to Westport for what promised to be a toe-tapping good time at the annual Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival. The festival was founded by Uri Kohen in 2007. In 2024, the festival is scheduled for June 7th - 9th. 

Originally hailing from Israel, Kohen now calls Westport home and legions of bluegrass fans from around Europe have him to thank for an amazing weekend of music. 

Here are four reasons to visit Westport during the annual Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival in County Mayo Ireland

1. A Front Row Seat for an Impromptu Bluegrass Session

My favorite memory from our trip to Westport for the festival was stumbling upon an impromptu bluegrass music session. We were walking through the Clew Bay Hotel when we heard faint strains of a banjo originating in the front parlor. 

We stuck our head in and saw two banjo players and a guitarist sitting down to play. Our timing was perfect as someone was just getting up from a couch in the corner and we were able to come in, sit down, and make ourselves comfortable to see what the musicians had in store. 

Much like the Trad music sessions in Irish pubs, this one was totally unplanned with the musicians coming together for the first time to experiment and build on each other taking turns leading songs. 

Things to do in Westport Ireland: Westport sign

Soon more musicians joined in and we had banjos, mandolin, fiddle, bass, guitar, and a vocalist creating amazing music. 

I felt lucky to be a spectator on this momentous occasion. It turns out that many of the musicians were playing proper gigs at the festival: Mala and Fyrmoon (a popular Swiss trio), Richard Hawkins (editor of the Bluegrass Ireland Blog), and Danilo Cartia (a well-known Italian bluegrass musicians). 

They were joined by a Trad and bluegrass musician from Dublin, Cathal Cusack (hat tip to Richard Hawkins for identifying him for me in the comments below). The result of this combination was magical.
Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - Country Mayo, Ireland - Music session with Mala and Fyrmoon, Richard Hawkins, and Danilo Cartia

2. Headliners at the New Westport Town Hall Theatre

The Westport Town Hall was recently reborn as a theatre and the headliners from the Folk and Bluegrass festival inaugurated the venue. The New Breadwinners, JigJam, and the Flats and Sharps mesmerized the audience with fast-paced and often quirky beats.
Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - Country Mayo, Ireland -  The New Breadwinners, JigJam, and the Flats and Sharps

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: If you like intimate music festivals like this one, definitely check out Kilkenny Ireland. Spend a weekend in Kilkenny for the Kilkenny Roots Festival.

3. Bluegrass al Fresco

The Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival takes place in June each year which offers the opportunity to catch a gig outside. We watched the Rockytop String Band take the stage. Alas, we did have to dash between a few raindrops but for the most part the weather was mild and fair.
Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - Country Mayo, Ireland -  Rockytop String Band

4. Bluegrass Pub Sessions

We also took the opportunity to grab a pint of Guinness and watch some masterful finger pickin' in the pubs. Cobbler's Bar was our favorite festival venue.
Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival - Country Mayo, Ireland - Pub music sessions

When visiting a destination for a festival, it's also a great idea to take some time to explore between gigs. Here are some tangential things I recommend checking out if you're in town for the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.

12. Enjoy Beautiful Sunsets

Before heading to a late-night gig, pause for a moment to revel in a West of Ireland sunset. In June, the sun stays up until 11 pm or later.

Westport, County Mayo, Ireland - Sunset

13. Visit a Crafty Local

With a bright yellow and green facade, Toby's Bar definitely attracted our attention. Not being able to see in through the windows though made it feel unassuming at the same time. 

After the Westport Bluegrass Festival, on our way back to the station to catch our train to Dublin we looked in the window more closely and noticed that Toby's stocked Mescan, a local Irish craft beer. We downed a sneaky glass of beer to toast an amazing toe-tapping good weekend. 
Westport, County Mayo, Ireland - Toby's Bar

Where to Stay In Westport in a Golf Inspired Accommodation at Augusta Lodge

We were spoiled for choice of Bed and Breakfasts in Westport.  We booked in at the Augusta Lodge which was just up the hill outside of Westport town (walkable to the town centre in about 15 minutes). 

Clearly the owner was a golf fan based on (a) the name (b) the inside decor and (c) the putting green on the lawn out front.  We even gave it a go when we came back from a rest before dinner.

Westport Ireland - Augusta Lodge
An alternative option (if you are driving) is to stay at Mount Falcon Estate near Ballina which is about 45 minutes away from Westport. This amazing property is the perfect place to go on an Irish hawk walk.

Is Westport Ireland Worth Visiting from Dublin?

Westport may not be on every visitor's wishlist, but it should be. Westport is charming in summer and annual music festivals make an ideal cornerstone for a weekend trip. 

Westport is also fantastic if you enjoy the outdoors. Rent electric bikes and cycle the Great Western Greenway from Achill Island back to Westport.

Church tower in Westport Ireland

You'll find plenty of things to do in and around Westport to keep you busy for a weekend or more whether you are stopping by as part of an Ireland self-drive or just taking a weekend break from Dublin.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Is Westport Ireland Worth Visiting? 13 Memorable Things to Do
Is Westport Ireland Worth Visiting? 13 Memorable Things to Do
Discover things to do in Westport, Ireland including cycling the Great Western Greenway and experiencing the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival.
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