By Jessica Russo
When you close your eyes and dream about Ireland, do you picture yourself biking through green grassy hills filled with sheep roaming about? Maybe you see yourself clinking glasses with locals at a traditional pub, clapping along to folksy fiddle music. Or maybe you picture yourself strolling through stone streets lined with candy-colored cottage-like storefronts and cozy family-run restaurants. If these sound anything like your dreams of Ireland, Westport is your dream come true.
Anybody who’s been to Westport will tell you that it’s one of their favorite towns in Ireland. Sure, the Emerald Isle boasts its fair share of cute villages, but there is something special about this one. Where breathtaking unspoiled countryside meets authentic Irish culture, Westport is waiting.
Photo by Instagram user @kris_sandmael
1. It's as cute as a real-life movie set.
Colorful shops, overflowing flower gardens, stone cottages, adorable walking bridges - Westport is cuter than cute. Our favorite thing about this adorable town? It doesn't feel like a tourist trap. There's a difference between a shop that sells local crafts and a shop that sells tacky souvenirs. There's a difference between an overpriced restaurant with "just okay" food and a family-run pub with homemade Irish meals. In Westport, you'll find warm hospitality, delicious food, and authentic experiences. Wander through the picture-perfect streets of Westport - just make sure your camera is fully charged!
Photo by Instagram user @kaija302
2. It's a foodie fantasyland.
Eating at amazing restaurants is an essential part of the Westport experience. As you walk through the charming streets of town, you'll notice all sorts of intriguing eateries - from traditional pubs to contemporary hotspots.
Here are a few of our favorite bars and restaurants:
- Cobbler's Bar in the Wyatt Hotel
- Islands Restaurant in Hotel Westport - award-winning cuisine!
- Maddens in the Clew Bay Hotel
- Temptations Restaurant in the Mill Times Hotel
- Black Truffle Bistro
- Sage Restaurant
- Matt Molloy's - live music every night!
3. It's packed to the brim with fascinating history
People from Westport are proud of their heritage, and with good reason. In this old town, you'll discover fascinating history around every corner. Once the site of a 16th-century castle, The Westport House was the residence of the famous O'Malley family. Today, you can visit this gorgeous Georgian-era estate, home to fascinating dungeons, breathtaking period rooms, beautiful gardens, and more. After the Westport House, discover the beauty of Clew Bay and Croagh Patrick: two pilgrimage sites that are naturally stunning and historically rich.
Photo by Instagram user @westporttownlodge
4. It's surrounded by stunning landscapes
Nestled on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, Westport is heaven for nature lovers. Ireland may not be your first thought when you think "beach vacation," but Westport's rugged beach-laden coastline rivals that of any European Riviera town. Enjoy a sunny summer day by the sea, where you can spot countless wildlife wonders like basking sharks and humpback whales!
Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick, is also an awesome place to hike. Spend the day scaling sky-high mountains or gaze out at the sparkling cerulean Clew Bay. On a warm day, enjoy sailing, surfing, swimming, kayaking - you name it! On land, horseback riding, walking, cycling, and golf are go-to activities. Check out Westport Golf Club for an amazing experience on the green.
Photo by Instagram user @philiptownsend
5. It's the perfect place for a scenic bike ride
County Mayo, and Westport in particular, is known to be one of the best cycling spots in Ireland. With stunning trails and well-paved roads, meandering through this magical mountainscape is pure joy. Enjoy riding on the Great Western Greenway, a breathtaking off-road cycling and walking trail that stretches from Westport to Achill along an old railway track!
6. It's a 3-hour drive from Dublin
A "cross-country" drive may sound daunting to most of us, but in one as small as Ireland, a cross-country drive is really just a quick jaunt. Staying in Dublin? Head to the glistening coast for a day. Staying in Westport and still want to visit Dublin? With a short drive, you'll be in the heart of the city. No matter where you're staying in Ireland, Westport is always a good idea.
7. It's a true taste of Irish life
Why do we love Westport so much? It's a disarmingly pretty town that knows how to welcome visitors like they're old friends. The blissfully uncrowded streets are a hiatus from the hustle and bustle of the larger cities - it's the quintessential place to slow down and smell the roses.
In Westport, it's likely that your waiter grew up down the block and your inn-keeper has been learning her family's business since she was little. In Westport, you'll see bartenders chatting with local regulars and couples sipping tea while reading the local paper. This unique town is the ideal place to immerse yourself in the Irish way of life. Imagine a photogenic Georgian resort town with an authentic feel - that is Westport.
8. It makes the perfect home base on the west coast
Just north of Galway and Connemara National Park, Westport is a homey haven filled with character and charm. Overflowing with restaurants, inns and hotels, shops, nightlife, and outdoor activities, why stay anywhere else? Think of Westport as a smaller, more relaxed Galway. Imagine drinking the night away at a traditional pub then waking up to a full Irish breakfast at a cute cafe. Why not start your day with a peaceful bike ride on the Wild Atlantic Way? This little town is the way to go when exploring Ireland's wonderful west.