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Knocknarea

This distinctive flat-topped hill and its mysterious summit cairn have been prominent landmarks in County Sligo’s folklore and culture for millennia.

Knocknarea (Cnoc na Riabh) is an immense monolith overlooking the green pastures of County Sligo. From Neolithic folklore to the poetry of William Butler Yeats, the grassy summit has become mythologized throughout the ages. See the 1,078-foot-tall (329-meter) hill presiding over the peninsula from across the county. Hike up the hillside and enjoy panoramic views of rolling hills and the stunning bays of the west coast from atop the mound. Inspect the enormous pile of loose stones that make up the summit cairn, which is surrounded by myth and mystery.

If you’re intrigued by the Knocknarea summit and the landscape that Yeats called “the land of heart’s desire,” make the ascent to the hill’s prominent peak. The 0.7-mile-long (1.2-kilometer) walk is steep in parts and takes approximately 30 minutes from the trailhead’s parking lot. Wander up the stony pathway past lush green pastures and open farmland. Reach a small gate, an ideal place to rest and look at the scenery unfolding behind you. Try to spot the church spire in Collooney to the south.

The path becomes more rugged after the gate and ascends steeply via a set of well-worn stairs. Reach Knocknarea’s flat peak and stroll along the stunning hilltop. Soon, you’ll see Maeve’s Tomb or Meabh’s Cairn coming into view. This 180-foot-wide (55-meter) cairn is up to 5,000 years old. Although never excavated, it is believed to contain a Neolithic passage tomb. It is woven into Irish mythology as the resting place of Queen Maeve of Connacht.

From here, enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding coast and countryside, including the Ox Mountains, Lough Gill and Slieve League. See the bays of Sligo and Ballysadare, as well as Croagh Patrick to the west if the skies are very clear. Descend from the hilltop via the same route.

Knocknarea is a 15-minute drive west of Sligo town. Park at the trailhead’s parking lot and visit the summit for free. Wear sturdy footwear for the hike, as the path is made of loose stones and can become slippery. Appreciate the archaeological site of Meabh’s Cairn from a distance.


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Best Lodging Options Near Knocknarea

See all 275 Properties near Knocknarea
Riverside Hotel $49
Riverside Hotel

Riverside Hotel

Riverside, Sligo, Sligo
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Sligo, this hotel is steps from Model Arts and Niland Gallery and Sligo Abbey. Sligo County Museum and Yeats Memorial Building are also within 10 minutes. Sligo Mac Diarmada Station is 12 minutes by foot.

    Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo $91
    Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo

    Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo

    Ballincar, Rosses Point Road, Sligo, Sligo
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated by the ocean, this spa hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Famine Memorial, Sligo County Museum, and Yeats Memorial Building. Quayside Shopping Centre and OConnell Street are also within 3 mi (5 km).

      The Glasshouse $65
      The Glasshouse

      The Glasshouse

      Swan Point, Sligo, Sligo
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated on a river, this hotel is steps from Yeats Memorial Building, OConnell Street, and Sligo County Museum. Quayside Shopping Centre and Famine Memorial are also within 5 minutes. Sligo Mac Diarmada Station is 6 minutes by foot.

        Strandhill Lodge and Suites $95
        Strandhill Lodge and Suites

        Strandhill Lodge and Suites

        Top Road, Strandhill, Sligo
           
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          This family-friendly Strandhill guesthouse is located near the beach, 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Strandhill Beach, and within 6 mi (10 km) of Sligo Riding Centre and Quayside Shopping Centre. OConnell Street and Knocknarea are also within 6 mi (10 km).

          Clayton Hotel & Leisure Club Sligo $68
          Clayton Hotel & Leisure Club Sligo

          Clayton Hotel & Leisure Club Sligo

          Clarion Road, Ballinode, Sligo
             
            4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            This family-friendly Sligo hotel is located in the mountains, within 1 mi (2 km) of Model Arts and Niland Gallery, OConnell Street, and Sligo County Museum. Yeats Memorial Building and Sligo Abbey are also within 1 mi (2 km). Sligo Mac Diarmada Station is 26 minutes by foot.

            7 Cnoc na Ri
            7 Cnoc na Ri

            7 Cnoc na Ri

            7 Cnoc na Ri Top Road, Strandhill, Sligo (county)
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Strandhill, this golf cottage is 0.8 mi (1.3 km) from Strandhill Beach and within 6 mi (10 km) of Medb's Cairn and Knocknarea. Woodville Farm and Sligo Riding Centre are also within 6 mi (10 km).

              Sligo Southern Hotel & Leisure centre $60
              Sligo Southern Hotel & Leisure centre

              Sligo Southern Hotel & Leisure centre

              Strandhill Road, Sligo, Sligo
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Sligo, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Quayside Shopping Centre, Yeats Memorial Building, and Hawks Well Theatre. OConnell Street and Sligo Cathedral are also within 10 minutes. Sligo Mac Diarmada Station is only a 3-minute walk.

                Sligo Park Hotel & Leisure Club $75
                Sligo Park Hotel & Leisure Club

                Sligo Park Hotel & Leisure Club

                Pearse Road, Sligo, Sligo
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  This family-friendly Sligo hotel is located in the suburbs, within 1 mi (2 km) of Hawks Well Theatre and Sligo Abbey. OConnell Street and Quayside Shopping Centre are also within 2 mi (3 km). Sligo Mac Diarmada Station is 30 minutes by foot.