Ballina Travel Guide

Discover the top attractions, activities, food, accommodations, and more in Ballina, West Ireland. Plan your perfect trip with our comprehensive travel guide.

Introduction to Ballina

Ballina is a charming town located in County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland. It sits on the River Moy, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, and is surrounded by scenic countryside and rolling hills. Ballina is known for its welcoming locals, rich history, and stunning natural beauty. Whether you love history, outdoor adventures, or cultural experiences, Ballina has something to offer everyone.

List of Places to Visit in Ballina

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Ballina Arts Centre - This arts center hosts a variety of exhibitions, performances, and workshops, featuring local and international artists.

  • Nordic Cultural Links - Take a tour of this cultural center to learn about Ballina’s Viking heritage and connections to other Nordic countries.

  • The Jackie Clarke Collection - For a fascinating look at Irish history, visit this collection of over 100,000 items, including letters, photos, and memorabilia.

  • St. Muredach’s Cathedral - This beautiful cathedral is a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture and religious history.

Natural Attractions of Ballina: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Belleek Woods - Enjoy a peaceful walk or cycle through this stunning woodland park, full of ancient oak trees, colorful wildflowers, and wildlife.

  • River Moy - Try your hand at fishing for salmon, trout, and other fish that run through this scenic river.

  • Céide Fields - Discover the ancient history of Ireland at this neolithic site, with its preserved stone walls, tombs, and farmland.

  • Downpatrick Head - Take in the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the incredible natural formations at this dramatic headland.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Ballina

Ballina has an abundance of hiking and biking trails, suitable for all levels of fitness and ability. Some of the most popular routes include:

  • The Monasteries of the Moy Greenway - This scenic 9km route follows the River Moy and takes in the ruins of several medieval monasteries.

  • Croagh Patrick - This challenging climb up Ireland’s holy mountain offers incredible views and a unique cultural experience.

  • The Western Way - For a longer hike, try this 179km trail through the rugged landscapes of Connemara and Mayo.

Best Things to Do in Ballina: Activities and Tours

  • Surfing Lessons - Try your hand at surfing with local instructors at one of the nearby beaches.

  • Whiskey Tasting - Sample some of the best Irish whiskey at the Connacht Whiskey Company, just a short drive from Ballina.

  • Dolphin Watching - Take a boat tour to see the playful dolphins that live in the waters off the coast of Mayo.

  • Traditional Music Sessions - Listen to live music and soak up the local culture at one of the town’s many pubs.

Week-Long Itinerary for Ballina

Day 1: Arrive in Ballina and check into your accommodations.

Day 2: Explore Ballina’s cultural attractions, including the Jackie Clarke Collection and the Ballina Arts Centre.

Day 3: Take a hike or cycle through Belleek Woods, stopping for a picnic lunch by the river.

Day 4: Take a day trip to Downpatrick Head and the nearby Céide Fields, returning to Ballina for dinner and drinks.

Day 5: Go salmon fishing in the River Moy, followed by whiskey tasting at the Connacht Whiskey Company.

Day 6: Take a surf lesson and enjoy a beach picnic lunch.

Day 7: Relax and enjoy traditional music and drinks at one of Ballina’s pubs before departing.

Food and Drink Scene of Ballina

Must-Try Dishes

  • Irish Breakfast - Start your day with a hearty breakfast of sausages, bacon, black pudding, and eggs.

  • Seafood Chowder - This creamy soup is made with local seafood and served with brown bread.

  • Lamb Stew - This traditional Irish dish is slow-cooked with root vegetables and served with mashed potatoes.

  • Boxty - These potato pancakes are a popular snack or side dish, topped with smoked salmon, bacon, or cheese.

Local Beverages

  • Irish Whiskey - Connacht Whiskey Company offers tours and tastings of their award-winning whiskies.

  • Guinness - You can’t visit Ireland without trying this iconic Irish stout.

  • Potcheen - This strong, clear liquor made from potatoes is not for the faint-hearted.

Where to Stay in Ballina: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Belleek Castle - This 19th-century castle hotel offers luxurious accommodations and a fine dining restaurant.

  • Ballina Manor Hotel - A charming hotel located in the heart of Ballina, with an on-site spa and fine dining restaurant.

  • Downhill Inn - This family-run hotel offers comfortable rooms and a cozy bar, just a short walk from Ballina town center.

  • The Loft Hostel - This budget-friendly hostel offers clean, comfortable dorms and private rooms, with a shared kitchen and lounge area.

What to Buy in Ballina: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Irish wool blankets and scarves - Pick up a warm and cozy souvenir made from local wool.

  • Belleek Pottery - This delicate porcelain is made in nearby Fermanagh, and is a classic Irish souvenir.

  • Connemara Marble - This green marble is found only in Ireland, and makes a unique and beautiful souvenir.

Local Culture and Customs of Ballina

Locals in Ballina are known for their friendly and welcoming nature. It is important to respect the country’s traditions and customs, such as drinking responsibly and dressing appropriately when visiting religious sites. It is also customary to leave a small tip at restaurants and for other services.

Best Time to Visit Ballina

The best time to visit Ballina is during the summer months (June - August), when the weather is mild and there are plenty of outdoor activities and festivals. However, visitors can enjoy the town in any season, from the cozy pubs and fires in winter to the stunning autumn foliage in the surrounding countryside.

Do’s and Don’ts of Ballina


  • Do try the local seafood and traditional Irish dishes.

  • Do explore the town’s cultural attractions and natural beauty.

  • Do engage with the locals, who are known for their warm hospitality.


  • Don’t drink and drive.

  • Don’t forget to dress appropriately when visiting religious sites.

  • Don’t leave litter or damage the local environment.

Safety and Health

Safety in Ballina

Ballina is a safe town with low crime rates. However, visitors should take common precautions, such as not leaving belongings unattended and avoiding quiet, isolated areas at night.

Health in Ballina

Visitors should ensure they have adequate health insurance and take appropriate measures to avoid contracting common illnesses, such as using insect repellent and washing hands regularly. It is also important to be aware of the dangers of hypothermia when participating in outdoor activities.

Getting to Ballina: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Ballina

  • Ireland West Airport (Knock) - 32km from Ballina, with flights to major destinations in the UK and Europe.

Bus Stations Near Ballina

  • Ballina Bus Station - Located in the town center, with connections to Dublin, Galway, and other major Irish cities.

Other Options

  • Car rental - With car rental, visitors can freely explore the surrounding countryside and nearby destinations.

  • Train - The nearest train station is in Foxford, just a short drive from Ballina.

How to Get Around in Ballina

Ballina is a small town that can easily be explored on foot. Additionally, there are bus and taxi services available for those who prefer not to walk.

Where to Go Next from Ballina: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Westport - This charming town on the Atlantic coast offers an array of outdoor activities, as well as historic sites and a lively nightlife.

  • Achill Island - This stunning island is home to Ireland’s highest sea cliffs, as well as beautiful beaches and traditional fishing villages.

  • Galway City - Explore the vibrant cultural scene of this historic city, with its colorful streets, traditional music, and peaceful canals.


With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and friendly locals, Ballina is the perfect destination for anyone looking to explore the charm and culture of West Ireland. Plan your perfect trip with our comprehensive travel guide and be sure to experience all the town has to offer.