If you’re looking for an excellent day out in the west of Ireland, going on a Connemara day trip from Galway is undoubtedly one of the best options. While countless travellers will flock south to the Cliffs of Moher or visit the Aran Islands, heading north to the Connemara Peninsula is a fantastic way to see a bit more of rural Ireland and experience the wild beauty that this area of the country has to offer.
If you’re interested in an easy day trip from Galway that gets you outside and enjoying some of the pristine nature that the Emerald Isle has to offer, then heading out on a day trip to Connemara from Galway is the perfect choice.
And if you’re wondering what to do while you’re there, this day trip itinerary will help you plan the perfect day in Connemara.
How to Get to Connemara from Galway
There are a few ways to get to Connemara from Galway depending on what kind of day trip you’re after.
If you’re going independently, you can follow the itinerary below and have a lot more flexibility about which stops you make, how long you spend and where to skip. Otherwise, there are plenty of organised tours for those who don’t want to bother with planning or logistics.
By Organised Tour
If you’re not keen to drive yourself or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle of planning and figuring out what to see and do in the region, heading out on an organised Connemara day tour from Galway is an excellent choice.
For those who’d prefer this option, this full-day tour is a great choice. They will pick you up in Galway before taking you around Connemara and Kylemore Abbey and will also allow you to explore the charming village of Cong – the filming location for the 1952 film The Quiet Man. You can also choose this full-day tour that has a similar route.
Alternatively, this bus tour to Connemara will depart from Galway and focuses more on the countryside of Connemara and includes time to hike in the national park, a drive along the Sky Road and some photo stops at Kylemore Abbey and Cong village with a tour guide. There is also this similar tour that has a comparable route.
And if you’d prefer to go privately rather than in a group, this private day tour will take you all over the highlights of Connemara before bringing you back to Galway.
If you’re already on a road trip throughout Ireland (which is really the best way to get around), then going on your day trip to Connemara is going to be the easiest option. To the entrance of Connemara National Park from the centre of Galway, it’s about a 1.5-hour drive.
Having your own car is incredibly convenient and it allows you to do a lot in the region in just a short amount of time.
You can also enjoy some of the scenic drives that the area has to offer – such as the Sky Road near Clifden and even take in some views of Galway Bay before getting to the region – while being able to go at your own, desired pace. It also gives you the opportunity to get up early and beat the crowds that will inevitably descend at the more popular attractions.
With the exception of Clifden, you can park almost everywhere for free, as well, and even metered parking in Clifden isn’t too expensive so this isn’t a huge worry.
If you’d like to hire a car for your Connemara day trip, then consider browsing Rentalcars.com to compare prices across a number of different car hire companies.
If you want to visit Connemara independently but don’t want to drive, then you do have the option of taking the bus. However, this isn’t the most straightforward option and it can be a bit more hassle than it is probably worth.
For those who want to spend time at the national park, there are buses from Galway City to the town of Letterfrack, which is the closest town to the park entrance and walk to the park from there (it isn’t too far). You can also get buses to Clifden.
Connemara Day Trip Itinerary
If you’re going on your Galway to Connemara day trip independently by car, then the route below is ideal for enjoying the highlights of the region in just one day!
Of course, it’s impossible to fit everything in within the confines of a single day trip, but the itinerary below will ensure you leave Connemara with plenty of great memories.
Connemara National Park
Begin your trip to Connemara in, arguably, the most popular place to visit in the region – Connemara National Park. This lovely national park is located just outside of the town of Letterfrack and it is the perfect place to visit to really enjoy some of the unique and wild natural scenery of the area.
Try to get here as early as possible because it is a popular place to visit and the car park can fill up later in the day. Parking and entry are free and there are also plenty of toilets and a tearoom on-site, as well as a visitors centre.
The highlight of visiting the national park is walking around and there are several well-marked walking trails from the visitor’s centre that you could embark upon depending on your mobility, fitness level and/or time constraints. If you have an average level of fitness, however, we would recommend walking the Lower Diamond Hill loop at the very least.
This 3 km-long loop is well-marked on a well-defined (and often paved) pathway. It has some mild uphill moments and you are greeted with spectacular views over the park and the wider Atlantic once you reach the top. Expect the hike to take around 1 hour.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can also continue onto the Upper Diamond Hill loop which will take you to the summit of Diamond Hill and provide even more spectacular views. This is a more strenuous hike but worth it if you want to spend more time enjoying the splendours of the national park.
For those looking for something less, there is also a 1 km-long loop that cuts the Lower Diamond Hill loop in half and is much easier for those with limited mobility or a lesser level of fitness. There are also a handful of other easy trails, all well-signposted and mapped out at the park entrance.
After spending a magnificent morning enjoying the national park, your next stop should be another of Connemara’s most iconic attractions – Kylemore Abbey.
This Benedictine monastery was founded in 1920 and is set on the grounds of the beautiful Kylemore Castle – a picturesque stately home that overlooks a tranquil lake (or lough in Irish).
You can take the time to tour the castle and see some of the restored rooms while also wandering around the Victorian walled gardens and taking advantage of some of the woodland trails around here, as well. Entry into the abbey is €16 per person, with concession tickets available.
Now it’s time to head to the capital town of Connemara, lively and lovely Clifden. This colourful town has a lot to offer and it’s well worth taking the time to explore a little bit. There are plenty of cute shops and quaint streets and it’s a great place to pick up a local souvenir from your day trip.
This is also a great time to break for lunch. Clifden is home to a number of great restaurants and pubs serving up tasty local fare. If you’re after a gastropub, then consider heading to Guy’s Bar. Alternatively, Mitchell’s is a pop option for fresh local seafood.
Not far from Clifden is another great addition to any Connemara day trip – the Sky Road loop.
This scenic driving loop is located just north of the town and is an essential stop on the Wild Atlantic Way – the coastal route in the west of Ireland that spans from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to the town of Kinsale in County Cork.
Driving the Sky Road takes about 30 minutes total and on it, you’re graced with beautiful views of the Atlantic and the offshore islands. It’s the perfect place to really enjoy all of the incredible scenery that this area has to offer.
At about the halfway point of the driving route, there is a stop-off point that provides ample parking and excellent views, so even the driver can get out and enjoy the scenery. It’s also perfectly acceptable to go slowly and pull over where safe to take in your surroundings.
Dog’s Bay Beach
While beautiful, white sand beaches may not be the first thing that springs to mind when visiting Ireland, that is exactly what you will get on a visit to Connemara.
Located in the south of the region just outside of the village of Roundstone, Dog’s Bay Beach is one of the most beautiful in the region and – dare I say it – all of Ireland.
If you’re fortunate enough to visit this incredible beach on a sunny day, you would be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived in a tropical paradise (though the temperatures may give it away). This beach is absolutely stunning and very much worth visiting.
It also sits on a peninsula with another white sand beach – Gurteen Beach – on the other side. If the tide is low, you can walk from one to the other to really enjoy this gorgeous place.
End your day trip to Connemara in the charming fishing village of Roundstone – a great place to grab a pint or dinner before heading back to Galway. Roundstone may not have much, but there are a few restaurants and pubs in the town, a cute pier and a lot of charm.
If you’re looking for a good place for a bite to eat and a pint, then consider heading to O’Dowd’s. This pub specialises in fresh, local seafood but they also have a great, cosy atmosphere and it’s a great place to unwind after a long and busy day trip.
Have More Time?
Ideally, if you have more time than a simple day trip, it can be worth it to spend a couple of days taking in all of the great things to do in Connemara. Not only could you spend more time enjoying the hiking trails in the national park, but there are a number of other things to occupy your time.
First, make sure to explore the beautiful Killary Fjord – which is the only fjord in Ireland. There is where a lot of local seafood (such as oysters and mussels) comes from and you can also take a boat tour out on the fjord itself.
Speaking of oysters, you could also take the time to visit an oyster farm! Some of Europe’s best oysters come from this area of Ireland and you can learn all about them (and taste some!) at a local oyster farm.
You also can take the time to take in the beautiful sites in the inland area of Connemara, including taking the time to drive through the Inagh Valley and enjoying the scenery surrounding Lough Nafooey.
Finally, make sure to take the time to visit Omey Island. This beautiful little island is only accessible at low tide when the beach turns into a causeway to cross over to this island.
Where to Stay in Galway
The Stop B&B – This cosy bed and breakfast in Galways’s cool Claddagh neighbourhood is the perfect base for exploring the city and for heading out on day trips. They have a number of bright and clean rooms on offer and a wonderful breakfast included each morning. Click here to check their availability
Park House Hotel – This luxe hotel on Galway City’s Eyre Square is an excellent option for those looking for a more upmarket stay. They have a range of lovely rooms on offer and plenty of great amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to check their availability
The Western Citypoint Apartments – These flats are a great choice for those who want their own space while visiting Galway. They have a great, central location for exploring all the city has to offer and come fully furnished with everything you may need during your trip. Click here to check their availability
Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel – Solo and budget travellers will love this centrally-located hostel that’s situated near Eyre Square. As one of the top-rated hostels in Galway City, they have both dorm and private rooms on offer and also include breakfast. Click here to check their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Galway hotels!
Planning a Connemara day trip from Galway is a great way to explore the nature and beauty of rural County Galway within easy reach of the big city.
Are you planning to visit Connemara? Have any questions about this day trip? Let us know in the comments!