Day Trips from Galway
By Viator, May 2015
Cliffs of Moher
The rugged beauty of the famous Cliffs of Moher has become an iconic image for postcard Ireland, soaring 214 meters over the Atlantic Ocean and offering views across Galway Bay and the distant Twelve Bens mountain range. Located just south of Galway in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are a listed UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, carved out around 320 million years ago by a gigantic river delta, and running for 8km from the village of Doolin to Hags Head. Climb to the observation deck of O'Brien's Tower for a view from the cliff’s highest point or hike the coastal road, a Special Protection Area for Birds and home to hundreds of Common Gulls, Chough, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffins.
Ireland has no shortage of natural scenery, but the peculiar topography of the Burren is one of its most unique landscapes – a giant jigsaw of rocks, stretching over 160 square km. Sculpted through thousands of years of acidic erosion, the karst terrain is characterized by its jutting rocks and gaping fissures, but the Burren is also home to an impressive array of native fauna. Around 700 different species of plants and ferns flourish between the rocks, including many rare varieties, making it a popular spot for botanists as well as geologists.
Just west of Galway city and sprawling along the foothills of the famous Twelve Bens mountain range, the Connemara National Park is a hotspot for hikers and mountain bikers. Tackle the Glencoaghan Horseshoe route, which winds around the Twelve Bens and scales the biggest peak or get a view from the more-manageable 400-meter-high Diamond hill; visit the exquisite Kylemore Abbey, one of Ireland’s most famous historic buildings, perched on the Kylemore lake; or explore Ross Errilly Friary, one of Ireland’s best preserved Franciscan friaries. Keep your eyes peeled for the herds of native Connemara ponies and wild mountain goats that call the park home.
Reachable by ferry or seaplane from nearby Rossaveal or Doolin, the historic Aran Islands also make a worthy sojourn from Galway. Visiting the three islands - Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer – is like stepping back in time, where Gaelic-speaking locals make their living off selling handicrafts (the island’s traditional Aran Sweaters are sold all over the UK) and pony traps are the main method of transport. With the largest island stretching for just 12km, it’s easy to walk or cycle around the small islands, stopping off at sights like the 16th-century castle once used by Oliver Cromwell’s troops, the cliff-top Dún Aenghus fortress and one of the world’s smallest churches.
A visit to Doolin is often combined with a tour of the nearby Cliffs of Moher and The Burren, but to fully experience the lively coastal village you need to stick around in the evening hours. Renowned as the capital of the traditional Irish music scene, the village’s three historic pubs host an array of nightly live music and Irish dance performances. While you’re there, check out the Doolin Cave, with its 7-meter long stalactite, or take a detour to the nearby Dunguaire Castle, where medieval-style banquets are held in the summer months.
Tours & Tickets
Location: Galway, Ireland
Duration: 8 hours
Location: Galway, Ireland
Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes