With the wild and rugged landscapes of Ireland’s west coast on its doorstep, Galway City is a great starting point for scenic escapes. From sheer coastal cliffs to remote islands where tradition reigns, here are a few of the best day trips from Galway.
Cong – 26 miles (42 km) away
A charming country village straddling the border between County Galway and County Mayo, Cong enjoys a picturesque setting between two lakes. Little has changed since The Quiet Man was filmed here back in 1951, and traditional thatched roof cottages seen in the film still stand.
Aran Islands – about 28 miles (45 km) away
Reachable by ferry or seaplane from Rossaveal and Doolin, the Aran Islands—Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer—seem to be stuck in a time long passed. Listen out and you’ll hear locals speaking Irish among themselves, pony traps clip-clopping along the road, and the sound of traditional music coming from local pubs.
The Burren – 42 miles (66 km) away
A 62-square-mile (160-square-kilometer) jigsaw of limestone lunar-esque rocks, this unusual region—characterized by karst terrain, crevices, and fissures—may appear bare and barren, but it is in fact teeming with life. Some 700 species of plants and ferns sprout here, with wildflowers putting on a colorful display every spring.
Cliffs of Moher – 47 miles (75 km) away
Located south of Galway in County Clare, this UNESCO World Heritage–listed site is among Ireland’s most famous beauty spots. The wind-worn cliffs extend for five miles (8 kilometers) and rise to a height of 702 feet (214 meters) above the seething and swirling Atlantic waves. Explore the modern visitors center, climb to the observation deck of the 19th-century O’Brien’s Tower, or hike the coastal road.
Connemara – about 50 miles (80 km) away
Encompassing bogland, heath, forests, and several of the Twelve Ben peaks, Connemara National Park presents some of the best hiking opportunities in Ireland. As well as walking trails, the rural Connemara region also has historic attractions including the castle-like Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errilly Friary, one of Ireland’s best preserved Franciscan friaries.