What to see an do in Connemara in Ireland

Connemara is a region located in western Ireland. It is a part of the County Galway and located on the Atlantic Ocean. Some of you might know the famous french song called “Les lacs du Connemara” by Michel Sardou? Well, that song actually talks about this region of Ireland! Also another fun fact: this region is home to the only native pony breed in Ireland, the Connemara Pony. But aside from these interesting annecdotes, the Connemara region is home to some really beautiful landscapes and sights.

In our opinion you should definitely include the Connemara region into your itinerary. And in this post we will show you why! We spend 3 days in this beautiful region of Ireland during our 12-day Ireland roadtrip. For more information on our route, head to our Ultimate Ireland Roadtrip Itinerary.

When is the best time to visit Connemara region?

While we visited in the Connemara region in October, we think it is actually a part of the country that is best visited during the summer months. The Connemara region has lots of great outdoor activities, from hikes to kayaking to beautiful beaches, which are best appreciated during good weather.

How many days should I spend in the Connemara region?

We spend 3 nights in the Connemara region (more details on our accomodations and daily itinerary can be found in our Ireland roadtrip itinerary). However there are also many people who only spend one day here. If you visit during the summer months and wish to do some hiking, kayaking and beach visits, I think 2-3 days are a good amount of time to not rush through this region and still see most of it. If like us, you visit in fall or if you do not wish to do many outdoor activities 1-2 days are probably enough.

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What to do in Connemara in Ireland

Hike inside Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park has a surface of 2.000 hectares and is one of the six Irish national parks. It is home to some amazing hikes. The most famous hike is probably the Diamond Hill Trail. It starts in Letterfrack and takes you up Diamond Hill and down in about 7 kilometers. Compared to other hills inside the Connemara region it is only of moderate size, however it is rather popular due to the amazing views you get from its top. If you are looking for a suitable hike for your time inside Connemara National Park, you can for instance check out the AllTrails website for interesting trails in this region.

We initially planned to hike Diamond Hill, however during our time in Connemara it was very windy and rainy. And so we decided it might be better to not hike up to the peak of a hill where it would have been even more rainy and windy. Also we would very probably not have had any views at all. So, sadly this hike fell through for us.

Connemara Ireland
Connemara Ireland

See the Killary Fjord from the water

Killary Fjord is the only glacial fjord in all of Ireland. A great way to visit this 16-kilometer long fjord is by boat as this allows you to see it in a way that is not possible from land. Near Leenaun you will find a company called Killary Fjord Boat Tours. They offer 90-minute long boat tours on the fjord for around 25,50€ per adult. For more information on their boat tours head to their official website.

This was sadly another activity that fell through for us. Due to the bad weather, the boat tour did not operate when we were there.

Killary Fjord, Connemara, Ireland

Marvel at Aasleagh Falls

Technically Aasleagh Falls are not located inside the Connemara region anymore. But since they are located only a 5-minute drive from Leenaun, I included them in this guide. The amount of water that came through this waterfall when we visited was actually quite impressive. The Aasleagh Falls are mostly known for being one of the obstacles the Atlantic salmon has to face on its return journey from the Atlantic Ocean up the river Erriff. When coming from Leenaun, there is a parking lot just a little further up the street after you spot the waterfalls.

Aasleagh Falls, Ireland

Visit Kylemore Abbey

Initially, Kylemore Abbey was built as a private home for a wealthy man from England. In 1920, Benedictine Nuns purchased the estate and they reside inside Kylemore Abbey until today. The Abbey is located on the shores of Pollacapall Lough and actually makes for a really beautiful view.

Rughly the Abbey welcomes visitors from around 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., however opening hours seem to change slighly from month to month. So before your visit, make sure to check on the official Kylemore Abbey website. The entrance fee for one adult is 16,00€.

Stroll through Clifden

Clifden is considered to be the capital of the Connemara region. It is a rather small town with several little shops, which makes it a great place to stroll around for 1 – 2 hours. We ate a quick lunch at the Upstairs Downstairs Cafe, before making our way to explore the surrounding area of Clifden.

Clifden, Connemara Ireland

Drive the Sky Road loop drive

Starting in Clifden, there is a beautiful loop drive called Sky Road. The whole drive is really short, around 16 kilometers or a little less than a 30-minute drive without stops. However I promise it won’t dissapoint you! There are some really stunning views to be seen along the drive. Especially the “Pointe Amharc Atlantach Fiáin Sky Bothar” viewpoint (Google Maps: GW23+88 Clifden, County Galway, Irland) is worth it.

Sky Road, Clifden, Ireland
Sky Road, Clifden, Ireland

Take a walk on Dog’s Bay beach

Another drive from Clifden which is very much worth it is the drive towards Dog’s Bay. From Clifden you should follow the R341 along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean. After about 20 kilometers or a 26-minute drive you will reach Dog’s Bay. There is a really beautiful white sandy beach located inside the bay. On the other side of this small peninsula there is another beautiful sandy beach called Gurteen Beach. Both beaches are definitely worth checking out!

Dog's Bay, Co. Galway, Ireland

Stroll around Mannin Bay

On our way back from Dog’s Bay we stopped at another beach called “Mannin Bay”. It is located directly next to the R341 as well. This beach is not a sandy beach, even if it appears to be so on photographs. Actually the “sand” consists of many small pieces of coral! During the summer months this spot is great for snorkeling and kayaking.

Spend the night in a Castle

Another highlight of our travels through the Connemare region was our stay at the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel* in Clifden! Actually staying inside a castle in Ireland was part of our Bucket List, so we were happy to be able to tick it off our list on this trip! The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is a 4-star hotel, that was built in 1832.

At 6:30 they hold a reception where you can get a glass of champagne and you can hear a little about the history of the castle. Afterwards they offer a five-course dinner meal inside their restaurant with live piano music! 

The rooms where very clean and spacious. And the people working there friendly! From the interior you can see that the castle has some years under its belt, but I mean that’s what makes the charm of such a castle, no? A stay in this castle is not necessarily cheap, but it also won’t break the bank. What might be a bit more expensive is the dinner, however we decided it was part of the experience and splurged a little that night. We still do not regret having done so.

As a tip: On the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel website they sometimes have offers where you can book a room + dinner included. In the end that would have been cheaper for us than booking and paying for both individually. So maybe look into that!

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