Located on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is one of the countries most popular cities. It’s known for having authentic Irish ‘craic’ in the form of great pubs, dining, live music and more. There’s lots of things to see and do (much of it for free!) making it a favourite place for travellers to Ireland to visit. Galway is small, but it makes a great base for travellers looking to explore Ireland’s west coast. From the Cliffs of Moher to the Aran Islands, here are the best day trips from Galway, Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are an absolute must-see for any first time traveller in Ireland. They are accessible from multiple cities, including Dublin, but it’s pretty easy to go from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher as it’s only about 1.5 hours away.
It is possible to take a local bus from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher, but it’s long, includes a number of stops, and can be limiting. For that reason, unless you are renting a car (if you are, check out my DIY Cliffs of Moher Guide here), then I recommend taking a guided day trip.
Most day trips from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher are full days that include a stop in the Burren as well. The Burren is definitely worth a visit; it’s an interesting landscape and home to lot of interesting historical sites including the Aillwee Cave. However, if you are short on time, not interested in the Burren, or maybe just not an early riser, there are express tours that visit just the Cliffs of Moher.
The Aran Islands
A visit to the Aran Islands is like stepping back in time. Fishing, farming, thatched cottages, and the Irish Gaelic language add to the old-world charm on these islands. Personally, this part of Ireland is one of my all-time favourites.
There are three islands: Inis Mor, Inis Oirr, and Inis Meain. Inis Mor is the largest of the islands, and the most popular to visit as it has some incredible attractions such as Dun Aonghasa fort and the Worm Hole. To get to Inis Mor, you need to take a bus from Galway town to Ros a’Mhil port where you will catch the ferry to the islands. It’s advised to book ahead of time; so you can visit one of the tour providers in Galway to book your bus and ferry ticket as a package, or book ferry tickets online.
Once at the island, you can hire a bicycle or a horse and carriage ride to take you around the island. Please note that ferry times are specific, there are limited departure times (only 1 each way for most of the year) and travellers need to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure time.
If you like the idea of visiting he Aran Islands, but would rather go with a tour, consider this day trip which includes a trip out to Inis Oirr, a drive through the Burren, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher and, weather permitting, a cruise along the Cliffs of Moher.
Connemara and Kylemore Abbey
Connemara is one of the wildest parts of Ireland; winding roads through the mountains, beautiful lakes, and an innumerable amount of fluffy sheep. It’s pretty impossible to do a DIY tour of the area without a car, but since it’s so stunning it shouldn’t be missed so I absolutely recommend taking a guided day tour.
Kylemore Abbey is a must when exploring Connemara. A fairytale abbey on the shores of a lake, its one of the most scenic places in the county. The beautiful abbey with it’s interesting history, a forest and lake shrouded in myths, and beautiful walled Victorian gardens make it the perfect spot for a day trip.
If you would rather spend your day exploring Connemara’s rugged landscape, hiking trails, and idyllic towns, there’s a day trip for that too. Plus you still get to see the magical Kylemore Abbey along the way.
Western Ireland is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth exploring. Use Galway as your base and take advantage of it’s close proximity to these amazing Irish sites.
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