What to do on a day trip to Connemara from Galway

Connemara is a peninsula along the Atlantic coast in Ireland that is riddled with rugged, untouched beauty. Bucolic pastures, low hills jutting into the blue ocean, narrow roads through the countryside, and small towns with a laidback lifestyle, a day trip to Connemara from Galway is the perfect way to explore this rural part of the country and mingle with the locals.

Although we were greeted with rainy and cold weather during the initial part of our trip (not uncommon in Ireland), we felt blessed to see the sun in the last few days. It was the perfect weather we needed to take this day trip to Connemara. Given a choice, one can spend way more time in this rustic district of Ireland however, as usual, I had to fit my itinerary into one day and make the most of the time we had.

We took the day trip to Connemara from Galway with pit stops to enjoy the idyllic landscape, have a drink or simply take in the beauty. Here are my suggestions on the route to take and the stops on the way.

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day trip to Connemara

Day trip to Connemara- Breakfast in Spiddal (30 min)

Google maps will show you a shorter route to reach Connemara National Park but the purpose of this day trip to Connemara is to enjoy the beautiful drive rather than reach the destination. We decided to take the longer (and more scenic route) along the coast and came upon this very cute breakfast place in Spiddal, a coastal fishing village on the Galway Bay. Pádraicíns Bar & Restaurant is a maritime-themed bar, located on the coast, with lovely views of the sea. Unlike more other bars, it was open for (and serving) a traditional Irish breakfast, along with other options of course. The perfect start to the day!

Optional: Spiddal Craft Village

Nothing is more authentically rural Irish than this cute little craft village in Spiddal. Home to local artists making unique crafts with stained glass, contemporary paintings depicting aspects of life in Ireland, porcelain and paper crafts drawing from Irish mythology, this is where you can pick up some traditional yet quirky gifts and souvenirs.

day trip to Connemara

Read about Driving the Ring of Kerry in Ireland.

Gurteen Beach, Roundstone (1 hour)

To be honest, I included a visit to this scenic coastal town only for its unparalleled beaches. Thanking my stars for the sunny weather, I wanted to make sure that I would get to see some lovely waters and walk barefoot in the white sand. When I saw pictures of Roundstone, I was instantly mesmerized. I knew I wanted to go there!

day trip to Connemara

Although Roundstone Harbour is quite lively, with several boats constantly going in and out, you need to cross this place and move ahead towards one of the most picturesque beaches I have ever seen! White sands, black rocks, and crystal clear blue waters are what make this beach a treat for the eyes and absolutely Instagrammable! If you find the water too cold to swim, simply walk along the beach and climb the rocks to enjoy views from a vantage point. Lucky for us, there were not too many people around. There is no feeling like having a stunning place, all to yourself!

day trip to Connemara

day trip to Connemara

day trip to Connemara

There aren't any cafes or restaurants on site so make sure to carry a picnic and drinks. There is, however, a public toilet so you don't need to worry about that.

Lough Inagh (30 min)

The drive through Inagh Valley is a magical one. Laced with glacial lakes such as Lough Inagh, set in the backdrop of mountains, rivers and grazing sheep, the road has several 'photo stops' and you're bound to want to stop very often! A day trip to Connemara, no matter where you're driving from, has to include the drive through woodlands and Inagh Valley has been rated as one of the top scenic drives in the country. Majestic mountains, boat houses, fishermen, farms, and lakes are what make this area seem almost like you're in a painting.

day trip to Connemara

day trip to Connemara

day trip to Connemara
Lough Inagh, Connemara

day trip to Connemara
Inagh Valley Drive

Read about What to do in Dublin in 48 hours

Connemara National Park & Kylemore Abbey (15 min)

If you're doing a day trip to Connemara, you may not have enough time to explore Connemara National Park and it's hiking trails. Nature lovers, hiking enthusiasts and adventure seekers will find themselves spoiled for choice with scenic routes and trails beginning from the Visitor Centre.

However, if you're short on time, you must visit the hidden historical gem located in the heart of the park - Kylemore Abbey.  I had seen enough pictures of this spectacular architectural wonder but when I walked in to the abbey's grounds, the first view of the castle-turned-abbey made it seem so surreal. A black and white, lake-side baronial structure seemingly small in the green mountainous backdrop, forms a dramatic image.

day trip to connemara
Kylemore Abbey

Unfortunately, you can visit only 5 rooms on the ground floor of the abbey but the exhibits on display give an insight into the history of the abbey, which was once a castle, and the Victorian way of life. Constructed originally in 1867 as a castle, Kylemore Abbey's history is riddled with romance, tragedy, spirituality, innovation and education. A fascinating audio visual presentation takes place inside one of the rooms in the abbey, which is a great way of learning about the past and present owners. A free guided tour also takes place three times a day.

The stunning building was constructed by a wealthy cotton merchant from Manchester, England and still houses the remains of his beloved wife, who died too early for her age, in the a beautiful memorial Neo-Gothic church on the shore of the lake about a mile from the castle, where he eventually joined her. After you've visited the abbey, I recommend you to take this short walk to the church, which is quite impressive as well.

day trip to Connemara

Having being passed from one family to another, the castle eventually landed with the Benedictine Nuns, the current owners, who ran it as an educational institution for a while before it caught fire and almost burned down completely. The rooms and Walled Victorian Gardens were eventually restored to their current glory and open to the public. Today, Kylemore Abbey functions as a self-sustaining working monastery.

You can choose to explore the extensive woodland around the abbey or enjoy a lakeside walk through the beautifully manicured estate. On the other side of the abbey, you can visit the Victorian Walled Gardens which are very unique because they grow plants and vegetables which grew in Victorian times.

day trip to connemara
Victorian Walled Garden

There is a cosy and traditional tea house in the vicinity of the Victorian Walled Garden which offers home-cooked food from the recipes of the Benedictine nuns. Do try their freshly baked scones and hot chocolate! Another restaurant where you can have lunch or pick up some sandwiches, is near the entrance. The Arts & Crafts shop is a good place to buy some Irish souvenirs.

Back to Galway ( 1.5 hours)

This marks the end of your day trip to Connemara. Drive back to Galway through the shorter route or the more scenic one along the coast. Visit one of the many amazing Galway pubs at night for some live music and dancing.

110 thoughts on “What to do on a day trip to Connemara from Galway”

  1. Amazing photos and greeneries!! I would love to visit this place one day! Here in Asia we just know, Dublin when they say Ireland! I’ll keep this one in mind when our visa is approved to visit the UK! I love the picnic idea!!!

  2. I don’t know much about Ireland and I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of Connemara before! Thanks for opening my eyes to someplace new. It looks stunning! I would especially love to see Lough Inagh for myself in person

  3. All the blue and green tones make my heart beat faster! I loved visiting the west coast of Ireland but im gutted I didnt get much time there! I loved Galway but this road trip would have been another great addition!

  4. Your pictures remind me of our trip to Ireland last year – such a stunning country! We didn’t make it to Connemara, but your photos sure do make me want to go back to see what area. Gurteen Beach looks blissful, and I love the idea of the craft village in Spiddal!

    1. Connemara is a hidden gem! But I’m sure you came across a few others yourself 🙂

  5. You managed to see so much in a day! I don’t know how you ever left that beach though because it is so stunning! The whole Irish countryside is pretty stunning though. I’d love to visit Kylemore Abbey. I especially like that they offer free tours.

  6. Connemara looks stunning, and you were so lucky with the weather! Kylemore Abbey is definitely on my list, but it is a shame you can only visit part of it. The view from across the lake is worth it for me though! I seriously need to go to Ireland asap!

  7. I’ve been to Galway before but not around the Connemara peninsula, and I missed out. What a stunning region, especially on a gorgeous sunny day. The coastline and waters look almost tropical! And the abbey is particularly photegenic.

  8. What a spectacular trip this is! The little village is adorable! The color of the water in Roundstone was surprising to me. I’d have to fit that in as well! Sounds like a great drive. I’ll have to save this!

  9. This day trip looks so scenic and gorgeous. Love the Gurteen Beach for its pristine waters. The picture of the Abbey reflection in the lake is so gorgeous. And you are so right when you say that the valley is one of the most scenic places. In fact, that valley reminded me of certain stretches in Ladakh. I so want to do this road trip like you

  10. Everything is picture perfect but Kylemore Abbey really stunned me! I went googling for more photos of it, it is just really beautiful, and what’s inside does not disappoint! I really should plan my Europe tour soon!

    1. It really does look like a painting, with that backdrop and the lake, doesn’t it 🙂

  11. It is really sad that I missed visiting Ireland when I was in UK. Both Galway and Connemara look interesting. It would be amusing to visit the library in Connemara and compare it to the ‘Connemara Library’ in Chennai which was founded by the British when we were a colony.
    I totally miss the gorgeous beaches of UK. Gurteen looks so gorgeous.

    1. Oh wow I didn’t know there’s a Connemara Library in Chennai, that’s really cool 🙂

  12. Spiddal Craft village looks just out of a painting. So colorful and creative. Connemara National Park as well as the castle seem stunning. Great clicks. Glad to know that there’s so much to cover in a day trip.

  13. I would have loved to make this full trip! I however loved the water and how blue it was driving on the west coast. Galway was such a beautiful town…i truly FELT I was in Ireland once I arrived there. Great read, thanks!

  14. I would absolutely love to take a day trip to Connemara when I finally get to visit Ireland. You managed to see so much in one day. I am especially drawn to the beaches of Roundstone. It’s not how I imagined Ireland. The Inagh Valley looks beautiful too.

    1. I was pleasantly surprised to see a white sandy beach with such lovely blue waters too! Hadn’t thought I’d see one of those in Ireland.

  15. This is like a dream. I have been wanting to go to Ireland for so long now. Your post on Connemara makes me include in itinerary. Good break up of time to visit. What a beautiful trip, dreaming of a road trip there.

  16. What gorgeous landscapes and such vibrant colors. You did a great job capturing the natural beauty. Kylemore Abbey is stunning. I’d love to visit it personally. How was the home cooked food from the Benedictine nuns?
    Great trip!!

    1. It was good. They also had hand-made chocolates which were amazing. You’re right – it was a great trip.

  17. You’re so right – Roundstone is very instagram-worthy! I’m impressed by all the beautiful colours on this route. Such a lush, green route. Gorgeous!

  18. Looks like you eventually got some beautiful weather for this drive! I’d definitely want to stop at Spiddal to pick up gifts — I love quirky little craft villages like that.

  19. There is nothing about this trip from Connemara from Galway that doesn’t sound amazing (even with the threat of rain and cold occasionally). Honestly, I had no idea the area was that gorgeous. Even though access sounds limited, I would love to explore Kylemore Abbey. And I love that you got your new wooly friend to pose for the photo. 🙂

  20. Ireland is on my bucket list and this place looks so beautiful in your pictures. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post, this really helps.

  21. Oh my, this is like a dream. I so want to go to Ireland and Connemara is now one of the places I just have to visit, including Kylemore Abbey. What a beautiful trip. I was just curious to know if there’s public transport that goes here since I don’t drive.

    1. Yes, of course, it is a top tourist destination so you’ll find ample connectivity. You can surely get a bus from Galway, the only downside being that you won’t be able to enjoy all these spots which are on the way to the Abbey. It’s a great trip to take anyway.

  22. I’ve always have a thing for castles! From the first picture I’ve already smitten by the beautiful architecture of Kylemore Abbey. A road trip around Ireland has been one of my dreams for ages. And after seeing your stunning pictures, I really can’t wait to explore it soon. Thanks for sharing these informations. Without reading your post I wouldn’t have known that Kylemore Abbey exists 😀

  23. Ireland is one of those countries where I want to rent a car and to make a road trip. Thanks for the tips, I need to save your post to include this in my trip, it’s definitely worth of it! 🙂

    1. I agree it’s a road trip destination for sure! I’ll be writing a post on Driving in Ireland – what to expect, soon. That’ll be helpful if you’re planning a trip.

  24. Wow I’d never have guessed those coastal photos were taken in Ireland!! This has really inspired me to go, it seems like the perfect mix of beautiful scenery and historical buildings/towns!

  25. What a wonderful drive! Ireland looks so beautiful, especially Abbey Castle. I would love to explore the grounds and learn all about it’s history. Thanks for sharing!

  26. I lived in Ireland (Dublin) for almost two years, and went to Galway for a weekend, but only decided to do Connemara as a bus trip one day. I wish I had rented a car and been able to take my time driving around because from this post I missed a lot. The water at Gurteen Beach looks like it could be from the Caribbean or something. I did get to Kylemore Abbey, which was pretty spectacular to see. Ah well just another reason to go back to Ireland.

    1. Even a day wasn’t enough to be honest. There was so much more to see in Connemara. But it’s always like that, with people like who have limited vacation time, we have to do short trips and make the most of them.

  27. A rare occasion when the term “Azure” can be used perfectly without any exaggeration. ANd great to see such bright sunshine. I always thought the weather does not cooperate in these regions. What a great location for Kylemore Abbey.

    1. The weather was great, though only for half the time we were there. We made the most of it while it lasted.

  28. This is such a scenic road trip. I love the fact that the trip gives you ample scope to enjoy the journey. Your pit stops too are complete destinations in themselves. Gurteen Beach looks really gorgeous and so does Spiddal Craft Village. What a lovely slice of the Irish countryside.

    1. It was a long day but such a fulfilling one 🙂 Given extra time, it might make sense to do it in 2 days instead.

  29. Ireland has been on my bucket list and I hope to tick it off real soon. Loved your post and pictures. So close to nature 🙂 Keep Glittering, Love TGA by Misha <3

  30. Ireland has been on our list for a long time. But I never imagined there would be beaches like that in Roundstone. Will have to plan a summer visit after all. Thanks!

    1. Yeah. I’d say summer would be a good time to go, even though the weather can be quite cold and windy even in the summer.

  31. Sign me up for a day hiking in Connemara National Park. I would love to hike out to Kylemore Abbey and explore the rooms and see the exhibits. It would be fun to just hike all day.

    1. I wish I had more time and did not have to do this trip in a day. Staying overnight in Connemara and exploring the National Park would have been a great thing to do, with more time on hands.

  32. There is a certain charm in unexplored places. I am a fan of offbeat destinations. Connemara looks like a pretty destination, far from the urban whirligig. Be it the lakes, the mountains, the beach, I am sure there is no dearth of photo opportunity here. I will recommend this to a friend of mine too.

    1. That’s great, thanks! And yeah, it’s offbeat and quite untouched. That’s why I loved it so much!

  33. Love it! I have always wanted to visit Ireland. The Abbey and the victorian walled garden look like great places to visit. I bet the food was really good.

    1. Kylemore Abbey was fantastic, like a painting. The food in Ireland, in general, was really good 🙂

    1. You mean was Ireland expensive? Well, yes, as compared to most of the other European countries, I’d say.

  34. Gurteen beach! Absolutely instagrammable! whenever I see posts of beaches, makes me wanna go to the beach right away! Love this Gurteen beach to the highest level! But somehow too cold to swim in? Ah, doesn’t matter! having a picnic here would be an ultimate day for me!

    1. Yeah, a picnic here under the bright sun, with views like that, is a great idea!

  35. Such a beautiful place and your photographs did justice to this place.
    Kylemore Abbey is located at such a wonderful place and Inagh Valley drive looks like an experience to remember.

  36. I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland and Connemara looks so quaint, but also full of history! This is definitely going on my Ireland bucket list. It looks like the perfect place to roam around the countryside stopping for breathtaking views.

  37. I wish I knew about Roundstone beforehand! Gosh the white sand beaches and vibrant blue waters are mesmerizing! Note to self to rent a car next time I visit Ireland.

  38. We have done parts of Northern Ireland but are yet to make it to Ireland. We had a booked an organized tour but driving on own is definitely a great way to explore the countryside. Your pictures look stunning especially the Gurteen Beach and the Kylemore Abbey. The Lough Inagh is magical indeed.

    1. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to drive through these magical scenes 🙂

  39. Now that is a picturesque day trip to Connemara from Galway. I am fascinated by the Abbey Castle. It looks beautiful and will be a great way to learn about some history. The views at Gurteen Beach too are breathtaking. Great pictures and writeup.

  40. Wow! I always had this impressions that Ireland was always dark and gloomy, with miserable weather. But you seemed to have such beautiful and sunny weather. Connemara looks and sounds wonderful and I totally would have taken the longer way to get there too! Roundstone Harbour looks incredible, and I am loving the color of the water!

    1. I had the dark and gloomy weather for the first half of my trip as well! Luckily, the sun came out a few days before I was meant to leave 🙂

  41. I love Ireland, but have not made it to the area around Galway yet. It’s great to read about your day trip to Connemara, because this would be right up my alley. I love the Irish countryside, and what you shared about Spidal, with the crafts and Kylemore Abbey — I really see more than a day’s worth of exploring, particularly to photograph the Abbey at say, sunset.

    1. Oh that would be a wonderful thing- to photograph the abbey at sunset (though you’d have to do it from far, they close the gates by 6 pm and the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm in summer!). I agree you could spend more than a day exploring Connemara and maybe stay the night there rather than coming back to Galway if you’re not limited on time 🙂

  42. Aaaw my beloved Ireland, land of beautiful landscape and fantastic people! I lived in Dublin for a while and used to travel around the island a lot, I remember visiting Connemara National Park and Kylemore Abbey, truly stunning! I completely missed Gurteen Beach tough, and am taking notes now for a future trip 🙂

    1. Wow, you lived in Dublin, that’s awesome! I’m sure you explored a lot around while you were there.

  43. What a beautiful day trip to Connemara from Galway. It is a perfect nature trip with a bright blue sky, green grass, and clear waters. What else, one need for a holiday. That colorful Irish village looks like a fairy tale town. I loved the Neo-Gothic church surrounded by green hills. Thanks for sharing detailed day trip post as Ireland is high on my wish list!

  44. Wonderful day trip to Connemara! The monastery is a must visit for me especially after knowing the history. The pictures from your drive through Inagh Valley are truly magical! I always prefer road trips, they take you through such mesmerizing scenes.

    1. Absolutely, especially when you’re in a country that’s as scenic as Ireland.

  45. This looks lovely. For some reason, I just haven’t got round to exploring Ireland and I really should. I should try and get there while the weather is still good!

    1. It’s still summer, though the weather is pretty much unpredictable throughout summer as much as it is in winter, that’s what the locals told me!

  46. I love love love Ireland! I didn’t make it to Connemara when I was there, and what a shame! The Gurteen Beach is so magical, and most people wouldn’t associate sandy beaches with Ireland. The drive to Lough Inagh is beautiful, and wonderfully remote too. This really is a picture perfect place to visit, and an excellent itinerary to follow.

    1. I hadn’t imagined I’d come across such a beautiful sandy beach in Ireland either- but then I stumbled upon it while reading about driving in Connemara and I knew I had to get there!

  47. As I age, I find more and more appealing small towns and countrysides than big cities and tourist spots.
    Actually, I have never been into skyscrapers, asphalt, and crowds.
    Beautiful nature is what’s been fueling my spirit the most.
    Thank you for introducing me the gorgeous nature of Connemara.

    1. That’s me – don’t care much about big cities, love countryside and nature 🙂

  48. Ireland is just so pretty isn’t it – a green like no other! I haven’t been to this part at all so it’s really useful to have an itinerary – I know Galway is somewhere I really should visit! Kylemore Abbey looks stunning – it’s a shame you can’t see more of it!

    1. I know, I wish more of Kylemore Abbey was open to the public but a lot was destroyed!

  49. My hubby and I are planning a trip to Ireland next year. Posts like these are a great resource! I’m leery of driving in Ireland, but it looks like tourists do it every day!

    1. I was a bit apprehensive myself but it was amazing to drive there! The roads were narrow and windy, yes, but its not that hard to manage. The local people are quite patient on the roads and know how to maneuver around the tourists 😉

  50. What a beautiful destination! I’m so glad I came across your post because Ireland is quite high on our bucket list. The good thing is that Connemara is not even far from Galway, so you can explore it without going out of your way too much. There seem to be so many photographic opportunities here. I love the idilic setting Kylemore Abbey and I am surprised to see so inviting beaches in this part of Europe. Was the water very cold?

    1. Yes the water was freezing! But there were some kids playing in it so I guess as long as the sun is out and you don’t mind cold water, you can always go for a swim 🙂

  51. I missed out on doing this peninsula last year on my road trip around western Ireland. I really wanted to see the abbey by the lake but never got that far and I think the day I would have done it, it was raining hard. So it looks like you had the better deal by the photos. 😀 Fantastic read and I hope to get back out there soon (as its the island next door to me, not that far) 😀

    1. Oh rain is not uncommon in Ireland, is it 🙂 But you’re lucky that you live close by, you can go back anytime!

  52. Ooohh.. This looks like an amazing day trip! Glad that you were able to enjoy some warm weather. The views are amazing! Especially those at the Gurteen Beach and the Lough Inagh.

  53. Looks like wonderful place for a driving holiday in Ireland. I love the green landscape and the intriguing buildings, such as Kylemore Abbey. Last time I was in Galway was for the Galway Oyster Festival. It was such a hoot.

    1. Galway Oyster Festival sounds pretty cool! And Kylemore Abbey was the highlight of our visit to Connemara, it’s a must see place!

  54. It has been many years since we went to Ireland. Your sunny sky pictures were great to see. And certainly are not the countryside I remember. I love the colourful buildings in the small town of Spiddal. The beaches at Roundstone look like the Caribbean and not the north Atlantic. It would be great to do a picnic there. I can see why the drive through the Inagh Valley is so highly rated! Definitely a spot to consider on an Ireland itinerary!

    1. If the water wasn’t freezing, I would’ve loved to take a dip in the sea! There were a few kids playing, but the water was too cold for me!

  55. I love the way the colours pop in the craft village of Spiddal. I always enjoy browsing at places like this especially when the items for sale are creative and interesting. Quirky gifts are exactly what I look for when I travel so I have bookmarked the post.

    1. I love local arts and crafts markets too, I make sure to visit them wherever I go 🙂

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