The 6 Best Day Trips from Galway, Ireland

Day trips from Galway

Located on Ireland’s west coast, Galway is a great place to use as a base to experience some of the most beautiful places in Ireland. Galway is my favorite city in Ireland, with plenty of things to do in its own right. But since Galway is a part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the city can serve as a gateway to get out into the natural beauty of Ireland. These day trips from Galway will help you see some of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions. 

Plus, with Galway as your base, you’ll return from your adventures to a lively city filled with plenty of pubs, cafes, and live music to enjoy in the evening.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a tiny bit of income if you decide to make a purchase or booking.


Ireland travel resources

This is the sixth post in the Ireland Travel Series. Here is the complete 6 part series:

Ireland Travel Series

Ireland Itinerary: Discover the Best of Ireland with this 7 Day Ireland Itinerary without a Car

Travel Tips: What Not To Do In Ireland: Avoid These Tourists Mistakes in Ireland

Packing Tips: The Only Ireland Packing List You Need for Any Season

Dublin: The Ultimate Guide to 2 Days in Dublin

Cliff Walks: A Day Trip from Dublin: The Bray to Greystones Walk

Galway's Long Walk seen from across the river with white swans in the river.
Base yourself in Galway for awesome day trips around the Wild Atlantic Way

How to Get Around Ireland

As you plan your Ireland itinerary, you are likely wondering about the best way to get around Ireland. There are multiple options for traveling around the country and the best option will depend on your travel style, budget, and length of your trip.

Ireland by Car

Many people love Irish road trips, and while it’s on my Ireland bucket list, I’ve been 8 times and not once have I rented a car. Although, after renting one for my Scotland road trip, I’m currently planning my own Ireland road trip!

Without a car, I’ve been able to see all of the beautiful places in this post and beyond with a combination of public transport and group tours. 

The pros of renting a car in Ireland are that it increases the flexibility of your itinerary, allows you to see more rural areas, and go at your own pace. The cons of renting a car are that it is significantly more expensive than using public transportation, navigating narrow roads on the opposite side of the road (if you’re from the US) is intimidating, and finding parking in cities (parking is always the worst). 

Ireland by Public Transportation

You can see a significant amount of the country with a combination of trains and buses. With careful planning, you can even get to more rural areas of Ireland. 

The pros of public transport are that it’s a budget-friendly way to see the country, you don’t have to worry about driving narrow roads or getting lost, and they’re clean, safe, and have WiFi. I love catching up on sleep on these bus rides when I’m not staring in awe out of the window at the beautiful Irish landscape.

The cons of utilizing public transport are that you must rely on the bus or train’s timetable, you can’t pull over and stop at something that looks interesting, and it could take much longer and include multiple bus/train changes to get to your destination.

Ireland by Group Tour

A third option for checking off these Galway day trips is a group tour. 

Group tours are great ways for solo travelers to meet other people, typically include multiple attractions in one day, and the tour guide provides a bit of history you may not otherwise learn. However, the cost can add up, and you’re still subject to the tour’s timetable.

I’ve done a few guided day tours from Galway and really enjoyed all of them, so a mix of these three ways to get around Ireland may help you build a well-rounded itinerary.

Top 6 Day Trips from Galway

Now that we’ve gotten some of the logistics out of the way let’s get into the best day trips from Galway.

Marvel at Cliffs of Moher

I usually don’t tell people they have to do something on their trips, but I will say that you have to visit the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, with over 1 million visitors per year.

Located in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher rise out of the Atlantic Ocean to the dramatic height of 702 ft just beyond O’Brien’s Tower. From the highest point and in good weather, you’ll have spectacular views across the Atlantic all the way to the Aran Islands.

To be totally honest, the biggest downside of visiting the Cliffs of Moher is that it’s very possible you’ll have a foggy day with poor visibility. 

But you should still go! Just be prepared for windy conditions and dress accordingly. 

Also, stay away from the edges of the cliff!

Cliffs of Moher in Clare County at Sunset
Cliffs of Moher at Sunset | c/o Deposit Photos

How to See the Cliffs of Moher

There are many ways to get to the Cliffs of Moher on a day trip from Galway. The drive from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher is 1.5 hours. 

Cliffs of Moher Guided Tour

The first and easiest way is to book a guided tour from Galway. The day tour will provide transportation to and from the Cliffs as well as interesting stops like the unique limestone landscape of the Burren and lunch in the charming town of Doolin

The downside of this is that you’re on someone else’s schedule, and you may not have enough time at the Cliffs of Moher, the main attraction, in my opinion.

Cliffs of Moher Tour Recommendation: Full Day Tour to the Cliffs of Moher from Galway. It also stops at the picturesque Dunguaire Castle in Kinvarra. 

Cliffs of Moher via Public Transport

The second option is to take public transit to the Cliffs of Moher. There are multiple departures on Bus Eireann to the Cliffs of Moher daily. Take the 350 route on Bus Éireann, which leaves the coach station near Eyre Square to the stop for the Cliffs of Moher car park.

Visiting the Cliffs of Moher via public transit allows you to spend more time walking along the Cliffs – away from the tourists – at your own pace. 

You could even time it so you catch the sunset at the Cliffs of Moher! I highly recommend this if possible. Just make sure you don’t miss the bus back to Galway.

The cost of these options is roughly the same as food is not included in either option nor is the cost of admission to the Cliffs of Moher.

  • A day tour will cost around €40 while adding on extra sites. 
  • The return bus journey costs €30. 
  • €8 ticket to the Cliffs of Moher.

Visit this website for more information about planning your trip to the Cliffs of Moher.

Cliff of Moher and O'Brien's castle on a clear day
Cliff of Moher on a clear day

Check out the Other Worldly The Burren National Park

The Burren National Park, located in County Clare, is 250 acres of craggy limestone landscape. While the landscape appears barren, there are a wide variety of plants that grow in the cracks of the limestone. The Burren is also a place of historical significance with ancient tombs, caves, and ring forts.

How to Get to The Burren National Park

The best way to get to the Burren from Galway is by driving. It will take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the amount of stops you make. You can park at Corofin and take a shuttle into the park.

Bus Éirrean does serve nearby towns such as Doolin and Lisdoonvarna. From there you might be able to take a taxi into the park, but it’s a bit tricky when you’re short on time.

Alternatively, you could take a guided tour from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. Most of these Cliffs of Moher tours include a stop in the Burren. It’s a great way to see many main attractions in the same day without having to figure out public transport. The cost of the tour would likely be around the same once you figured out how to DIY it on public transport.

Cliffs of Moher & Burren Guided Tour Recommendation: Full Day Tour to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren from Galway

The unique flora of the Burren National Park.
The unique flora of the Burren

Experience Traditional Irish Culture on the Aran Islands

Second to the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands are a must-visit when in Ireland.

The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located in Galway Bay. From largest to smallest, the islands are Inishmore (Inis Mór), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin), and Inisheer (Inis Oírr).

The islands are a place where you’ll get a true glimpse at Irish culture, as the Irish language is still spoken by many islanders. You’ll also receive the warm welcome and generous hospitality that Ireland is known for.

The landscape on the islands is also quite spectacular and very unique to the west coast of Ireland.

The only downside is that you’ll likely only be able to fit a trip to one of the islands into your itinerary. 

So which island should you visit?

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll find on each island and how long the ferry will take you to reach the island. No matter which island you choose to visit, renting a bike is the best way to see it!

Inishmore – Inis Mór

Inishmore is the most popular Aran Island for a day trip from Galway as it’s the closest and has over 50 historically significant sites. Plus, spectacular scenery, dramatic cliffs, and puffins!

Inishmore was the first island I visited on my first solo trip to Ireland, and I spent one of the best days in Ireland exploring it by bike. If you only have time for one island, let this be it. 

The sailing time to Inishmore from Galway is approximately 40 minutes. I recall the ferry ride out to the island being incredibly choppy, but the way back was smooth!

Things to do on Inishmore Island:

  • Kilronan Village is the main port and town of Inishmore. Here, you’ll find bike rentals, shops, restaurants, and accommodation.
  • Dún Eochla is a stone ring fort located at the highest point in Inishmore. It offers 360o views of the island.
  • Dún Aonghasa is the ancient ruin of a stone fort on the southern side of the island that shows human activity dating back over 2.5 thousand years.
  • Worm Hole is a rectangular-shaped pool that Irish people use as a swimming pool when the tides are right. Red Bull has used the Worm Hole in the past for their extreme cliff diving events.
  • Joe Watty’s Pub is a must-visit for lunch and a pint before sailing back to Galway.
Cliffs of Inishmore the largest Aran Island
Cliffs of Inishmore | c/o Deposit Photos

Inishmaan – Inis Meáin

Perhaps the least visited of the three islands, Inishmaan has held on to its Irish traditions well. If you really want to get away from it all and experience traditional culture, then Inishmaan may be right for you.

The sailing time to Inishmaan from Galway is approximately 50 minutes. 

Things to do on Inishmaan Island:

  • Dun Chonchuir is an oval fortress with sweeping views of Inishmaan and neighboring islands.
  • Church of St. Mary Immaculate is a church built in the 1930s. It’s famous for its stained glass windows.

Inisheer – Inis Oírr

While Inisheer may be the smallest of the three islands, it should certainly not be discounted. I actually prefer it over Inishmore because it’s so small you could easily see all of it in a day and truly relax into a slower pace of life. 

The sailing time to Inisheer is approximately 55 minutes.

Things to do on Inisheer Island:

  • Plassey Shipwreck: A ship crashed onto the rocky shore of Inisheer in the 1960s, and local islanders saved all those aboard the ship. The rusted hull of the ship remains there today.
  • O’Brien’s Castle is the ruins of a castle that once stood watch over the islands. There are great views from its hilltop location.
  • Ancient Ruins include Temple Chaomhain, Cnoc Raithni, and St. Edna’s Well. 
  • Tigh Ned is a great pub and right across from the port. The perfect place to relax with a pint while waiting for the ferry back to Galway.
Plassey Shipwreck on Inisheer Island
Plassey Shipwreck on Inisheer Island

How to Get to the Aran Islands

No matter which Aran Island you choose to visit, your trip starts with Aran Island Ferries. Their office is just opposite Galway’s new coach station. They can help you decide which island to visit and provide you with additional information for a smooth trip. 

With the purchase of your ferry ticket across to the islands, you’ll also get transportation to and from Galway City Center to Rosaveal (the dock). 

A return ferry ticket costs €30. 

A bike for €10 to see all of the sites.

Sitting on the limestone cliffs of the Aran Islands.
Riding a bike down the lane on the Aran Islands.

Visit Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is a 33-bedroom stone grey castle built by a wealthy man for the love of his life and his family during the Irish famine. The estate is set on the side of a lush green mountain overlooking a lake, surrounded by 1,000 more acres of beautiful scenery in Connemara.

The Abbey began as a home for the Henry family and provided work and sustenance for the locals as they recovered from the famine years. In the 1920s, a group of Benedictine nuns settled here and started a school for girls. Today, it is a Benedictine monastery run by those nuns.

Also on the land is a stunning 6-acre Victorian Walled Garden, and a short walk from the Abbey is a gorgeous Gothic church. The inside of the church holds the remains of Margaret and Mitchell Henry – the couple who built the castle.

I suggest starting your visit with tea and a treat from the tea room. Afterward, make your way to the beautiful Victorian Walled Gardens and visit the small house where the head gardener once lived. 

The inside of the Abbey is beautiful. Placards are posted that provide details of its history. You’re only allowed to visit the first floor, as the rest of the Abbey is still in use. Then, walk to the small but gorgeous Gothic church.

Kylemore Abbey set amongst lush green trees in Connemara.
Kylemore Abbey | c/o Deposit Photos

How to Visit Kylemore Abbey

The drive from Galway to Kylemore Abbe is about an hour and 15 minutes. 

If you don’t have a car, the best way to see Kylemore Abbey is with a day tour from Galway. There are a number of companies that run Connemara day tours, all of which include a couple hours stop at the Abbey – which is all of the time you need.

Along with the stop at Kylemore, you’ll get to see the rugged and wild landscape of Connemara National Park, Killary fjord, and stop at smaller towns like Cong to get a feel for life in Connemara.

A day tour will cost around €25-50.

Kylemore Abbey Day Tour Recommendation: Kylemore Abbey, Connemara + Cong from Galway

If you really don’t want to do a day tour, you would have to take a bus from Galway to either Clifden or Letterfrack Village, route 923 on CityLink. Once in Clifden or Letterfrack, connect to the 423 bus which has a bus stop at the entrance of Kylemore Abbey. 

A single bus ticket from Galway to Clifden is  €16

Me standing in front of the Gothic Church at Kylemore Abbey
Gothic Church at Kylemore Abbey

Explore Clifden

On a recent trip to Ireland, I spent a few days in the charming town of Clifden. While I was there, I realized Clifden would also make an excellent day trip from Galway as it’s a short drive or bus ride away, and there are many fun things to do in Clifden while you’re there.

Clifden is a small town known as the capital of Connemara as it sits beneath the Twelve Bens mountain range in Connemara. If you’re looking to get outdoors for some hiking or a refreshing bike ride, Clifden is the perfect place for nature lovers.

When you arrive in Clifden, you can spend about an hour exploring Clifden town, which has great cafes and restaurants, cute shops, and, of course a number of fun pubs for traditional music.

After exploring Clifden, stop by Clifden Bike Shop to rent an electric bike to cycle the stunning Sky Road. Along this road you can stop at Clifden Castle, beautiful beaches, and enjoy the panoramic views of the wild west coast of Ireland. 

Clifden Castle in Clifden Ireland

How to Get to Clifden

The drive to Clifden is absolutely stunning. It will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to get to Clifden from Galway along the N59 route.

Clifden is also accessible with the CityLink or Bus Éirrean bus service. The bus ride takes about 2 to 2.5 hours from Galway City, and the bus stop in Clifden is in the heart of the main town. A return ticket costs approximately €20.

Go Hiking in Connemara National Park

Connemara is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland. Connemara National Park includes a varied landscape of bogs, mountain peaks, and stunning lakes. 

There are four marked hikes in Connemara National Park: The Ellis Wood Nature Trail (accessible), the Struffaunboy Trail (easy), Lower Diamond Hill (moderate), and Upper Diamond Hill (hard!).

Diamond Hill is one of the most popular hikes in Connemara. If you’re up for it, the climb rewards you with stunning views from the summit. Each hike begins from the visitor center near the village of Letterfrack.

When you’re done with your hike, you can check out the small village of Letterfrack and have a refueling meal at one of the pubs.

Coast of Clifden, Ireland.

How to Get to Connemara National Park

If you’re driving, you’ll follow the N59 route to the Connemara National Park visitor center, where there is a parking lot. It will take you about 1.5 hours without any stops. 

There is also a bus stop in Letterfrack village about a 15-minute walk to the visitor center from the bus stop. You can take the CityLink route No.923 from Galway for an enjoyable 2-hour journey to Connemara. 

Things to do in Galway, Ireland

In between your day trips, you’ll have some time to explore the fun things to do in Galway. Here are a few of my favorite things to do in Galway that are also very budget-friendly.

  • Enjoy a pint: There are many pubs in Galway, and most have traditional music every night of the week! A few of my favorites are Tigh Neachtain, Tigh Colli, The Crane, and O’Connors in Salthill.
  • Have a nice meal: Galway is also full of great restaurants for every budget. For breakfast, I love Ard Bia at Nimmo’s for breakfast, Kai Cafe for a nice meal, Handsome Burger for a delicious cheeseburger, and Dough Bros for pizza!
  • Visit Galway City Museum: This is a free museum that details the history of Galway, all the way from the Galway tribes to the city’s sports!
  • Listen to Buskers: Galway’s Latin Quarter is filled with buskers up and down the main street. On a nice day, grab a pint from a pub to enjoy it outside while listening to the music and people-watching.
  • Walk Salthill Prom: I love grabbing a tea from one of Galway’s cafes and taking it with me on a walk along Salthill prom all the way to the Blackrock diving pier.
The shops of Galway's Latin Quarter
Shop in Galway’s Latin Quarter

Where to Stay in Galway

As Galway is your base, here are few great places to stay in Galway for every budget.

The Nest Boutique Hostel: I stay here every time I visit Galway. It’s clean, the dorm rooms are en-suite with stunning bathrooms, there is a large kitchen if you want to cook, a nice continental breakfast every morning, and lovely people work here. There’s also a coffee shop in the lobby, and it’s just up the road from O’Connor’s Pub. Seriously, book here! They have private rooms as well!

Check rates, reviews, and book here.

The House Hotel: This boutique hotel located in the Latin Quarter is a great option for more traditional accommodation in Galway. The rooms are modern and you can add breakfast to your stay if you’d like. 

Check rates, reviews, and book here.

The Stop B&B: This contemporary bed and breakfast looks absolutely stunning and is a place I’d like to stay on my next trip. It’s located in Galway’s hip west end area, has a beautiful locally sourced breakfast included, and it’s reasonably priced.

Check rates, reviews, and book here.

These Galway day trips show that while Galway is a beautiful destination in its own right, it also offers an ideal place to base yourself to explore more of the beauty of Ireland. You can witness the heights of the Cliffs of Moher, hike the trails of Connemara, and escape to islands while enjoying the lively city in between the adventures. I hope this post inspires you to get out of the city a bit and find a greater connection to Ireland.

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Best Day Trips from Galway Ireland
Day trips from Galway Ireland
Galway Ireland day trips

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