Not only is Galway one of my favorite cities in the world, it’s a great starting point for some of the best road trips in Ireland. The famous Cliffs of Moher are a brief drive away, while a short boat trip will take you out to the Aran Islands. The whole west coastline is known as the Wild Atlantic Way with traditional Irish villages and grand seascapes just waiting to be discovered, and Shannon area offers a chance to explore one of the best-know of the many castles in Ireland. You’ll be surprised how much of Ireland you’re able to see when you start in Galway.
Road Trips from Galway
A Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip
2,500km of legendary coastal roads make up the Wild Atlantic Way. Running from Donegal to Kinsale, you can marvel at jagged cliff faces, quaint villages, rolling waves, and blazing sunsets along this once in a lifetime journey. The best thing to do is rent a car and drive along this coastal route.
Images of Sky Road pulled me towards the Wild Atlantic Way. There are very few places in Ireland which can rival the rugged beauty seen from Sky Road, which is part of the Wild Atlantic Way. It was my favorite day trip in Ireland.
There is a car park at the highest point of Sky Road so you can stop to enjoy the view. For an extra special afternoon, pack a lunch and enjoy it while taking in the scenic views of the Kingston peninsula.
As part of your journey along the Wild Atlantic Way, Kylemore Abbey is a haven of history, beauty, and serenity.
You can tour the ground floor of this fairy tale castle; the rest of the Abbey is a private residence for the nuns that look after it. On the castle grounds, you can explore the beautiful Gothic church and the astounding walled gardens.
Even if you choose not to purchase a ticket to go inside the abbey, you can walk around the lake, take in the abbey views, and stop for some food at the cozy pub located on-site.
Cliff of Moher
The most spectacular day trip from Galway is to the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland’s most visited attractions. There is nothing like standing on top of the Cliffs of Moher to truly get the Ireland experience.
The Cliffs of Moher tower over the rugged West Clare coast, and the view is one of the most beautiful in the world. The combination of white cliffs and rugged coast make for an unforgettable landscape.
Burren National Park
Burren National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Burren and feels a little like visiting the moon. The word “Burren” comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place. The name couldn’t be more appropriate considering the lack of soil and the extent of exposed limestone pavement and stone forts.
It’s possible to visit Burren National Park and the Cliffs of Moher during the same day road trip or experience them separately if you have extended time.
Entry is free and there are both driving and walking trails to explore the park.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park gives you the opportunity to visit the most complete and authentic castle in Ireland.
The site on which Bunratty Castle stands was in origin a Viking trading camp in 970. The present structure is the last of four castles to be built on the site.
At Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, you can take a tour of the iconic fortress, experience life in 19th-century Ireland, and enjoy stunning views across the Clare countryside. With over 30 buildings, including grocery stores, homes, and tradesmen’s studios, you can stroll along the village street, browse the shops, and have a drink in a traditional pub. Learn about the lifestyle of a bygone era while chatting to costumed characters.
Near Bunratty Castle is JP Clarke’s rustic country pub, which features reclaimed flagstone floors, timber beams with brick and stone walls and open fires. Here you will find a great pint, friendly chat, and lively entertainment on the weekend.
The Aran Islands consist of 3 islands just off the Galway coastline, Inis Mor, Inis Meain, and Inis Oirr. They lay at the mouth of Galway bay, and you’ll have to ferry there for your day trip.
These islands are overflowing with natural beauty, culture, and excavated ruins and artefacts that date back to the Bronze Age.
The few residents that live on these isolated yet beautiful islands still speak the traditional Irish language, as well as English.