Galway 1-day Itinerary
Rich in history and cultural significance, the county of Galway offers everything from a vibrant city base, to a Gaeltacht area, to Ireland’s only fjord. Those lucky enough to be based in this part of the country will tell you that there is more to see and do than what could be squeezed into a short break. To give you the best chance of ticking some key highlights off the list, we’ve put together a one day itinerary that involves an early rise and a bit of driving.
- Galway City to Oughterard 26 km (27 minutes)
- Oughterard to Clifden 50.8 km (45 minutes)
- Clifden to Kylemore Abbey 18.6 km (22 minutes)
- Kylemore Abbey to Leenane 14.8 km (16 minutes)
- Leenane to Galway City 62.4 km (60 minutes)
Stop 1. Galway City
There is no shortage of holiday homes and Airbnbs spread across the county that can comfortably provide lodgings for you and your family, but for a handy base of operations with suitable road and rail connections it’s hard to beat Galway City.
If you’re up early or have a day either side of your planned excursion across the county, head down to Shop Street before the crowds arrive for a bit of window shopping in this popular tourist area.
There are plenty of historic landmarks that have withstood the test of time in the city including the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas. This 14th century structure is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland.
Continuing your gentle stroll on foot, wander through the winding streets heading southeast, to find the Galway City Museum.
This local history centre is located just beside Wolfe Tone Bridge, which connects visitors to the Salthill area. Here you can access the beach, walk on the promenade and visit Ireland’s National Aquarium. All said and done, Salthill is just a stone’s throw from the city centre, taking just 30 minutes on foot each way.
Why not see if your trip to the city coincides with a sporting event such as a race meet at the Galway Racecourse (15 minutes’ drive from the city centre) or a Connacht Rugby Match at the Galway Sportsground (5 minutes’ drive from the city centre).
Stop 2. A Walk in Oughterard
Departing from Galway City Centre, take the N59 north for 26 km until you reach the town of Oughterard. Situated beside two well-known landmarks of significance, Lough Corrib and Aughnanure Castle, the town has in recent years committed itself to celebrating the heritage of the local area and boosting tourism.
Within the limits of Oughterard is the tranquil townland of Barrusheen. The collection of private piers and docks dotted around this land that sits on the banks of lakes, makes it easy to imagine the integral role fishing had in the local community.
This walk takes you north, away from Oughterard town, before returning on a loop along the lakeside road.
Be careful of concealed entrances, vehicles, livestock and cyclists that may also be using the narrow roads on this route.
Oughterard and Barrusheen Bay
Distance: 9.50 km
Duration: 3 hrs
Starting at the north side of the Owenriff river, head east for 150 metres and follow the road as it curves north.
Continue straight on this road for 2 km. You will enjoy views of open farmland and fields on both sides until the road passes alongside the Newvillage woods.
Continue straight on for another 2 km until you reach a fork in the road. The right turn, heading east (towards Cartoor on the map), will bring you towards the top of the loop.
Stay on this road for 1.2 km, continuing right at the next fork in the road. The water is now on your left as you continue south back towards Oughterard.
For 3 km the road skirts along the water’s edge, occasionally opening up to picturesque views of the lake. As the road leaves the water, you join the Glann Road for another 1 km before joining up with Camp Street, signalling your return to Oughterard Town.
Stop 3. Lunch in Clifden
It can be forgiven if a quick stop in Clifden becomes anything but that. The capital of Connemara, boasts one of the most beautiful coast roads this side of the country, Beach Road. This invitation for a detour is the way to go to find an ideal picnic spot, if the weather is too good to dine indoors. If you’re looking for somewhere to put the blanket down without any risk of sand in the sandwiches, you’ll find endless greenery around Clifden Castle.
If the rain hits while you’re out and about there’s also the nearby Boardwalk Café that makes the most of an unbeatable view.
In the town itself there is no shortage of dining options with Mitchell’s, Manions and Marconi’s often featuring in the top ten lists reviewing the area’s eateries. There’s certainly time for a stroll around the town centre before getting back in the car. If you’re lucky you might even catch a few rays in the Market Square.
Stop 4. Squeeze Kylemore into Your Afternoon
On your way to the last stop of the day, Leenane, be sure to stop at the abbey worthy of Instagram, Kylemore Abbey.
From Clifden town centre, once again join the N59, this time heading north for 18.6 km. If you’ve sat in a coffee shop or restaurant in the county, it’s likely that you’ve seen a watercolour or oil impression of this popular destination sitting pretty on Pollacapall Lake.
We first featured this wonder of the west in our 6 of Ireland’s Most Stunning Views feature. [https://www.osi.ie/blog/stunning-views/]
The structure, is home to an order of Benedictine Nuns and is restored and preserved to a very fine detail. The Abbey is also home to the Victorian Walled Garden, and features several woodland and lakeshore walks.
Stop 5. A Bucket List Sunset
There’s still time for one last reminder of how beautiful this country of ours is on the way back to Galway City, when you pull into the side of the road at Leenane.
The village of Leenane is a stone’s throw from Killary Harbour, which sits on Ireland’s only fjord, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The stunning views from the village also feature Maamtrasna and Maamturk mountains.
Those that have fallen in love with the postcard-like vision before them are often inspired to return to Leenane and enjoy a cruise down the fjord or a guided walking tour along the mountains.
In the summer months Leenane can enjoy sunsets as late as 22:00, making it a popular spot for photographers to setup their tripods.
From here it’s back to Galway City. Take the R336 to Maam and then join the N59 and head east for 42 km until you return to Galway City.
Have we left out some of your favourite things to do in Co. Galway? We’d love to hear your suggestions on our Facebook page.