The Connemara region of Ireland lies in the northwest corner of County Galway. This area is often noted for boasting some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland and also offers a number of interesting attractions to explore. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, a scenic drive, the chance to explore indoor sights or perhaps all of the above, you’ll find a wealth of opportunities here.
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Hike Connemara National Park (Nearby Hotels)
One of the best ways to experience Connemara National Park is to get out for a scenic hike with everything from short and sweet treks to challenging multi-day walks. Enjoy a quick, approximately half-mile stroll, on the Ellis Wood Nature Trail which begins near the Park Office and features a picturesque waterfall along with a variety of trees, plants and wildflowers in the summer. The Diamond Hill Loop Walk starts from the visitor center and covers a little over 4.3 miles. It takes two to three hours to complete, and from the summit, you’ll look out to the sea Tully Mountain rising over Ballynakill Harbour. the Twelve Bens and even the turrets of Kylemore Abbey.
Visit Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden (Nearby Hotels)
One of the most popular attractions in Ireland, Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden includes a magnificent 19th-century castle turned abbey, Neo-Gothic church, pottery studio, craft shop, scenic woodland walks and a restaurant. Located in the heart of Connemara along the shores of a beautiful loch, the abbey was originally built as a castle in 1868 by Mitchell Henry, in memory of his late wife Margaret. Its most famous feature is the miniature cathedral, a Neo-Gothic church.
The Quiet Man Bridge (Nearby Hotels)
One of most photogenic filming locations from 1952’s iconic “Quiet Man” starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, the Quiet Man bridge lies about five miles west of Oughterard off the N59 and looks much the same as it did nearly 70 years ago. Even if you aren’t a fan of the film that effectively launched the tourism industry in Ireland, it’s an ideal spot for photographs.
Tour and Taste at the Connemara Smokehouse (Nearby Hotels)
At the family-run Connemara Smokehouse in Ballyconneely, located between Clifden and Roundstone, you can pick up some of the most delicious smoked fish for a picnic and much more. Enjoy the gorgeous landscape and take a tour during the summer months to learn about hand filleting and traditional preparation, slicing and packing of wild, organic salmon. The various smoking methods will be explained as well, and it’s all capped off with a tasting.
Ride a Connemara Pony (Nearby Hotels)
Connemara is renowned for its breeding of the Connemara pony, and visiting this region brings the opportunity to enjoy pony trekking, or what most Americans refer to as horseback riding. The Point Pony Trekking & Horse Riding Centre in Ballyconneely is located along the Atlantic Ocean and offers rides on postcard-perfect stretches of sand, and through the open countryside with the Twelve Ben Mountains providing a breathtaking backdrop. Rides are available for beginners and children six and above, as well as the more experienced.
Inishbofin Island (Nearby Hotels)
Inishbofin Island is located just six miles off the Connemara coast, accessed by ferry from the fishing village of Cleggan. The crossing takes just 30 minutes and it makes for an ideal day trip with spectacular scenery that includes white sandy beaches, sea stacks, seal colonies, rugged cliffs and abundant rare flora. It’s also has a very rich history, providing an extraordinary opportunity to delve into the some of the region’s most well-preserved heritage, from ancient burial grounds and Bronze Age landscapes to a ruined 13th-century church on the grounds of an original 7th-century monastery and Cromwell’s 17th-century fort.
Brigit's Garden (Nearby Hotels)
Brigit’s Garden is an award-winning Celtic garden that offers a magical adventure into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology. One of the top spots to visit in Ireland’s west, the garden is widely regarded as one of the country’s most breathtaking, set within 11 acres of wildflower-filled meadows and native woodland. It also includes an ancient ring fort AKA fairy fort, a nature trail, thatched roundhouse and crannog, and Ireland’s largest calendar sundial.
Brigit’s Garden is very family-friendly with a kids’ discovery trail, a natural playground and lots of opportunities to explore. It also includes an on-site café and gift shop.
Connemara Heritage and History Centre (Nearby Hotels)
The Connemara Heritage and History Centre is an award-winning heritage center located about four miles from Clifden, open from April through October. It’s based around the restored pre-famine cottage of Dan O’ Hara who was forced to emigrate in the mid-19th-century when he was evicted from his home. It includes his home, an interactive farm museum and reconstructions of a ring fort as well as a clochan (dry-stone hut). Visitors can also watch turf cutting demonstrations and get up close to the farm’s Connemara ponies, cattle, sheep, chickens and a few friendly donkeys.
Patrick Pearse’s Cottage (Nearby Hotels)
This small restored cottage located along the Wild Atlantic Way, was used as a summer residence by Patrick Pearse, the leader of the 1916 Rising as well as a summer school for his students from St. Enda’s in Dublin. While its interior was burned during the War of Independence, it’s been reconstructed and features exhibits and multiple Pearse mementos. You’ll learn all about his legacy and some of the things that drew him to the area, including the history, unique landscape and the ancient Gaelic culture and language, something that’s still alive here today. Knowledgeable local guides are on hand to answer questions about the Connemara region’s fascinating culture.
Coral Beach (Nearby Hotels)
Visiting the Coral Strand, situated at the edge of Mannin Bay near Ballyconneely, is a must, even if you come for photographs. It’s made up of fine coral sands that make it look as if it should be in the Caribbean, and in the summer, it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing dip with the water a little than other beaches in the area. Snorkeling and kayaking are popular here as well.