2 Day Road Trip Itinerary: Galway to Clifden
You can’t beat the west coast of Ireland on a sunny day! Even when the weather takes a turn, the green mossy hills that blanket the landscape would bring a tear to the eye. You can drive for hours but all roads lead to cosy firesides, friendly pubs, restaurants serving delicious food, and hotels with stunning views to get out of bed for!
This trip can be completed in two or three days for weekend road trippers, or it can be stretched into a week if you want to take a more ambling approach to the drive.
Looking for a place to stay? You can stop in any of the Maxol hotels along the way be sure to check them out for some fantastic deals.
Day 1 - Start at Galway
This road trip starts in Galway. Why not spend the night before in Galway city? Enjoy the hustle and bustle, and great goings on in this musical and culinary city. Book a great value deal at the Victoria Hotel Galway from Maxol Breaks. Located just off Eyre Square so you won’t be too far from anything! Fuel up at the Maxol Westside on the Seamus Quirke Road before heading off.
Galway City >>> Salthill: 1.4KM (4 mins)
Situated right on the Salthill promenade, you will be right in the centre of the action.
If you’re bringing the kids, there’s plenty to do in Salthill. You’ll be surrounded by stunning beaches and if it rains, Galway Aquarium houses the largest display of sea and freshwater life in the country! Or you can re-enact the infamous “Teresa Mannion” video on the promenade?
Salthill continues to grow and the once small fishing village is now a thriving modern resort, boasting its own microbrewery in the Oslo Gastro Bar, Fuel up at the Maxol Whitestrand in Lower Salthill as this is the last Maxol until you reach your destination. Fancy a stay? Book a great value deal at the Salthill Hotel from Maxol Breaks.
Salthill >>> Barna: 6KM (10 mins)
Your next stop will be the quaint seaside village of Barna. A popular destination for walkers, families and nature lovers, Barna Woods is a beautiful woodland that is home to the last natural growing oaks in the west of Ireland.
If you’re more Baywatch than Bear Grylls, head on over to the Silver Strand, one of Galway's most popular (blue flag approved) beaches. Here you can inhale fine views of the Burren Hills in Co. Clare and the Aran Islands plus there are lots of foodie delights for lunch such as the Pizza Dozzina at the Twelve Hotel.
Barna >>> Spiddal: 10.9KM (13 mins)
Spiddal has one of the largest Irish speaking settlements in the country, so it’s a perfect stop for brushing up on your “cupla focal!” In Spiddal there are two main beaches, one is situated behind the pier and is suitable for fishing, the other Trá na mBan proudly holds the blue flag status.
If you’re looking to try out something new, you have to visit the Ceardlann Craft Village! Here you can see traditional Irish crafts being made, guaranteed Irish from skilled local artisans. They also run a range of workshops so you can try your hand at candle-making, leather work, pottery, bodhran making and more.
When you’re ready to move on, follow the signs for Rosmuc take a break at the residence of Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. The house has recently been restored and is worth a visit. Follow the coastline around as it offers spectacular views out to sea and inland to the mountains.
Spiddal >>> Roundstone: 74.3KM (1 hr 15 mins)
On your way you’ll pass the villages of Carna, Toombeola and Ballinahinch before arriving for a night’s stopover in Roundstone. The longest part of the first day’s drive, and oh what a treat is in store! Select your favourite uplifting and inspirational music for the drive, and “go n-éirí an bóthar libh” as you enter the Connemara Gaeltacht proper. (In our car, we have a rule of Irish speaking only while we’re in Gaeltacht lands - it quells the ‘are we there yets’ from the back seat!)
Roundstone is a very arty little village. Check out Roundstone Music & Crafts where they make bodhrans. Or if ceramics are your thing, you’ve simply got to drop into Roundstone Ceramics. It’s run by a husband and wife who are both artists and visitors love the unusual creations ‘straight out of the oven’ at direct from the artist prices.
There’s a great pub in Roundstone called The Shamrock which is renowned for its toasted sandwiches. It also does a great dinner menu so you might plan to hang out here and stay in Roundstone overnight.
Just past Spiddal you’ll come to the town of Inverin from where you can take a short flight across to the Aran Islands. Or you hop on a ferry from Rossaveal which is quite closeby! The three Aran Islands make a brilliant detour and if you have the time, are well worth an overnight stay.
Time to get back in the car and start heading out towards Ballyconneely. This delightful peninsula, jutting into the Atlantic, contains some of the most tranquil and untouched countryside anywhere in the country. And it’s here you’ll find Bunowen Castle which dates as far back as Napoleon. Pop out of the car, have a look, then continue on for twenty minutes to get to the Alcock & Brown landing site.
If you’ve read the book “Transatlantic” you’ll know all about this historic moment! The first non-stop transatlantic flight started in Newfoundland and ended at Errislannan in Connemara. Alcock and Brown were the daring aviators and there are monuments constructed to commemorate this moment.
Ballyconeelly >>> Clifden: 10.2KM (15 mins)
You’re nearly at your destination, but with the vast landscape dragging you in, there’s no need to rush! You’ll continue the coastal route around Derrigimlagh bog, part of the famous Wild Atlantic Way. This spot is also home to the first permanent transatlantic radio station. As you’re deep in the heart of the Connemara, look out for a “lovely horse” (as immortalised by Father Ted) also known as the Connemara pony! How can anyone ever forget that moment when Ted and Dougal were in the Eurovision?
This part of the drive will bring you up around Ardagh where the views of the Atlantic Ocean will guide you into down into the perfectly beautiful little town of Clifden.
Congratulations, you have reached your destination. Welcome to Clifden!
You’ll probably want a little break after all that scenic driving! Lowrys in Clifden is the number one spot for travellers to sit back, relax and enjoy some of Ireland’s finest fare. But there are plenty of food optionis in this colourful and lively town that’s literally bursting with cafes, fine restaurants, quaint Irish pubs, souvenir shops and boutiques!
No trip to Clifden is complete with a tour of the Sky road - a 12km route that traces a breathtaking loop out to the township of Kingston and back down to Clifden. There are several lookout points where you can park the car to really take it all in! Now that you’ve reached the sky it’s time to come back down to earth again and no better way than a tour of the valleys. All of the countryside around Clifden is magical and wild. You are sure to be seduced by the wild Connemara mountains which open up to the Maam Valley - the place where the film “The Field” was short!
We hope you enjoyed this drive. Thanks to everyone on Facebook for the suggestions and the route. We’ll be back soon with more!