If you are going to be visiting the West of Ireland and staying in the beautiful Galway City, you might be turning your attention to other places you can visit while there. Perhaps you won’t have transport but still want to explore more of the West of Ireland. With my list of the best day trips from Galway, you can explore more than just the capital of the west of the Emerald Isle.
Whether you are looking for a great Aran Islands day trip from Galway or are hoping to join a Connemara tour from Galway City, you’ll find plenty of ideas here. All of these places can be reached without a tour if you prefer to explore at your own pace and can easily be added to your own itinerary for Ireland. They are also located less than two and a half hours from the centre of Galway City, with most of the journeys less than an hour and a half long.
*This post contains affiliate links, which may include Amazon affiliate links. To read more about affiliate links, please visit my Disclosure Policy page.
Best Days Trip from Galway
Cliffs of Moher
The most popular day trip from Galway to take is one to the Cliffs of Moher. As one of Ireland’s most popular and beautiful tourist spots it is easy to see why. Sheer cliffs falling into the Atlantic Ocean below as waves crash upon them, disturbing the birds that somehow nestled among them.
The distance to the Cliffs of Moher from Galway is 78 kilometres (48 miles), a journey of around one and a half hours, depending on the time of year and traffic in the area.
Shaped over millions of years, the Cliffs of Moher are in County Clare and welcome over a million visitors every year. Running for 14 kilometres (9 miles) from Hag’s Head in the south to O’Briens Tower in the North, they stand at a height of 214 metres (702 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean at their tallest.
On a clear day visitors can see as far as the Aran Islands in Galway Bay and even some of the Twelve Bens Mountain range in County Galway. There is a visitors’ centre where you can also discover more about the Cliffs and the flora and fauna of them through interactive, multimedia displays and exhibitions.
The Cliffs of Moher are free to visit, but there is a fee for parking at the site car park which includes entry to the visitors’ centre. There are some other parking options in the area that are less than the main one (and sometimes free), and visitors can walk to the Cliffs from these points. But be warned, during peak seasons, these other parking options fill up very quickly.
If you are looking for a great Cliffs of Moher tour from Galway, join this tour from Galway City. This 8-hour day trip from Galway visits the beautiful Dunguaire Castle, before exploring the Burren and then on to the Cliffs of Moher. Click here to book your spot now!
The Burren National Park
One of the best day trips from Galway, Ireland is to the Burren National Park in County Clare. Covering approximately 1,500 hectares, the Burren is a unique landscape and is another great day trip from Galway.
The distance from Galway City to the Burren National Park is 49 kilometres (30 miles), taking around an hour by car or bus.
The Burren is a unique karst landscape comprised of mountains, bogs, forests, grasslands, and heaths. Despite being the smallest of Ireland’s National Parks, it is popular with visitors to the West of Ireland who come to see its lunar-like landscape of barren grey limestone.
Formed millions of years under ancient seas and then forced upwards, the Burren was declared a National Park in 1991. It contains a range of flora and fauna, some of which can be seen along the many trails and hikes that visitors can enjoy. The Poulnabrone Dolmen, which is 5,000 years old, is located in the park as well as ring forts to visit such as the Iron Age stone fort of Cahercommaun.
There is a visitors’ centre open seasonally from April to September where you can learn amore about the region and its inhabitants.
Many of the day trips from Galway to Cliffs of Moher will include a stop in the Burren National Park. This tour combines the Burren, Cliffs of Moher and part of the Wild Atlantic Way. Click here for more details and to book this tour.
Visitors to the West of Ireland often add a day trip to the Aran Islands from Galway to their itinerary. These islands off the coast are located in Galway Bay and are another popular destination on a day trip from Galway City.
From Galway to the Aran Islands, it takes around an hour to an hour and a half to reach the islands, depending on the route the tour takes.
Many tours depart from Doolin, a pretty town that is worth spending some time in, and the ferry takes around 30 minutes to reach the Aran Islands. There are also ferry companies departing from Rossaveal Ferry Terminal, 37km west of Galway City, if you don’t want to join a tour group. Find out more here.
The Aran Islands consist of three islands off the West coast of Ireland with Inishmore being the largest, followed by Inishmaan, and Inisheer, the smallest. As well as enjoying the scenery, visitors can enjoy walks and hikes across the islands, visit stone ring forts such as Dun Aonghasa, ruined monasteries and churches, and even pick up a coveted Aran jumper, a great souvenir from Ireland.
There are a few day trips from Galway to Aran Islands to choose from. This one visits the smallest of the islands, Inisheer as well as the Cliffs of Moher. This tour visits the largest of the Aran Islands, Inis Mór, as well as the Cliffs of Moher. Click here to book the Inisheer tour and click here to book the Inis Mór tour.
Ballycroy National Park and the Céide Fields
Ireland’s newest National Park is the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, located in County Mayo, and it is another great place to visit during a day trip from Galway. Famed for its bogs, this National Park covers an area of 11,000 hectares.
The Ballycroy National Park is 123 kilometres (76 miles) from Galway City, a journey of approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes. This location is the furthest from Galway in this pick of top day trips from Galway.
This National Park is dominated by both the Nephin Beg Mountain range and the Owenduff Bog, one of the last intact active blanket bogs in Western Europe. This National Park has many walks and trails suitable for visitors of all abilities, along which you can enjoy the flora and fauna of the area including peregrine falcons.
45 minutes north of the National Park are the Céide Fields, an archaeology site in north County Mayo described as one of the most extensive neolithic sites in Ireland. It contains one of the oldest fields systems in the world along with megalithic tombs.
Both sites can be explored during a day trip from Galway, although there are no dedicated tour groups to visit these sites. These are best visited yourself by car.
Another one of the popular Galway day trips is to the beautiful Kylemore Abbey on the edge of Connemara. Originally a castle, it became a monastery in the early 1900s and is now a popular place to visit in County Galway.
Located 77 kilometres (48 miles) from Galway City, the journey to Kylemore Abbey will take between one hour and 15 minutes to one hour and 30 minutes, depending on the route taken.
Kylemore Abbey is a Gothic mansion built originally as a castle. Irish Benedictine nuns bought the abbey and grounds in 1920 after being forced from their abbey in Ypres in Belgium during World War I. The abbey housed a school for girls until 2010.
Visitors can enjoy walks around the grounds including a walled Victorian Garden, a Kitchen Garden, and more. There is a Visitor Experience in the Abbey detailing the lives of those who lived there, and daily guided tours for those who have time to join one. The neo-Gothic Church can also be visited as can the Mausoleum. It is a beautiful place in County Galway to visit and can easily be explored both with a tour group or independently for those who have their own transport.
Connemara National Park
A Connemara day trip from Galway is another activity to do if you are looking to spend a day exploring more of the West of Ireland from the city. This region of the Emerald Isle covers a large part of County Galway and includes the Connemara National Park.
Connemara National Park visitor centre (the gateway to the park) is located 82 kilometres (51 miles) from Galway, a journey of around one hour and twenty minutes.
The National Park has an area of 3,000 hectares and is one of the most rugged of the Irish National Parks. The park includes the Twelve Bens Mountain range, part of the Wild Atlantic Way Drive and woodland, heaths, and bogs. The park originally formed part of the lands of the Kylemore Estate.
Access to the park is via the village of Letterfrack and visitors can enjoy walks and hikes, megalithic tombs, and there is a visitor centre open from march to October with displays about the park. If you are really lucky, you might also spot some of the Connemara ponies in the park.
Connemara National Park is a great day trip to take from Galway and is often combined with visiting Kylemore Abbey or the next destination on our list.
There are a number of day trips from Galway to Connemara but to discover the most of this National Park of Ireland, this full day trip from Galway to Connemara includes a hike up Diamond Hill. Click here to see the latest prices, availability and to book your spot.
At the border between County Galway and County Mayo, you will find Ireland’s only fjord, Killary Fjord, also known as Killary Harbour. This flooded valley is 16 kilometres long and 45 metres in depth at its deepest.
Killary Fjord is located 75 kilometres (47 miles) from Galway City, a journey that will take approximately one hour and twenty minutes by the most direct route.
This fjord was formed by a massive glacier millions of years ago, moving from the land to the Atlantic Ocean. There are old walkways along the southern side of the fjord and visitors can also see the remnants of a famine village along the banks.
Hiking the surrounding mountains affords spectacular views across the fjord, and there are boating tours visitors can take during the months of April to October. The fjord travels inland to the town of Leenaun, where you can find a few places to enjoy refreshments (or a pint or two).
The tour which is highlighted for Kylemore Abbey also visits Killary Fjord. Click here for more information.
Lough Key Forest Park
Another one of the best day trips from Galway City that is ideal for those who love the outdoors and seek adventure is to Lough Key Forest Park.
Lough Key Forest Park is situated 112 kilometres ( miles) from Galway City in County Roscommon, a journey of less than 2 hours.
This great place to visit in Roscommon is an 800-hectare park on the southern shore of Lough Key and visitors can enjoy walking trails, attractions such as an Icehouse, Gazebo, Fairy Bride, and Wishing Chair. There are lots of other activities to enjoy including Segways, a high-wire course, a woodland safari, and much more.
Lough Key Forest Paark is also home to a Boda Borg, an indoor adventure house like an escape room. There are also a number of buildings from the Rockingham Estate (which owned the lands the Forest Park is on) to explore.
With plenty of activities and outdoor things to enjoy, Lough Key Forest Park is an ideal place to escape to from Galway City, whether you are a couple, family or group of friends.
You can find out more information about the Forest Park here, including opening times, and the latest entry fees by clicking here. There are no group tours available to Lough Key Forest Park, so you will need your own transport to reach it.
Wild Atlantic Way Coastal Drive
Another great thing to do as a day trip from Galway is to enjoy a trip along the Wild Atlantic Coastal Drive from Galway City, past Spiddal and Clifden and along the Sky Road.
Clifden is located 77 kilometres (48 miles) west of Galway City, or an hour and ten minutes’ drive. The Sky Road is an additional 5-10 minutes from Clifden.
The road along the coast from Galway to Clifden is a stunning stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way and passes pretty and picturesque towns such as Spiddal, Carna, and Roundstone and you’ll find lots of beautiful beaches, pretty coves, and rugged peninsulas along its edge.
The Sky Road is one of the best parts of the Wild Atlantic Way Coastal Drives of Galway. This panoramic road starts and ends in Clifden and is 16 kilometres in length. The road rises and falls along it, with stunning views from its highest point awaiting those who take time to visit it. There is a car park from which you can enjoy the scenery while grabbing those all-important pictures.
If you’d like to combine a trip to Connemara from Galway with a trip along the stunning Wild Atlantic Way Coastal Drive in Galway, then this day trip is the one for you. This full day tour leaves from Galway City, explores the coast to the Sky Road and also parts of Connemara National Park. Click here for further details and to book your place.
Overlooking Clew Bay and situated in County Mayo is 1croagh Patrick. This pyramid-shaped mountain is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Ireland and can be visited as part of a day trip from Galway.
Situated 87 kilometres (54 miles) north of Galway City in the north of County Mayo, this pilgrimage mountain can be reached in about one and a half hours drive.
Seen as a holy mountain, it is believed Saint Patrick spent forty days fasting on the summit. Upon descending the mountain, it is said he met a sea of snakes and banished them into the sea. This is the fable behind why there are no snakes in Ireland.
There has been a church at the summit since the 5th century, although the current structure was built in the early 20th century. On the last Sunday in July, known as Reek Sunday, tens of thousands of pilgrims make the journey to the summit, a custom that has been practised since the Middle Ages.
However, you do not have to wait until to July to make the journey. Many people visit on quieter times throughout the year to climb Croagh Patrick. Whether you are Catholic or not, Croagh Patrick can be a great place to visit during a day trip from Galway. The best time to visit and ascend Croagh Patrick are the months between April and September when the weather is expected to be warmer, brighter and more settled than other months.
Note that parts of the mountain are steep with loose rocks underneath, so wear proper walking shoes or boots, and remember your layers, waterproofs, hat and water. With Ireland’s changeable weather, you should go prepared and never when bad weather is predicted.
There are no tours that visit Croagh Patrick, so you will need to make your own way there and back from Galway City. Find some more great information about visiting and climbing Croagh Patrick here.
So, whether you are interested in a Cliffs of Moher day trip from Galway or want to join one of the trips to the Aran Islands from Galway, I am sure you have plenty of options with this list. Which ones you do will depend on your interests and how much time you have to spent in Galway City. But these are just a few of the best days trips from Galway you can enjoy to see more of the West of Ireland.
Cath is an Irish expat now living in Portugal. She regularly returns to Ireland to explore more of the wonderful island with her family.