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9 easy day trips from Galway, Ireland

There are plenty of reasons to plan a city break to Galway, on Ireland’s west coast – but it’s also a great base to explore further, as these day trips from Galway show.

View of the landscape and clouds reflected in a lake in Connemara National Park - one of the best days out from Galway
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Whether you’re hoping to travel along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, find historic castles, discover some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, or head out to the Aran Islands, you’ll be spoiled for choice.

I’ve picked out the best easy day trips from Galway, which also take you to some of Ireland’s most iconic tourist attractions, to help plan your trip.

Cliffs of Moher

Making the top 10 on many people’s Irish bucket list, the Cliffs of Moher will take your breath away – and they’re less than 90 minutes from Galway.

One of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions, set in County Clare on the Wild Atlantic Way, there’s still plenty of opportunities to escape the crowds and marvel at the scenery at the Cliffs of Moher.

Located at the southwestern edge of The Burren – another of my picks for the best days out from Galway – the Cliffs of Moher stretch for around nine miles.

A view across the green grass to the sea at the Cliffs of Moher on a sunny day - one of the unmissable day trips from Galway, Ireland, to add to your itinerary

Part of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was shot here, if you’re looking for days out for Harry Potter fans, but it’s better known as the location for one of the iconic scenes from The Princess Bride.

And the ‘cliff-hanger’ shot is actually really easy to get, without anyone risking plunging to their doom.

Despite the whipping winds and astounding height of the cliffs, the area is safe, so long as you are careful – although obviously put safety first and be aware of your footing.

Spend a few hours walking, letting the sea mist and salt air work their own magic, and just revel in the landscape. If you’d prefer not to drive, you can take a day tour from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher (and several other places nearby).

Connemara National Park

While you’ll expect the Cliffs of Moher to awe, it’s not the only incredible landscape to discover on an easy day trip from Galway.

A road by Inagh Lake in Connemara, Ireland - my four road trip ideas from Dublin if you're visiting Ireland with kids

Just over an hour away, Connemara National Park stretches across 2,000 hectares of land in County Galway, and it’s the perfect place to get outdoors and get active.

As well as plenty of walking across hills, valley, bogs and mountains (and even a fjord), there are bike trails and watersports. If you’re really lucky, you might spot the famous Connemara pony!

This is one place that it’s also well worth taking a tour, to discover more of the history, as it’s hard to discover all the secrets and tales of this national park without doing extensive research.

Whichever option you go for, Connemara really is a must-do if you’re looking for easy day trips from Galway.

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is located just over an hour away from Galway in the heart of Connemara, so it’s easy to combine the two.

Kylemore Abbey at Connemara National Park - my four Ireland road trip ideas from Dublin

Built in the late 19th century, it later became a Benedictine Monastery founded in 1920. Its history tells the story of Mitchell Henry and his wife, Margaret, for whom he built the (then) castle as a token of love – and after falling in love with the surrounding area itself.

Margaret died when she was only 45, from illness while traveling in Egypt, and is buried with her husband; Mitchell died much later, at the age of 84, and the small mausoleum in the grounds at Kylemore now holds both their remains.

After the Henry family left in 1902, the estate was sold off to the Duke of Manchester. Later, in 1920, a group of Benedictine nuns relocated after their monastery in Belgium was destroyed during the First World War, turning the estate into an Abbey and girls’ school.

The walled Victorian gardens are some of the most elaborate in Ireland, and also well-worth visiting, especially during the warmer months when everything is in bloom.

Cong

Cong is a pretty village in County Mayo that’s also an easy day trip from Galway, and it’s well worth spending a few hours exploring, even if you don’t need the whole day.

The grey stone ruins of Cong abbey under a blue sky - one of the best day trips from Galway, Ireland

Cong’s biggest claim to fame is the filming site of the Oscar-winning movie The Quiet Man, a film made in 1952 and starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

Aside from spotting the bar which featured in the film, Cong also has some beautiful ruins and an Abbey to wander. It’s around a 40-minute drive from Galway itself.

The Burren

Not far from the Cliffs of Moher, you’ll find the Burren, best known for its stony, almost lunar-like landscape.

The name itself comes from an Irish word “Boíreann” meaning a rocky place, and the grey rock with ribbons of crevices is unlike any place you’ll have seen before.

Formed under a tropical sea which covered most of Ireland around 350 million years ago, you might not expect trhe stone and rock of the Burren to be an ecological hot spot – but it’s full of biodiversity, both fauna and flora.

View of one of the dolmen structures on the grass and limestone landscape of The Burren - one of the best days out from Galway, Ireland

You can also find a neolithic portal tomb, where 22 people were buried over the course of almost six millennia – over 5,800 years if you want to be precise.

On the outskirts of the Burren, around 45 minutes from Galway, you can also visit Leamanagh Castle to check out its 15th century ruins.

Killary Fjord

In Northern Connemara, you will find Killary Fjord, Ireland’s one and only fjord. With mountains jutting up from each side, the landscape of the fjord makes for some idyllic photos.

View of Killary Fjord, also known as Killary Harbour with the sky and hills reflected in the still water - one of the best day trips from Galway, Ireland

The flooded valley is almost 10 miles long, and as much as 148ft deep in the centre, which is where you’ll find the border between County Galway and County Mayo – allow around 90 minutes to get there from the city of Galway.

Fun fact: the Spanish Armada had several crash sites just off of Killary Harbour, and it’s said those from the area have black hair and blue eyes because the dark-haired Spaniards could not resist the beauty of the Galway girls.

Doolin

The village of Doolin is known as being the traditional music capital of Ireland – quite a claim to fame for somewhere with a population of 500.

Bright pink thatched house on a street in Doolin - a great stop on your days out from Galway, Ireland

Less than 90 minutes from Galway, it’s a great spot to stop while you’re exploring some of Western Ireland’s most popular sites, including the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, which are just off shore.

It’s also right on the edge of the Burren so it’s easy to combine the two – not to mention spotting some of the old thatched and brightly coloured homes in the village. A perfect place to stop for a meal during a day out from Galway.

Aran Islands

If you only take one easy day trip from Galway, let it be the Aran Islands – there’s a choice of three, depending how much you’re hoping to pack in.

From Galway, you can easily hop a ferry to Inis Mor (or Inishmore), the closest of the three Aran Islands, and explore for a day.

View across the sea to the colourful houses of Inis Mor, or Inishmore in Ireland - one of the great day trips from Galway you can take

If you’re feeling more ambitious, visiting the other two – Inis Meáin and the smallest, Inis Oírr – is also an option – the ferries leave from Rossaveel, around 45 minutes from Galway.

Inis Mor is the most populated of the three and is covered in an intricate network of stone walls which have been in place for hundreds of years. There’s also a beach and a seal colony – need I say more?

The most popular site in Inis Mor is Dun Aonghasa, a prehistoric hill fort on the edge of a cliff, but it’s also a lovely place to cycle around.

Dunguaire Castle

With one of the best locations around, its 16th century walls reflected in the water, you shouldn’t miss Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara.

Around half an hour from Galway, it’s also an easy one to stop off at on your way back from the Cliffs of Moher.

Grey stone towers of Dunguaire Castle reflected in the water - one of the best day trips from Galway, Ireland

Built in 1520 overlooking Galway Bay, from the 17th century the castle was (mostly) owned by the Martyns of Galway and has links to a string of literary figures over the last century.

Allow around an hour to 90 minutes to visit, it’s also just a short stroll from Kinavara itself so you can also explore the village.

For more ideas of great road trips in Ireland with kids, check out my picks including the west coast, plus the best free things to do in Galway while you’re visiting the city

PIN FOR LATER: THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM GALWAY

The best day trips from Galway, Ireland - 9 easy ideas for days out from Galway, including castles, the Cliffs of Moher, beautiful Connemara National Park and more

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links – any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission. All opinions on the best day trips from Galway are my own.

Images courtesy of Depositphotos

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