Things to Do in Connemara, Ireland

Gorgeous country on the way to climb Mweelrea Mountain

There’s a lot to see and explore in Connemara, Ireland – a region of western Ireland that is most definitely worth a visit. There are enough things to do in Connemara that you could easily spend a week touring by car, bike or on foot.

Visit Connemara National Park – where you’ll find excellent hiking. Explore the region by bike though I do recommend keeping to the quieter roads as the Irish, in my experience, are aggressive drivers and love speed. Check out the towns of Clifden and Cong. And if you make it to Westport, try and climb Croag Patrick, a sacred mountain.

Beautiful river that runs through Cong in Connemara, Ireland
Beautiful river that runs through Cong in Connemara

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Things to do in Connemara

Connemara is the name that is given to the area in county Galway which lies in south western Ireland between the Atlantic Ocean and Lough Corrib in the east.

It is a beautiful and at times desolate area filled with coves, cliffs, loughs (lakes), peat bogs and quiet moorland. It is home to Connemara National Park and The Twelve Bens, a small mountain range that can be climbed in a day by the very fit. There are numerous pretty, small villages and the gorgeous Kylemore Abbey to visit.

Drive or cycle this area but stay to the backroads if you bike. Irish drivers treat every road as though it were a race track. You can rent a bike in Galway from BikeHireIreland – for a day or a week. They also offer tours if you’re interested.

Read: 5 Things to do in Galway

 Evening light over a bridge in downtown Galway
Evening light over a bridge in downtown Galway

The Clifden area in Connemara was a real treat as was Westport. If you make it to the Westport area try a climb of Croagh Patrick, a Christian pilgrimage site. Back in 441 AD Saint Patrick fasted for forty days.

The pilgrimage is in honour of him and on the last Sunday in July (Reek Sunday) you can expect to experience the mountain with 15,000 other pilgrims who attempt it, some in bare feet only. 

It is nonetheless a very worthwhile climb with fabulous views over Clew Bay. The peak rises to 764 m (2510 feet). After the climb you can enjoy a bite to eat in the café at the base and a trip across the street to the National Famine Monument (the monument is interesting though hardly enjoyable)

Map of Connemara

Other activities to enjoy in the Connemara region include the following

Visit Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park is located just outside the town of Letterfrack. It covers over 2,000 hectares of mountain, woodlands, grasslands and bogs. It is open all year though the visitor centre is only open from March to October.

There are well signed paths of varying length including a walk to the top of Diamond Hill. The park encloses several of the Twelve Bens which can also be hiked.

Read: 7 of the Best Hikes in Ireland

Gorgeous country on the way to climb Mweelrea Mountain
Gorgeous country on the way to climb Mweelrea Mountain
Ged our guide with Wilderness Ireland with the lakes and Kylemore Abbey in the background
Ged our guide with Wilderness Ireland with the lakes and Kylemore Abbey in the background

Visit one of the offshore islands in Connemara

Inishbofin Island and Clare Island are two islands in Connemara that are worthy of a visit if time permits. You will also need the weather to be cooperative as the ferries don’t run if sea conditions are too rough.

Inishbofin is 10 km off the coast near Clifden and is accessed via a 30 minute ferry ride from the small fishing village of Cleggan. There are cliff top walks, white, sandy beaches and interesting flora and fauna.

Clare Island is accessed from Roonah Point, closer to Westport. Spectacular cliffs make for some interesting walking. Bicycling is also possible. It is a short 20 minute ferry ride and it is possible to stay in a B&B or the one hotel.

Head to the Leenane Cultural Centre

The Leenane Cultural Centre overlooks Killary’s beautiful harbour in Leenane. The center began in 1992 with a mandate to display the various stages and techniques used in the woolen industry of the area.

You can learn about carding, spinning, weaving and dyeing wool. Then check out over twenty different types of sheep that graze the grounds. You can also enjoy home cooking shopping on the premises.


Kylemore Abbey

The Abbey is located on a lake with mountains as a backdrop but what really gives the place some character are the large trees which one sees so little of in Ireland. You will need at least an hour for the Abbey.

Kylemore Abbey never disappoint
Kylemore Abbey never disappoints

Explore the town of Cong in Connemara

The town of Cong is well known for golf and fishing. It is also a lovely town for walking and poking about the many craft shops.

Wander by the ruins of the Augustine Abbey, dating from the early 13th century. The movie “Quiet Man” with John Wayne was filmed here in 1952. Tours are available for four Euros at the Quiet Man cottage. Don’t miss wandering the grounds of the elegant Ashford Castle Hotel either.

A less pricey alternative to a stay in the castle is the nearby Lodge at Ashford Castle.

Connemara, Ireland: Why its Well Worth a Visit
Nice plantings at the Ashford Castle Hotel in Cong

Further reading on hiking in Ireland

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Things to do in Connemara, Ireland


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