However, just think of the many areas on the city’s periphery and in the surrounding counties along the Wild Atlantic Way that also require attention and appreciation. Discover the best day trips from Galway and prepare for an epic adventure.
Don’t worry – you can be there and back all in one day!
Getting around: Admittedly, travelling outside of Galway is much easier if you have a car or the option of renting a vehicle. In that case, you might consider some of the areas we suggest below but do them as day trips from Galway by car.
For those visitors that have flown in or took the train or bus from another part of Ireland, it’s still possible to get to the places listed below by public transit or by booking a guided tour.
Where to stay: If you’re looking for a hotel with family-friendly amenities, then this Galway hotel has an arts and crafts club, as well as a swimming pool for kids. If you’re looking for something closer to the city centre, we recommend Maldron Hotel Sandy Road.
1. Lough Key Forest Park
The lush wilderness of Lough Key Forest Park is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Galway city.
Much of the forest park and its destinations, which include a bog garden, ice house, wishing chair, Ireland’s only tree canopy walk and underground servant tunnels from the 19th century, are all within easy reach of the visitor centre, which also serves as a hub for hikers and climbers.
If the Irish weather isn’t cooperating on the day, you can always take refuge indoors with the Boda Borg Challenge, a series of game rooms filled with activities and challenges for you to solve. Although Lough Key Forest Park is an ideal spot for a picnic, you can also find the well-appointed Lakeside Cafe, overlooking Castle Island and Lough Key, where you can grab a spot of lunch.
Opening hours: 10.00am to 6.30pm, daily
Admission: €20 per family, €19 for the Boda Borg Challenge (three people, minimum)
2. Connemara National Park
If you’re looking for true nature on a day trip from Galway, then you might consider a trek out to Connemara National Park, southeast of the town of Letterfrack.
Be sure to bring your hiking boots as there’s a good number of hiking and rambling trails to enjoy around the 12 Bens mountain range, which include Bencullagh, Benbrack and Benbaun.
Another highlight are the glen (known in Irish as Gleann Mór) and River Polladirk running through the centre of the park – nature lovers will find it hard to tear themselves away from the stunning scenery in every nook and cranny here. Self-guided hiking trail routes can be found online and guided nature walks depart from the visitor centre daily.
How to get to Connemara National Park from Galway: 1.5 hour drive along the N59 (Clifden Road)
Opening hours: 9.00am to 5.30pm, daily
Admission: No entry or parking fees
3. Leenane Village
Leenane Village is one of the most popular day trips from Galway and for good reason.
This tiny fishing village is about as good as day trips from Galway get, providing you with the ultimate tranquil getaway that is home to some of the most gorgeous coastal views the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.
Killary Fjord also offers the perfect vantage point for some truly spectacular photography, too.
4. The Wild Atlantic Way Coastal Drive
Galway is situated along the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the most scenic driving routes in Ireland. There’s no shortage of divine mountains, coastal or cliff top roads to savour along the Galway snippet of the Wild Atlantic Way – the Sky Road is especially jaw dropping.
A quick word of warning: the Wild Atlantic driving route can be quite windy with sharp curves. At times, the road is very narrow and doesn’t allow for passing room or room on the shoulder. Because of this, stopping to take photographs while to the side of the road can be very dangerous. So, if you do need to stop, find the nearest car park and walk (carefully) to what you’re interested in seeing.
For a much closer destination that loses none of the charm of real Galway, hop into the car and in a mere 25 minutes you’ll be in Spiddal, adored by visitors and locals alike for its aesthetic charms.
A coastal town with charming pebble beaches and stunning views of the Burren, it’s the ideal place to spend the whole day – or even just an afternoon, given how close it is to Galway city. Walk down the main street and absorb all the quirky craft shops, quaint coffee spots and bustling pubs. Simply put, Spiddal is the perfect family-friendly day trip spot from Galway.
A couple of hour’s drive from Galway is the beautifully picturesque seaside town of Enniscrone, Co. Sligo, an under-the-radar coastal gem.
In terms of things to do in Enniscrone, it has everything you could want from a quintessentially Irish seaside town. Take a walk along the beach while enjoying some ice cream or get in the sea with a paddle board to play in the waves.
Alongside the beach fun, you can visit the ruins of O’Dowd Castle by Easkey Pier, dating back to the 11th century and one of the oldest structures in the country. As well as all this, Enniscrone has a whole host of coffee spots and excellent eats spread around the town.
7. Croagh Patrick
For any hikers in your group, Croagh Patrick is a prime pick for a top-notch day out from Galway.
The hike only takes around three-and-a-half hours from start to finish, climbing up the steep winding pathway. The summit views, reached with some scrambling in the final stages, is pure wilderness and provides panoramic views of the surrounding Mayo countryside that are second to none.
We recommend an early morning start to avoid crowds on your way up. Be sure to wear warm waterproof clothing, quality walking socks and a pair of properly broken-in hiking boots and pack lots of water and snacks).
How to get from Galway to Croagh Patrick: 1.5 hour drive along the N84
8. The Aran Islands
Escape from Galway city with a day trip to the Aran Islands, located only an hour and a half away by bus and ferry. These three magnificent limestone islands are a picture straight from a postcard with their dreamy walking trails, sweeping cliffs and white sands. As a stop-off on many migration routes, the islands are also a bird-watching mecca.
How to get to the Aran Islands from Galway: Lally Tours provide a shuttle bus service from Galway to Rossaveal port, where ferries to the Aran Islands sail at regular intervals during the day.
9. The Cliffs of Moher
Strapped for time but want to see some of the finest sights the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer? Galway local craving a one-day mini-adventure?
In less than three hours, you can be in one of the most stunningly gorgeous places in whole of Ireland – the Cliffs of Moher.
While a visit here is doable in one day, it can also easily be combined with your day trip to the Aran Islands or Connemara National Park. The ragged, dramatic cliffs are a sight to behold and from up high amongst them visitors are greeted with sweeping panoramic views of the sprawling hills and coastline below.
Mesmerising in their beauty, the cliffs have numerous trails and paths for visitors to enjoy and many movies have been filmed here over the years, including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The weather is highly changeable in this little corner of the Atlantic, so be sure to bring a waterproof jacket just in case.
10. The Burren
The Burren is definitely one to tick off your travel bucket list. With a barren and bleak rocky terrain that stretches for miles and miles in either direction, you’ll feel like you’ve accidentally landed on the moon. It takes less time than you’d think to get to Co. Clare from Galway, so a day trip to the Burren can be easily incorporated into a visit to the Ailwee Caves nearby.
Also home to a whole heap of Iron Age and prehistoric sites that are thousands of years old, including Poulnabrone Dolmen (the oldest megalithic monument in Ireland) and Caherconnell Fort (an ancient Irish ring fort), the Burren truly feels like a history book brought to life before your very eyes.
Getting to the Burren from Galway: An hour’s drive via the M18