5 Day Trips From Galway

5 Rad day trips from Galway, Ireland


(Do people use the word “rad” anymore? Whatever. I’m into it.)

It’s been nearly TWO YEARS since I went to Ireland; how do I STILL have content to write?! Fortunately, I have enough material to keep this blog busy until I start my long-term travels. Otherwise, I could fill this space with kittens.

Anyway, other than Dublin (which I dislike in large quantities), Galway is the best place in Ireland to set up shop for a bit while poking around Ireland’s countryside. I did a few trips on my own, and then other trips with friends. You can fit a lot into one day, or spread these out over some time. Here are my suggestions for day trips from Galway.

Other than the Aran Isles, it’s really helpful to have a rental car for these destinations.

Aughnanure Castle

The O’Flaherty family built this castle in the 16th century, and it’s considered a “tower house.” It fell to different hands throughout the centuries, but is now owned by the Duchas, responsible for maintaining Ireland’s historical properties.

Castle in Galway


Nowadays you can pay a small fee to explore the tower and the castle grounds. There isn’t a great deal left, but the castle itself is in surprising good shape.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

If you like old shit like I do, Poulnabrone Dolmen is pretty rad. The megalithic tomb can be found on the Burren, in County Clare. It dates back to the Neolithic period and gives some solid information about how the country’s very first farmers lived. Evidence (including tools found in the tombs) have suggested they were short and violent. Go figure.

poulnabrone megalithic tomb

The tombs are two large portal-stones serving as an entrance, a back-stone, and a roof-stone to cover the burial pit. Although the roof-stone can weigh up to 100 tonnes, nobody actually knows how the farmers moved them here. This tomb contained 22 people, including 16 adults and six children.

poulnabrone megalithic tomb


Connemara made up my favourite landscape in Ireland. Scott and I first drove through here because we got lost. I’m glad we did. Later, my Couchsurfing host Richy took my friend Julia and I on our own little road trip.

Connemara landscape

The goal here is simply sightseeing. There’s the Twelve Bens mountain range, the Roundstone Bog filled with lakes, and of course, the Atlantic coastline. We didn’t have a cell phone signal the whole time. This, my friends, is where you go to get unplugged. The entire countryside has nothing but walking trails, flowering fields, and meadows filled with sheep.

Scott and I once pulled over to snap some photos of the wooly and delicious critters, commenting on the farmer burning brush in the distance where there appeared to be a ridiculous amount of smoke. When we hopped back into the car, we met some fire trucks on the way out. I still laugh thinking about that poor farmer desperate to put out the flames while we stood there nonchalantly taking photos of sheep.

Kylemore Abbey

I didn’t get to see the inside of this Abbey, but I explored the grounds and I know a few people who have stayed here overnight (the rooms in the hotel aren’t overly expensive, surprisingly).

Kylemore Abbey

Photo by Arnold Unterholzner because apparently I didn’t take any photos.
Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1920. Also onsite is the Kylemore Castle. The Abbey itself was founded for Benedictine Nuns who fled Belgium during World War I, and they couldn’t have chosen a better setting. Seriously.

The Aran Isles

I wrote about this experience biking solo around the island, and it was easily one of my favourite days in the country. This definitely requires a full day trip, at least to Inishmore (the biggest island). I didn’t get to see the other smaller islands, but considering Inishmore has just over 300 residents, I’m sure the other islands are all exceptionally beautiful and peaceful in their own ways. The Aran Islands are mainly known for their preserved Irish language.

On Inishmore, rent a bike and pedal around. Dun Aengus should be your priority: it’s a Bronze Age and Iron Age fort with a 330-feet climb to the top. Here the karst cliffs drop into the Atlantic Ocean at a terrifying height, and the view goes on forever.

The fort in Inishmor

  • October 20 2014
    Lauren @BonVoyageLauren

    You can stay in Kylemore Abbey?! I’m so there. Also, I think you can single-handedly bring back the word rad. I believe in you. Gorgeous photos, by the way, thanks for sharing! :)

    • October 21 2014

      Yes! Well, not within the Abbey, I think it’s the castle. Thanks!

  • October 25 2014

    Shit, it has been nearly two years since I went to Ireland too. Time flies, man.

    These pictures are stunning. I particularly love the last one. And the sheep. :)

    • October 27 2014

      Crazy right?! Feels like I was there just yesterday.

  • October 27 2014

    Very nice photos ! I was in Connemara like a year ago ! Good fun

  • October 29 2014
    Lily Lau

    Beautiful photos, Candice! You definitely have a talent for photography :) These photos remind me somehow about these others about lonely houses in isolated places around the world http://lazypenguins.com/the-loneliest-houses-in-beautiful-secluded-spots-around-the-world/ , maybe because your photos are as inspirational too?

    • November 07 2014

      Aww, that’s so kind, thank you! And OMG I love those!

  • November 06 2014

    Great options, I am doing 3 of these in my upcoming trip :)

  • February 03 2015

    Great post. I saw the dolmen, Connemara and Kylemore Abbey when we visited a couple of years ago. Hoping to see Aran Islands next time, I LOVE Ireland! There really is something magical about Connemara

    • February 05 2015

      Same!! Going back this summer!

      • February 05 2015

        Perfect, I will be back this Summer too! I await your new posts with much interest :)

  • July 19 2015

    I would also like to add Connemara National Park to the list. It is always a great experience, it’s free and has some great trails, like the Diamond Hill walk.
    @CandiceW:disqus So when exactly are you coming to Ireland again? What are your plans? What’s the story?

    • July 20 2015

      Definitely wish I had spent more time in Connemara! I’m headed back that way on August 8 to August 18th for the Fleadh Cheoil festival in Sligo. :)

      • July 20 2015

        Not sure if I’ll make it to Sligo. However, if you’re in Dublin there is a pint with you name on it! The craic will be no less than mighty at the Fleadh Cheoil – enjoy!

        • July 20 2015

          I will definitely be in Dublin at least for a night or two! I’ll let you know!