Exploring the Beauty and Magic of Western Ireland

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Curated By

Terri O'Connell

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  • Nature Escapes

  • Active Travel

  • Luxury Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Ireland

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Sightseeing

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Curator’s statement

My grandfather was born in County Mayo, so whenever I go to Ireland, I enjoy visiting this mystical part of the country. Exploring Western Ireland is a wonderful travel adventure that offers a mix of stunning landscapes, rich history and vibrant culture. Western Ireland is known for its dramatic coastline, charming villages, lush green hills and welcoming people. Here's a suggested itinerary to help you make the most of your trip.

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Where to stay in Ireland

Ashford Castle

Fairytale castle on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, known for superlative service and award-winning cuisine.

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  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

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Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate

Stunning palatial-style abbey with charming suites perfect for cozying up in the countryside.

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  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Ballynahinch Castle

Grand castle property from 1756 with posh rooms and suites offering views of the 450-acre estate.

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Things to do in Ireland

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Explore the exciting Galway City

Begin your journey in Galway, a lively city known for its music, arts and friendly atmosphere. Explore the colorful streets, shop for local crafts and enjoy traditional Irish music in the pubs. Stay at Glenlo Abbey Hotel and Estate.

Cliffs of Moher

Head southwest to the Cliffs of Moher, one of Ireland's most iconic natural attractions. Marvel at the sheer cliffs that drop dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to visit the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center for informative exhibits.

The Burren

The Burren, a unique limestone landscape, is nearby. Explore this lunar-like terrain, dotted with ancient tombs, stone walls and rare flora. A visit to Poulnabrone Dolmen is a must.

Aran Islands

Take a ferry from Doolin to the Aran Islands (Inishmore, Inishmaan, or Inisheer). These islands are known for their rugged beauty, ancient ruins and traditional Irish-speaking communities.

Connemara

Drive north to Connemara, a region of wild beauty with vast stretches of bogland, mountains and serene lakes. Explore Kylemore Abbey, hike in the Connemara National Park and visit quaint villages like Clifden or Letterfrack for delicious seafood chowder.

Killary Fjord

Visit Killary Fjord, Ireland's only fjord. Take a scenic boat trip or hike along the fjord's shores, surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery.

Cong

The picturesque town of Cong is the location of the iconic movie “The Quiet Man” and a must-see on a visit to Western Ireland. Stay at Ashford Castle and explore the land of the Guinness family estate. Try adventures like Falconry or exploring the loch in a kayak

Westport

Head to the charming town of Westport, known for its colorful buildings, great restaurants, and the nearby pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick. Eat at A Port Mor, a Michelin Star-ranked restaurant, and a must-stop is at Matt Malloy’s for a traditional session of live music. When we were there in September, a Nashville star stopped in for a session, so you never know what celebrity music star may stop in and join the session.

Achill Island

Continue to Achill Island, accessible by bridge. Explore its rugged landscapes, relax on sandy beaches and visit historic sites like the Deserted Village. Take a drive along the amazing Sky Road for the most picturesque views in Ireland. The Academy-award-winning movie “Banshees of Inisherin” was filmed on location in the area.

Donegal

Travel to Donegal, a county known for its unspoiled landscapes and charming towns. Explore Donegal Town, hike in Glenveagh National Park and visit Slieve League, some of Europe's highest sea cliffs.

Derry (Londonderry)

Consider crossing the border into Northern Ireland to visit Derry, also known as Londonderry. Walk along the city walls and learn about its history during the Troubles.

Places to eat & drink in Ireland

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High Tea at Ashford Castle is a must when visiting Western Ireland. Even if you don't stay in the Castle, the cottage on the property is also a great place to stop in for lunch or dinner.

For a very special meal, book a table at George V. In Westport, have dinner at An Port Mor, an award-winning restaurant with a casual Irish menu that changes every day. Seafood abounds in this section of Ireland. Enjoy classic Fish & Chips, an a plate of Fresh Oysters from Clew Bay in Letterfrack after a hike on Connamarra.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, 4-Day Itinerary for Oscar Weekend in LA.

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Terri O'Connell

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Ireland.