Countryside Adventure in Ireland: Connemara National Park

Advisor - Rachel Golike
Curated By

Rachel Golike

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  • Ireland

  • Arts & Culture

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Outdoors

  • Local Food

  • Architecture

Castle on a cliff at sea shore.
Curator’s statement

When most people travel to Ireland they think of places like Dublin, Galway, Cork and The Ring of Kerry. However, let me introduce you to an absolutely breathtaking place that my husband, toddler and I stumbled upon because of an unprecedented snow storm in Ireland. We had to change our plans and head north instead of south from Dublin to avoid unsafe road conditions. This adventure took us to Connemara National Park, about an hour and 25 minutes northwest of Galway. The rugged scenery includes mountains, bogs, coastline, bogs and forests. It is truly a stunning place and is something I now include on every Ireland itinerary I create for my clients.

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Where to stay in Connemara National Park

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 Connemara National Park

Twilight and mountains

Kylemore Abbey

This stunning Abbey has housed a Benedictine Order of nuns for over 100 years. You can tour the inside of the abbey and learn about its rich and fascinating history. There is also a Victorian walled garden to stroll through and a quaint neo-gothic church built by a man to profess his love for his wife.


Do not miss this opportunity to explore Connemara National Park on foot. There are so many different hikes you can do for all experience levels.

Visit the Aran Islands

The three islands that comprise the Aran Islands are Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer, and they are accessible by ferry. Visiting these islands is like taking a step back in time. It is one of the remaining pockets of Ireland where people speak Gaelic, and there is rich history to discover and a beautiful immersive culture.

Killary Sheep Farm

This working farm is open July to September and is a great way to become familiar with all that it entails to run a sheep farm and create one of Ireland's most famous staples, wool. You can experience hands-on sheep shearing, observe working dogs, and take a tour of the farm.

Connemara Heritage and History Centre

Learn about the history of this region through a small museum and see examples of the way homes and buildings looked in the past.

Clifden Castle

This is an abandoned manor house that you can explore. It is located just outside of the town of Clifden on Sky Road.

Aughnanure Castle

This preserved castle with a unique history is open from March until mid-November and is a beautiful stop to get your castle fix.

Dog's Bay

This beach is one of Ireland's most beautiful beaches. It has crystal clear water and a white sand beach that stretches for a mile.

Places to eat & drink in Connemara National Park

Fish & Chips is one of Dublin's local food favorites.

Owenmore Restaurant

This upscale and elegant restaurant is located inside Ballynahinch Castle Hotel. The tables look out across the river and beautiful grounds of Ballynahinch. The views are magnificent. The food is beautifully presented and cooked with seasonal produce.

Fisherman's Pub

This pub is also located inside Ballynahinch Hotel and Castle. It offers a more relaxed and friendly vibe and was probably my favorite dining experience on our last trip. The produce and meat are locally sourced based on the season. The waiters are very friendly and go over and beyond to give you the best service. You will not be disappointed here.

12 Pins Coffee

This cute coffee shop is located in the town of Clifden and is an old post office converted into a coffee shop. They produce delicious coffee and yummy pastries.

Kabo Cafe

This cafe is located in Letterfrack and has great lunch offerings and coffee. They have wonderful sweet and savory options for people that need something gluten-free (like my husband).

Mitchell's Restaurant

This is one of the most well-known restaurants in the area and is known for having delicious seafood in a lovely setting inside a turn-of-the-century building.

Paddy Coyne's Pub

Paddy Coyne's is a wonderful stop for an unbeatable Irish atmosphere, live music, and delicious pub food. It is located in the town of Tallycross and dates all the way back to 1811.

O'Dowds Seafood Bar and Restaurant

Located in the town of Roundstone, this restaurant serves beautifully presented seafood. There is a cozy fireplace inside and lovely seating outside as well.

The Lamplight

This cozy little wine bar is located in Clifton. You will find both tourists and locals here enjoying their carefully curated wine selection. They also offer delicious food options to pair with your wine.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Elena Federico's Fora guide, Guide to a Luxury Long Weekend Getaway in Dublin.

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

Advisor - Rachel Golike

Travel Advisor

Rachel Golike

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