Discovering the Magic of Western Ireland

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Curated By

Terri O'Connell

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  • Western Ireland

  • Active Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Ireland

  • Coastal

  • History

  • Local Culture

Beautiful view from Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate
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 Western Ireland

Ashford Castle

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

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

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

Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate

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

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

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

The Lodge at Ashford Castle

The Lodge at Ashford Castle offers luxury accommodations and scenic views on the shores of Lough Corrib in County Mayo, Ireland.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade whenever possible.

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Things to do in Western Ireland

Sky Road is a panoramic road that starts and ends in Clifden.

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.


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.


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.


Head to the charming town of Westport, known for its colorful buildings, great restaurants, and the nearby pilgrimage mountain of Croagh Patrick. Eat at An Port Mor, a Michelin Star-ranked restaurant and a must-stop 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.

Day trips

  • 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 Western Ireland

An Port Mór Restaurant is where you will eat and drink very well, consistently.

Most hotels and Inns offer a traditional Irish breakfast, so I recommend you enjoy that each morning at your hotel. Bread and scones are famous in Ireland. I had the best ones on our entire trip at the cafe at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life at Turlough Park House and Gardens. This is a free museum that illustrates what life was like in Ireland - my advice, get the scone, served with creme fresh and jam.

  • An Port Mor - A Michelin star-rated restaurant in Westport! This charming restaurant down a narrow street is warm and welcoming and the chef-owner visits every table during your meal. Our group did the 65-euro menu and it did not disappoint. The highlight of the meal was the dessert menu - we ordered them all and did a great sampling after a fabulous meal.

  • Tea at Ashford Castle - Even if you opt not to stay at the luxurious Ashford Castle, be sure that the long-established tradition of Afternoon Tea has been served since 1868 - you’ll notice the original silver tea set displayed in the Connaught Room, which was presented to Lord and Lady Ardilaun to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in 1896. You can book a reservation even if you are not staying, and enjoy wonderful views from the comfort of the castle’s elegant interior. Take your time to savor every delicious moment.

  • Veldon’s Seafarers Bar & Restaurant Main Street in Letterfrack - After a vigorous hike up to the top of Connemara mountain, enjoy fresh local seafood and produce at this charming restaurant on Main Street in Letterfrack. Offering outside and inside seating, we had the fresh oysters and the best seafood chowder of our trip. And if members of your group are not seafood lovers, they offer a nice selection of land fare, including lamb stew, Irish beef hamburgers and vegan curry. Something for everyone.

  • Achill Sound Hotel and Connaughton’s Bar — After a dip in the wild atlantic for a lunch bite. A treat of seafood sampler paired with an Irish Coffee and a warm bowl of seafood chowder.

Need to Know

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

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