Welcome to our guide for the perfect weekend in Connemara
For the purpose of this guide we assume you arrive on Friday evening and leave on Sunday afternoon. We’ve also assumed it’s not the middle of winter, so we’ve given ourselves an extra few hours of daylight. If you’re unsure about how long it takes to travel here – check out this handy graphic we made.
Check into the Station House Hotel. This modern hotel has a spa and swimming pool, so don’t forget your swimming togs. Located in the heart of Clifden, it’s within walking distance to all the shops, pubs and restaurants of Clifden. The restaurant and bar is located in a cute refurbished railway station, perfect for a quiet dinner on your first night. Keep your strength up, we’ve a busy weekend planned.
Breakfast at the hotel, leave for Cleggan at 9.30
Day 1 stop 1
Cave Kayaking with Real Adventures at 10am
Meet with your guide at Bundouglas beach. Once you’re into your wetsuit and helmet you’ll get a quick demonstration and safety brief before hitting the water. From the beach you’ll paddle around a small headland before finding your first cave. You’ll go in and out of a good number of caves. Once you’ve been in your kayak for a while you’ll really feel like you’re mastering some skills and navigating yourself in and out of some narrow spaces. Enjoy exploring this ancient hidden wonderland. There’s plenty of wildlife and birds to be seen, and occasionally you could spot a dolphin. There will chances for some cliff jumps if you’re up for it. You’ll be heading back to shore for 12.30am
Day 1 stop 2
A scenic drive around Aughrus Peninsula
This is one of the lesser known areas in the Connemara region, but it doesn’t lack in natural wonders and stunning views. Follow the road all around Aughris Lough with the sea on your right hand side. You’ll pass a number of beaches the most stunning of which being ‘Anchor Beach’ where a giant anchor lies wedged in the sand. Finishing around 13.30
Day 1 stop 3
When you reach the town land of Claddaghduff, you’ll see a turn for Omey Island. This is a tidal Island, you can drive or walk over at low-tide. Just follow the signs across the strand. Do check the tide times before you go. If the tide is in, there’s a car park here where you can admire the view. If you cross to the Island you can drive out to the far side and admire some massive waves as they crash in off the Atlantic Ocean. Closer to the mainland are the remains of St Feicin Monastery. They are hidden in the sand dunes and were only recently uncovered. One Sunday every August horse races are held on the strand when the tide is out, well worth making the trip out for this special occasion Finishing around 2:30
Day 1 – Stop 4
Sweeney’s of Claddaghduff for Lunch
This bar serves a great pint of Guinness and the best open crab sandwich you’ll ever have – promise!
Alternatively you could head back to Cleggan Village and enjoy some great seafood in Oliviers Bar overlooking the pier. Finishing around 3.15
Day 1 stop 5
Connemara National Park
Enjoy some of the looped walks in the Park, these range in distance. I’d recommend going up Diamond Hill, if it’s a clear day the views are phenomenal. It’s a bit of a climb, for which you’ll be well rewarded.
Finishing around 5.30
Day 1 – Stop 6
Avoca Handweaver in Letterfrack
Indulge in a little retail therapy. Pick up some hand knitting, or a nice woven scarf. Finishing around 6.00
Day 1 – Stop 7
Walsh’s Bakery Clifden
This family run bakery does a great range of classical baked goodies. Grab something and head back to your hotel room for a quick nap before you head out for the night, or have a swim in the hotel pool. Heading out again around 7.30
Day 1 – Stop 8
Guys Bar & Snug
A great spot for relaxed pub grub in Clifden. You’ll have worked up quite an appetite at this stage. Finishing around 8
Day 1 – Stop 9
A traditional Irish pub, where the music and chat flows. You’ll be swept up along the singing and craic before you know it.
Day 1 – Stop 10
Are you tired yet?? If you’re still on your feet, there’s an eclectic range of music in Mullarkey’s Bar most nights of the week during the summer.
Day 2 – Stop 1
The Bog Road
From Clifden follow the Road to Ballyconneely. Take the turn to the left signed for Cashel after a few kilometres. This stunning road, wanders and meanders through hundreds of small lakes and is quite mesmerising.
Finishing at 10
Day 2 – Stop 2
Enjoy a wander around this scenic fishing village. There’s a number of cafes and shops. A favourite of mine is Roundstone Pottery, who produce some really beautiful ceramics. Finishing at 11.30
Day 2 – Stop 3
Inis Nee Walking Loop
This island is connected to the mainland by a long bridge. Park your car at the start of the trail head. The walk takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. The first half of the walk is along a quiet road, then this turns into an old boreen, and then loops back the the start. There are great views of Roundstone Village and Cashel Hill. Finishing at 12.45
Day 2 – Stop 4
Lunch at O’Dowds
This famous seafood bar and restaurant has been going for years. It’s a real institution in the Connemara area, serving classic dishes like prawn cocktail as well as Seafood platter, mussels and Irish Stew. Finishing 2.00
Coasteering in Ballyconneely with Real Adventures
Arriving for 2.30
Get back to the wetsuit and helmet for your second trip to the salty sea this weekend. Now you’ll be climbing along the rocks, in and out of the water. It’s a bit like scrambling and rock climbing, you’ll feel pretty invincible with all the safety gear on! You’ll be shown some good places to jump from a height into the swell. There will also be a chance to swim under some arches and into some caves too. Watch out for the waves behind you. Before you know it, it’s time to get warm and dry again.
Finishing at 5pm
Day 2 – Stop 6
Making your way home, but planning the next trip back!