Europe Ireland 12 Best Day Trips From Galway, Ireland

12 Best Day Trips From Galway, Ireland


Galway is one of the largest and most lively cities in Ireland, and while there is plenty to see and do in Galway, there are also several fantastic towns and attractions that are just a short trip away. From surf towns to breathtaking castles, we here are Road Affair has crafted a list of the best day trips from Galway. So whether you’re a tourist looking to explore Western Ireland or a local looking to get out of the city, you can be sure your next adventure out of Galway will be memorable! 

How to Get Around

Although you can make many of these day trips with public transport, consider renting a car for the day to give yourself more flexibility and independence. With your own four wheels, you control your time and schedule. Depending on how many people are in your group, renting a car might even work out to be cheaper than other forms of transportation. You can compare car rental deals and find the lowest prices at, an aggregation site that searches and displays prices and availability from hundreds of car rental companies, helping you find the best possible car for your budget.

Don’t want to drive or deal with the hassle of public transport? No worries! We’ve listed the best tour for each day trip (where available).

Beautiful Reflections At Kylemore Abbey In Connemara
Hugh O’Connor /

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens

Located just over an hour’s drive from the city, Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens is the ideal place to visit on a day trip from Galway. In the rolling green hills outside Letterfrack, this stunning 1,000-acre estate offers plenty of interesting history and incredible things to see. Kylemore Abbey is currently home to Benedictine nuns, but visitors get access to the entire grounds, as well as the main house, which serves as a museum featuring antiques and information on the former owners of the grounds. However, there is much more to do on the ground than just browsing the main house. 

Visitors can also enjoy several hikes and walking trails through one of Connemera’s only woodland paths. The area surrounding Kylemore Abbey boasts an ancient native forest that was improved when the Henry family built the estate and planted over 300,000 native and non-native trees. In fact, the name Kylemore comes from the old Irish place name of “Coill Mor” which translates into “Big wood.” Among the estate grounds is an outstanding Victorian walled garden that stretches across six acres and is divided by a mountain stream. Visitors can roam through the garden and follow the guided panels to learn more about the Victorian plants and the history of this magnificent 19th-century garden. 

Another great attraction on the ground is the neo-Gothic Church, which houses incredible architecture along with a heart-touching love story. When the Henry family visited Egypt in the 1800s, the mother of the family passed away from dysentery on the Nile River. Her husband Mitchell could not bear the idea of her being buried so far away in a foreign country, so he built this church as a testament to his love for her and so that she could rest back home in Ireland. The two are buried together behind the church. 

After wandering the grounds, church, and main house, visitors can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cup of tea in the self-service café, the Garden Tea House, or the cafeteria. There is also a lovely gift shop to browse on your way out filled with local hand-crafted goods and souvenirs! 

It is not feasible to get to Kylemore Abbey by public transit. However, you can visit it on this full-day tour of Connemara and Kylemore Abbey from Galway.

Book a Tour to Kylemore Abbey

Cliff of Moher
Federica Violin /

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher is one of Emerald Island’s most beloved attractions and has been featured in several movies like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Princess Bride. This fantastic Irish attraction is located an hour and 40-minute drive from the city and is easily one of the best places to visit from Galway.  

Visitors can walk along the cliffside paths and enjoy breathtaking views of the North Atlantic Sea while watching as the waves crash against the rocky ground below. It is also possible to see whales and dolphins! The Visitor Center is a great place to learn more about the wildlife and history of the cliffs as they have interactive exhibits, plus there is an on-site café to warm up with a cup of tea at. The Cliffs of Moher is also home to a 20-kilometer linear trail that runs along the cliffside, offering incredible views for hikers. The trail takes four and a half hours to complete. 

The Cliffs of Moher is accessible by public transit if you take the 350 bus from Galway Bus Station. It takes about two hours and 20 minutes to get the bus from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. Another option is to book this full-day tour of the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren or this half-day express tour to the Cliffs of Moher

Book a Tour to the Cliffs of Mother

The scenic cliffs of Inishmore, Aran Islands, Ireland.
essevu /

The Aran Islands

A day trip to the Aran Islands from Galway is not to be missed out on. These magical islands are home to wild landscapes, picturesque cottages, and an abundance of historical attractions. 

Visitors can tour to the Aran Islands from Galway in a few different ways. The first is by booking a full-day tour of the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher, which includes transportation to Doolin to get the ferry to Inisheer (Inis Oirr) as well as entrance to the Cliffs of Moher. The second way to visit the islands is to take the ferry yourself to the islands. In the high season (April to September) visitors can catch the Aran Islands Ferry from Galway City Center. However, ferries from the city only go to Inisheer and the Cliffs of Moher. For year-round ferries to all of the Aran Islands, visitors will need to drive 35 minutes outside Galway to the town of Rossaveal.  

Inishmore is the largest and most popular island to visit as it is home to several historic and picturesque attractions like the Wormhole, the Seven Churches, and Dún Aonghasa Fort. The island of Inisheer is also popular as it boasts a massive washed-ashore freighter called Possey Shipwreck, ancient ruins like the Church of the Seven Sisters, and the remains of O’Brien’s Castle

Book a Tour to the Aran Islands

Stalactite at the Doolin Cave in Ireland
© Doolin Cave Company Ltd

Doolin Cave 

Doolin Cave is a fantastic family-friendly Irish attraction located between the Cliffs of Moher and Galway. This is a great attraction to add on a Galway day trip to the Cliffs of Moher as it’s located only 10 minutes down the road! 

The cave is home to home to the longest free-standing stalactite in Europe and offers guided tours 70 meters deep into the dark depths of its caverns. A tour of Doolin Cave lasts roughly 50 minutes and is an amazing experience as you get to see this large, 7.3-meter-long stalactite that started from one single drip of water thousands of years ago. After a tour of the cave, visitors can enjoy a short trek on the one-kilometer eco-hike trail and then head to the on-site café for a bite to eat. 

Doolin Cave is located roughly an hour and a half from Galway. Unfortunately, Doolin Cave is not reachable by public transit. 

Book a Tour of Doolin Cave

Pathway start with statue to Croagh Patrick, Westport Ireland
© Frank Bach |

Croagh Patrick

If you’re looking to get out of the city and into nature, then consider making your way to Croagh Patrick for a day of hiking! 

Croagh Patrick, also known as the Reek, is a popular pilgrimage path located just outside of Westport. It is said that Saint Patrick climbed the mountain in 441 C.E. and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Since then, the trail has become a popular trek and many locals and tourists complete the pilgrimage sans shoes. At the top of Croagh Patrick, there is a church that has been dedicated to the Patron Saint of Ireland. Aside from the church, hikers will find unparalleled views of Clew Bay and the surrounding hills. 

The hike takes about three to four hours round trip and can be quite difficult towards the top due to loose rocks, so make sure to bring good hiking boots. Even though the path is quite difficult to hike due to the steepness and the rocks, several children and elderly have been able to complete the trek. 

Croagh Patrick is located an hour and a half drive from Galway. It is possible to get to Croagh Patrick from Galway via the 456 and 450 bus routes as the bus stop is right beside the trailhead. However, it will take upwards of two and a half hours to reach the trailhead by bus.

Bridge in Westport Ireland
© Chives |


The town of Westport is the ideal Irish village to visit on a day trip from Galway. This picturesque village is lined with stunning tree-lined paths and stone bridges that lead over the Carrowbeg River. Visitors can stroll about the town and pop into boutique shops to browse for souvenirs or local artisan works, enjoy a refreshing pint in one of the pubs, or head to the Georgian-era mansion, the Westport House, to tour period rooms and lush estate gardens. Visitors could also take a guided walking tour of the town, book a boat tour of Clew Bay, or rent bikes in town and head for a day’s adventure down the Great Western Greenway bike path to Achill Island! There are also several castles and points of interest near Westport, like famed female pirate Grace O’Malley’s Towerhouse, Rockfleet Castle, and the National Famine Memorial

Westport is located just over an hour’s drive from Galway or two-and-a-half hours by bus. 

View on Keem beach and bay, county Mayo, Achill island, Ireland.
mark_gusev /

Achill Island

Achill Island is one of the best places to visit in Ireland to experience remote beauty. Located on the Western coast of the country, Achill Island is Ireland’s largest island and boasts a plethora of attractions, breathtaking bays, and rugged mountains. 

One of the most unique attractions on the island is Slievemore Deserted Village. This abandoned group of stone cottages sits on the side of the emerald-green base of Achill’s tallest peak and was once the longest-running booley village in the country. Booleying was a popular way of life in Ireland where groups would move from town to town with their cattle so that they could graze on new lands every couple of months. However, when the great famine hit Ireland in 1890, many had to abandon this lifestyle, and with that, the booley villages they had constructed. Today, the foundation of these historic cottages can be found and explored for free. 

Achill Island also boasts the home of the legendary Irish female pirate Grace O’Malley. Grace O’Malley’s Tower House overlooks Clew Bay and Achill Sound and offers a glimpse into the life of pirate queen Granuaile (Grace O’Malley). Tourists can even step inside the tower! 

Keem Bay is another popular attraction on the island as it features stunning turquoise waters and sandy shores. There are hiking trails around the bay or visitors can enjoy a dip in the crystal clear waters. Other interesting things to do on Achill Island include grabbing a pint at the most westerly pub in Europe, Gieltys Bar and Restaurant, learning about the island’s history at the Achill Experience Aquarium & Visitor Centre, and enjoying a stroll through the Woodland Faerie Trail

Achill Island is a two-hour drive from Galway. Unfortunately, there is no public transit that leads to the island. 

Beautiful view of the parish church of Ss. Peter and Paul and the castle in the town of Athlone next to the river Shannon
Foto Para Ti /


The quaint village of Athlone is another picturesque small town to visit on a day tour from Galway. There are several attractions in the town for visitors of all interests. Tourists can take a Viking boat tour down the Shannon River, explore the ramparts of Athlone Castle, or hike/bike the Old Rail Trail. Athlone is also home to Sean’s Pub, which Guinness World Records has recognized as the oldest pub in Ireland. However, the owners of Sean’s Pub claim they are the oldest remaining pub in the world as during renovations they found evidence of the pub dating back to 900 C.E.

There are plenty of attractions near Athlone that are worth a visit as well, like Clonmacnoise, which boasts the ruins of a once-popular religious learning center and the gravesites of some of the high kings of Tara and Connaught. For those who aren’t familiar with Irish history, those are some pretty important graves that speak to how important the site once was in 544 B.C. Another great family-friendly attraction near Athlone is Derryglad Folk & Heritage Museum. Here, visitors can learn about the history of Ireland’s rural farm life. Other great nearby attractions include Baysports Waterpark, Meehambee Dolmen neolithic tomb, and Dún Na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park

Athlone is a fantastic easy train trip from Galway as it is only four stops away and less than an hour’s train ride. It takes an hour to drive to Athlone by car. 

Fairy bridges, impressive stone arches near Tullan Strand
MNStudio /


Bundoran is Ireland’s surf capital and one of the best vacation towns to visit in the country. The town is popular with locals as it boasts fantastic attractions for families like Bundoran Adventure Park and Waterworld Bundoran, making it the ultimate seaside resort town. Bundoran is also recognized worldwide for its fantastic surf scene, offering beginner waves at two feet high or massive monster waves hitting 30 feet. Visitors can sign up for lessons at Murfs Surf School at Tullan Strand or bring their own boards along to hit the waves. 

There is no shortage of fantastic tours and attractions in and around the town. Visitors who want to explore nature can book a beach horseback riding excursion with Island View Riding Stables, wander along the unique rock bridges known as the Fairy Bridges, or go on a llama trek at Campview Farm. The famous Eagle’s Rock hike is also located near Bundoran, which is one of the best hikes in the country. Downtown Bundoran is a great place to go for a stroll and browse beach shops and boutique stores. 

Bundoran is located just over a two-hour drive north of Galway. The 964 bus also runs to Bundoran from Galway and takes about two hours and 40 minutes. 

Rock of Cashel in Ireland
Thomas Bresenhuber /

Rock of Cashel

The Rock of Cashel has to be one of the most important historical and religious castles in all of Ireland. The breathtaking Medieval stone castle sits atop a large hill overlooking County Tipperary and is the rumored site of where Saint Patrick converted the King of Munster to Christianity in the fifth century A.D. The castle served as the main homestead for the kings of Munster and their families for several hundred years, and houses over 1000 years of history. Like with several Irish archeological sites, there are several myths and folklore surrounding the castle as well. The most famous folklore surrounding the Rock of Cashel is that the devil took a bite out of the hilltop while escaping Saint Patrick from the depths of a cave beneath the hill, which in turn left the open rock where the castle gets its name from. 

The mixture of Romanesque, Gaelic, and Gothic architecture styles makes this stunning castle rival that of many of Europe’s most famous castles. Today, tourists can explore the well-preserved castle on a self-guided tour or a guided tour of the grounds and buildings. One look at the Rock of Cashel and you’ll understand why it made our list of the best castles in Ireland

The Rock of Cashel is located roughly a two-hour drive from Galway. It is possible to get to the Rock of Cashel by train and bus, but it takes a significant amount of time (around four hours).

Dunguaire Castle, 16th-century tower house in County Galway near Kinvarra, Ireland
Stefano_Valeri /

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle is easily one of the best side trips from Galway as it’s located only a 30-minute drive away. It’s also easily accessible by public transit as you can take the 350 bus line from GMIT Library directly to the site in about 55 minutes. 

While many castles across Ireland have fallen into disrepair, Dunguaire Castle sits in exemplary condition so visitors can get a true feel of what life would have been like in the castle. This 16th-century fortress was once popular with some of the country’s most prominent literary idols, including W.B. Yeats and J.M. Synge. Today, tourists can roam the immaculate castle grounds and enjoy pristine views over Galway Bay. The castle also boasts several open banquet events that the public is welcome to attend from April until October. 

Visitors can group Dunguaire Castle with a trip to the Cliffs of Moher with this full-day tour from Galway

Book a Tour to Dunguaire Castle

Bunratty Castle in Ireland
Manuel Capellari /


Located on the River Shannon, the town of Shannon is a seriously underrated place to visit in Ireland. Shannon is home to a lively pub scene, plenty of historical sites, and beautiful natural landscapes. 

Visitors will find plenty of things to see and do in town and nearby, like trying out the flight simulator at the Shannon Aviation Museum or indulging in a round at Shannon Golf Club. The best way to visit Shannon from Galway is to make a mini road trip out of the day. Start with a visit to Craggaunowen archeological park. Here, visitors can roam a recreated Celtic fort and explore and learn about life in a 16th-century castle. Craggaunowen is located just an hour’s drive from Galway. After stopping in at the castle and fort, visitors can continue 20 minutes south to the town of Shannon for lunch and a refreshing pint at one of the pubs. Visitors can spend some time exploring the town and popping into shops or make their way 10 minutes East to the most popular attraction in the area, Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is an incredible family-friendly attraction that boasts a 19th-century village and a 15th-century castle that comes to life with its living museum concept. Kids will love the petting zoo and the actors that bring beloved period roles to life. Bunratty Castle sits on what was once a Viking village in 970. Visitors can tour the well-preserved castle or even sign up to participate in the castle’s famous Medieval banquets complete with period food and entertainment. Those with time to spare after a visit to the park should head a few minutes down the road to the original Durty Nelly’s Pub

Well, there you have it, the best day trips from Galway! Whether you’re traveling by car, train, or public transport, you’re sure to have a blast at any one of these fantastic attractions or towns.



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