Connemara offers visitors an incredible variety of ways to enjoy its rugged beauty. The breathtaking mountain and sea views, the shifting hues of gold, salmon red, and deep violet that light the skyline. Sudden expanses of crystal blue and turquoise waters amidst the greens, chocolate brown and amber of the coastline.
Clifden Town, the capital of Connemara, with its own sights and sounds to explore, provides a bright and lively hub to celebrate the day with good food, conversation and music—or to unwind and relax after a day of wandering.
HIKING & HILL WALKING
From trekking along the ridges of the Twelve Bens or Maumturks and their views of the sharply cut inlets, bays and offshore islands, to strolling any of the stunning beaches lapped by waters that might fool you into believing you were in the Caribbean, there’s a walk for every interest and ability waiting here in Connemara.
Beach Road Walk
A very simple but enjoyable walk begins just outside the door of Sea Mist House. The Beach Road takes you along Clifden Harbour and Clifden Bay out to the Boat Club, fuchsia and montbretia crowding the mossy stone walls along your walk. The New Line or Fakeeragh Road climbs away from the sea up to the Sky Road. Here you can take a 10-minute ramble left to Clifden Castle or return to Sea Mist House along the Sky Road, with views of the 12 Bens watching guard over the spires and rooftops of Clifden Town—as well as a few curious Connemara ponies in their fields—keeping you company on your downhill slope into town.
We have maps and recommendations to help you find just the kind of walk you’re looking for.
A number of looped cycle routes begin in Clifden, allowing you to explore a greater range than possible on foot, yet with the peaceful quiet of pedal power, and at speeds much slower and more independent than in a car or coach. Landscapes and vistas roll into view, linger, and lead to the next view at your pace—plus you can stop and have a closer look where you wish!
We have two bike-hire operators in Clifden. Mannion Cycles (clifdenbikes.com) or All Things Connemara (allthingsconnemara.ie) (specialists in electric bike hire) can get you set up with everything you need to explore Connemara on 2 wheels.
The beaches of Connemara, an often undiscovered treasure for many visitors here, are a sight and experience not soon forgotten. Anyone who has taken the time to wander and look out upon the offshore islands and rocks or look back upon the shouldering mountains, listening to pebbles clink and wash upon the shore, can tell you how magical a walk along these sands can be.
Coral Beach, Dogs Bay and Gurteen, Mannin Bay, Aillebrack, Omey, Renvyle, and Glassilaun are a few to get you started.
CONNEMARA NATIONAL PARK
The Connemara National Park at Letterfrack, with nearly 3000 hectares of grass and woodlands, bog, heath, and mountains, offers the more active visitor an introduction to hill-walking. Diamond Hill, reached with a boardwalk and paved step trail affords views of the other Twelve Bens peaks.
Admission is free. Park facilities are open daily from 9:30-5 from March to October and features multilingual audio-visual shows and exhibitions in the Visitor Centre and Tea Room, a children’s playground and picnic areas, plus access to nature trails.
Park plant life includes heathers, purple moor grass, insect-eating sundew and butterwort, as well as milkwort, bog cotton, lousewort, bog myrtle and orchids. Birdlife variety is extensive and consists of meadow pipits, skylarks, stonechats, the kestrel, merlin, and peregrine falcon, as well as robins, wrens, and chaffinches. Mammals in the park include the Connemara pony, red deer, rabbits, foxes, stoats, shrews, bats, pine marten, and the invasive non-native mink.
KYLEMORE ABBEY & VICTORIAN WALLED GARDENS
One of Ireland’s top visited and photographed attractions, Kylemore Abbey sits on the shores of Lough Pollacappul and was built in 1871 by Mitchell Henry for his wife, Margaret. The drive to Kylemore from Sea Mist House through the picturesque Inagh Valley takes you through the heart of the Twelve Bens and Maumturk Mountains.
The attraction features the black and white stones of the Abbey, a Gothic church, Victorian walled gardens, multi-lingual audio-visual exhibitions, lake and woodland walks, a craft shop, and restaurant.
ALCOCK & BROWN LANDING SITE
On the morning of 15 June 1919, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown landed their Vickers Vimy in a bog 4.8km (3 miles) outside Clifden—very close to the masts of the Marconi Wireless Station. Their journey, begun almost 16 hours earlier in Newfoundland, made aeronautic history as the first non-stop transatlantic flight.
Just 3 miles south of Clifden at a crossroads, the road west takes you to Erisslannan Peninsula and a tail-fin monument dedicated in 1959 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Alcock & Brown landing. Take the less-travelled road east to the actual site of the landing. Amidst the ruins of the Marconi Station, famous itself for transmitting the first commercial transatlantic wireless message in 1907, a white stone-and-concrete cairn points out the real landing site was another 500 metres north, in Derrygimlagh bog.
Connemara Championship Golf Links features 27 beautiful and demanding holes that stretch and wind near the shores of Aillebrack Beach, south of Ballyconneely. Views of the 12 Bens, the Mweelrea Mountains in Mayo, Bunowen Hill, and Slyne Head reaching out into the Atlantic surround you on nearly every shot.
For your short game, Hazlewood Pitch & Putt lies 3.2km (2 miles) north of Clifden, overlooking Streamstown Bay and just off the Westport Road on the northern section of the Sky Road.
CONNEMARA PONY HORSEBACK RIDING & TREKKING
Riding centres in the area offer a rare view of our beautiful seascapes, boglands, and beaches. Pony hire is available in Ballyconneely, Cleggan, Errislannan or Renvyle.
FISHING & SEA ANGLING
The streams and shores of Connemara offer the angler a variety of game fish, including salmon, sea-trout, turbot, eel, mackerel, pollock, flounder, plaice and even sharks and rays. We can help with obtaining permits, information, and arranging deep-sea angling tours.
An abundance of boutique shops and galleries offer Clifden visitors fashion and apparel, antiques, fine art paintings, woollens and knit wear, books, crafts, and gifts to remember your trip to Connemara.
Restaurants, Pubs & Music
Bistro, delicatessen, pub food or fine dining, the bars and restaurants that ring Clifden’s three main roads ensure you won’t go hungry—or thirsty! Many pubs offer live nightly music from local and visiting artists. Look for traditional sessions, ballads and folk songs, as well as more contemporary rock, blues, and jazz in venues throughout town.