Planning Your Time

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Planning Your Time

Visitors are often geared to a faster pace, but they should allow at least two days for exploring the region, four to six days if you intend to do some serious hiking or cycling, take a boat trip on Lough Corrib, visit Clare Island, and enjoy the village (and pub) life of Clifden and Westport. Although distances between sights are not great, you may want to take scenic—meaning slower—national secondary routes. Covering 80 to 112 km (50 to 70 miles) per day on these roads is a comfortable target.

If you love the outdoors, dramatic scenery, empty roads, and deserted coves, then you'll be in heaven in Connemara and Mayo. If you're a city lover, and tend to fade without daily doses of caffeine and retail therapy, then base yourself in Clifden for the first night, where there is coffee aplenty, and the shopping is surprisingly good for a very small town (Irish designer wear, locally made tweed, traditional hand-knits, and wackier hand-crafted knitwear).

If You Have 3 Days

Allow a full day to meander slowly from Galway City to Clifden, perhaps stopping in Oughterard to take a boat trip to Cong for a little Quiet (Man) time, or climbing the slopes of the heather-clad mountains. Next morning, hire a Connemara pony, or take a stroll along the Sky Road before heading to the Connemara National Park in Letterfrack. A side trip to Renvyle to enjoy the view is worth it in clear weather. Spend the night in the Letterfrack area, then take in Kylemore Abbey next day, and push on to Killary Harbour where you can take a boat trip on Ireland's only fjord. Drive the scenic Doolough Valley to Westport for your third night. Next day, climb Croagh Patrick, or take a walk on the big sandy beach at its base, or a day trip to Clare Island (long a haven for bird-watchers, archaeologists, and natural historians but also the venue for highly successful singles weekends—a novel way to meet your match). If the weather grounds you, head up to Turlough and the nostalgic Museum of Country Life (allow two hours).

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