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 an 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 surprisingly good shopping for a very small town (Irish designer wear, locally made tweed, traditional hand-knits, and wackier handcrafted knitwear).

If You Have 3 Days

Allow a full day to meander slowly from Galway City to Clifden, perhaps stopping by Roundstone, a charming fishing village, to hike heather-clad Errisbeg Mountain or idle on the white sandy dunes of Dog's Bay. Next morning, take a stroll along the Sky Road before heading to the lovely Kylemore Abbey and its gardens. Drive the scenic Doolough Valley to Westport for your second night. Next day, hire a bike to cycle on the traffic-free coastal path, the Great Western Greenway, or drive across the bridge to Achill Island for some magnificent coastal scenery. If the weather grounds you, head up to Turlough and the nostalgic Museum of Country Life (allow two hours), but if it is fine, push on to the North Mayo coast, where you can walk in the footsteps of Stone Age farmers, and test your nerve on rugged Downpatrick Head.

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