County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands

We’ve compiled the best of the best in County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

Sort by: 40 Recommendations {{numTotalPoiResults}} {{ (numTotalPoiResults===1)?'Recommendation':'Recommendations' }} 0 Recommendations
CLEAR ALL Area Search CLEAR ALL
Loading...
Loading...
  • 1. Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

    After a number of tit-for-tat burning of castles by the Normans and local chieftains on or nearby the current castle, the McNamara clan built the...

    After a number of tit-for-tat burning of castles by the Normans and local chieftains on or nearby the current castle, the McNamara clan built the existing 15th-century Bunratty Castle. It was once the stronghold of the O'Brien family who became the Earls of Thomond before they left Ireland in the 17th century for a change of identity and cozier lifestyle in England, but the castle is the park's highlight. It's now fully restored to its former glory, including everything from its carefully chosen period furniture to its "murder holes" that allowed defenders to pour boiling oil on attackers below. The views across the Shannon River from over the battlements are spectacular. Bunratty Folk Park has a carefully planned reconstruction of a typical 19th-century village, which comes complete with school, haberdashery, and, of course, a fully stocked Mac's Pub. Other highlights scattered about the park include the Shannon Farmhouse, the park's first exhibit, which was transported stone by stone from a site earmarked for Shannon Airport's main runway, and the 1898 Hazelbrook House, which was the home of Ireland's most famous ice-cream producers. Pa's Pet Farm and the Fairy Trail keep younger visitors intrigued. The castle runs epic annual events at Halloween and Christmastime. A café and high-end gift store at the entrance to the park has good-quality lunch bites. Visit Bunratty Castle first as it is the earliest attraction to close (at 4 pm, to facilitate the evening banquets).

    Bunratty, Co. Clare, Ireland
    061-711--222

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €10
  • 2. Cathedral of St. Fachtna

    Beside the Burren Centre in Kilfenora, the ruins of a small 12th-century church, once the Cathedral of St. Fachtna, have been partially restored as a...

    Beside the Burren Centre in Kilfenora, the ruins of a small 12th-century church, once the Cathedral of St. Fachtna, have been partially restored as a parish church. Over the transept, a glass ceiling protects High Crosses and effigies from the harsh elements. Note the impressive Doorty Cross in the Lady's Chapel. There are some interesting carvings in the roofless choir, including an unusual, life-size human skeleton. In the chancel, there is an impressive east-facing window with ancient carvings. In a field, about 165 feet west of the ruins is an elaborately sculpted High Cross that is worth examining, though parts of it are badly weathered. Visit early evening when the High Crosses are illuminated to get a clearer view of their intricacies and scale.

    Maryville, Kilfenora, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 3. Cliffs of Moher

    Though not the tallest cliffs in Ireland, these giant bastions of Irish tourism feature high on the bucket list of visitors to Ireland because of...

    Though not the tallest cliffs in Ireland, these giant bastions of Irish tourism feature high on the bucket list of visitors to Ireland because of one undeniable fact; they're magnificent. Reaching a colossal height of over 700 feet and looming over 8 km (5 miles) of County Clare's jagged coastline, they offer panoramic views across the seaboard from County Kerry to County Galway. Numerous colonies of seabirds, including puffins and guillemots, make their homes in the shelves of rock on the cliffs. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience—a grass-roof, subterranean visitor center built into the cliff face—is a good refuge from passing rain squalls. The interior imitates the limestone caves of County Clare and contains a gift shop, public toilets, and a tearoom. The Atlantic Edge exhibition features information panels and interactive consoles for children; the highlight is the Ledge, a vertiginous virtual reality tour of the cliffs from a bird's-eye view. Outside the center, extensive hiking paths (some with elevated viewing platforms) give access to the real thing, including O'Brien's Tower, a 19th-century folly built on the cliffs' highest point (€2 extra for access to upper levels and O'Brien exhibit) at the northern extremity. Parking is on the opposite side of the R478; access is by a pedestrian crossing. Pedestrians may be asked to pay admission for the use of the visitor facilities. Take the Cliffs of Moher cruise from Doolin or Liscannor for a different perspective of the cliffs below the giant stacks.

    Lahinch, Co. Clare, Ireland
    065-708–6141

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €7 to €10
    View Tours and Activities
  • 4. Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail

    Avoid the tourist buses and take the lesser-seen view of the Cliffs of Moher by following the trail from Doolin to Liscannor. From Fisher Street...

    Avoid the tourist buses and take the lesser-seen view of the Cliffs of Moher by following the trail from Doolin to Liscannor. From Fisher Street in Doolin, climb up the steep, narrow road by the village's low stone wall and follow the trail through a meadow, which leads to a cliff-hugging pathway with Ireland’s most dramatic seascape as its constant companion. Between Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher the terrain is hilly, with views over a giant slab of rock that creates a surf swell called Aill na Searrach. Stop and enjoy the staggering panorama of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands from the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher. The final leg of the trail brings Hag’s Head into view before descending into Liscannor Village, the home of submarine inventor John P. Holland. The trail is 14 km (8½ miles) and it takes on average 3½ hours to complete. The trail is challenging, with features that include road walking on uneven surface, exposed, rail-free clifftop paths, and steep flagstone steps. Organized walks from Doolin leave from O'Connor's pub at 10 am daily.

    Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 5. Dún Aengus

    Even if you have only a few hours to explore Inis Mór, rent a bike (next to the pier) and head straight for Dún Aengus...

    Even if you have only a few hours to explore Inis Mór, rent a bike (next to the pier) and head straight for Dún Aengus (or Dún Aonghasa.) Set at the edge of a 300-foot precipice towering over the ocean, this semicircular fortress is one of the finest prehistoric monuments in Europe and the main draw to Inis Mór. The purpose of its construction more than 3,000 years ago is a matter of conjecture, and also irrelevant to the legions of seabirds who occupy its scenic Atlantic perch looking out on Connemara and the 12 Pin Mountains. Beware: there is no barrier to the 300-foot drop at the edge. Allow 1–1½ hours for a visit. In order to protect this fragile monument from erosion, you should approach it only through the visitor center, which gives access to a 1-km (½-mile) uphill walk over uneven terrain—wear sturdy footwear.

    Kilmurvy, Co. Galway, Ireland
    099-61008

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5
  • Recommended Fodor’s Video

  • 6. Dunguaire Castle

    Like a chess piece flung onto a windswept rock a short stroll from the village of Kinvara, Dunguaire Castle has braced the Atlantic for 400...

    Like a chess piece flung onto a windswept rock a short stroll from the village of Kinvara, Dunguaire Castle has braced the Atlantic for 400 years, replacing the king of Connaught's 6th-century palace upon its construction. Built in 1520 by the O'Hynes clan, the tiny storybook castle takes its name from the fabled king of Connaught, Guaire. In 1924 it was purchased by Oliver St. John Gogarty, the noted surgeon, man of letters, and model for Buck Mulligan, a character in James Joyce's Ulysses. Many of the leading figures of the 19th-century Celtic revival in Irish literature came to visit his west coast outpost. Today Dunguaire is used for a medieval banquet that honors local writers and others with ties to the West, including Lady Gregory, W. B. Yeats, Seán O'Casey, and Pádraic Ó Conaire. Book in advance for the medieval banquet.

    Dungory West, Kinvara, Co. Galway, Ireland
    061-711--222

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €8, Closed Oct.--Mar.
  • 7. Kilmacduagh Monastery

    Kilmacduagh's 110-foot-high Round Tower, reputedly the tallest in the world, tilts 3 feet from the vertical over the monastery below. Arguably more impressive than the...

    Kilmacduagh's 110-foot-high Round Tower, reputedly the tallest in the world, tilts 3 feet from the vertical over the monastery below. Arguably more impressive than the famous tower at Glendalough and without the backdrop of tour buses, Kilmacduagh is peaceful apart from the mournful lowing of cattle. The monastery was founded in the 7th century, but the tower, cathedral, churches, and abbot's home were built more than three centuries later. St. Colman, who founded the monastery, is buried behind the cathedral. Lying on his grave is believed to relieve back pain. The key to the site can be obtained across the street at the Tower View Guesthouse with a €5 deposit.

    Kilmacduagh, Gort, Co. Galway, Ireland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 8. Lahinch Beach

    At the first hint of sunshine, locals drop everything and flock to Lahinch's Blue Flag beach, a wide, sandy crescent about 2½ km (1½ miles)...

    At the first hint of sunshine, locals drop everything and flock to Lahinch's Blue Flag beach, a wide, sandy crescent about 2½ km (1½ miles) long, facing southwest onto the Atlantic Ocean. The most popular beach in County Clare, it has a good selection of facilities (even off-season), but it can get crowded---the trick is to arrive early. The beach has long been a family favorite, offering safe bathing and ideal conditions for beginner surfers. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); toilets; water sports. Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming; walking.

    Lahinch Beach, Lahinch, Co. Clare, Ireland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Parking fee €2 for 3 hrs, Arrive early as parking can be difficult in season
  • 9. Poulnabrone Megalithic Tomb

    The biggest and most famous of the Burren's megalithic tombs, Poulnabrone ("the hole of sorrows") is a portal grave/dolmen with a massive capstone and a...

    The biggest and most famous of the Burren's megalithic tombs, Poulnabrone ("the hole of sorrows") is a portal grave/dolmen with a massive capstone and a majestic presence amid the craggy limestone fields shouldering the moody gray Burren skies. The monument was built around 4,500 years ago. Stand downwind and you might hear ancient whispers. There is a designated car park nearby with a historical timeline and a short gravel walkway to the dolmen (freely accessible). It's open and windy here, so grab an extra layer.

    Kilfenora, Co. Clare, Ireland
  • 10. Quin Abbey

    Set in a meadow by a crystal clear river in the heart of the village and beside the ruin of St. Mary’s Church, Quin Abbey...

    Set in a meadow by a crystal clear river in the heart of the village and beside the ruin of St. Mary’s Church, Quin Abbey is one of Ireland’s finest ancient monasteries. Legend has it that a McNamara chieftain built the abbey in 1402 in gratitude to God for saving his son, who had survived a tumble into the icy river at the site of construction. The choice of location was most likely due to the sturdy retaining walls and turrets of an old Norman castle that had remained intact, forming a practical foundation for the abbey. The bumpy terrain in the surrounding fields gives an insight to the old castle’s scale. Despite Quin Abbey’s desecration and damage during the turbulent 17th century, its bell tower, cloisters, and lady’s chapel are well maintained. Take time to inspect the south-facing wall of the church: the shape of a crucifix will appear, etched onto the charred masonry after a Cromwellian visit. The founder of the monastery is interred here, while his descendant, "Fireball" McNamara, is buried around the corner in the lady’s chapel. Other notable eternal guests of the abbey include the Dunboyne family from nearby Knappogue Castle, and the Blood Family, relatives of the great crown jewel thief, Thomas Blood.

    Co. Clare, Ireland

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Nov.--Mar., but grounds open all year
  • 11. The Burren Way

    You can explore the Burren area by car, from a bike, or from the back of a bus, but the very best way to soak...

    You can explore the Burren area by car, from a bike, or from the back of a bus, but the very best way to soak in the raw beauty of this craggy landscape is on foot. The Burren Way is a 123-km (82-mile) way-marked hiking trail, its highlight being the stretch from Lahinch to Ballyvaughan on the shores of Galway Bay, a distance of 35 km (22 miles). If you're short on time/breath, you may want to focus on the most spectacular and popular section, which runs along the top of the Cliffs of Moher from Doolin to the coast near Lisdoonvarna, a distance of about 5 km (3 miles). The trail continues through the heart of the Burren's gray, rocky limestone landscape, with ever-changing views offshore of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. Buy a map locally.

    Ireland
  • 12. Aillwee Cave

    A vast 2-million-year-old cave, Aillwee is the biggest and most impressive chamber in the region accessible to those who aren't spelunkers. Illuminated for about 3,300...

    A vast 2-million-year-old cave, Aillwee is the biggest and most impressive chamber in the region accessible to those who aren't spelunkers. Illuminated for about 3,300 feet, the cave contains an underground river and waterfall. Aboveground, there are a big crafts shop, cheese-making demonstrations, a café, and the Burren Birds of Prey Centre, which puts on flying displays from eagles, falcons, hawks, and owls daily at noon and 3 pm (weather permitting). Discounts available if you book online.

    Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland
    065-707–7036

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €15
  • 13. Burren Centre

    Along with a café and a crafts shop with good maps and locally published guides, the tiny Burren Centre has a modest audiovisual display and...

    Along with a café and a crafts shop with good maps and locally published guides, the tiny Burren Centre has a modest audiovisual display and other exhibits that explain the Burren's geology, flora, and archaeology.

    Kilfenora, Co. Clare, Ireland
    065-708–8030

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed Nov.--mid-Mar.
  • 14. Caherconnell Stone Fort

    There are several stone forts in the Burren thought to have been in use between AD 400 and 1200, but Caherconnell—1 km (½ mile) south...

    There are several stone forts in the Burren thought to have been in use between AD 400 and 1200, but Caherconnell—1 km (½ mile) south of Poulnabrone—is the best preserved, and the only one excavated and easily accessible to visitors. The interpretive center has an audiovisual display on the chief archaeological features of the area, including burial places marked by dolmens or cairns. Ongoing excavations continue to fill in the blanks of this impressive structure's history. Be sure to check out the sheepdog demonstrations and café.

    Caherconnell, Kilfenora, Co. Clare, V95 YK31, Ireland
    065-708–9999

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From €6, Closed Nov.--mid-Mar.
  • 15. Church of Kevin

    Signposted to the southeast of the quay, the Church of Kevin is a small, early Christian church that gets buried in sand by storms every...

    Signposted to the southeast of the quay, the Church of Kevin is a small, early Christian church that gets buried in sand by storms every winter. Each year the islanders dig it out of the sand for the celebration of St. Kevin's Day on June 14.

    Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 16. Coole-Garryland Nature Reserve

    Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory (1859–1932), patron of W. B. Yeats and cofounder with the poet of Dublin's Abbey Theatre....

    Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory (1859–1932), patron of W. B. Yeats and cofounder with the poet of Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Yeats visited here often, as did almost all the other writers who contributed to the Irish literary revival in the first half of the 20th century. The house became derelict after Lady Gregory's death and was demolished in 1941; the grounds are now a wildlife park with a herd of deer and 6 km (4 miles) of nature trails. Picnic tables make this a lovely alfresco lunch spot. There's also a visitor center with displays on Lady Gregory and W. B. Yeats. Don't miss the park's only reminder of its literary past, the Autograph Tree, a giant copper beech, on which many of Lady Gregory's famous guests carved their initials.

    Gort, Co. Galway, Ireland
    091-631–804

    Sight Details

    Visitor center and tearooms closed Oct.--Easter Rate Includes: Free
  • 17. Doolin Cave

    Formed from a drop of water thousands of years ago, Doolin Cave's Great Stalactite hangs from the ceiling like a giant rocky sword. The 24-foot...

    Formed from a drop of water thousands of years ago, Doolin Cave's Great Stalactite hangs from the ceiling like a giant rocky sword. The 24-foot feature is one of the world's longest known free-hanging stalactites, and the cave's star attraction. Tours of the cave run on the hour, and outside there's a walking trail around a working farm.

    Craggycoradon E, Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland
    65-707--5761

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €8.50
  • 18. Eyre Square

    The largest open space in central Galway and the arrival and departure point by train and bus, this is a favorite chill-out spot on a...

    The largest open space in central Galway and the arrival and departure point by train and bus, this is a favorite chill-out spot on a sunny day for students, visitors, and lunching locals. Eyre Square on the east side of the River Corrib incorporates a sculpture garden and children's play area, while its west side is bound by a heavily traveled road. In the center is Kennedy Park, a patch of lawn named in honor of John F. Kennedy, who spoke here when he visited the city in June 1963. At the north end of the park, a 20-foot-high steel sculpture standing in the pool of a fountain represents the brown sails seen on Galway hookers, the area's traditional sailing boats. Now a feature of Kennedy Park, the Browne Doorway was taken in 1905 from the Browne family's town house on Upper Abbeygate Street; it has the 17th-century coats of arms of both the Browne and Lynch families (two of Galway's 14 founding families).

    Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
    View Tours and Activities
  • 19. Galway Cathedral

    Nun's Island

    Dominating Galway City's skyline for more than half a century with its massive, green, copper dome, Galway Cathedral's hulking brick exterior has had a mixed...

    Dominating Galway City's skyline for more than half a century with its massive, green, copper dome, Galway Cathedral's hulking brick exterior has had a mixed reception from critics since its construction. Inside, the limestone walls draw the eye up, while the stained-glass windows and the dome's light-filled contour add a heavenly perspective.

    Gaol Rd., Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
    091-563–577

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
    View Tours and Activities
  • 20. Galway City Museum

    Spanish Arch

    The city's civic museum, housed in a modern building behind the Spanish Arch, contains materials relating to local history: old photographs, antiquities (the oldest is...

    The city's civic museum, housed in a modern building behind the Spanish Arch, contains materials relating to local history: old photographs, antiquities (the oldest is a stone ax head carbon-dated to 3500 BC), and a full-scale Galway hooker (turf-carrying boat) in the stairwell, as well as information on the city's involvement in Ireland's 1916 Rising. On the top floor, there's a child-friendly ocean-life museum with panoramic Corrib River views. Its café, the Kitchen, is a lively lunch and coffee spot.

    Galway City, Co. Galway, Ireland
    091-532-460

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, June--Sept., closed Mon.; Oct.--Easter, closed Sun. and Mon.
    View Tours and Activities

No sights Results

Please try a broader search, or expore these popular suggestions:

There are no results for {{ strDestName }} Sights in the searched map area with the above filters. Please try a different area on the map, or broaden your search with these popular suggestions:

Recommended Fodor’s Video