Planning Your Time

There’s much to see between Clare and Galway, so prioritizing your time means prioritizing your interests: if you want quintessential Irish castles, scenery, music, and history, spend all three days in Clare, allowing yourself time to stop and explore everything from Bunratty to the Burren and Craggaunowen to the Cliffs, as well as a night on the Aran Islands. If you want a little city buzz with your scenery, save the third day for vibrant Galway City—rich in history and alive with artistic activity and festivals—and plan to spend the night so that you can sample the lively pub and music scenes.

If You Have 3 Days

With three days in this region, start with the Cliffs of Moher, the region's most breathtaking attraction, best enjoyed early in the day. Allow the rest of the day for exploring the Burren Park. Your first stop should be the pretty village of Kilfenora where you will find an unrivalled collection of High Crosses and the Burren Center Museum, the place for an overview of the park's evolution. Then head north along Corkscrew Hill, a road that's etched into a mountainside with panoramic views of the Burren's karst landscape. From here drive the short distance to Ailwee Cave and the Burren's famous landmark, the Poulnabrone Dolmen–-an ancient portal tomb. Settle down for the night in Ballyvaughan, a quiet village on Galway Bay.

On Day 2, take the coastal route south with the Burren's rocky contours to the left and the blue ocean to the right, and pause by the roadside as the Cliffs of Moher come into view. Move onto Doolin Pier to catch the first ferry to the Aran Islands, which departs at 10 am. The boats sail to all three islands, but for a day trip, Inis Oírr is the closest, which gives you the most island time to seek out its hidden beaches and meandering pathways that carve through the neat stonewalled fields. Upgrade your ferry ticket to stay on board to cruise the Cliffs of Moher from the ocean, where you can fully appreciate their vast scale. Spend the evening in Doolin, where there's a guaranteed opportunity for a lively traditional music session in any of the pubs.

On Day 3, head to Galway City. It's Ireland’s most charming city, with a bohemian attitude, fine dining, and an invigorating pub scene. Stay anywhere between the Quays and Eyre Square and explore the city's medieval quarter on foot, before selecting one of its fine restaurants to round off the evening.

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