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Image / Living / Travel

©Failte Ireland/Tourism Ireland. Courtesy of Stephen Duffy

Day tripper – The best day trips in and around Galway if you left it too last minute to book anything


by Sarah Finnan
30th May 2021

This is a new series in which I’ll be exploring different parts of the country each week. So, please feel free to share your suggestions for places worthy of a visit!

The weather outside may have you thinking otherwise, but summer is well and truly on the way and with restrictions set to ease further as the weeks roll in, that can only mean good things for our big bucket list plans. There is one roadblock that has acted as a bit of a hindrance to those plans though, and that’s our lack of forward planning. 

We had every intention of pre-booking things to ensure our staycations were locked, loaded and ready to go… but one thing led to another and suddenly there was no room at the inn. It seems that everyone else was far more prepared than we were. All is not lost though and the good news is that there are still plenty of ways to enjoy your annual leave, even if you didn’t manage to secure accommodation and the likes ahead of time. 

The answer? Day trips. The perfect compromise between staying and going, you’ll be able to explore a new part of the country without having to worry about any of the other faff that usually comes with organising a trip away. 

This week’s focus is Galway. 

Go for a hike at Connemara National Park 

Spanning across 2,000 hectares of lush Galway countryside, Connemara National Park is only a short car journey from Galway city itself. Open year-round, there are no fees for entry to the grounds, trails, or exhibition and if you’re lucky, the weather will cooperate and you’ll be treated to some of the finest views around. 

day trips Galway
Connemara Coast, Getty

Soak up the history Kylemore Abbey

Once described as a “savage beauty” by Oscar Wilde, Kylemore Abbey is another feature to be found deep within Connemara. Home to a Benedictine Abbey and a beautiful Victorian walled garden, both are due to reopen (along with the visitor centre) on June 4. Ticket prices start at €12.50 for students and give you entry to the whole estate. You can find more information here

Galway day trips
Kylemore Abbey

Meander along the blue flag beach in Spiddal 

Everyone knows Salthill, but set sail for Spiddal and you’ll be rewarded with two south-facing beaches – Trá na mBan, a blue flag beach amongst them. A village nestled on the shore of Galway Bay, visiting Spiddal will remind you of past summers spent wiling the weeks away at the Gaeltacht. 

day trips Galway
Spiddal, Getty

Make the pilgrimage up Croagh Patrick

Not for the faint of heart, walking up Croagh Patrick is no easy feat so don’t have anyone tell you otherwise. Steep in places, the loose rock near the top is probably the most treacherous but make it to the top, and the sweeping vistas will more than make up for it. 

day trips Galway
Croagh Patrick, Getty

Sample the goods at Misunderstood Heron 

A food truck located along the Wild Atlantic Way – one of the eight coolest in the world according to Lonely Planet Misunderstood Heron can be found overlooking the majestic Killary Fjord. Run by Kim and Reinaldo, a husband and wife team with a passion for good food, their lust for life is palpable and you’ll want to go back for second, third and fourth helpings. 

 

day trips Galway
Misunderstood Heron

Sup a pint at Ireland’s oldest pub

Pubs, restaurants, and hotels across Ireland are busy putting the finishing touches in place ahead of their reopening next month, and having spent the vast majority of the past year closed, many of them will be crying out for custom. Head to Athlone in Westmeath and you’ll happen upon Sean’s Bar. As Ireland’s oldest pub, you can guarantee that the pints are always flowing and the craic is always 90. 

day trips Galway
Sean’s bar

Horse riding in Lisdoonvarna

Made famous by Christy Moore in his song of the same name, there’s lots to do in Lisdoonvarna and at just under an hour and a half’s drive from Galway, it’s perfect for a quick day trip. While it’s yet unsure whether the annual matchmaking festival will go ahead or not (a decision on the 2021 festival is expected to be made in July), horse riding up the hills of Slieve Elva is definitely one for the books. 

day trips Galway
Mountain View Horse Riding Centre

Enjoy some fresh Galway oysters

Foodies flock to Galway for the international oyster festival each year, but you needn’t wait until September to enjoy some of the county’s freshly-caught produce. One of the oldest oyster farms in Ireland, host David has been welcoming visitors to Ballinakill Bay for years, teaching them all about the practice of growing oysters and giving them a taste of the local delicacies while they’re there too. A must for anyone with a penchant for seafood.

day trips Galway
Oyster Tour and Tasting at Ballinakill Bay, Viator

Navigate the ziplines at Lough Key Forest Park

Lough Key Forest Park in Boyle, Co Roscommon has a fantastic high ropes experience that is well worth making the trip from Galway for. A fun-packed day out, there you’ll find 1km of ziplines, Ireland’s largest ropes course and 1.8km of forest treetop challenges. All built in a natural forest setting, it’s a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life… plus it will definitely help to tire the kids out too. 

day trips Galway
Lough Key Forest Park

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