This article is sponsored by Ford Ireland
24 hours isn’t much time if you’re looking to explore Galway.
However, if you map out a well thought-out itinerary you can see/do a decent amount in a short space of time (as you’ll discover below).
Some quick need-to-knows about this Galway itinerary
Although this Galway road trip is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
1. We started and ended around Leenane
So, we arrived into Galway the night before and based ourselves in Leenane. You can start your trip wherever you fancy – just adjust the stops if you need to.
2. Picking a corner of Galway to explore
I was very aware of the limited time we had, so I picked a part of Galway and planned around it to avoid having to spend too much time driving. You can use this interactive map of Galway’s attractions to find an area that has plenty to see/do around it.
3. An electric road trip
We did this road trip in the All-Electric Ford Mustang Mach-E. We had driven through Westport the night before and stopped there for a charge (got it to 80% and then hit the road). Thanks to the generous range in the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s battery, this charge did us for the of the day (we did, however, top up in Clifden as there was a charger in the car park).
Stop 1. Killary Fjord
We kicked things off from Leenane and tipped down to the parking area in front of Killary Fjord, first (mainly as it was misty the evening before and we couldn’t see a thing!).
If you land here early in the morning it tends to be nice and quiet. If you land here in the afternoon during the summer you’re likely to find it mobbed, as it’s a hot spot for tour buses.
Stop 2: Coffee with a view
As you follow the road out of Leenane keep an eye out for the sign for Misunderstood Heron – it’s on the right before you reach the Killary Adventure Company.
There’s plenty of seating near the food truck and there’s some mighty views out over Killary Fjord from here. If you rock up here when the sun is blazing it’s hard to resist plonking yourself down for a while.
Stop 3: The Diamond Hill hike
Here’s a good example of how Ireland’s weather can change in an instant. We’d lashed on the Factor 50 that morning, thinking we’d be scorched during our hike but, as we pulled into the park, the sun disappeared.
Probably just as well! There’s a lower and upper trail here. We did the upper which was nice and steep in places and it took us around 2.5 hours or so.
Diamond Hill is a strenuous hike in places but the views from the top are out of this world. Not a bad start to the morning!
Stop 4: A swim at Coral Strand
The sun arrived back as we made our way down Diamond Hill so we headed for Dog’s Bay. However, as we approached the turn down to it became very apparent that we wouldn’t get within a mile of the sand.
We kept motoring on and stumbled upon Coral Strand – part of the Mannin Bay Blueway. While there were hundreds of people down around Dog’s Bay, this place was virtually empty, and it was only a short drive away.
The see at Coral Strand was icy but we quickly acclimatised to it after the trek up Diamond Hill. The water here is crystal clear and, on a fine day, there’s few beaches in Connemara like it.
You might have heard me yapping away about the car’s front trunk during our Mayo road trip when we were swimming at Keem Bay.
As the Mustang Mach-E has no engine (it’s fully powered by battery), there’s a spacious 81-litre storage compartment beneath the bonnet, which comes in handy when you have a load of wet gear from a swim!
Stop 5: Clifden for a charge and a feed
I hadn’t planned on charging the car in Clifden as we still had plenty of battery. However, when we pulled into the public car park I noticed a charger sitting empty, so I popped it in.
We then headed off to the Station House for feed. We got an additional 25% of charge over lunch which took us to 82%*.
Stop 6: The Sky Road
Our next stop was the Sky Road just outside of Clifden Town. If you’re doing this drive for the first time you should, in my opinion, opt for the upper road as the views are more impressive.
You’ll also want to use a lot of caution as you’ll regularly meet walkers and cyclists on these roads (they’re very bendy in places so there are a lot of blind spots).
There’s a viewing area (see the photo above) where you can pull in and soak up the views.
Stop 7: Kylemore Abbey
The sun retreated again as we made our way to the fairytale-like Kylemore Abbey, a stone’s throw from Clifden.
You’ll see the Abbey from the moment you enter the car park. Park up and head for the ticket area. From here you’ll continue along the road towards the Abbey.
You can head inside for a nosey around and then walk (or take the handy shuttle) up to the gardens for a coffee and a walk around.
Stop 8: The Doolough Valley
When we finished up at Kylemore we headed back to Leenane. The weather for the following day looked terrible, so we decided to do the Leenane to Louisburgh drive that evening while we had the sun.
This drive is via the glorious Doolough Valley and it takes you into Mayo. It’s a relatively short drive but the landscape is like something from another world.
There’s a nice viewing area from the Mayo side (up the hill) but this tends to be full a lot of the time.
You’ll find a nice little pull in area before you reach the hill (see the photo above) where you can park, hop out and gaze out over the inky black water.
Wrapping up our Galway road trip
We’ve done pretty well weather-wise on our various travels this summer. The beauty of the long dry days is that the opportunities are endless.
We packed a good bit into this itinerary but it was very doable and there wasn’t a huge amount of driving needed.
We’ve been fortunate enough to have the All-Electric Ford Mustang Mach-E for several trips this summer and it’s an absolute joy to spin around.
Every inch of the car feels luxurious, it’s fun to drive, there’s ample storage space and there’s endless techy features (like the brilliant B&O sound system) that make long journeys a doddle.
Find out more about the All-Electric Ford Mustang Mach-E on Ford.ieA.
*Charge power can decrease with increasing state of charge. Actual charge times and charge speeds can vary based on different factors (e.g. Weather, temperature, driving behaviour, route profile, vehicle condition, age and condition of the lithium-ion-battery, used charging infrastructure
**Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and weight distribution.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.