With soft white sands, crystal clear blue waters, and a backdrop of mountains, Glassilaun Beach in Connemara is hard to beat.
On a sunny day, you could easily mistake it for belonging in a far more tropical country!
Below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and swimming at Glassilaun Beach to what to see nearby.
Some quick need-to-knows about Glassilaun Beach
Although a visit to Glassilaun Beach in Connemara is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Glassilaun Beach enjoys an amazing location in Galway’s Connemara region, an area known for its rugged natural beauty and rich Irish culture. Sitting near the mouth of the Killary Fjord, it’s around 30 minutes drive from Clifden and an hour and a half from Galway City.
There’s a car park right on the edge of the beach, tarmacked and with a couple of portaloos during the peak season (here on Google Maps). In good weather, it soon fills up though, so be sure to arrive early.
3. Limited mobility visitors
Glassilaun Beach is a great choice for visitors with limited mobility. The car park is right on the edge of the beach, so it’s just a short walk onto the sand. Even just staying in the car park offers up some superb views, and it’s a stunning place to enjoy a picnic.
Although we’ve tried our best, we can’t find any official information on whether it’s OK to swim at Glassilaun Bay Beach. There’s definitely an indication that it’s safe, but we can’t be sure, so we’d advise that you check locally or keep your toes on dry land.
About Glassilaun Beach
Perched in the shadow of the mighty Mweelrea Mountain, Glassilaun Beach is simply outstanding and it’s arguably one of the most impressive beaches in Galway.
The soft white sands that form most of the horseshoe-shaped beach are ideal for a gentle barefoot stroll, before you arrive at the craggy rocks, teeming with marine life just waiting to be discovered.
Cows graze in the grasslands that make up the hinterland, while the briny Atlantic Ocean splashes soothingly on the sand. As you gaze out to sea, you’ll see a number of islands poking out of the water, waves crashing against them.
Looking west at dusk rewards you with some incredible sunsets, with the soft, golden light painting the rocks and mountains in a kaleidoscope of reds and oranges.
Despite its raw natural beauty, the beach seldom gets crowded outside of the summer period, making it a top spot for a little tranquillity — a true escape from the modern world.
Things to do at Glassilaun Beach
Glassilaun Beach really is a great place to simply relax and soak up the stunning scenery.
Having said that, there are still plenty more things to do while you’re there. Here are a few ideas.
1. Grab a coffee (or something tasty) from nearby Misunderstood Heron first
If you’re approaching Glassilaun Beach via the Connemara Loop (N59), it’s well worth stopping off at the Misunderstood Heron along the way.
Just a 12-minute drive from the beach, this quirky little food truck has a superb viewpoint over the mirror-like waters of Killary Fjord.
They serve up amazing cups of Irish-roasted coffee, as well as an ever-changing lunch menu. From sandwiches and cakes to curries and pasties, you’ll find a wide range of dishes, each boasting fresh, local ingredients, such as Killary Mussels, Connemara Lamb, and smoked salmon.
2. Then soak up the views while sauntering along the sand
Overindulged at the Misunderstood Heron? No worries, you’ll soon burn off the calories with a gentle stroll along the soft, sandy beach.
On a warm day, there’s nothing better than ditching the shoes and socks and feeling the gentle warmth of the sand between your toes!
Saunter along from end to end, admiring the amazing views in every direction. As the sand runs out, you’ll find yourself among a number of rock pools, all teeming with sea life.
3. Or try diving with Scubadive West
Alternatively, if you want to get a little closer to the sea life, check out Scubadive West. The family-run business offers a whole host of experiences for everyone from absolute beginners to pros.
Their own private sheltered cove, featuring two shipwrecks and rocky reefs, is brimming with a diverse community of marine creatures, including crabs, lobsters, sea hares, and much more.
Divers with their own gear can enjoy the cove for a small cost, while newbies can rent all the gear and go over the basics with one of their PADI instructors.
Things to do near Glassilaun Beach
One of the beauties of Glassilaun Beach is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best things to do in Galway.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Glassilaun!
1. Lettergesh Beach (5-minute drive)
Just a short drive from Glassilaun, you’ll find the equally stunning Lettergesh Beach. This is another top spot to enjoy incredible views of mountains, golden sands, and gorgeously clear waters. Perfect for building sandcastles, sunbathing, and paddling, it’s also surprisingly quiet for much of the year.
2. The scenic drive to Leenane the Louisburgh (20-minute drive)
Leenane is a lovely little village on the edge of Killary Fjord. Aim for the village, soak up views of the fjord and then continue on towards Louisburgh in Mayo. You’ll pass through the outstanding Doolough Valley en route.
3. Kylemore Abbey (20-minute drive)
The impressive Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Gardens offer a haven of serenity, steeped in history and natural beauty. Now home to a sisterhood of Benedictine nuns, the former castle is an incredible sight to behold as it stands proudly on the edge of Pollacapall Lough.
4. Renvyle Beach (15-minute drive)
With its peaceful, secluded white sand bay, Renvyle is well worth a visit. It doesn’t hurt that the drive there along the Connemara Loop is ridiculously scenic! The beach offers unrivalled views out to the islands of Clare Island and Inishturk, with mysterious, often snow-capped, mountains looming out over the bay.
FAQs about Glassilaun Beach in Connemara
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is parking a hassle?’ to ‘Can you swim here?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Where is Glassilaun Beach?
You’ll find Glassilaun located near the mouth of the Killary Fjord, around a 30-minute drive from Clifden and 1.5 hours from Galway City.
Can you swim at Glassilaun Beach?
Although we’ve tried, there isn’t any official information online that states swimming here is safe. We’d recommend either checking locally or avoiding the water.
Andy was once on a glorious worldwide trip on his equally glorious motorcycle. After 4 years, he’d still only made it as far as Eastern Europe, before falling in love with his surroundings and deciding to settle down a while. Nowadays, he spends his time writing about traveling through the places he once explored, normally while sipping a pint.