Day 15 (Galway and Mayo) – A hike, one of the best drives in Ireland and on to Mayo
Day 15 and 16 have two lovely hikes.
If you’re active, these will be right up your alley.
If you’re not, then sub them out for something else. There’s loads to do around Galway and Mayo to choose from.
1 – Diamond Hill
// Clifden to Diamond Hill – 30-minute drive (arrive for 09:00) //
Our first stop of the day offers the perfect opportunity to get your heart rate up and catch one of the best views in Galway.
Something I’ve heard said on many occasions (mainly by my aul lad) is that to truly appreciate the beauty of Connemara, you need to see it from the sky – enter Diamond Hill.
On this Ireland road trip, we’re going to take the longer Upper Diamond Hill trail that takes between 2 and a half and 3 hours.
According to my Dad who has done this walk several times, climbing to the top of Diamond Hill is one of the best things to do in Galway for anyone in search of scenery that will literally knock the breath out of you.
At the summit, you’ll be treated to panoramic views across all of Connemara. Expect to see the Twelve Bens mountain range, Tully Mountain and Mweelrea to the North.
Here’s a guide on how to navigate it.
2 – Lunch in Leenaun
// Allow yourself 3 hours to climb Diamond Hill. Arrive in Leenaun for 12:30 (it’s a 20-minute drive) //
Leenaun is a small, buzzy (during the tourist season) little village that offers spectacular views out over the Killary Fjord.
Nip into the little café that’s attached to the gift shop right across from the big parking area in the village and treat yourself to a post-hike feed.
3 – Aasleagh Falls
// Leenaun village to Aasleagh Falls – 5-minute drive (arrive for 14:10) //
You’ll find Aasleagh Falls a stone’s throw from Leenane village on the River Erriff, just before the river meets Killary Harbour.
Park the car at a lay-by close to the falls and follow the pathway to the waterfall.
Stretch the legs and gulp down lungfuls of fresh air.
4 – The wonderful Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive
// Start the drive at 14:30 //
This is one of those stretches of road that just completely shocks the system.
The scenery varies from icy lakes to rugged mountains to open country.
As you make your way along the road, you’ll pass Doo Lough, a long dark freshwater lake on the Murrisk peninsula.
Keep an eye out for a plain stone cross – it stands as a memorial to the Doo Lough Tragedy which took place in 1849
5 – Achill Island for the evening
// Louisburgh to Achill – 1 hour and 15-minute drive (arrive on Achill for 17:45) //
You’re in for a treat if you’ve never been to Achill.
Expect peat bogs, rugged mountains, towering sea cliffs and beautiful clean beaches and bays.
Our destination for this road trip is Keem Bay.
If you take the road that hugs the coast, you’ll be guided along narrow roads that, at times, meander through the island and are an absolute joy to cruise along.
When you arrive to Keem Bay, hop out of the car.
Hopefully you’ll have arrived when it’s nice and quiet. Relax, take your shoes off and ramble along the shore.
When you finish up here, I recommend checking into Achill Lodge Guest House for the night.
Chill for a bit and then take the 5 minute drive to the Valley House Bar for a bite to eat.
Monday 13th of March 2023
Keith, this is an extraordinary itinerary and so detailed. Thank you
Thursday 9th of March 2023
the link to the mailing list sign up isnt working...can I have you send me the document by email? it sounds amazing through quick page hopping! thought this morning that we might go this late Sept/early October for 3ish weeks.
Monday 6th of March 2023
Hi Keith, we’re looking at visiting Ireland September 2023, for four weeks, coming from Canada. Thankfully I found your guide, it is fantastic, you put in a great deal of work organizing this. Thank you. I have a couple tours books to cipher through as well, but it is painstaking slow. I need to get an itinerary put together fast, I see accommodations are filling up quickly for September. One question I have is, is it possible or wise to do your road trip in reverse? We’re not used to driving on the left side, haha, will it be safer doing the trip in reverse?
Saturday 18th of February 2023
Do you have a PDF of the whole list that we could buy/download with links? We were planning to do the reverse of this in October 2023 (34 days)---but, rethinking after seeing yours!
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
This itinerary will be the basis of our upcoming trip this year. We prefer to base ourselves in a place for maybe a week and explore the surrounding areas. We will be picking up a car in Belfast on 26 May and have it for almost 6 weeks. We are unsure of our direction of travel, but leaning towards anti-clockwise. Excluding Dublin, can you suggest 5 or 6 "bases" for exploration. Small towns with a bit of character ideally.
Keep up the good work.