A Guide To The Mighty Killary Fjord In Galway (Boat Tours, Swim + Things To See)

killary fjord galway
Photo left: mark_gusev. Photo right: Kit Leong (Shutterstock)

A visit to the stunning Killary Fjord is one of the most popular things to do in Galway.

The incredibly beautiful inlet is dramatically surrounded by mountains and forms a natural border between Galway and Mayo.

A fine addition to any Galway Road Trip, the area can be admired from land and water (on one of the Killary boat tours).

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about visiting Killary Fjord, including what to do nearby!

Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Killary Fjord

killary fjord galway
Photo by Semmick Photo (Shutterstock)

A visit to Killary Fjord is straightforward-ish depending on how you want to see it (there are several options to choose from).

1. Location

You’ll find Killary Fjord on the border between Galway and Mayo, which is why you’ll often find it in both guides to Galway and guides to Mayo.

2. How to see it

You can experience this area on one of the very popular Killary Fjord boat tours, by foot on one of the walks, or from afar from one of the many vantage points.

3. The only fjord in Ireland?

You’ll hear some say that Killary Fjord is the only fjord in Ireland, however, others argue that it’s the largest of three: the other two being Lough Swilly (Donegal) and Carlingford Lough (Louth).

About Killary Fjord

visiting Killary Fjord
Photo by Kevin George on Shutterstock

Killary Fjord stretches for 16 kilometres inland to the lovely little village of Leenane, which sits at the head of the fjord (check out the Leenane to Louisburgh drive if you’re visiting).

The area is surrounded by towering mountains, with the highest of Connacht’s mountains, Mweelrea on the northwest shore.

The border of Galway and Mayo Counties runs right through the middle of the inlet, which reaches up to 45 metres deep in the centre.

The area is also known for its seafood, especially mussels and salmon which are farmed in the waters of the harbour. Dolphins also frequent the waters, especially around the small island towards the mouth of the fjord.

Killary Fjord Boat Tours

Killary Fjord boat tours
Photo by Kit Leong on Shutterstock

One of the best ways to appreciate the scenery around the fjord is by taking one of the Killary Fjord boat tours out on the water.

The Killary Fjord boat tours start at Nancy’s Point which is just west of Leenane village (info on the tours here).

From there the boats set off for the mouth of the harbour. On the tours you can enjoy the panoramic views of the scenery, the seafood farms out in the water and the small island where dolphins often congregate.

When the tours run

The Killary Fjord Boat Tours generally run from April until October. They have two departures per day during these months, 12.30pm and 2.30pm. From May until August, they also have an additional sailing time of 10.30am.

How much they cost

You can purchase tickets either online or at the kiosk. Prices are cheaper if pre-purchased online and are around €21 for adults and €11 for children from 11 to 17 years old. There arealso special prices for families and seniors/students.

Killary Fjord boat tours reviews

The reviews for the Killary Fjord boat tours speak for themselves. At the time of writing, they’ve racked up a 4.5/5 review score on Google from 538 reviews.

On TripAdvisor, they’ve amassed an impressive 4.5/5 from 379 reviews, so you can be pretty confident it’ll be worth heading off on.

The Killary Fjord Swim

For something different, you can try your hand at swimming the fjord. The annual Great Fjord Swim is an open-water swimming event with a range of distances available.

There is a 3.9km route for experienced swimmers, which is a full ironman-distance. There is also a 2km route which begins with a catamaran ride to the start line.

For something shorter, they also have a 750m route which gets you swimming from County Mayo to County Galway. It’s due to go head for October in 2021.

The Killary Harbour Walk

Killary Fjord swim
Photo by Radomir Rezny on Shutterstock

Another fantastic way to explore the dramatic landscape around Killary Fjord is on foot. There is a 16km, relatively easy loop that takes in some of the beautiful coastal views on the way.

It takes around six hours with some stops to complete and begins at the junction of the N59 and the road to Bunowen.

From there the walk follows the old famine road to Killary Harbour Youth Hostel, following the incredible coastline.

Then the return journey follows inland roads passing Lough Muck and Lough Fee. If you’re interested in doing this lengthy but rewarding walk, this thorough guide has all the details.

Things to do near Killary Harbour

doo lough valley
Photo by RR Photo on Shutterstock

One of the beauties of Killary Fjord is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Killary Fjord (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. The Leenane to Louisburgh drive

Leenane to Louisburgh drive mayo
Photos via Google maps

The Killary Fjord is a fine starting point for the incredible Leenane to Louisburgh drive. If you read this guide, you’ll see why it’s one of our favourite drives in Ireland.

2. Killary Sheep Farm

Killary Fjord from above
Photo by Anika Km on Shutterstock

This traditional working farm has around 200 ewes and lambs roaming freely in the mountains around Killary Fjord.

You can view skilled sheepdog demonstrations, sheep shearing and bottle feed orphaned lambs. It’s a great place for the whole family, just outside of Bunowen.

3. Aasleagh Falls

sheep shearing
Photo by Bernd Meissner on Shutterstock

Aasleagh Falls on the River Erriff sits just before the water enters into the fjord. The beautiful mountain backdrop to the falls makes it a popular place for walks and picnics. It’s just north of Leenane across the border into County Mayo.

4. Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey Ireland
Photo by Chris Hill

Just south of Killary Fjord on the N59, you’ll find Kylemore Abbey and the Victorian Walled Garden. This beautiful romantic building is worth a self-guided visit, with a pottery studio and tea room to enjoy too.

5. Hundreds of things to do in the Connemara region

connemara national park
Photo by greenphotoKK on Shutterstock

There’s an almost endless number of things to do in Connemara, from walks and hikes, like Diamond Hill, to incredible beaches, like Dog’s Bay in Roundstone.

Here’s some other things to see and do nearby:

Elisha is a freelance writer, content creator and blogger and her work can be read in Lonely Planet, Remote Lands and Matador Network. You’ll usually find her travelling in offbeat places or hiking wherever there are mountains; always with a camera in hand.

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