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Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Around Ireland In 18 Days: A Coastal Road Trip Of A Lifetime (Full Itinerary)

Day 10. Doolin to Clifden

Today is pretty packed. But packed in the best possible way. We’ll be squeezing in a lot of driving, a lot of exploring, and a tonne of raw, natural beauty.

Get a lie-in this morning and get on the road for 10:30. Here’s a guide to the best things to do in Doolin if you’d like to see what else there is to explore.

1. The Drive from Doolin to Kinvarra

Doolin to Kinvarra – 1-hour drive (we’re going to allow for 3 – Leave Doolin at 10:30, arrive in Kinvarra for 13:30).

So, I’ve never known what this drive is called – I’ve spent time Googling it, but I can’t tell if it’s officially called ‘the Burren Drive’ or not.

Whatever it’s called, it’s amazing. I took this route very recently (see the video below for some clips towards the end) and it’s just special.

There’s no other way to describe it. The landscape changes by the minute, there’s a multitude of stop-off points, and it’s another fantastic example of why Ireland is such a wonderful place to road trip around.

This is another drive to play by eye, and to just let your nose lead the way (it’s a straight forward drive, so you’ll stumble upon the best bits.

Some places you can add into your sat nav
  • Fanore Beach
  • The Burren
  • Ballinalacken Castle
  • Poulnabrone Dolmen
  • Aillwee Cave

You’ve three hours to explore as far and wide as you fancy (I’d recommend getting out in the Burren for a nosey around as the landscape is like something you’ll have never experienced).

2. Galway City for Lunch and a Wander

Galway City

Photo by Luca Fabbian (Shutterstock)

Kinvarra to Galway City – 45-minute drive (leave Kinvarra at 13:30, arrive in Galway City for 14:15).

This is the only time that we’ll be in Galway City on this trip, so I’m keen for you to get as good a sense for the place as you can in a couple of hours.

For food, we’re heading straight for Dough Bros. It’s pizza. And it’s CLASS (aka amazing if you’re not familiar with Irish slang).

After you’re full to the brim, take a walk towards the City’s bustling Latin Quarter, take in the colourful pubs and shops, and bask in the City’s soundtrack that is chatter mixed with a good dash of street music.

3. The Quiet Man Bridge

quiet man bridge

Photo by Susanne Pommer (Shutterstock)

Galway city to the Quiet Man Bridge – 44-minute drive (leave the city at 16:15, arrive at the bridge for 17:00).

This one is for everyone that’s watched the movie The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. The Bridge is located around 5 miles past Oughterard, on the N59 heading west.

Even if you haven’t seen the movie, this is a real chunk of what I’d call ‘old world Ireland’ that’s worth checking out.

4. Slow down and take it all in

connemara n59 road

Photo by Junk Culture (Shutterstock)

The Quiet Man Bridge to Clifden – allow an hour with stops, but take longer if needed (leave the bridge for 17:10, arrive in Clifden at around 18:10).

Ok, so this isn’t really a stop. After leaving the Quiet Man Bridge, you’ll be driving along the N59 road towards Clifden.

The mountainous, ever-changing landscape that you’ll pass through over the course of this stretch of road is simply superb.

Drop the windows (hopefully the rain isn’t hopping down), dial-up the radio and just cruise and take it all in. We’re in no rush. Just soak up the magic of Connemara.

5. The Skyroad, Clifden

driving along the sky road

Photo by Christian McLeod

Clifden village to the Skyroad viewing point – 11-minute drive (arrive at the viewing point for 18:22 – allow plenty of time to stop… it’s amazing).

Grab a cup of coffee to go from one of the cafes in Clifden and drive along the Sky Road at your leisure.

The Sky Road is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Connemara region. It’s a circular route around 11km long that takes you out west from Clifden.

The scenery you’ll be treated to as you spin along the Sky Road will etch itself upon your mind.

There are few places in Ireland that can go toe-to-toe with the raw beauty and vast range of scenery that those who drive along the Sky Road experience.

As you travel away from Clifden, the Sky Road splits into a lower and an upper road. The lower road will give you a close-up gander of the landscape, while the upper offers views out over the entire area.

You can park your car at the highest point of the road and step out and soak of the glorious scene that lays in front of you.

If you visit Ireland during the winter months when the sun sets early, leave this drive until the morning.

6. Clifden for the evening

clifden town connemara

Photo by Chris Hill via Tourism Ireland

Your base for the second night is the bustling little town of Clifden. OK, first things first – let’s grab a bed for the night.

For this trip, I’m going to recommend Foyles Hotel as it’s extremely central, the reviews are exceptional and a bed for the night and a full Irish in the morning will set you back around €99.

For a bite to eat, nip into Guys Bar & Snug for fish and chips (or whatever you fancy, obviously). It’s a short stroll from your hotel and the reviews speak for themselves.

Next, we’re heading to Lowry’s Bar for drinks and live music. At this stage, you’ll have driven and walked a fair amount, so you should be wrecked.

Kick-back, listen to the music and soak up some chill time.

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John Duke

Monday 4th of April 2022

Morning Keith O Hara I have been looking at your 18 days tour of Ireland I am arriving on the 14th April at Rosslare can I start my tour on day 2 I am driving a small camper van can you tell me about camp sites on my around please and do I have to book or just turn up my name is John Duke

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 6th of April 2022

Hey John! You'll find campsites in most counties along that trip. The best way to do it is to just give it a Google and then suss out a spot with good reviews (I've never stayed in a campsite in Ireland, so I wouldn't like to lead you astray). In terms of booking. I'd recommend doing so if you're visiting during the busier months of the year, like summer. I hope this helps!

Julie

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

This was a great trip to read through. I understand how tired you are after writing so much - my husband and I are coming to Ireland from the U.S. in May 2022 for 3 weeks, and I've been planning everything myself for many months. Lots of great suggestions for places to visit, things we shouldn't miss, etc. Also, many of the things you suggested are already part of our plans, so it made me feel like I had done a good job! Thanks for all of the great help - we can't wait for the trip to begin!

Jan

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Really digging this blog!! I have the travel blog so bad and Ireland is next on the list - your recommendations are speaking to me! Thanks for taking the time to create all the wonderful road trips / ideas.

Akshay Bansal

Tuesday 14th of January 2020

Hi Keith,

I am considering travelling to Ireland this summer via road-trip and AirBnBs. While researching, I found your blog and found it very helpful and resourceful.

I am travelling from New Delhi (India) with my extended family (infants, toddlers, siblings, wife, parents etc.). Assuming this might be our only trip to Ireland together as a family, I am interested in covering Ireland comprehensively within a limitation of 11-13 days.

Is it possible to shorten the suggested 18-day itinerary to the above duration by bypassing some of the locations or sites. I understand this would mean we missing a few locations, but need your help.

Uli Moissidis

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Hi Keith, I am planning our road trip to Ireland in october and I love your Instagram account. I like to use your suggestions for our schedule. On day 11 you suggest to leave Westport and Achill on the same time (16:55) ? So this is a pretty long day ;-) I prefer to stay an extra night on Achill Island. What do you think? Thanks Uli

Keith

Monday 12th of August 2019

Aha! OK, that's clearly a mistake on my part. I'll get those times updated!

I love Achill, personally.

There's nothing bad that can come from a second night spent there.

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