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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.