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.

14 COMMENTS

  1. I have been using your guide for the past few months to plan my Ireland trip set for April 2019. I figured it was about time I dropped a comment!! 🙂 Your guide has helped me tremendously as it seems to encompass everything we are looking to find in Ireland…. raw natural beauty, unique experiences, good coffee, and good beer! Can’t thank you enough. I hope to comment again once we return!

    • Ah, thank you. I’m glad. Getting comments like this make it worth it.

      I hope you’re trip goes well.

      Cheers,

      Keith

  2. This is seriously the best travel guide ever. I was getting stressed because I’ll be solo traveling all of March and haven’t planned much (by design) and this gives the perfect outline of exactly the things I want to do and see. So thank you for the enormous amount of time this must have taken. So much appreciated.

    • Haha! Cheers dude.

      Glad you found it useful. This took roughly 3 weeks of research and writing… and rewriting.

      I hope the trip goes well.

      Keith

  3. We’re traveling to Ireland in November, 2019 and thank you very much for your outline and information. Question: On maps, it shows Northern Ireland almost like another country. Do you need anything to pass from Ireland to Northern Ireland and back, or is it all in the same? Seems trivial, but it could make a big difference if we plan to do things in Northern Ireland and then we could possibly not have the proper travel documents. Also, do you know if your passport is all you need or if you need a travel visa? Thanks for your time. Have a great day!. WandanTexas

    • Hi Wanda,

      You’re welcome.

      Northern Ireland is technically part of the UK, so it is regarded as a different country.

      Currently, there is no form of ‘hard’ border, but there’s been a lot of talk about the potential of one with Brexit looming.

      If you’re driving a rental car, this is where things can get tricky. I had one from Europa car recently and was told I’d be automatically charged (they have GPS devices within the rental) whenever my car passed into Northern Ireland – the max total charge was 90 euro, I believe.

      If you’re renting a car, be sure to check this in advance.

      I hope this helps.

      Keith

  4. Hi,
    This is a great guide, but if you had a few extra days…
    Three Castle Head is also stunning. You are close enough to it when you are heading for brow head. Well worth it!
    Lough Hyne in Skibbereen is also beautiful, lovely forest walk and salt water lake to swim in. Night time kayaking with the bioluminescent water a must!
    Enjoy,
    Joanne

    • Thanks for the recommendations Joanne.

      Love Lough Hyne in particular. Did the forest climb with my dad last summer on a hot day in July – great spot!

  5. Question for Keith and others. We have a wonderful opportunity to spend a month in Ireland and in previous trips we’ve enjoyed many of the same activities you do…hiking, enjoying the featured sights and geography in general, informal dining, great pubs, etc. We have never been north of Westport, county Mayo. Would it be worth it to spend a week in the Sligo / Donegal region? If yes, we would rent a house for the week. Is there a town that would be central to this region that you could recommend as a home base? We would be there in late August/early Sept 2020.
    Thanks in advance for your response (or anyone else who could add their thoughts)

    • Hi Bill.

      Abbbbbbbbbbbsolutely spend a week in Sligo and Donegal.

      There’s a tonne of things to do in both, regardless of whether you decide to do something active or just chill.

      Personally, I’d spend half in Sligo and half in Donegal.

      Here’s a guide to 48 hours in Sligo that should help, along with a 3-day guide to the best things to do in Donegal.

      In terms of where to stay – I love Strandhill and Rosses Point. For Donegal, it’s hard to beat Ardara.

      I hope this helps!

      Keith

  6. 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

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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