If you’re in search of worthwhile things to do in Clifden and places to visit nearby, you’ve landed in the right place.
Clifden is a picturesque and lively (there’s lots of excellent pubs in Clifden!) town nestled along the coast in the Connemara region of Galway.
It’s located between the Twelve Bens mountains and the Atlantic Ocean and is considered the region’s unofficial capital.
The best things to do in Clifden in Galway
In the guide below, you’ll find a tonne of different things to do in Clifden in Galway plus a handful of places to visit nearby!
This village is a brilliant little base to explore the area, and there’s plenty of restaurants and pubs to retreat to after a long day of exploring.
1. Kick-start your visit at the Upstairs Downstairs Café
You’ll find this delightful café in main street Clifden, which arguably has the best coffee in town. They also serve pastries, sandwiches, soup and salads and of course, delicious cake.
It’s the best place to stop and kick-start your morning right with a coffee or quick brunch meal. It should definitely be on your must-visit list for Clifden cafes.
2. And walk it off with a trip up to Clifden Castle
Next up is one of the more popular things to do in Clifden. Clifden Castle is a ruined manor house that was once the stately home of John D’Arcy, the founder of Clifden town.
The romantic Gothic castle is now a historical ruin and a great place to visit in Clifden. It’s best accessed by foot and is just below the Sky Road, about 2km from town.
You’ll find the gateway arch on Sky Road and then you need to follow the trail from there. It offers a beautiful view over Clifden Bay.
3. Soak up the sunset on the Sky Road (one of our favourite things to do in Clifden)
Arguably the most beautiful corner of the Connemara region, this scenic 16km circular route offers some of the most rugged and varied scenery in the county.
It’s best enjoyed at sunset when the golden light makes for incredibly striking photos. The road takes you out west of Clifden onto the Kingstown peninsula and then back to Clifden via the N59.
Make sure you take the upper road after the Castle Gates, as this offers the most incredible views. This is on
4. Followed up by a feast from Guys Snug or Mitchell’s
If you’re after a bit of food, you’re spoiled for choice in Clifden. There’s plenty of top restaurants with a mix of pub food and fine dining, depending on what you prefer.
A couple of our favourites include, Guys Snug, which is a popular choice right in town and is primarily a fish and chip place, with generous portions. For something fancier, Mitchell’s Restaurant is a seafood joint on Market Street that is worth a look.
5. Before heading on for post-adventure pints and live music in Lowry’s Pub
You can’t miss out on having a pint at Lowry’s Pub in Clifden. This iconic bar has been voted the best traditional bar in Ireland on numerous occasions and has Irish music playing seven nights a week in season.
It has Connemara’s largest selection of whiskey and gin and also boasts a traditional pub menu. It’s located on Market Street in Clifden and is open until 11.30pm every night.
Or, if you fancy something a bit fancier, the Lamplight Wine Bar (wine, music and food) is worth a shout, going off the reviews online!
6. Spend a morning rambling around Kylemore Abbey
This Benedictine monastery was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle. Being one of the most romantic buildings in Ireland, it’s considered one of the best things to do in the Connemara region.
It’s just 19km north of Clifden, on the northern shore of Lough Pollacappul. You can wander through the abbey, church, Victorian Walled Gardens, pottery studio and tearoom on a self-guided tour.
7. And an afternoon spinning around Connemara National Park
The incredibly stunning Connemara National Park covers an impressive 3000 hectares of scenic mountains. You could easily spend an afternoon, if not longer, amongst this otherworldly landscape that is just 14km north of Clifden.
If you’re driving through the park, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view along the way. There are also plenty of hikes to do in the park if you want to stretch your legs, as well as children’s activities at the Visitor Centre which has exhibitions and a café.
Active Things to do in Clifden (and nearby)
if you’re in search of outdoorsy things to do in Clifden, you’re in luck – this corner of the county is home to hills, mountains and many a trail worth conquering.
Below, you’ll find some great walks in Galway that start a stone’s throw from Clifden Village, along with some more adventurous activities.
1. Soak up some of the best views in Galway from Diamond Hill
For those who are eager to get their legs moving, a hike up Diamond Hill is a must. The isolated peak is located beside Letterfrack village, in the northwest corner of the Twelve Bens mountains in the Connemara region.
At 442m in elevation, the spectacular view from the summit makes the 7km loop trail totally worth the effort. From the top you can enjoy views over Connemara’s coastline and the surrounding mountains.
2. Or brave the chilly water at the magnificent Dog’s Bay Beach
Just 3km from Roundstone on the way to Clifden, you’ll find this incredibly spectacular beach. Dog’s Bay Beach is characterised by a horseshoe shape and more than a-mile-long stretch of white sand made from tiny fragments of seashells.
It’s no wonder that it’s often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Ireland. It’s also relatively sheltered meaning swimming and kitesurfing are completely safe. You’ll still have to contend with the chilly water for most of the year.
3. Stretch your legs on the Derrigimlagh Looped Walk
This 5km loop walk takes in the natural beauty and past stories of the famous Derrigimlagh bog. As you navigate around the tiny lakes and discover the unique landscape, you can stop and learn about some of the history of the area.
It is most famous for being where the world’s first transatlantic flight crash landed in 1919. The interactive walking loop is the perfect place not far from Clifden to stretch your legs.
4. Or saddle up and explore by bike
One of the best things to do in Clifden is to explore on foot. Or by bike! And, luckily, there are heaps of great cycle trails nearby.
If you’re keen for a cycle, there are plenty of trails to choose from. There’s a 40km or 3-hour loop taking in the wilderness landscape of Derrigimlagh and Roundstone bogs.
Another longer cycle trip, Cleggan loop is around 33km or 2 hours which follows the edge of Streamstown Bay. It passes by Omey Island and you can also climb to the top of Cleggan Head for incredible views.
5. Spend a few hours exploring nearby Omey Island (just be careful of the tide times)
Omey Island is a landmine for history buffs. This pretty island is only 600 metres offshore, beneath the Aughrus peninsula. It has ruins of the 7th century Feichin’s Church and a Holy Well to explore.
The scenery is also stunning and is best enjoyed on the walking trails that stretch 5km around the island.
Just make sure that you get there and back during low tide. Once the tide comes in, I’m afraid you’ll be stranded on the island until the tide rolls out.
Other great places to visit in Galway
There’s an almost endless number of places to visit and things to do in Galway. If you hop into our Galway guide, you’ll find some of the best the county has to offer.
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.