The Galway Road Trip: 2 Different Ways To Spend A Weekend In Galway (2 Full Itineraries)

A bitta weekend inspiration

Galway weekend
Photo on left by Romrodphoto. Right by Gabriela Insuratelu

If you’re planning a weekend in Galway, then the guide below is just for you.

There’s heaps of things to do in Galway, so figuring out an itinerary can be a pain, especially if you’re only visiting for a couple of days.

So, we’ve done a good chunk of the hard work for you. In the guide below, you’ll find 2 different itineraries for spending an adventure-packed 48 hours in Galway.

  • Itinerary 1: You’ll see some of Galway City before spending most of your time in Connemara (night 1 in Clifden, night 2 in Delphi) 
  • Itinerary 2: Galway City will be your base for the 2 nights and you’ll explore all around you (day trip to Connemara, time in Salthill, etc)
  • Other itineraries: At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some other itineraries for you to check out (3-day Galway itinerary, etc)

Each 2-day Galway itinerary is packed with things to do on each day, advice on where to grab food and info on where to stay (and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

A weekend in Galway: A quick look at itinerary #1

48 hours in galway
Photo left: Big Smoke Studio (via Tourism Ireland). Right: Foto Para Ti

OK, here’s a quick overview of our first 48 hours in Galway itinerary. This itinerary gives you a quick taste of Galway City, before tipping out to Connemara for the duration.

Day 1

  1. Galway City for breakfast at Dela
  2. A ramble around the city to soak up the sights and smells
  3. The Quiet Man Bridge
  4. A spin around Connemara
  5. The magnificent Sky Road in Clifden
  6. A stroll (or a hike) at Diamond Hill
  7. More spinning around Connemara National Park
  8. Clifden for an evening of food, pints and live music

Day 2

  1. A stroll around Kylemore Abbey
  2. The gorgeous little (and I mean little) village of Leenaun
  3. Listen to the patter of the water at Aasleagh Falls
  4. Food and Zip-Lining at the Delphi Resort
  5. The almost otherworldly Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive
  6. Back to Delphi for the evening

Our first 48 hours in Galway mapped out

OK, first things first – here’s a map that shows a rough outline of our first Galway road trip with the attractions that we’ll be visiting over the two days plotted out.

The orange dropper things show where you’ll visit on day 1 and the different shades of green show day 2.

Now, you don’t have to stick to this from beginning to end, remember – feel free to leave certain places out if you’d like to take it at a slower pace.

Galway itinerary: Day 1

Right. Let’s dive on in, so! As we only have 48 hours in Galway in this guide, we need to make sure that we’re on the road early.

Get up, lash some coffee in and aim to be in Galway City nice and early. If this isn’t possible, just adjust the times to suit you.

1. Galway City for breakfast

weekend in galway

There’s some brilliant places for breakfast in Galway where you can kick-start your visit with a big aul bang.

In my opinion, you’ll get the best breakfast in Galway in a gorgeous little spot called ‘Dela’ (it can get very busy here, so try and arrive early).

On the plate above is their black pudding, sausage meat and smoked bacon burger which was UNREAL on the two mornings that I had it last summer.

Get in. Get fed. And grab a fat cup of coffee to go.

2. A ramble around the city

Galway road trip
Photo by Luca Fabbian (Shutterstock)

We’re going to be leaving Galway City pretty sharpish on our first 48 hours in Galway itinerary, so take a stroll from Dela and head around the city for half an hour or so.

If your visit has taken you to Galway at the weekend, you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds of the city on a buzzy Saturday morning. Take your time and soak it all up.

3. The Quiet Man Bridge

quiet man bridge galway
Photo by Newbert12 via Wikicommons

So, it’s time to leave the city. Our first stop is a 45-minute drive away – the Quiet Man Bridge. Yep, the one from the movie with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

The Bridge is located a stone’s throw from Oughterard, on the N59 heading west (just lash it into Google Maps).

Even if you haven’t seen what is arguably one of the most iconic Irish films, this is a real piece of ‘old world Ireland’ that’s worth checking out.// The Quiet Man Bridge to Clifden – allow an hour with stops, but take longer if needed (arrive in Clifden at around 13:35) //

4. Slow down and take in Connemara

connemara national park
Photo by AlbertMi on Shutterstock

So, the next ‘stop’ isn’t actually a stop. From the Quiet Man Bridge, you want to head towards the village of Clifden (allow an hour or so with stops).

The mountainous, ever-changing landscape that you’ll pass 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. Lunch in Clifden

lunch in clifden
Photos via Lowry’s Bar

If you fancy a bite to eat, there’s plenty of brilliant restaurants in Clifden that you can nip into for a bite to eat.

I was in Clifden last summer and we had lunch in the Station House on the first day and it was excellent (there’s also loads of parking, which is handy).

Get in and fuel up – you’ve a long aul hike in Connemara National Park next, so you’ll need a good bit of energy.

6. The Diamond Hill hike

The view from Diamond Hill Connemara
Photo by Gareth McCormack

It’s time for the first hike of our weekend in Galway itinerary. When you’ve finished eating, take the 15-minute drive to the Connemara National Park visitors centre.

It’s here that you’ll find the starting point for the Diamond Hill hike (there’s loads of parking here and there’s also toilets and a cafe on-site).

There’s two different trails to choose from here: the lower trail (3km and takes 60 – 90 minutes) and the upper trail (continuation of lower trail and takes 2 – 3 hours).

I won’t go into detail on the hike here, as we’ve covered the trail in depth in this guide. There’s a reason this is one of the best walks in Galway – the views are out of this world!

7. The Sky Road for sunset

sky road clifden
Photo by Andy333 on Shutterstock

The Sky Road in Clifden is special. And it’s a short, 15-minute drive from Connemara National Park, so head out there when you’re ready.

One of my favourite things to do in Clifden is to head up to the Sky Road at sunset – on a clear day, the scenery would knock you on your arse!

This is 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. 

You’ll need to decide in advance if you want to take the upper or lower road (this guide will help you decide). The Upper Road is best, in my opinion.

8. A room for the night

hotels in clifden galway
Photos via booking.com

Your base for the first night of your 48 hours in Galway is the lively little town of Clifden. Since first visiting Clifden 7 or 8 years ago, I’ve made a point of visiting over and over again.

If you like buzzy pubs, traditional music and great food, you’ll love it too – once you know where to go, that is.

We’ve put together guides to the best hotels in Clifden, the best B&Bs in Clifden and the best Airbnbs in Clifden to save you some time!

9. Food, pubs and live music

pubs in clifden
Photo left via Mitchell’s Restaurant. Photo right via Guys Bar

If you nip into our guide to the best restaurants in Clifden, you’ll find plenty of places to grab a fine feed.

Personally, I’m a fan of Guy’s Bar as I’ve eaten there a load of times over the years and it’s always been great, but there’s plenty of options.

If you fancy rounding off the first night of your weekend in Galway with a pint and a bit of live music, we’re going to polish the day off in Lowry’s Bar.

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.

Galway itinerary: Day 2

The second day of our Galway road trip is a little more packed than the first, but you’ll have plenty of opportunity to hop out of the car.

On day 2, you’ll be visiting the magnificent Kylemore Abbey and venturing up towards the town of Louisburg in Mayo on one of the best drives in Ireland, in my opinion.

Now, as mentioned before, 2 days in Galway isn’t a lot of time, so if you want to change your Galway itinerary, fire ahead!

1. Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey Ireland
Photo by Chris Hill via tourism ireland

Our first stop of the day, Kylemore Abbey, is a handy 25-minute drive from Clifden and it’s widely regarded as one of the finest castles in Galway.

Kylemore Abbey is a Benedictine monastery that was founded in 1920 on the grounds of Kylemore Castle, in Connemara.

The whole place looks like something plucked straight from a fairytale. When I visited here last, I literally just walked along the edge of the lake and took it all in from afar.

You can do the tour if you like, but the view from the other side of the water is amazing. This is perfect for any of you looking for castles near Galway City to have a nosey around.

2.  The little village of Leenaun

where to eat in leenaun
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When you’ve finished up at Kylemore, it’s time to take the 20-minute drive out to Leenaun – one of my favourite villages in Ireland.

It’s small, has a buzzy atmosphere from all of the tourists and locals milling about the place and the views out over the Killary Fjord are nothing short of sensational.

Any time I’m here I nip into the little café that’s attached to the gift shop right across from the big parking area (you literally can’t miss it).

For those of you that have watched ‘The Field’, you may recognise Gaynors pub in Leenaun as the pub that featured so frequently in the movie.

3. Aasleagh Falls

visiting Aasleagh Falls during your 48 hours in galway
Photo by Bernd Meissner on Shutterstock

There are few sounds that rival the soft ‘plops’ that emit from a waterfall the size of Aasleagh Falls (under 5 minutes from Leenane).

You’ll find the waterfall a stone’s throw from Leenane village on the River Erriff, just before the river meets Killary Harbour.

You can park the car at a lay-by close to the falls and there’s a pathway that allows visitors to make the short stroll to the waterfall.

Stretch the legs and gulp down lungfuls of fresh air.

4. Food and zip-lining at the Delphi Resort

zip lining in connemara
Photo via Delphi Resort

Our next stop, the Delphi Resort, is a shot, 12-minute drive from Aasleagh Falls. There’s a restaurant here, so hop in and fuel up, if you haven’t eaten.

If you fancy, you can give zip-lining a go – just make sure to book in well in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you’re spending a weekend in Galway with kids, note that they need to be over 8 years of age and over 1.4m in height. A serious bit of craic for those of you looking to add something a little bit different to your trip.

5. The Leenaun to Louisburgh Drive

best places to see in galway
Photo via Google Maps

Next up is the incredible Leenane to Louisburgh drive. It’s only take around 25 minutes to reach Louisburgh from Delphi, but all an hour at least.

This is one of those stretches of road that just completely shocks the system. I’ve driven this route many times and on every occasion, I’ve been taken aback by the sheer lack of people driving along it.

As you make your way along the road, you’ll pass Doo Lough, a long dark freshwater lake on the Murrisk peninsula. Keep an eye out for a plain stone cross – it stands as a memorial to the Doolough Tragedy which took place in 1849.

The only advice I can give you during this drive is to take your time and stop and stretch your legs as often as possible.

6. Delphi for the evening

Delphi spa hotel galway
Photo via the Delphi

I’m going to recommend that you spend the final night of your 48 hours in Galway in the Delphi Resort – one of our favourite hotels in Galway.

This 4-star hotel also arguably one of the most unique spa hotels in Galway, as you’ll see from the photo above! 

Chill in your room for a while and then head down to the restaurant and bar if you fancy a post adventure pint.

Note: if you book a stay through the link above we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.

48 hours in Galway: A quick look at itinerary #2

menlo castle in galway
Photo by Lisandro Luis Trarbach (Shutterstock)

So, here’s a quick look at the second 48 hours in Galway itinerary in this guide. This itinerary revolves around the city, and takes a day trip to Connemara on day 2.

Day 1

  1. Breakfast in the city
  2. A self-guided walking tour with coffee
  3. The ramble out to Salthill or a visit to Menlo Castle
  4. Dinner in the city
  5. A mini pub crawl around the city’s best pubs

Day 2

  1. Breakfast/brunch
  2. Connemara
  3. Ballynahinch Castle
  4. Dog’s Bay Beach
  5. Lunch in Roundstone
  6. The Sky Road
  7. Kylemore Abby
  8. Galway City for the night

Our second weekend in Galway itinerary mapped out

Here’s a map that shows a rough outline of where you’ll be going on your Galway road trip with the places that you’ll be visiting plotted out.

Now, you don’t have to stay in Galway City – there’s plenty of other places to base yourself from. If you’d like to see some other itineraries, we’ve included LOADS at the end of the guide.

Also – remember – you don’t have to follow our Galway itinerary from beginning to end. Chop and change wherever you fancy!

1. Breakfast in the city

The Galway Roast
Photos via The Galway Roast Cafe on Facebook

For those of you that arrive to the city nice and early, you’ve a wide choice of where to grab a bite to eat.

If you nip into the best places to get breakfast and brunch in Galway, you’ll discover some very tasty places to get fed.

Personally, I’m a fan of Dela, as the breakfast and brunch is the business, but the Galway Roast (above) is a solid option, too! 

2. Exploring the city on foot

Galway City
Photo by Luca Fabbian (Shutterstock)

Galway City is a handy spot to explore on foot. So, when you’re fed, grab a coffee and head off for a ramble.

The area around the Latin Quarter, in particular, is worth having a nosey around, as there’s a nice mix of colourful shops and corners to have a nosey at.

Drop by the Spanish Arch, head for a ramble down to the Long Walk (above) or, if it’s raining, nip inside Galway City Museum or the magnificent Galway Cathedral. 

3. A stroll to Salthill

a guide to salthill in galway
Photo left: Lisandro Luis Trarbach. Photo right: mark_gusev (Shutterstock)

The walk out to Salthill from Galway City is well worth doing (especially as there are plenty of great restaurants in Salthill when you arrive!).

If you leave from the Latin Quarter, it’ll take you 40-50 minutes to reach the Blackrock Diving Tower (if you don’t fancy walking back you can always grab a taxi).

When you arrive, head for a ramble along Salthill Beach and then grab a coffee and watch people hop into the sea from Blackrock Diving Tower.

If you’d like to see what else this corner of Galway has to offer, check out our guide to the best things to do in Salthill.

If you’d live to give Salthill a miss, you could always drive out to Menlo Castle (13-minute drive) or Dunguaire Castle (33-minute drive).

4. Lunch

lunch in salthill
Photo via Gourmet Food Parlour Salthill on Facebook

There’s plenty of great places to eat in Salthill. When you finish your walk, nip into one of them and make your belly happy.

It’s hard to bate Da Roberta’s Ristorante or La Collina, but places like the Black Cat and Gourmet Food Parlour are also excellent (here’s a guide on places to eat).

5. Back to the city for a mini pub crawl

Galway in December outside Tig Neachtains
Photo by The Irish Road Trip

I’d recommend walking back to the city, rather than grabbing a taxi, if you can, but do whatever tickles your fancy.

When you arrive, it’s time to explore a bit of Galway’s pub scene. It’s in this city that you’ll encounter some of the best pubs in Ireland.

If the weather is fine, and if you can get a seat, make your way to Tigh Neachtain – one of the best pubs in Galway.

The outside seats are great for a bit of people watching. If you arrive during winter, you’ll discover a roaring fire inside and some of the best Guinness in the land.

6. Dinner

zappis italian restaurant in galway city
Photo via Zappis

After you’ve become acquainted with some of the city’s pubs and you’ve toasted the first 24 of your 48 hours in Galway, it’s time for dinner. Now, you’ve plenty of options here, depending on your budget.

In our Galway restaurant guide, you’ll discover heaps of places to eat, from fine-ish dining to bargin bites!

For those of you looking for something casual (and tasty!) nip into the The Dough Bros. For a more refined sit-down meal, try The Seafood Bar at Kirwan’s.

7. A bed for the night

Hotel Meyrick Jacuzzi
Photo via the Hardiman Hotel

Your base for the first night of your weekend in Galway is entirely up to you and the amount of cash you’re happy to part with.

We’ve put together guides to the best hotels in Galway, the best B&Bs in Galway and the best Airbnbs in Galway to save you some time!

Each of the places mentioned in the guides above are 1, central (to save you getting taxis) and 2, have great reviews at the time of writing.

Galway road trip: Day 2

The second day of our weekend in Galway is busier than the first, as you’ll be leaving the city and heading out into Connemara. However, you’ll enjoy it, so don’t worry!

On day 2, you’ll be visiting the magnificent Dog’s Bay Beach and venturing up towards Clifden, and the many attractions that surround it.

Now, as mentioned already, 48 hours in Galway isn’t a lot of time, so if you want to change your itinerary, fire ahead!

1. Breakfast

best restaurants galway
Photo via Dela

If your hotel/accommodation includes breakfast, happy days. If it doesn’t (or if what’s on offer looks crap!) you’ve plenty of options.

If you haven’t already, drop into Dela or one of the many other places for breakfast in Galway and then hit the road with a coffee – there’s a bit of driving ahead.

2. Connemara cruising 

connemara national park
Photo by AlbertMi on Shutterstock

The drive from Galway out to Connemara goes from pretty normal to pretty damn scenic very quickly. My only piece of advice here is to take your time and trust your gut.

If you’re spinning along and something catches your eye, stop safely and get out and explore. This is your Galway road trip so do whatever takes your fancy.

I’d recommend heading for Maam Cross and then, from there, continuing on towards Ballinafad and on towards our final destination – Dog’s Bay.

The total drive time is around 1.5 hours, but allow a bit more, as you’ll likely want to stop in places. Bang on a bit of music and soak up the scenery.

Note: If you fancy visiting the Aran Isalnd’s on a day trip, you could aim for Rossaveel and grab a ferry to Inis Mor, Inis Oirr or Inis Meain.

2. Ballynahinch Castle

Ballynahinch castle hotel galway
Photo via Ballynahinch Castle

Next up is one of only two castles you’ll be visiting during your 48 hours in Galway. If you want to see more castles on your visit, you’ll find heaps here.

The very fancy Ballynahinch Castle is one of the finest castle hotels in Ireland. Now, although this is a hotel, you can always admire it from the outside, if you fancy.

The castle has a colourful history and the setting is stunning, as you can see above. It’s also just down the road from our next stop, so it’s worth dropping by.

3. Dog’s Bay

dog's bay beach
Photo by Jacek Rogoz on Shutterstock

Although there are plenty of great beaches in Galway, one reigns supreme, in my opinion – the mighty Dog’s Bay Beach near Roundstone Village.

You’ll find a fairly pokey car park right next to it. Park up and take the short 3 minute or so ramble down to the sand.

This place is special. You can either head for a stroll along the sand or take a dip in the crystal clear water (be careful if you do).

Right next to Dog’s Bay lies Gurteen Beach. This is another fine spot that’s often referred to as one of the best beaches in Ireland.

4. Roundstone for lunch or coffee

walks in galway
Photo by Magui RF on Shutetrstock

The village of Roundstone in Galway is a short drive from Dog’s Bay. If you’re feeling peckish, or if you just fancy a coffee, you’ll find a few options here.

For coffee, the Bogbean Cafe is a good shout while for something more substantial, you can’t go wrong at O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar.

5. The Sky Road

sky road clifden
Photo by Andy333 on Shutterstock

The next stop of the day is around a 30-minute spin from Roundstone. The mighty Sky Road is one of the highlights of this Galway road trip.

This is a scenery-packed circular route that stretches for 11km and that takes you out west from Clifden village.

The scenery you’ll be treated to as you spin along the Sky Road will etch itself upon your mind. Here’s a full guide to this drive.

6. Kylemore Abbey

kylemore abbey connemara
Photo by The Irish Road Trip

Our last stop of our second 48 hours in Galway, Kylemore Abbey, is a short, 25-minute spin from Clifden. This Benedictine monastery was founded in 1920 and it stands in all its glory to this day.

The whole place looks like something from a Disney Movie. Now, you have two options if you visit: you can do the tour or you can admire it from afar.

There’s plenty of parking on-site and there’s also a little cafe if you fancy a bite to eat. 

7. Back to the city

galway city scenes
Photo by STLJB on Shutterstock

When you finish up at Kylemore, you’ve a lengthy, hour and 25 minute drive back to Galway City. The drive is nice and straightforward and there’s fine scenery en route.

When you get back to the city, you’ve your pick of great restaurants and even greater pubs where you can toast the last night of your weekend in Galway.

Other ways to tackle a Galway road trip

As mentioned above, there’s loads of ways to spend a weekend in Galway. There’s even more ways to spend 3 days in Galway!

Below, I’ve jotted down a couple of other sample itineraries that should help you plan our your Galway itinerary, if you’re finding it hard to decide.

Itinerary 1

  • Day 1
  • Stay in Salthill
  • Explore Galway City on Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Stay in Salthill
  • Option 1: Explore Connemara
  • Option 2: Go back along the coast and explore the Burren

Itinerary 2 (3 days in Galway)

  • Day 1
  • Stay in Galway City
  • Explore Galway City
  • Day 2
  • Stay in Galway City
  • Take a day trip to one of the Aran Islands
  • Day 3
  • Stay in Galway City
  • Take a day trip to Connemara

FAQs about spending a weekend in Galway

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the best Galway itinerary to what route we’d take.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

What is the best way to spend 48 hours in Galway?

Personally, I’d go for the first itinerary mentioned above, as it gives you a taste of the city and takes you out into Connemara. You’ll also spend the night in two parts of Galway that couldn’t be more different.

What’s the best way to spend 3 days in Galway?

The sample itinerary above (the one with the day trips) is a good shout, in my opinion. You get to see the city, the Aran Islands and Connemara all in one trip, without it being too busy.

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Keith. I am in a pickle about where to go in Ireland. I have four nights available before a meeting in Dublin – arriving this July 30th. We will fly into Dublin overnight and land by noon – with no sleep. Plan to rent a car and head to a town so we can get to sleep early.

    I wanted to head to Galway and base our time there. But I have just learned that is race weekend and the town will be crowded and prices high. Therefore I need to find another town/route to base from. We could split two nights in one town and two nights in another.

    What we would like to see – some of the high cliffs and ocean – but not more than two days of driving too far north or south. We want to be able to enjoy the town also and not be driving solid for four days.

    I love to see the ocean, but love farms, sheep and rolling hills. At night time, it is important to be able to find good music in a local pub as one of our travel mates is a singer and has dreamed about this.

    Any advice on what would be a good town and hotel to base from? I am open to anywhere in Ireland other than Dublin. Last trip I did do the Dingle Peninsula, Adare, and Killarney before heading back to Dublin. Advise would be most appreciated!!

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