Scenic Route – What to do in County Clare, Ireland
(250km Galway – Galway, 200km Galway –Ennis), 3-6days
This route takes in some of the most famous tourist attractions in Ireland in the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher but there is so much more to do and see along the coast on this very barren and wind strewn edge of Ireland.
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Galway City Galway is probably the best city in Ireland to go out in. The place to enjoy the delights of the Irish pub and music scene with the ever lively shop street providing much of the entertainment. The city is small and easy to walk around and between buskers on the pedestrian streets, Eyre Square, the River Corrib and the Spanish Arch you will have plenty to gaze at. The Galway Races Festival is on over the end of July, first week of August and is a huge event with most people going for the ‘craic’ rather than any horse racing. (www.galwayraces.com). There is also culture with the Irish speaking Gaeltach close by to the west. The bay and Atlantic can be enjoyed with several water activities including kayaking (www.kayakmor.ie ) and diving (www.scubadivewest.com, not in city). www.galwaytourism.ie Kinvarra: As you head south of Galway on the N18 and then turn off onto the smaller N67 the first town you come to is Kinvarra. It is picturesquely located on an inlet and the small Dunguaire Castle greeting you as you enter. Although nicely situated on the sea it is nothing compared to the jewels further south. Ballyvaughan (48km from Galway): Further on the winding coastal road and you end up in Ballyvaughan that is situated on the edge of the Burren. The Burren Way Walk starts here and goes through the Burren and ends in Lahinch. The ancient Cahermore Ring fort has 9ft high walls and is located south of Ballyvaughan. One of the main attractions around is the Aillwee Caves, 4km south of Ballyvaughan. These caves used to contain bears and their bones are now on view in this underground cavern. The cave has waterfalls,stalagmites and stalactites hanging and growing. Open 10:00-17:30 (times vary slightly throughout the year). Admission €12. Aillwee Caves also has a bird of prey centre with several flights daily. Admission €8 but a combo ticket for both cave and prey centre is €17. www.aillweecave.ie Rather than continuing on the N67, in Ballyvaughan you head directly west on the R477. This road gives superb views of the Burren on your left and the cliffs and Atlantic Ocean to your right. It is 30km to Doolin by this road along spectacular scenery. The road is narrow but it is only really a problem if two buses meet.
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Doolin (77km from Galway) Right up against the Atlantic, Doolin is probably most famous for its surfing although you need to be good to surf here. It is nicely located between a few major tourist sites and gets very popular when the weather is good. There are a campsites for backpackers just outside the village. It has beaches but not as good as other places that are close by. The village has a few pubs that seem to constantly play traditional music which makes for a great session at night. From 1st April to 31st October you can get the ferry to the beautiful Aran Islands from Doolin. There are several trips daily to the islands and some can include a drive by of the Cliffs of Moher. Price €30 return to islands. www.mohercruises.com, www.doolin2aranferries.com Lisdoonvarna: Not exactly on the trail but only 7km from Doolin so I’ll mention it. Famous for its Natural Spa Complex that dates back to the 18th century that has restorative effects. What it is probably more famous for is its matchmaking festival in September that draws people from all over the world and the local bachelor farmers who have finished the hard summer work.
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – The Burren (Kilfenora, 15km east of Doolin) If you are cycling or driving on this route you are skirting around the edges of the Burren for the entire time but in Kilfenora you can visit the heart of the Burren and learn some interesting facts about the uniqueness of this seemingly lifeless rocky area. The Burren contains tombs and dolmens older than the pyramids, 630 of 900 of Ireland’s native plant species reside here and some spectacular limestone landscape. Some of the plants are found nowhere else, only here. www.theburrencentre.ie
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Cliffs of Moher Continue south on the R478 and you arrive at the spectacular Cliffs of Moher. Towering 214mtrs (660ft) above the sea at their highest point, they stretch for 8km along the coastline. The Aran Islands and even the north coast of Galway Bay can be seen from them. The visitors centre gives information on the wildlife in the area and has the usual gifts and crafts and the walks that can be done around the cliffs. The cliffs are also one of Ireland’s most famous big-wave surfing spots and only newly discovered is Aileen. During storms surfers come from far and wide to surf the 50ft waves. The opening times, for the centre not the wave, are from 09:00 – 17:00 (Nov-Feb),The opening hours then extend gradually to 09:00-21:00 in July-Aug. Admission €6. www.cliffsofmoher.ie
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Lahinch A small town that is well set up and popular for visiting tourists. The main town in the area and is a perfect place to base yourself to explore and sightsee the Clare region. A big beach that is perfect for surfing, lots of cliff top walks, 2 x golf courses in the town, lots of pubs, lots of restaurants, sure why wouldn’t you want to go! There are several places to rent surfboards and wetsuits and to organise surf lessons if you want (www.greenroomlahinch.com). Lahinch Golf Club is one of the best links golf clubs in Ireland right in the heart of the town. Be warned though it needs to be booked and is expensive. The second golf course is not as good (but still of good quality) but is also cheaper. www.lahinchgolf.com
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Miltown Malbay / Kilkee (118km from Galway) You continue south along the coastal N67 and Miltown Malbay is the first town you come across. A town named after a witch is a great place for traditional music. Spanish point , 3km from Miltown, is a lovely beach to walk and to surf. Again like all towns on this route there are lots of walks and golf clubs. As you continue south the main road stays a few kilometres from the coast until you come to Doonbeg. Doonbeg is a small village that has a world class golf club that is built literally on the coast. The next town is Kilkee, 30km from Miltown Malbay is on the coast and has a huge clear beach that is like a wine glass holding the water in the cove. The town is lively during the summer again with lots of walks by the beaches and cliffs and restaurants and pubs for the evening time. Things really slow down though during the winter. From Kilkee or Kllrush, the small village of Carrigahoult is close and on the way to the end of the finger of Clare in Loop Head
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Kilrush You have now turned from the Atlantic and are inland although Kilrush is on the Shannon Estuary so the water will still taste salty. Kilrush is one of the biggest towns in the area and although it doesn’t have the spectacular scenery that is associated with the towns directly on the Atlantic Coast it still has a lot to offer. Once again walks, pubs, golf and beaches are high on the list. One of the best things to do in Kilrush or Carrigahoult is dolphin watching (www.discoverdolphins.ie) Kilrush is also the closest point to the Killimer to Tarbert ferry. This ferry allows you to skip across the Shannon Estuary rather than having to go through Limerick saving a 2hr drive. Foot passengers are €5 and cars cost €18. Ferries leave Killimer and Tarbert every half an hour from 1st June – 31st Aug, 07:00-21:00. From 1st Sept to 31st May the ferry leaves Killimer every hour on the hour and from Tarbert every hour on the half hour, 07:00-19:00. www.shannonferries.com
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Ennis The county town of Clare and the biggest town in the county so it has all of the entertainment you need but none of the scenery that accompanies the coastal villages. Ennis is similar to a lot of county town with a central square and a big statue, this time of ‘the liberator’ Daniel O’Connell. Ennis has an abundance of history that is represented in sculptures around town. A map of these can be got from the Tourist Office on Arthurs Row. The history can also be found in the friary, north of the square, and in the small Clare Museum that occupies the same building as the Tourist Office. As well as the history, Ennis like most of Ireland has its fair share of pubs and traditional music.
Scenic Route, What to do in County Clare – Need to Know Buses go very regularly from Dublin (Busaras) to both Limerick and Galway. Buses go from Dublin to Ennis for €20 but requires at least one stop. Either head to Limerick or Galway and then from there take a bus to Ennis. The journey from Galway to Ennis is 1.2hrs and is 45min from Limerick to Ennis. www.buseireann.ie From Dublin airport you can also take a direct aircoach to Galway (www.citylink.ie, www.gobus.ie) in 3hrs for €16.50. From Dublin Airport to Limerick city you can use Bus Eireann (www.buseireann.ie) It is also possible to get the train to Galway or Limerick directly from Heuston Station in Dublin, cost €15. From Dublin to Ennis requires a change in either Limerick (Limerick Junction and takes 1.33hrs) or Athenry (50min). There is also a separate train that goes from Galway city) to Limerick via Ennis. The train takes 1.3hrs from Galway and 40min from Limerick. www.iarnrodeireann.ie
Practicalities – About Ireland
- €1 =€1, USD$1=€0.77
- Language – English, Irish. The Irish language (gaelige) is thought in schools from 5-18yrs old but approximately only 5% of Irish people speak it on a full time basis. These area’s are called the Gaeltacht and are mainly in the west of Ireland
- Flights- www.aerlingus.com, www.aerarann.com, www.ryanair.com (budget), www.ba.com but most European airlines have flights to Dublin, Cork or Shannon (Limerick) and several American airlines fly to Dublin
- Buses: Dublin Bus (www.dublinbus.ie) is the city bus company in Dublin and has an extensive network. Bus Eireann (www.buseireann.ie), Kavanagh buses (jjkavanagh.ie) are the nationwide bus companies that serves other towns and cities across Ireland. Their main bases are in busaras on Store Street in the city centre for Bus Eireann and for Kavanaghs.
- Irish Rail (Iarnrod Eireann) are the railway company and serve all major cities. www.irishrail.ie
- Car Rental: All the main car hire companies are in Ireland such as Rentalcars.com (www.rentalcars.com), Irish car rentals (www.irishcarrentals.com), Hertz (www.hertz.ie), Avis (www.avis.ie), Europecar (www.europecar.ie), Car Hire (Thrifty) (www.carhire.ie)
- Accommodation – €50 per night for an average double room in a city
- Population of Ireland – 4.56million
Map of Ireland
|The Burren - Kilfenora|
|Cliffs of Moher|
Cliffs of Moher, Liscannor, Ireland
Carrauntoohil, Kerry, Ireland
|Killarney National Park|
Killarney National Park, Ireland
Bentee, Kerry, Ireland
Valentia Island, Ireland
Skellig Michael, Kerry, Ireland
Molls Gap, Ireland
Lough Hyne, Ireland
|Cape Clear Island|
Cape Clear Island, Cork, Ireland
Mizen Head, Ireland
My Photo Gallery of Ireland