Are you thinking about coming to Galway and hoping to take in the beautiful sights that the Connemara region has to offer? Afraid you’ll miss out on the main parts of it? Don’t worry, we at Galway City Hostel have written your own personal guide to ensure you get the best out of your trip that you can!!
Connemara lies just north of Galway and is full of unspoilt and varying landscapes. The regions natural beauty is simply breathtaking with its jagged coastline and hidden beaches, the rugged Twelve Bens (a.k.a Twelve Pins by the locals ) mountain range surrounded by windswept bog lands, as well as lakes and rivers! There are a variety of activities that you can partake in here such as hill walks, cycling, hiking, fishing, golf, horse-riding and even scuba diving. The Emerald Isle shines brightest here as you breath in the fresh sea air and escape the city.
Within the 1,000 acre estate nestled beneath a mountain range, overlooking a lake towards several of the Twelve Bens is where you will find Kylemore Abbey completed in 1871. The Victorian Walled Garden completed in the same year was so advanced for its time it has been compared to the Kew Gardens in London. With a history that spans 150 years there is much to learn about the tales of romance, tragedy, courage, sadness and folklore.
Upon entering the ticketed area of the Kylemore estate you have the option of taking the free shuttle bus or walking along the nature trail to the magnificent 6 acre Victorian Walled Garden. Return to explore the restored rooms of the Abbey and learn about it’s history including what the Benedictine Nuns did within the estate since they bought it in 1920. Continue on through the woodlands and along the lakeshore to the beautiful Gothic Church and Mausoleum. There is a large stone and an amazing sculpture that lie a couple of minutes walk past the Mausoleum; ask at the ticket desk about the folklore behind this mysterious and often unvisited spot.
If you arrive peckish, Mitchell’s Café welcomes visitors 7 days a week, all year; an entrance ticket to the Kylemore Abbey estate is not required to dine there. Located by the Walled Gardens is the Tea House which is only open during the Summer months; an entrance ticket is required to get there however. We suggest taking a packed lunch though and sitting at one of the many peaceful and scenic locations around the estate.
Adults – €13.00
Seniors – €10.00
Students – €9.00
Accompanied Children aged 10 years and under – Free
Please not if you you book in advance online at http://www.kylemoreabbeytourism.ie/ you will save 10%!
Entrance fee when part of a tour groupis not included but is available at a discounted rate
of €8.00 per person
How to get there
By Car: Take the N59 for Clifden out of Galway and continue through Oughterard and Maam
Cross until you pass through Recess. Turn right on the R344 signposted Letterfrack. This will
bring you through the Inagh Valley and then you will turn left on to the N59 loop for Kylemore
and follow the road as it winds around the lake until you reach Kylemore Abbey on your right
hand side. (Distance approx. 80kms)
By Public Transport: We recommend joining one of the tour companies that departs Galway daily as the public the Citilink bus will only take you as far as Letterfrack and then it is another 5km walk to the Abbey along a winding, narrow road busy with traffic.
Connemara National Park
Connemara as a whole is beautiful, but the 2,957 hectare National Park is magnificent. When
the Twelve Bens, the mountain range within the park, come into sight you know you’re soon to be in for a treat. Whether your drive around the outskirts past the woodlands and bogs
looking up at the mountains or hike through the park and over the mountains you are certain to be left speechless. This is one of those places in the world where photos, just don’t do it justice – you have to see it for yourself to see its true beauty!
Letterfrack is home to the National Park’s visitor centre where you can get information on trails, maps of the area and learn about the history of the park. Diamond Hill loop walk is the most common hike visitors will do within the park, as it has been designed so that people of all ages and fitness can explore this beautiful
location. There are four trails that can be accessed directly from the visitor centre and there is even a playground at the base for children and Tea Rooms for those that simply want to admire the view.
Admission is free into the park and is open all year round.
If you are after a bite to eat before your climb or need to restore your energy with food after you return from the peak there are few options to choose from. Within Letterfrack there are a couple of restaurants or pubs, a supermarket or at the Visitor Centre you can purchase lights snacks at the café. We highly recommend taking a packed lunch and eating at the peak of Diamond Hill though so you can admire the view for longer.
How to get there
By Car: Take the N59 for Clifden out of Galway and follow the signs in Clifden that lead to Letterfrack. Staying on the N59 you will see a sign for the National Park on the right hands side of the road just before entering the village of Letterfrack. Turn right here and follow the road to the carpark. (Distance approx 93kms)
By Public Transport: Citylink run a daily service to and from Letterfrack dropping you off and picking you up within a short walk of the Visitiors Centre.
Click here for bus times and prices!
Clifden and the Sky Road
Clifden is Connemara’s largest town and used to be where visitors simply breezed through, but this is no longer the case and we encourage you to stop here as well. What used to be a quiet town and the end of the train line from Galway, is now a town full of
colourful storefronts, fine restaurants, tea-shops and a buzz with tourists and locals alike.
Within the town there are beautiful boutiques, antique shops and
souvenir stores to meander in.
There are two churches to visit also, but one of the main highlights of Clifden lay 5 minutes west of the town. The Sky Road is an 11km circular route that takes you on a journey out along the coast line and is easily accessible by foot, bike or car. ( GCH Tip: we suggest taking the upper road when it splits in two. Whilst the lower road still allows for great views, being higher up enables you to take in all that Connemara has to offer; from the mountains, the islands, the grasslands and onwards out to where the sky meets the sea.)
How to get there
By Car: Take the N59 for Clifden out of Galway and follow the Wild Atlantic Way signs in Clifden that lead to The Sky Road.
By Public Transport: Citylink run a daily service to and from Clifden. Click here for bus times and prices
Ask our reception staff for the variety of tour options that take you to see stunning Connemara. Or if you have a car, be sure to swing by reception and we’ll give you a map and show you our favourite spots. Wild Atlantic Way Tours take in the Sky Road on their tour and Galway Tour Company go around the outskirts of the National Park stopping in Cong where The Quiet Man was filmed, both allowing time to visit Kylemore Abbey and both highly recommended.