Home to The Wild Atlantic Way which stretches 1600 miles of coastal views, the West Coast of Ireland is known for picture perfect views. Aside from opportunities to be close to nature, the area is also known for preserving Irish culture and tradition.
If you’re craving a more rustic adventure along the untamed Irish coastline, open yourself up for the West Coast with nature’s raw beauty and genuine Irish charm. From wild cliffs, lively villages, and the salty tang of the Atlantic breeze, there’s lots to do!
So check our comprehensive guide of all the fun things to do, sights to see, and areas to visit in the West Coast of Ireland!
Discover Achill Island’s Hidden Gems
Address: Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 98 20400
If you like seclusion and a more remote location to relax in, we suggest starting your West Coast journey by visiting Achill Island. The largest offshore island, Achill Island is connected to the mainland by a sturdy bridge.
Here, you’ll find wide rugged landscapes where you can be surrounded by nature’s untouched beauty. One of the best spots on the island is a quaint village on the island’s edges. Keel is filled with lots of countryside scenery, but its best feature is the beach.
This secluded shore is all about silence and serenity. It feels like an undiscovered sanctuary with the waters of the Atlantic just at arm’s length.
If you’re up to it, we suggest uncovering the island’s hidden treasures by embracing detours from popular routes. By doing this, you’ll discover secluded spots for an authentic and tranquil escape. Just ask the locals where the best ones are.
Tour the Aran Islands
Address: Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 99 61104.
Perched at the mouth of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands are made up of a trio of enchanting islands that offer lots of great activities that you can enjoy, not to mention beautiful backdrops.. There are vast open areas for trekking, walking, and exploring.
Aside from exploring nature, there’s also a collection of ancient sites and ruins that are perfect for history buffs. The shorelines and pristine beaches are also great for catching great views and taking a quick dip.
We also love the always entertaining encounters with Gaelic-speaking locals to cap off the delightful trip. For transportation, there are regular ferries from Doolin or Galway.
You can opt to go on boat trips and coach tours that go around the islands for a unique vantage point of the Aran Islands. They’re a great way to enjoy the landscapes and get information, especially if you’re tight on time.
Take Some Pictures at the Bluebell Wood
Address: R285, Oakport Demesne, Co. Roscommon, Ireland
Known as Bluebell Woods to those who know about it, it’s also called Doreen Woods. This woodland forest is near Boyle in County Roscommon and has become a steady tourist attraction over the years.
Throughout the year, the forest looks like something off of a fairytale book illustration. But what really sets it apart are the bluebells that dot the entire forest floor in spring set with the backdrop of towering trees, creating a truly lasting memory.
While captivating year-round, the Bluebell Woods truly come alive from mid-April to late May. But, try to arrive early because parking can become a nightmare during this popular season.
Address: Ballyryan, Co. Clare, Ireland
Phone Number: + 065 70 88030.
Hours: Open 24/7
Located near the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren is sometimes overlooked, but it really is worth the extra trip. The entire location is made of a wide landscape made purely from limestone.
That might sound boring, but the visuals are odd enough that they look like they’re from another world. In between the rocky rows of limestone, there are bursts of green from the grass that grow here.
Plus, the kids (and adults) always make a game of how long they can run along the formations without falling.
If you prefer a bit of color, we recommend capturing the Burren’s unique charm during spring. A rock garden of wildflowers bloom during this time for a contrast between the stark limestone and the vibrant flowers.
Stroll Through Cong’s Charming Streets
Address: Cong, Strandhill, Co. Mayo, Ireland
If you’ve ever seen the Quiet Man directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, then you’ll be glad to hear that you can visit the town of Innisfree right in the West Coast of Ireland. Most of the scenes were shot in Cong.
This village is located along the border of Mayo and Galway. It only has 145 residents and most of them were hired as extras on the film, so you can chat them up for their personal insights and experiences while the movie was being shot.
Beyond its film connections, Cong boasts a tapestry of attractions, including the historic Cong Abbey and the Ashford Castle.
If you’re up to making your visit to the village an overnight trip, we highly suggest booking a room at the Ashford Castle. You’ll get rooms and amenities decked out in opulent old world charm.
Marvel at the Cliffs of Moher
Address: Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 65 708 6141
One of the biggest and most popular spectacles along the West Coast are the iconic Cliffs of Moher. With a height of 702ft (214m) and stretching across 9 miles (14km), these vertical cliffs command attention against the calm of the Atlantic behind it.
Visiting as the sun sets or rises paints a picture that isn’t to be missed. For a wider view of the cliffs, you can opt to go to the top of the O’Brien Tower which is a 19th-century lookout tower.
You can also opt to go to the Viewing Point at the end of Burren Way for the best photos. For a different perspective, you can go on a boat ride around the cliffs.
The visitor center is built to blend perfectly with the local landscape. It’s worth the search though because you can discover a trove of modern exhibits and guides to the area’s best spots for great views and other attractions nearby.
Roam the Grounds of Connemara National Park
Address: Letterfrack, Co. Galway, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 76 100 2528
Hours: Open everyday 24/7
The Connemara National Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts in the west coast of Ireland. Established in 1980, the park’s 3,000 hectares once belonged to the Kylemore Abbey estate.
You can delve into its rich history, discovering megalithic court tombs dating back 4,000 years and a 19th-century graveyard. For some physical exploration, you can yourself with dedicated walking trails, or opt for leisurely strolls around Diamond Hill.
Drop by the Connemara National Park Visitor Centre, for insights about the area. They also have tea rooms where you can enjoy a tranquil tea time break.
Explore the park’s northern reaches where there are regular sightings of wild animals. Home to red deer, wild ponies, and peacock butterflies, the park showcases the diverse landscapes of mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands, and woods.
Catch a Glimpse of History at Clonmacnoise
Address: Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, N37 V292, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 90 967 4195
Hours: Open everyday from 10 am to 5 pm
Clonmacnoise is known as one of Ireland’s most popular and oldest monastic cities. Most of the attractions here revolve around sites made during early Christianity. Located along the River Shannon, the city is surrounded by walls.
You can immerse yourself in a journey through time within ecclesiastical ruins, including a cathedral, seven churches, high crosses, round towers, and Early Christian grave slabs.
The cathedral, dating back to 909 AD, has intricate carvings, while small churches, known as temples, each carry a distinctive character.
To start off right, we recommend starting your visit at the museum, absorbing the historical context before wandering through the enchanting ruins of Clonmacnoise.The museum is located in conical huts made to look like the real deal.
Capture Beauty at Downpatrick Head
Address: Downpatrick Head, Knockaun, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Just north of Ballycastle in County Mayo, Downpatrick Head is a heritage site offering a unique perspective on the Atlantic Ocean. The isolated island has cliff side viewing platforms that let you get a really close and exciting look at the choppy waters below.
Downpatrick Head is also home to a church created by St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. There is also a stone circle and a holy well believed to grant visitors’ wishes.
Photographers will get endless shots with the rugged cliffs, the sea stack, and sea birds. The Dún Briste sea stack is also close by and is believed to have been a portion of the mainland that got separated.
Although extremely beautiful, the site is still located on very steep cliffs. So be sure to put on hiking shoes with a firm grip, keep away from the edges, and always follow the signs for a safe and enjoyable trip.
Explore the Landscape at Flaggy Shore
Address: Flaggy Shore, Newquay, Co. Clare, Ireland
In the northern reaches of County Clare, Flaggy Shore cements itself as the number one spot for geology lovers. While most of the areas are covered in grass and greens, there are some areas composed of gray limestone.
These spots are also known to hold some fossils dating back over 330 million years, for an encounter with prehistoric objects. There are also remnants of 12,000 year old glacier rocks on the island that have now turned into granite.
Flaggy Shore is most known and chosen for the unparalleled peace and quiet you can get here, but that can have a down side too. The area has no shops or places to eat so make sure you pack everything you need before going.
Indulge in Galway’s Bohemian Atmosphere
Address: Galway, Connacht, Ireland
Galway City sits where the River Corrib feeds the Atlantic Ocean. The city itself is steeped in Ireland’s rich history and artistic spirit. Its 18th-century centerpiece, Eyre Square, has cobbled streets adorned with pubs, cafes, and shops.
The city has become a popular destination for traditional Irish folk music and art. Art enthusiasts will love the Galway City Museum, a three-story collection of works on the archaeological, political, and cultural elements of the city.
Saturdays and holidays are great for street performance movers where you can enjoy love music and a fun Irish atmosphere.
Be part of history and try the locals’ cherished tradition of strolling the Salthill promenade for a tranquil 2km walk along the sea, ending with the quirky act of Kicking the Wall near the diving boards.
Cruise the Waters of Killary Fjord
Address: Leenane, Co. Galway Mayo, Ireland
Hours: Open 24/7
If you don’t get motion sickness quickly, we highly recommend sailing on the Killary Fjord. The country’s only fjord offers a visual feast of both the waters and the surrounding landscape.
On Ireland’s West Coast, the Killary Fjord stretches along the Atlantic for 10 miles. You can make the drive from Kylemore Abbey to Westport. The fjord is also a great location to stop and spot some animals, especially birds local to the area.
You can only go exploring the Killary Fjord by signing up for a boat tour at Killary Harbour. Each one will last around 1.5 to 2 hours.
Bounce Back and Forth Between the Towns of Killaloe & Ballina
Address: Killaloe Cill Dalua, Knockyclovaun, Co., Clare, Ireland
Address: Ballina Béal an Átha, Co. Mayo, Ireland
On the banks of Loch Dirigiert, there are 2 towns that are so close together but each uniquely great for a visit, that neither can be missed on a trip around the West coast of Ireland.
Killaloe, nestled in County Clare, is a picturesque village that’s perfect for great views. Photographers also take their time here to take shots of the landscape as well as the town itself. The quaint homes and traditional shops are a sight to see.
After a day of exploring Killaloe, you can head to Ballina on the Tipperary banks with fantastic pubs and restaurants.
If you’re a watersports enthusiast, an avid angler, or tempted by a scenic river cruise to Lough Derg, Ballina is a perfect place to spend the day. Just be sure to bring your own gear to avoid any inconvenience in the small town.
Savor the Ruins of Kilmacduagh Monastery
Address: Kilmacduagh, Co. Galway, Ireland
Hours: Open everyday 24/7
Near the town of Gort in southwest County Galway lies the ruins of Kilmacduagh Monastery. Founded in the 7th century by Saint Colman, the monastery’s meaningful origin is as interesting as the remnants of the place itself.
It was said that the belt from Saint Colman’s belt fell and he took it as a sign to build his monastery there. The ruins themselves are still largely intact with the walls still standing as well as a bell tower.
The monastery is located near other attractions in the west coast, so it’s a great first stop to your journey.
The Kilmacduagh Monastery is open all day to the public with the freedom to explore the open site without an admission fee. You can ask for assistance from the visitor center across the street for a closer look at the locked buildings.
Wander through the Grounds of the Kylemore Abbey
Address: Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Co. Galway, Ireland
Phone Number: +353 95 52001
Hours: Monday, Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm
More than an architectural gem and a historical site dating back to 1920, Kylemore Abbey houses the Sisters of the Benedictine Order as an actual working Abbey, where the sisters reside and welcome visitors from across the globe.
Among its treasures, the Victorian Walled Gardens, painstakingly restored in 2000, lets visitors step back in time. Only Victorian gardening methods and seeds and strains from the 1800s are used in this heritage garden.
If you like a bit of walking, we highly recommend forgoing the shuttle bus to the garden. Walking on foot allows you a slower pace to fully appreciate the great views all around.
We suggest signing up for their Generation to Generation Tour where you get to explore the ground-floor rooms, see photographs, audio snips, and artifacts. You get the chance to get a more in depth experience in learning about the abbey.
Visit the Spanish Arch
Address: 2 The Long Walk, Galway, Ireland
Hours: Open everyday 24/7
The Spanish Arch is located on the banks of the Corrib River. This historical structure dates back to its medieval origins all the way back to 1584. It was built as part of the 12th century town wall.
You’ll find the area resonating with a vibrant atmosphere. Particularly lively in summer, the Spanish Arch acts like a space for mingling locals and visitors. You can go on a stroll on the Long Walk extension while basking in the sun.
There are also street performers who sing, dance, or display their art in the area for added entertainment. Plus, there are a lot of great places for outdoor dining.
Up until 2006, the Spanish Arch was actually where the Galway City Museum was. It has since been moved to the building at the back of the arch. We suggest stopping by for a visit and a quick look around since it’s so close by.
Go Around Westport
Address: Westport Co. Mayo, Ireland
Westport, a designated Heritage Town located in Mayo County has boat loads of historical sites you can see. The Westport House and Gardens, Aughaval Cemetery, and St. Mary’s Church are among the must visits.
It’s a charming town complete with colorful shop fronts, quaint cafes, and specialty. It’s also a haven for explorers, with attractions like the Great Western Greenway, which is the country’s longest cycling and walking trail.
There are amazing sights to see from the top of Croagh Patrick or from Bertra Strand. A collection of beaches, art expos, and even a Westport Train Tour waiting for you.
If you’re traveling to Westport with a car, you need to get a parking disc. You can get one from local shops with a sign that says they have them. If you’re up for it, we highly recommend biking around the town to really experience it.