While living in Ireland (2014/15) we did some weekend trips to the west coast of the island. And this is definitely the typical Ireland you see on movies: green mountains, glorious landscapes, dramatic coastlines with amazing beaches, charismatic towns and pretty coastal villages. Ireland west coast has a little bit of everything! And exploring the coast is even better if you drive since you can stop wherever you want to take pictures, relax in one of the many sandy beaches or just snack something in one of the many Irish pubs that you'll find around.
From the Cliffs of Moher to Galway city
Cliffs of Moher (County Clare) are Ireland's most visited natural attraction with around one million visitors every year. For 8 kms along the Atlantic coast you can admire this amazing landscape where it is also possible to observe the Aaron Islands, Galway Bay and Dingle peninsula. There is a visitor center and a big parking for cars and buses and the tickets are 6€/person (2015 prices!). As you can imagine this is an attraction to be seen outside so one has to be lucky with the weather (there are a couple of places inside, like an exposition, a small restaurant and some gift stores). You also need to walk to be able to enjoy the best views. We walked for approximately 2 hours and we got amazing views (and pictures, of course!).
After the walk around the Cliffs we explored the coastal roads between Doolin and Ballyvaughan, small towns between the Cliffs and Galway. The Burren is another place to stop and enjoy the views (absolutely amazing!). It is a mysterious place surrounded by rocks and the sea. It is much more quiet when compared with the Cliffs because not all tourists come here and that's just another reason you should visit this place. We had a super lunch at the Stone Cutters Kitchen (close to Doolin town), which is a really nice place to have a break with great salads, sandwiches, wraps and paninis.
We just passed by Fanore beach and Ballyvaughan town before arriving in Galway city during the afternoon of the same day. Galway old town is lovely, full of pubs, restaurants and stores and it was absolutely crowded on a Saturday evening (September). We had enough time to explore around and choose a nice place to have dinner. There are plenty of restaurants where you can have dinner, including some Michelin restaurants.
From Galway to Kylemore Abbey
After having dinner in Galway we've decided it was a good idea to sleep in a B&B outside the city and more close to the north since we wanted to explore Connemara in the next day. There are several options to stay, from expensive hotels to good quality-price relation B&B - and that's why we stayed at Camillaun Lodge B&B located on the banks of the Owenriff river in Oughterard (70€ for a room for 3 people including Irish breakfast for all and our dog stay). The next day we just wake up and drove to Roundstone, a small coastal village in Connemara region. It was in Roundstone that we stopped for a second breakfast at The Bogbean Cafe. Then, we drove from there to the Kylemore Abbey always through the coast and we saw amazing sandy beaches surrounded by green/brown and rocky mountains. Unfortunately it was raining a lot when we arrived to the Kylemore Abbey and so we've just explored outside the abbey and the church but we've decided not to see the Victorian gardens. This is a pretty famous attraction in Ireland West Coast so be prepared for the crowds. You can explore the abbey from inside (although they just let you to see 3 or 4 rooms since the others are closed to the public for now) and the small gothic church. The tickets are 13€/person (2015 prices) and you can book them online at the Kylemore Abbey website. They also have a restaurant/coffee facilities and we had lunch there but I do not recommend at all (it is expensive and the food is terrible!).
Are you planning to visit Ireland? If yes, please be in touch and we can give you some tips and recommendations!