Exploring the Wild Atlantic Way: Day trips from Galway

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Galway, the most popular travel destination in Western Ireland, is known for its picturesque city center along the sea, magnificent pubs, and awe-inspiring countryside. You’ll have plenty to do while exploring Galway’s maze of cobbled streets, but part of its appeal is as a launching point for exploring Ireland’s incredible West Coast. 

 

Some of the country’s top landmarks and attractions are within a short drive or ferry ride of Galway City. The Cliffs of Moher widely rank as one of the most beautiful sights in Europe. The Aran Islands, with their remote location out in the ocean, offer an entirely unique cultural experience with beautiful views of the ocean. Up and down the coast, there are amazing day trip destinations from Galway. 

As you embark on these exciting day trips, remember to travel as lightly as possible. Rely on a Galway luggage storage location to take care of any bags you don’t need for the day. Then, pick them up whenever you’re back in town.

The Cliffs of Moher 

 

If there’s one way to quantify the appeal of Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher Coastal Trail, it’s that you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who’s been telling you they regret it. These vertical cliffs spanning the coastline near Galway (between Doolin and Liscannor, to be exact) attract thousands upon thousands of tourists every year for a reason. And unlike most “can’t-miss” attractions, the Cliffs of Moher are spacious enough that the crowd size won’t matter. Sure, there’s the visitor center and landmarks like O’Brien’s Tower and Hag’s Head that most visitors will check out, but you’ll have plenty of space to walk up and down the moss-covered cliffsides admiring the jaw-dropping views and the intense crashing of waves below.

The drive is highly doable in the morning or afternoon if you have access to a car, but there are plenty of bus tours operating out of Galway that will simplify the logistics of getting there.

As close as you can get: Spiddal

More of an afternoon adventure than a full-day trip, this charming village can be reached in less than 30 minutes and provides the quintessential coastal experience. With pebbly beaches and a delightfully minuscule town center, you can explore Spiddal in a few hours, but the small-town setting that’s so uniquely Irish is fully evident when you’re hanging at the Cois Cuain (the go-to pub for both locals and travelers) or one of the craft shops. You’ll want to catch amazing views of the coastline at Spiddal Pier, as well!  

Bunratty Castle

If you’re driving between Limerick and Galway, make sure to stop at this 15th-century castle near The Burren. Unlike many other landmarks of its kind, Bunratty Castle is surprisingly family-friendly, with plenty of interactive activities and displays that will keep the kids engaged while mom and dad tour the castle, learning about how it’s changed hands throughout the course of Irish history. 

Take the ferry to the Aran Islands

While the tiny archipelago can be seen from the Irish mainland, the Aran Islands are a world away in terms of cultural preservation. These remote villages scattered across the rolling landscapes of the three main islands have been largely unbothered by Ireland’s reach for modernity, leaving the last vestiges of centuries of Irish culture in place. Simply put, it’s one of the most unique places in Europe and absolutely vital to the full Irish experience. It’s well worth the hour-long ferry ride from Galway or the 40-minute ride from Rossaveal. 

Inishmore is the largest and most visited, Inishmaan is the second largest but least visited, and Inisheer is the smallest but boasts a few major attractions. There are a few pebbly islets clustered around the Aran Islands that aren’t readily available to visit. Depending on which island you visit, you’ll want to explore a few of these quaint villages and even rent a bike to get around. There are a few ancient forts and other landmarks to visit, so looking into a guided tour is a great way to efficiently see a few of the greatest hits. 

Dún Dúchathair is one of the top landmarks on Inishmore, with a perch atop a hill overlooking the cliffs. There’s a beehive-shaped structure crowning the whole fortress, which also features a stark black limestone construction, giving it the name “the black fort.” Just up the island, there’s the Dún Aonghasa fort, which is the largest prehistoric stone fort still standing. It’s built atop the cliff’s edge, providing astounding views of the crashing waves below. The fort will also captivate younger travelers with its fearsome spikes that were used as defense mechanisms.  

The Burren 

Ireland’s countryside boasts some of the most distinctive natural landscapes in Europe, and much of the wild western coastline is dotted with strange rocky terrain like you’ll find in the Burren in County Clare. Nearby County Clare’s Burren features otherworldly fields of craggy stone that feel like something out of Star Wars. If you’re taking a road trip through the west (especially between Limerick and Galway), you can stop along the coastline to walk around this strange stretch of land. There will be a few Iron Age ruins and the Ailwee Caves to explore as well. You can make a day trip out of it or simply a stop to stretch your legs on a road trip.

Take a road trip on the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a legendary stretch of highway that follows the Western coastline of Ireland, and it actually runs through Galway. If you have access to a car, it’s absolutely worth taking a ride for a few hours or incorporating it into your logistics between cities. The Sky Road, the stretch between Clifden and the Kingston Peninsula, is particularly riveting, with intense cliff views and a mountainous backdrop. Just make sure to drive safely (the roads are narrow, and the paths are winding) and leave ample time to get out and enjoy the views! 

Conclusion

If you’re traveling into Galway and are U-turning it out into the countryside for a day trip, you’ll want to find a secure place to leave your luggage. That’s why the Bounce luggage storage network is such a popular solution in Galway. With locations throughout the city and premium features like an intuitive mobile app and 24/7 customer support, Bounce is easily the best option for travelers visiting this fantastic Irish city.

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