Frequent tourists to Ireland will be familiar with the usual itinerary; a good few days in Dublin before taking a road trip to the southern coast, culminating in Galway City. And while there’s nothing wrong with this schedule, it does neglect some of the very best of the Emerald Isle which are just begging to be explored.
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping and scenic of all is the Connemara Peninsula, Cong and its Kylemore Abbey. The region features dramatic peaks, white sandy beaches, and plenty of peat bogs that offer a lot of insights on expansive Ireland’s culture. Make the most of it with these; our 4 IDEAL travel tips for Connemara and Cong, Ireland.
WHEN TO VISIT
Like other regions of Ireland, varying weather conditions exist in the region and temperatures can be chilly even at the height of summer. That said, there are certainly optimum times of year to visit.
Winter in Connemara, for instance, is ‘brrrr’ levels of cold, seeing short days with very low temperatures. The region experiences plenty of rain with snow and freezing temperatures are near the norm. Because of this, a lot of the hotel and accommodation options are limited, with many closed during the season.
Even in summer, don’t bank on your days being filled with sunshine, but the months of July and August are the warmest and driest. In short; expect the unexpected and be sure to always carry along a waterproof and windproof jacket regardless of the season.
It’s the wild west out here! Things get pretty rural and the area isn’t well served by public transport. Renting a car or using a tour company car are the best ways to explore the region at your own pace. Indeed, the available public buses cannot be relied on fully, and timetables are notoriously temperamental, especially because they don’t reach remote areas and are infrequent. If you don’t fancy driving, some tour companies offer day guided trips from Galway.
WHERE TO STAY
Despite this region’s weather conditions and low tourist attraction volume, there are several b’n’bs, hotels and restaurants to choose from. Accommodation in the town of Clifden is a good choice, it’s Connemara’s capital and boasts the majority of decent, well appointed places to stay, as well as its own bay; very picturesque indeed and ideal for those with an interest in watersports (or eating fish for that matter!). The town is also the launchpad for the Sky Road Loop – a 20-kilometre scenic loop close to the Clifden town.
WHAT TO DO
Connemara and the entire region is full of lush, verdant landscape and tall peaks which present amazing hiking opportunities. The peninsula is home to the Twelve Bens, among the highest peaks in Ireland.
Also worth a visit is The Kylemore Castle. Ireland is home to many castles, and this region is no exception. The history behind the Kylemore Castle is an interesting yet saddening one. The castle was built as a romantic gift by a wealthy businessman but later changed to an abbey when his wife died.
The Dog’s Beach, located some few kilometres from Roundstone Village, is a largely untouched, totally gorgeous stretch of sand which confirms Irelands’ claim of having some of the most stunning rural landscapes in the world. To experience even more of this beauty, drive along the Sky Road; the perfect way to enjoy some of the best views the region has to offer.