The Coastal Route explores the vast, spectacularly beautiful Connemara coast. It’s advisable to complete it over two days and staying the night somewhere considered halfway. Take the R336 from Galway city. You will pass Silverstrand Beach in Barna holds the blue flag and is safe to swim in.
Continue on through Furbo as far as Spiddal taking in spectacular views of Galway Bay and County Clare in the distance. Spiddal has a nice beach and pier worth exploring. Continue on to Inverin, home to An TráMhór, another blue flag beach safe for swimming. While driving through Inverin you will be able to see the spectacular Aran Islands in the distance. You will also pass by Connemara Airport with daily flights out to the Aran Islands.
Continue on the R336 and you will reach the turnoff for Rossaveal, a beautiful fishing village where the port for the Aran Islands is situated. A daily ferry service runs to each of the Aran Islands. Continue on the R336 to Costelloe, where you will find a Tourist Information Office. Here, take the R343 to Carraroe, where the Coral Strand is situated, another blue flag beach indicating it is safe to swim.
Continue back on the R343 to Costelloe and then take the R374 out to Connemara’s Archipelago. Here, there are separate islands all joined to the mainland by bridges, Lettermore, Gorumna and Lettermullan. Fishing and seaweed is the livelihood of these islands, and they are still dotted today with small piers and there are some fabulous beaches. Continue on through the islands until you come to the Tower of Golam Head built in 1804 at the time of Napoleonic threat and French invasion to the English rule and also to keep an eye out for smugglers around the coast.
Continue back on the R374 until you reach Costelloe and continue north on the R336 to Screebe. Take the R340 to PádraigPearse Cultural Centre, an interactive exhibition on Connemara’s past and present. Continue south and explore the intricate coastline of RosMuc.
Turn back on to the R340 and continue south around the Iorras Aithneach peninsula taking in spectacular views of Galway Bay. This beautiful peninsula has many beautiful beaches to explore, in particular a tidal island which can be reached by the beach when the tide is low, Feenish, in Ardmore. There is also a nice walk in Moyrus along the coast.
Continue on the R340 and then take the turnoff for the R342 when you come to it. Continue on until you come to the R341 and head south towards Roundstone, a beautiful harbour village. Close to Roundstone are two of Ireland’s most popular beaches Gorteen and Dogs Bay. Continue on the R341 until you come to Ballyconneely, where you will find a beautiful beach which holds the Green Coast Award, indicating it is safe for swimming called Aillebrack beach.
Continue on the R341 until you come to Clifden. Clifden is a traditional town with many dining options. Take a trip on the Sky road for sea views from a height. Continue on the N59 and take the turnoff for Cleggan, where you can explore Omey, another coastal island or take the ferry out to Inishbofin.
Take the same road back to the N59 and head north Letterfrack and take the Connemara loop around Renvyle, another beautiful seaside village with a Green Coast beach, again safe for swimming. There are fabulous views from Renvyle including Inishbofin, Achill Island, Clare Island and Croagh Patrick in Mayo. Continue on the Connemara Loop to Killary Harbour, offering spectacular views of Killary Fjord and then on to Leenane, a great spot for adventure and watersports.
Total Distance: 225km; 6hours 45min