11 Best Hikes in Galway: From Coast to City

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Best Hikes in Galway

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Ah, Galway, our gem on the Wild Atlantic Way! This beauty will charm ya with hikes for all, from the newbie to the hardened adventurer. Fancy a ramble through serene forests, over rugged mountains, or alongside stunning coastlines with stunning scenery? Galway’s got you covered!

Get your heart racing on the Diamond Hill Loop in Connemara National Park. It’s a sight for sore eyes, it is! For the real troopers, Lackavrea Mountain via Western Way is the ticket, winding through the majestic Maamturk Mountains.

In County Galway, we’ve a walk for every whim. Whether you’re after a wee stroll or a serious hike, you’ll find your heart here in the scenery. So, grab those boots, it’s time to experience the magic of Galway!

Popular Hiking Trails in Galway

If you’re looking for some amazing hiking trails in Galway, you’re in luck! Galway has a lot to offer, from stunning mountain ranges to breathtaking coastal walks. Here are some of the most popular hiking trails in Galway:

Diamond Hill Walk

Tucked away in the heart of Connemara National Park, this trail is an open invitation for all, from the greenest novice to the hardiest trekker. The well-trodden path, meandering through emerald-green valleys and past quaint stone walls, will guide you right up to the summit in a brisk 2-3 hours.

Up top, you’ll be graced with a panorama that’ll charm the socks off you! The entire Connemara region unfurls beneath you with the grand Twelve Bens punctuating the skyline. Oh, and don’t forget to say hello to the local birds and wildflowers along the way!

  1. Lower Diamond Hill Walk: A moderate, 3 km trail that ascends along the lower slopes of Diamond Hill, delivering panoramic views of the park and coastline.
  2. Upper Diamond Hill Walk: The star of the park, this 3.7 km challenging trail ascends to the summit of Diamond Hill. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the Twelve Bens and the deeply indented coastline dotted with islands.

Maumturk Mountains

Now, if you’re hankering for a bit more of a challenge, the Maumturk Mountains is your ticket. Just near the quaint village of Leenane, this hike’s not for the faint-hearted. The trail weaves through heather-clad hillsides and rocky outcrops, and it’s a steady climb to the top. But, the view! The Twelve Bens, the Atlantic Ocean, and all of Connemara sprawl out in all their glory!

Connemara National Park

But Connemara’s got more up its sleeve. The National Park itself is a paradise with hiking trails to suit all levels. Fancy a wee stroll amidst the red deer and Connemara ponies? Or maybe you’re more the type to conquer mountain peaks? Whatever your fancy, you’re bound to find it here.

Covering 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands, Connemara is not just a place, it’s an experience. With amazing views of Tully mountain and the coast, this park is one of the must do hike on the west coast. There are plenty of different elevated terrains, so make sure to choose one in the forest park to suit your fitness level.

To walk connemara and see the stunning panoramic view across it is an experience that lift your spirits. Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch in the fresh air on one of the many picnic areas in the clean park.

  1. Ellis Wood Trail: A short, 0.5 km trail, perfect for families with young children or those seeking a gentle, tranquil stroll amongst nature.
  2. Sruffaunboy Walk: A 1.5 km trail through woodland and heathland, offering up serene views of the surrounding landscape.

The Burren Way

The Burren Way, running through the lunar landscape of the Burren region, stretching across both Galway and Clare. Here’s your chance for a real journey – around 5-7 days should cover it. Trek across limestone pavements, through lush grasslands, and hazel woodlands. It’s a trail for all seasons with a potpourri of flora and fauna! Drop into the visitor centre to learn about the unique flaura and fauna on the Burren.

Our suggested itinery for tackling the Burren Way:

Day 1: Lahinch to Doolin (22 km) Kick things off at Lahinch, a charming coastal town known for its surf. The first leg of your journey will take you along quiet country roads, cliff-top paths, and through charming farmland, with stunning Atlantic views for company. Arriving in Doolin, rest your legs and enjoy traditional Irish music in one of its famous pubs.

Day 2: Doolin to Lisdoonvarna (15 km) Follow the trail from Doolin towards the Cliffs of Moher. Take some time here to marvel at Ireland’s most visited natural attraction before pressing on towards Lisdoonvarna, Ireland’s only spa town.

Day 3: Lisdoonvarna to Ballyvaughan (24 km) The trail moves inland, through the heart of the Burren’s limestone landscapes. Enjoy the striking contrasts of the green pastures against the rocky hills. Rest in Ballyvaughan, a small harbour village at the edge of the Burren.

Day 4: Ballyvaughan to Carran (20 km) Passing through the heart of the Burren National Park, you’ll have the chance to explore ancient stone forts and prehistoric monuments. The village of Carran, nestled in a valley, is your stop for the night.

Day 5: Carran to Corofin (16 km) Your last leg takes you through gently rolling hills to the town of Corofin, a lovely place to celebrate the end of your trek.

Portumna Forest Park

Tucked away in Galway, this lush oasis is a wonderland for walkers. From gentle strolls to more challenging treks, the park’s trails are ripe for exploration.

Mosey through the forest on the Bonaveen Walking Trail, a flat, well-maintained path ideal for families or those after a leisurely stroll. The trail loops around the northern side of the park and takes about an hour or so. And keep your eyes peeled for the herds of red and fallow deer!

For a bit more of a challenge, the Rinmaher Walking Trail might just be your cup of tea. This trail ventures deeper into the forest and around the beautiful Lough Derg, offering heart-stopping views of the lake. It’s about a two-hour jaunt, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale!

Barna Woods Walk

There’s a bit of magic with the Barna Woods Walk, just a stone’s throw from Galway City. This ancient woodland is brimming with oak trees and a charm that’ll whisk you away from the bustle of everyday life.

Starting from the car park, the trail invites you into a lush canopy of oak, ash, and hazel. A gentle path winds through the woods, making it ideal for families or those after a leisurely stroll. It’s an easy circuit that shouldn’t take more than an hour.

Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a host of wildlife. You’re likely to spot grey squirrels, foxes, and a variety of birds among the branches. And, in the spring, the ground beneath the trees comes alive with a carpet of bluebells — a sight that’ll truly lift your spirits!

Rinville Park loop

Just outside the lovely village of Oranmore, is a hidden gem of Galway! It’s a place where nature, history, and the sea come together in a spectacular dance.

The looped walk is around 5km, easy going, and suitable for all levels of fitness. Begin at the car park and follow the well-signposted walking trails that takes you through a beautiful blend of woodland, open farmland, and shoreline paths.

You’ll be captivated by the sweeping views over Galway Bay and the Clare hills beyond. And keep your eyes peeled for Rinville Castle and the stately Rinville House, both dating back to the 16th century, as well as the charming remains of an old water mill.

But it’s not just the sights that’ll keep you entertained. The place is alive with wildlife. Look out for herons and egrets fishing in the water, and if you’re lucky, seals basking on the shores.

Coastal Walks in Galway

the coastal walks in Galway are the stuff of dreams, my friend. They blend the music of the waves with the whispers of history and the laughter of seabirds. Let’s explore a few, shall we?

  1. Salthill Promenade: Starting from the Galway city centre, follow the old Claddagh basin to the Salthill Promenade. This flat 5km walkway offers splendid views of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands, and the hills of Clare. Don’t forget to “kick the wall” at the end – it’s a beloved Galway tradition!
  2. Barna Woods to Silverstrand: Start at Barna Woods, walk through the dense, enchanting forest before reaching the sea. Continue to the sandy shores of Silverstrand Beach, all while taking in the magnificent views of Galway Bay.
  3. Flaggy Shore: About an hour drive from Galway city, this 5km loop walk in the Burren region offers a unique blend of sea and limestone landscape. Each step on this trail provides stunning views of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands.
  4. Roundstone Bog Walk: A unique coastal walk close to Roundstone Village. This 5km walk offers unspoiled, panoramic views of the Atlantic coastline and surrounding mountain ranges.
  5. Clifden’s Sky Road: This 16km loop offers an unrivalled panoramic seascape, with views of the Atlantic, the islands, and the surrounding countryside. It’s particularly striking at sunset.

Remember to check the local tide times for the coastal walks and pack some waterproof gear, as weather in Ireland can be a bit unpredictable. Enjoy the serenity and the stunning beauty of these coastal walks in Galway!

Top Walks in Galway City

Here are some top walks that’ll show you the city’s vibrant charm:

  1. The Long Walk: A picturesque and historic quay right in the city center. Great for a short, leisurely stroll and a snapshot of Galway life. The views over the River Corrib are fantastic.
  2. Salthill Promenade: Stretching 2km along Galway Bay, this is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Start at the Claddagh and head towards Blackrock diving tower. On a clear day, you’ll see the hills of Clare across the bay, and maybe even the Aran Islands.
  3. River Corrib Walk: Follow the fast-flowing River Corrib from the city center to the sea. Cross over the Salmon Weir Bridge to see the salmon making their way upstream if you’re there at the right time of year.
  4. NUI Galway Campus and River Walk: Take a stroll through the grounds of the National University of Ireland, Galway. The old Quadrangle building is iconic, and the campus has a lovely river walk along the Corrib.
  5. Galway’s Medieval City Walls: Explore the remains of the medieval city walls located within the Eyre Square Centre. It’s a short walk, but rich in history.
  6. Merlin Woods Park: Just outside the city center, it’s a beautiful place for a longer walk or a picnic. It offers several different trails through the woodland, grassland, and wetlands, start in the city park and follow the scenic trails.

Best Time to Hike in Galway

Galway is a beautiful place for hiking, with its rugged mountains, rolling hills, and stunning coastal views. However, the weather can be unpredictable, and it’s important to choose the right time to hike to make the most of your experience.

Spring and Autumn

Spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) are considered the best times to hike in Galway. The weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller, making it a great time to enjoy the beauty of the countryside without the hustle and bustle of peak season. The temperature during these months ranges from 7°C to 15°C, so it’s important to pack layers to stay comfortable during your hike.

Summer

Summer (June to August) is peak season in Galway, and it’s the busiest time of the year for hiking. The weather is warmer, with temperatures ranging from 12°C to 19°C, making it a great time to explore the countryside. However, it’s important to be aware that the trails can be crowded, and you may need to book your accommodation and hiking tours in advance.

Winter

Winter (December to February) can be a challenging time to hike in Galway, with colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours. However, if you’re up for a challenge, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the countryside. It’s important to pack warm clothing, waterproof gear, and hiking boots with good traction to stay safe and comfortable during your hike.

No matter what time of year you choose to hike in Galway, it’s important to check the weather forecast and trail conditions before you set out. Always pack plenty of food and water, and make sure you have a map and compass or GPS to help you navigate the trails. With the right preparation and planning, you can enjoy an unforgettable hiking experience in Galway.

What to Pack for Hiking in Galway

When preparing for a hiking trip in Galway, it’s important to pack appropriately to ensure a comfortable and safe experience. Here are some essentials to consider:

Clothing

The weather in Galway can be unpredictable, so it’s best to dress in layers. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a warm mid-layer, and finish with a waterproof outer layer. Don’t forget to pack a hat, gloves, and a scarf to protect your extremities from the cold. Comfortable and supportive hiking boots are also a must.

Gear

Aside from appropriate clothing, there are a few pieces of gear you should bring along. A backpack with a hydration system or water bottle, a map or GPS device, and a whistle are all important items to have. A first aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent are also recommended.

Snacks

Hiking can be a strenuous activity, so it’s important to bring along snacks to keep your energy levels up. Trail mix, energy bars, and fruit are all great options. Don’t forget to pack enough water to stay hydrated throughout your hike.

Other Considerations

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before heading out on a hike in Galway. Be sure to let someone know where you’ll be hiking and when you expect to return. Finally, be respectful of the environment and follow Leave No Trace principles by packing out all trash and minimizing your impact on the natural surroundings.

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