The Capital of Connemara, Clifden, Co. Galway

The Capital of Connemara, Clifden, Co. Galway

Updated On: April 15, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

The capital of Connemara in Galway is the gorgeous Clifden, the perfect escape from busy city life. Don’t get us wrong, though, because Clifden has so many great things to do. Whether you are away with your family, friends, or children, there is something that everyone will enjoy here. With its range of attractions, Clifden is also full of some of the best restaurants, bars, and hotels. Clifden is an excellent base point to explore the wonders of the countryside.


A Historical Overview

The story of Clifden dates back to the early 19th century when it was founded by John D’Arcy, a local landlord, in 1812. D’Arcy envisioned Clifden as a thriving market town and strategically located it at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, overlooking the majestic Twelve Bens mountain range. The town quickly flourished, becoming a hub for trade, commerce, and cultural exchange in the region.

One of the defining moments in Clifden’s history came in 1905 when it became the terminus of the world’s first commercial transatlantic wireless telegraph service. Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor and electrical engineer, chose Clifden as the site for his pioneering wireless station, which connected Europe with North America. This historic achievement firmly cemented Clifden’s place in the annals of communication history and brought global attention to the town.

Today, Clifden proudly preserves its rich heritage through its historic buildings, museums, and cultural events, offering visitors a glimpse into its storied past.

Natural Wonders

Clifden County Galway – The Capital of Connemara – Ireland. We love Clifden, Ireland.

Clifden’s breathtaking natural beauty is perhaps its most captivating feature. Surrounded by sweeping vistas of rugged coastline, rolling hills, and shimmering lakes, the town is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Clifden is the Sky Road, a scenic drive that offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding countryside. Meandering along the coastal cliffs, the Sky Road provides visitors with unparalleled vistas that showcase the raw beauty of Connemara’s landscape.

A visit to Connemara National Park is a must for those eager to explore Connemara’s pristine wilderness. Spanning over 2,000 hectares of unspoiled moorland, mountains, and bogs, the park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including rare species such as the Connemara pony and the red deer. Hiking trails crisscross the park, leading adventurers through enchanting forests, past shimmering lakes, and up to the summit of Diamond Hill, where panoramic views of the surrounding countryside await.

Cultural Heritage

Clifden’s vibrant cultural scene reflects the town’s rich heritage and artistic spirit. Throughout the year, Clifden hosts a variety of festivals, concerts, and events that celebrate its musical, literary, and artistic traditions.

One of the town’s most beloved cultural institutions is the Clifden Arts Festival, held annually in September. Drawing artists, musicians, and performers from across Ireland and beyond, the festival showcases diverse music, theatre, dance, and visual arts, transforming Clifden into a vibrant cultural hub.

For history enthusiasts, visiting the Station House Museum is a must. Housed in a beautifully restored railway station, the museum traces Clifden’s history from its origins as a bustling market town to its role in developing wireless telegraphy. Exhibits include artefacts, photographs, and interactive displays that offer fascinating insights into Clifden’s past.

Things to do in Clifden

Twelve Bens/ Twelve Pins

You must take a trip to the ‘Twelve Bens’ in Clifden, a mountain range consisting of sharp-peaked quartzite. It’s not an easy walk, but we think it’s worth the pain. The unique landscape offers breathtaking views that make for an unforgettable experience. This kind of activity would be more suitable for experienced walkers and mountaineers interested in a challenge.

Connemara National Park

Another tourist attraction in this town is the Connemara National Park, one of six national parks in the Republic of Ireland. This park offers you a variety of walking trails and an excellent visitor centre. Within the visitor’s centre, you can explore different exhibitions that focus on the landscape of Connemara. Other events are organised for children, as well as a tea room where children can enjoy some food. The best part of all is it’s entirely free to enter the visitor’s centre.  If you would like to find out more, check out their website.

Errislannan Riding Centre

If you have always wanted to try horse riding, this is the perfect place to do just that. At this riding centre, it provides lessons for both children and adults with different experiences. So if this is your first time, don’t let that put you off, as the fantastic staff will help you feel comfortable. You could also just check out the stunning horses and ponies here. Children can even take part in Pony craft courses. There is also a beautiful garden here that is open to the public. If you would like to find out more, check out their website.


North West Coastal Tour

You cannot miss out on exploring the coastal towns between Clifden and Leenane, where you’ll be impressed by the fantastic sea views on display. You’ll start your journey on Sky Road, a long drive along Clifden Road and Streamstown Bay, with views of the Atlantic, Clifden Castle, the coast guard station, the islands of Inishturk and Turbot and the town. This is an unmissable experience, so get in your car and explore this fantastic coastal tour. Stop along the way at the different locations and get out to experience the place’s beauty.

The Dan O’Hara’s Homestead

At this attraction, you can explore the heritage and history related to Connemara in this family-run farm. The hill farm is run by the Breathnach/Walsh family, who put a lot of effort into their award-winning centre, which is related to the culture and tradition of the area. You can check out some of the farm animals while you are visiting from the cattle, sheep and world-famous ponies. The centre is also based around the restored prefamine cottage that belonged to Dan O’Hara. Guided tours are available, and you’ll experience traditional farming activities. Such as sheep herding, soda bread making and more in an educational and fun environment. If you would like to find out more, check out their website.

clifden farm
clifden farm

Lough Corrib

Another thing to do in Clifden is to visit Lough Corrib, the second-largest freshwater lake in Ireland. It holds around 300 different islands, the most popular one being Inchagaoill. It’s the perfect location for water activities such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, and more. It’s also recognised as one of the best fishing spots in Galway.


Real Adventure Connemara

If you want to try something different while you are here, we suggest checking out Real Adventures Connemara’, which specialises in outdoor adventure activities. There are so many activities which you could try from Coasteering, rock climbing, paddle boarding, surfing and more. No matter your experience or age, you’ll be welcome to participate in whatever catches your eye. This is an entertaining and exciting attraction that the whole family or friends would enjoy. Make sure you check it out and if you want to find out more visit their website.

Clifden Resturants and Bars

No matter where you go, you always want to know about the best places to eat and drink in the area. That’s why we decided to create a list of the best Clifden restaurants and bars for you to check out if you plan on visiting.


Mitchells Restaurant

This family-run restaurant is spread out over two floors and offers open fires, a cosy and friendly atmosphere, and a great dining experience. It first opened in 1991, and husband and wife Kay and JJ really pride themselves on using the best fresh and local produce. This is one of the best seafood restaurants that you must try, but they also provide many meat and vegetarian dishes.

Off the Square Restaurant/Bar

This is another seafood restaurant, but you wouldn’t expect any less, as Galway is one of the best fishing locations. They also used the best local fish from the pier, which tasted amazing. This is one of Clifden’s most popular locations for celebration, where you’ll find a great choice of food and drink to suit your mood.

E.J.Kings Bar and Restaurant

This restaurant, established over 100 years ago, is steeped in history and is run by the King family. It has been known to be where you’ll find writers, artists and filmmakers. The restaurant has a good reputation for fantastic food and drink and is where you can expect a good time.

Guys Bar 

Another restaurant to check out is Guy’s Bar, which is located on the main street of Clifden. Again, like many of the bars and restaurants in this area, it has a long history, starting when it first opened its doors in 1903. Today, it’s a great bar to relax beside the turf fire and enjoy the company of your friends and family. The bar boasts a wide-ranging menu that I’m sure everyone will find something that they like on it.


Clifden in Connemara Galway is an amazing place that you need to check off your list when exploring Ireland. The town offers many interesting, fun, and relaxing activities and attractions that make for a perfect trip away. You’ll be mesmerised by the beautiful coastal views, and you’ll want to come back for more.


Clifden is a testament to Ireland’s west coast’s enduring beauty and charm. From its stunning natural landscapes to its rich cultural heritage, the town offers many experiences that enchant visitors and leave a lasting impression. Whether exploring the rugged coastline, immersing oneself in the town’s vibrant arts scene or savouring its gastronomic delights, Clifden invites travellers to discover the magic of Connemara and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Have you ever been to Clifden or other parts of Galway? We would love to hear any experiences you have 🙂

Also, don’t forget to check out some of our other blog post that might interest you; Connemara -Galway, Laois, Kilkenny, KildareBallintubber Abbey, O’Connell Street, Dunguaire Castle, Cliffs of Moher, Bundoran Donegal.

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