Explore the West of Ireland: The best places to visit in the West

Updated On: September 26, 2022

Wild Atlantic Way in the West of Ireland

The West of Ireland is one of our country’s best hidden gems. With beautiful scenery, seaside locations, great hospitality and a friendly nightlife, the West of Ireland is a great place to spend a weekend. The only problem is that you won’t want to leave once you visit our charming towns and beautiful landmarks!

In this article we will discuss the best towns, cities and landmarks in the west of Ireland to visit on a holiday or staycation.

As someone who has lived in and travelled around the West of Ireland for all of my life, I have added some of my favourite things to do in the west of Ireland to this list.

Our article contains the following sections:

How to get to the West of Ireland:

Plane: You can actually fly into the West of Ireland directly via Knock airport in Co. Mayo. You may also choose to fly to Shannon Airport in Co. Clare or Dublin Airport depending on your location and preferences.

While you will also be arriving closer to your desired destination, both Knock and Shannon airport are not as busy as Dublin so you can avoid large crowds and traffic.

Bus / Train: If travelling from another part of Ireland you may wish to use public transport. This is especially useful when staying in a town or city as the majority of trains go from Dublin to towns such as Galway, Westport, Roscommon and Athlone. They will also stop at smaller towns along the way.

Ferry: If you are arriving from Europe or the UK, you may wish to bring your car with you to Ireland via ferry. You can enjoy the trip over from countries such as Great Britain, the Netherlands and France and then travel to the west of Ireland in the comfort of your own car.

airplane image
The most common way to get to the west of Ireland is by flight to Knock, Shannon or Dublin airport. Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Getting around the West of Ireland:

Public Transport: You can choose to use public transport to get to your location but when travelling around the west of Ireland we would recommend hiring a car or bringing your own vehicle if you are used to driving on Irish roads.

It is possible to use buses or train services but make sure to check timetables online for routes and plan your journeys in advance.

If travelling from another part of Ireland you may wish to use public transport to reach the West. This is especially useful when staying in a town or city as the majority of Trains go from Dublin to towns such as Galway, Westport, Roscommon and Athlone, stopping at smaller towns along the way

You can get a train directly from Dublin city to Westport or Castlebar which is useful.

A bus is a great way to visit a location, you may be able to find a guided tour bus to landmarks which can improve any experience.

Car: The fastest way to get from one point to another in Ireland is by car, motorways connect major cities and towns so you can avoid small roads when travelling from larger towns.

While we do recommend driving for the freedom it will offer you, some people may not like to drive on Irish roads to small villages, beaches and other attractions as they may be very narrow to the point that two cars cannot pass by each other. If you are not comfortable driving there is plenty of public transport, all of which you can view and book in advance.

Its important to drive slowly, you may find that speed limit signs are misleading so it safer to drive at a steady pace. Travelling around the West of Ireland may be daunting but you’ll find solace knowing that everything is relatively close to each other.

tourist in Ireland
How will you get around the west of Ireland?

Where to stay in the West of Ireland:

There are no shortage of accommodation types in the West of Ireland, from five star hotels to cheap and cheerful hostels. While you may to choose to stay in a hotel because of the conveniences such as swimming pools, gyms, bars, restaurants, activities and live music, you may also want to save more money or create interesting experiences.

Hotels have become quite expensive and hostels are often booked out due to the high demand for both in large towns and cities. Book your stay well in advance to avoid hefty last minute fees, most hotels and hostels offer free cancellations up until a certain date before your arrival which is good to know.

Below we have listed other accommodation options you may find useful.

Bed and Breakfast (BnB):

BnB’s in Ireland offer a more personal experience for accommodation as you are usually staying in the owner’s house. While this isn’t always the case, it has been the owner themselves that have cooked the majority of breakfasts I’ve had in an Irish BnB, which usually consists of the traditional Irish fry, (which should be an item on your Irish food bucketlist!).

Usually the owner lives in the BnB or close by and has a great knowledge of the area, such as what to do and see and the best times to visit nearby attractions. You can learn about the local area from them and all that it has to offer. If you choose to stay in a BnB in a Gaeltacht area, you’ll experience Irish culture and language at its best without even leaving your lodgings!

So if you want to experience our famous hospitality, a BnB in the West of Ireland is a good choice.


Glamping has become a trendy way to spend a night in the wilderness. Who says you have to compromise on comfort when experiencing nature? Even locals like to try out the unique experience that has become so popular in the West of Ireland.

Camping and Caravan sites:

While the weather isn’t the mot reliable to go camping in a tent, a campervan or caravan is a great way to tour Ireland, especially if you are following the coastline during your stay!


As airbnb has become more popular across Ireland, there is really every type of accommodation available, from classic cottages to modern houses and everything inbetween.

Irish cottage
Traditional Irish cottage

Wherever you choose to stay in the West of Ireland, we’d recommend doing your research. Check price options and the reviews left by customers before you rush into any costly decision. Also think about convenience and location. How far away are you from amenities and locations you want to visit and how do you plan to get to them?

Places you must visit in the West of Ireland:

Sometimes people may visit a specific location in the West of Ireland such as a family homeplace, not realising that they are within an hour of some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. One of the advantages of our country being relatively small is that you can see so many different things with very little travel time.

The Wild Atlantic Way – The West of Ireland’s Touring Region

If you are looking for a road trip during your stay in Ireland, then the Wild Atlantic Way is the perfect adventure. You’ll take in amazing landscapes intertwining with the Atlantic ocean, with coastal tourist towns scattered along your journey, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Ireland as it really is.

The Wild Atlantic Way The West of Ireland is one of our country's best hidden gems. With beautiful scenery, seaside locations, great hospitality and a friendly nightlife, the West of Ireland is a great place to spend a weekend. The only problem is that you won't want to leave once you visit our charming towns and beautiful landmarks!
The Wild Atlantic Way in the West of Ireland

The Wild Atlantic Way makes up one of three touring regions in the Republic of Ireland, the other two are Ireland’s Ancient East and the Hidden Heartlands.

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. Winding all the way from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal down along the west coast of Ireland to the picturesque town of Kinsale, Co. Cork the route is 1600 miles or 2600km in length.

If you do follow the route you will experience some of the best things that Ireland has to offer, from stunning coastal views, to friendly towns that welcome tourists in for a pint and a delicious meal as well as ancient monuments which each add a small bit of history to the island.

Untameable tides have created the rugged coastline of the Wild Atlantic Way, from towering cliffs to idyllic beaches there is something unique about the West of Ireland, our exposure to the harsh erosion of the Atlantic Ocean has shaped many beautiful geographical landmarks. It is rare to have such a well preserved area of nature so close to modern towns and cities, and so locals really get the best of both worlds.

If you would like to learn out more about planning the trip, we have created a guide for the Wild Atlantic Way, breaking down the trip into sections and highlighting the best locations in each section. Ideal if you wish to plan a road trip around the routes of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Islands to visit in the West of Ireland

There are so many unique islands scattered around the West of Ireland. As someone who has visited many of them I can’t recommend a day out or even a weekend in the following islands if you want to unwind, enjoy nature, visit picturesque beaches and enjoy the simple things in life. From traditional Irish pubs and restaurants with live music and Irish Céilí sessions (music and dance), to great food and outdoor activities, there is something for everyone.

The Aran Islands

The Aran islands in Co. Galway are a great day trip and only a ferry away; you may even see some dolphin’s on your way over! Enjoy the journey across the waters by admiring the rugged West Coast and majestic waves. We have a blog dedicated tothe Aran Islands, everything you should know before going and the best things to do while your there if you’re interested!

The Aran islands are comprised of three individual islands, from largest to smallest they are:

  • Inishmore (Árainn / Inis Mór which means the big island)
  • Inishmaan (Inis Meáin which means middle island)
  • Inisheer (Inis Oírr which means island of the East)

How to get around the island

One of the best ways to explore the islands is by bike. You can hire bicycles from the pier on Inis Mór if you arrive by ferry or you can get a bike delivered to your accommodation. There is something really enjoyable about cycling along the winding roads following the stone walls and passing by green field after green field.


The Aran Islands are an official Gaeltacht region, which means that locals speak Irish as their primary language. If you want to see traditional Irish culture alive and well the Gaeltacht areas across Ireland are a treat; from trad sessions to GAA sport clubs and beautiful scenery, there is so much to experience. Gaeltacht areas are tourist friendly and the majority of people living there are fluent in English as well as Irish.

Annual Red Bull cliff diving

Did you know that the annual Red Bull cliff diving event has taken place on the Aran islands, specifically in Inishmoore in 2012, 2014 and 2017. It was actually meant to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

It is no surprise that the Aran islands have been used so frequently for the Red Bull Cliff diving competition, the breath taking island provides stunning views and plenty of steep cliffs.

Dun Aengus

The best known of several prehistoric hill forts on the Aran islands, Dun Aengus lies on the edge of a 100 metre high cliff.

Kilmurvey Beach

One of the locals favourite beaches, Kilmurvey beach was awarded a blue flag which is the highest rating a beach can get. There is no shortage of beautiful beaches in the West of Ireland as you will soon find out!

The Black fort is another hidden secret on the island. A ring fort on the edge of a cliff made of limestone, the fort got its name as it turns black when wet.

Poll na bPéist, which means the wormhole, is where the Red Bull Cliff diving takes place, another sea cliff on the island that is completely natural but looks as though it has been carved out. It is advised that only professional divers attempt cliff diving as it can be dangerous.

Seaweed & Sweaters

The islands have a unique range of flora and fauna and a long growing season due to its temperate climate. It is rare to see arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants in one location, but the combination of the aforementioned climate conditions and limestone landscape support a wide range of floral growth.

It is tradition in the Aran islands to harvest seaweed, and has been done for generations. It has become a modern trend as the health benefits of the food have become more known. Rich in minerals and vitamins, the food is surprisingly versatile in cooking and can even be enjoyed on its own. You can sprinkle seaweed flakes over any meals, cook as a spaghetti substitute or you can even eat the smoky and salty leaves raw as a snack

It is also becoming a popular natural ingredient in cosmetics, you can learn more about the magic of seaweed from bláth na mara’s offical website.

The Aran Island sweater is an iconic piece of fashion. Made from sheep’s wool, the sweaters are comfy and water proof – essential for Irish weather! Originally worn by Aran fishermen and farmers to keep dry while braving the elements, they are highly functional yet stylish; a timeless classic and staple of many wardrobes across the world that originated in the West of Ireland!

Achill Island

Achill island in Co. Mayo is a jewel in the crown of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. With beautiful secluded beaches, the highest sea cliffs in Ireland, and the iconic Keem Bay, the island is the perfect place for a getaway. One of our favourite locations in the West of Ireland, Achill island is a popular area for Irish tourism during the summer, and it is honestly no surprise.

It’s no wonder Collin Farrell won best actor at the Venice film festival for his role in the ‘Banshee of Inisherin’. The movie was filmed on location in Achill island, which certaintly added to its charm. The Irish Times shortlisted it as one of the top 5 best places to holiday in Ireland.

Getting around the island

Achill is accessible by road via the Michael Davitt Bridge so you can drive over at any time. It is generally recommended to travel around the island by car, but you can also rent a bike or travel on the bus which operates seasonally.


Achill has 5 blue flag beaches

  • Keem Bay Beach
  • Tramore Strand beach
  • Silver Strand beach
  • Golden Strand beach
  • Dooega Beach

There is also a sixth blue beach nearby in Mulranny.

Keem Bay was named the best Wild Swimming Spot in the UK and Ireland, and is located at the western tip of Achill Island. Nestled in between the slopes of Croaghaun mountain and Moyteoge Head. You can even try snorkelling on the Bluewat Trail at the bay.

On a fine Summer’s day there is nowhere more perfect than Achill’s beaches, the crystal clear water and soft sand will make you forget you’re in Ireland. One of the best things about Irish beaches is that they are much more secluded than in other countries – you may have the whole beach to yourself!

Achill’s Blueway, Greenway & Atlantic Drive

Achill’s Blueway network is a network of water trails at which you can experience a variety of water sports including kayaking and snorkelling.

The Greenway is a world class cycling and walking trail and the longest one in Ireland. The route follows the trail from Westport to Achill. In 2011 the Great Western Greenway was awarded the EDEN European Destination of Excellence Award for Sustainable Tourism.

The Atlantic Drive comprises over 20km of coastal scenery which is a perfect car or bike adventure. On the route for the Atlantic Drive is the tower at Kildavnet, a 16th century Irish tower used by the legendary Pirate Queen Granuaile or Grace O’Malley as she was also known as.


There are plenty of accommodation options on the island, from an extensive selection of BnB’s, hotels, hostels, guesthouses and self catering options. You may choose to go camping or stay in a caravan during your time in Achill. You can find out more about all of the types of accommodation as well as eating and drinking options on the offical Achill Tourism website.

Clare Island

Clare island in Co. Mayo is just a 10 minute ferry ride from Roonagh Quay which gives you just enough time to appreciate the many iconic landmarks in the West of Ireland such as the coastline of Achill island, the Nephin mountain range, the islands of Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick and Inishturk.

Visit Clare island in the west of Ireland

Clare island beach

Another Blue flag beach in the west of Ireland, Clare Island’s beach is well worth a visit for spectacular views of the Atlantic ocean.

Granuaile Castle and other historical sites

On the rocky headland at the harbour you will find the castle of Granuaile’s, the Pirate Queen of Ireland. We have a full article about the pirate queen Granuaile, or Grace O’Malley as she is also known by, which includes her early life, her pirate adventures, her connection to Clare island and her meeting with Queen Elizabeth the first.

You may also wish to visit the Clare Island Abbey a 12th century Cisterian abbey containing medieval wall and ceiling paintings. The paintings feature colourful depictions of mythical, human & animal figures including dragons, horses and men. It is one of four such paintwork examples still existing in Ireland today and is the best preserved example.

You will also find Court tombs and no less than 53 Fulachta fiadhs (ancient outdoor cooking sites) on the island which show that the island has been inhabited for over 5000 years.

Clare Island Art Studio and Gallery

Located in Capnagower in Clare Island classes and workshops are regularly held in the studio where you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the island in the company of other artists while you create.

Maculla Farm Retreat & Yoga Centre

Located on the North-Eastern part of the island, the retreat provides all year round courses for yoga and mindfulness as well as cookery and equestrian therapy.

The various islands are one of my favourite parts of the West of Ireland, and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

Galway – The land of the Tribesmen in the West of Ireland

Having lived in Galway I can confidently say that the city and county have a lot to offer. These are just some of the highlights you can experience when in the city of the Tribes

Galway city

We have a range of articles covering everything you need to know about Galway in detail, such as 20 of the best things to do in Galway. We also offer an extensive Galway pub guide featuring over 25 pubs, as well as the perfect places to get food in Galway for every mood, occasion and cuisine.

Or why not check out our seasonal event guide to check out the best events taking place in Galway during your stay. You can even learn about Galway’s fascinating history spanning the centuries.

If I could give one reason to visit the city I would explain that it is the heart of the west of Ireland; walking down shop street you’ll experience the lively buzz in the city as people move from pub to pub, listening to live music and eating delicious food. There’s always something on in the city, from the iconic Galway races to the international arts festival. It is a cultural hub and a guaranteed good night out. You are also close to everything, including the following attractions listed below.

Events in Galway
“Big Top” circus style blue tent and Galway Cathedral on the bank of Corrib river in Galway.

Killary Fjord

Killary Harbour is located about 74km or about a 90 minute drive from Galway City. If you would like to go on a unique boat trip during your stay in the West of Ireland, the Killary Fjord might be the best trip for you, as it is Ireland’s only Glacial Fjord.

A tour takes about 90 minutes and culminates at the mouth of the Fjord, where the Killary harbour meets the ocean. While enjoying the views of the bay, a tour guide will explain the natural and social history of the area as well as the surrounding mythology.


There is plenty to do in Connemara, you can immerse yourself in the heart of nature or visit the picturesque town of Clifden, or why not do both! The National Park is only 53km from Galway City. Connemara is another Gaeltacht location in the West of Ireland. The region of Connemara is a beautiful example of just some of what the West of Ireland has to offer.

Connemara National Park

The Connemara horizon is dominated by more than 50 mountains in the area, including the Twelve Bens. For example, you may choose to to go hill walking on Diamond Hill, and enjoy the view 500 metres above the small village of Letterfrack. You may even spot the remainders of a nineteenth century farm during your hike as well as a megalithic tomb built by the first farmers of Ireland over 5000 years ago. You might even spot a few wild goats or sheep in the area which are very common in the wilderness of the West of Ireland.


The Connemara Golf Links are found nestled in between the 12 Bens and Atlantic Ocean. A 9 hole golf that will impressive serious golfers will also encourage non-golfers to try their hand at the sport for the spectacular panoramic views alone.


Nestled in between the Twelve Bens and the Atlantic ocean is the picturesque town of Clifden. Over 200 years old, the quaint town resembles something out of a fairytale, hidden among trees between a mountain and the sea, with only the spires of its 2 churches piercing the sky. A tourist town through and through, locals are only delighted to meet visitors and explain the history of the Connemara region as well as the best things to do and see during the season you visit.

Agriculture and Fishing are also important forms of livelihood in the area, so you can be guaranteed to enjoy delicious high quality food that the island of Ireland is famous for. Sports and outdoor activities are very popular in the area with Gaelic football, Rugby, Golf, Sea and River Fishing, as well as hill walking being amongst the most prominent.

The picturesque town of Clifden in the West of Ireland

Clifden and Connemarra are famous for their traditional Irish music. During September, the longest running arts festival in Ireland takes place and celebrates all the culture the region has to offer.

The town (and all of the west of Ireland as a whole) strives to deliver on three things: good food, good friends and good craic (the Irish word for fun). Clifden is without a doubt the capital of Connemara.

Kylemore Abbey

Also located in the Connemarra region, Kylemore Abbey was built in 1868 and has a fascinating history.

The abbey was originally built by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London who purchased the land. He and his wife had travelled to the region in the 1840’s during their honeymoon and Henry was so enamoured by the beauty of the surrounding countryside that he wanted to build a home for his wife that was not only in their honeymoon location but also complimented and incorporated the area around it into its design.

It took 4 years and over 100 men to build the abbey, and eventually it was sold to another family before being bought by Belgian nuns. The nun’s previous church was destroyed in WWII, and so they converted the house into an abbey and it became an international Catholic boarding school for girls for over 90 years. It also welcomed local students to the school.

Henry constructed a large walled Victorian garden as part of the build, and since the 1970’s the house and garden has been open for visitors, with multiple tours and history talks on every day. With wholesome Irish food and a gift shop, accompanied with the beautiful scenery of the area, you may find yourself drawn to the abbey.

Kylemore is one of Ireland’s many castles surrounded in myth and urban legends. It is one of the most beautiful houses in the West of Ireland (but not the only one of historical value that features on this list; can you guess what the others will be?)

Salthill & Galway Bay

One of the most relaxing things to do in the West of Ireland is to walk along the Salthill promenade, alternatively you can get your blood rushing by jumping of the Blackrock Diving Tower. Only 2.6km from the cities centre you will find yourself standing at the edge of Galway. Sea swimming has become a popular activity in Ireland and has even become a Christmas day tradition. Plus there is nothing nicer than a piping hot drink after plunging into the ice cold sea. Why not check out some of the best coastal swimming spots in Ireland to find out more.

There are delicious food and drink options found along the bay harnessing the advantage of their waterfront location by creating mouth watering seafood dishes, so much so that the international Oyster festival is held every year throughout the city.

Spanish Arch and the Claddagh

The Spanish Arch is a popular meeting place of young people in Galway, it is also a location of great historical value as the cities museum is located beside the arch. The arch is part of Galway’s historic city walls. The arch itself was constructed in 1584 as an extension to the original 12th century fortification.

The Claddagh, Galway city
Panorama of the Claddagh in Galway city, the west of Ireland.

The museum hosts a number of items unique to Galway including the oldest known Claddagh Ring, an internationally popular piece of jewellery crafted in the nearby village of Claddagh. Now part of the city and being only 2km from Eyre Square, the Claddagh is famous for its colourful houses along the river corrib.

Originally a fishing village found where the corrib rover meets Galway Bay, the Claddagh or an Cladach in Irish means ‘the shore’. In the past residents sailed the nearby shores in the iconic Galway Hooker boats, however nowadays many people enjoy simply walking along the river. The Claddagh is a picture perfect, tranquil location in the West of Ireland by day, and a lively gathering spot on long summer nights.

Galway’s transformation from a former fishing village to buzzing city centre is a fascinating story.

Dunguaire castle

Dunguaire castle in Kinvara is located about 27km or 47 minutes from Galway City. Constructed in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan the castle passed into the hands of the Martyn’s of Galway in the early 17th century. Richard Martyn, mayor of Galway lived in the castle until 1642. It is one of many well preserved castles in the West of Ireland.

Take a 360 degree tour of Dunguaire castle in the West of Ireland

Ashford castle

Ashford castle is a medieval and Victorian castle that was turned into a 5 star luxury hotel near Cong on the Mayo Galway border, on the Galway side of lough Corrib.

A star studded location that has featured in Hollywood movies such as the 1952 classic ‘The Quiet Man’ starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, we can see why some of the best movies filmed in Ireland choose to use rural locations. Famous people who changed Ireland such as Oscar Wilde and other A-lister celebrities like John Lennon, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Pierce Brosnan and Princess Grace have stayed in the hotel.

If yo are looking for something luxurious and stylish in the West of Ireland, we have got you covered, afternoon tea at Ashford Castle is a popular activity for many who wish to visit the estate. Enjoy an hour or two in the castle dining on the finest of teas, sandwiches, scones and desserts made in house by skilled chefs. Afternoon tea is a great way to see Ashford, if you want the amazing experience of visiting the castle without having to stay overnight.

Dine on the Orient express at Pullman Abbey

Galway has no shortage of unique dining experiences, and the Pullman Restaurant at Glenlo Abbey definitely earns a top spot on the list. Guests can dine aboard the Pullman, which comprises of two original carriages from the Orient Express.

Located about 5km from Galway’s City centre, the Glenlo Abbey will transport visitors back in time to the roaring twenties. There are not many people who can say they were on the Orient Express, and even less can say they boarded it in the West of Ireland!

Roscommon – Visit the Rossies in the West of Ireland

Lough Key forest Park

Opened in 2007, Lough Key Forest Park is an entertaining day out in nature. The park offers a range of walking and cycling trails as well as a few unique activities including Zipit, a treetop forest adventure.

You’ll reach new heights in Roscommon at Zipit, Ireland’s biggest high rope course. With over 1km of ziplines and 1.8km of treetop challenges you will enjoy a really unique experience. If you’re not a fan of heights you can still enjoy some of the courses as the difficulty of each route ranges from easy to difficult.

If you’d prefer to stay on ground though, there is a lakeside café and plenty of picnic areas for you to relax in. Or if you are looking for something new, the Swedish concept of Boda Borg is an innovative weather-independent concept unique to the west of Ireland which proves to be a challenge to both adults and children alike.

There are 15 Quests, 47 challenges and surprisingly no instructions or indication as to how much time you have to complete a task, so you have to rely on your own intuition and teamwork to complete as many quests as possible.

Having done both the Zipit and Boda Borg activities before I would definitely recommend both. The Boda Borg quests while confusing will bring out your competitive side and end up being good fun especially when you have more than one group of friends or family competing against each other.

Zipit is a worthwhile experience too. While ziplining may seem daunting you start off on the smallest ziplines and work your way up to more challenging routes. You receive plenty of training and assistance from staff throughout the activity. If you don’t enjoy heights you may not feel like trying ziplining out, so if you feel like skipping the tallest of courses there are plenty of places to sit down by the water and relax on solid ground.

Morahan’s Bar

After a long day of activities why not visit Morahan’s Bar, which was established in 1641 and is known as one of Ireland’s oldest family run businesses. One of the oldest pubs in the West of Ireland, Morahan’s Bar has operated as a small shop and pub for centuries. If you would like to learn about 7 of Irelands oldest pubs we have you sorted!

Mayo – The Yew County in the West of Ireland

Mayo is a great county to visit in Ireland, with towns such as Castlebar, Westport and Ballina and a countryside, with everything from mountains, lakes, beaches and the coast.


Castlebar is the County town of Mayo. Itself and Galway are good central locations to travel from to other places in the West of Ireland on this list and they have a good range of accommodation types. There are also numerous pubs, shops and restaurants if you’re just making a pit stop.


Westport is one of the best towns to visit in the West of Ireland in our opinion. A charming town bursting with character, locals only love to see tourists in the area. There is a laid back fun atmosphere especially in the summer and there is genuinely something for everyone to enjoy. Westport is one of, if not the best places to vacation in Ireland in my opinion.

From Quaint cafés, fancy restaurants, seafood specials, pubs with live music and even a nightclub, there is more than one way to spend a weekend in Westport. You can get the best of food and drink while supporting family run business, while enjoying quality produce from local farms and fresh seafood caught daily.

Westport House

Westport house and adventure park has welcomed over 5 million visitors. It has a range of heritage, family fun, camping and adventure activities to offer. The 18th century house is privately owned by descendants of Grace O’Malley, the 400 acre site ofkeeshfers guided tours of the house itself and the interesting stories it has to tell.

The estate offers camping and glamping sites and there is a Pizzeria and Bistro Bar open every day nearby. There is also a Pirate Adventure park which will keep young kids entertained all day. You may even choose to go on a train ride around the estate.

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick overlooks Clew Bay in Mayo and is considered the holiest mountain in the West of Ireland. For over 5000 years, since at least the Stone Age to the present day, Croagh Patrick has been a place of pilgrimage. The mountain top rises 750 metres into the sky

Since 441 AD Croagh Patrick has become a Christian pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, who is said to have spent forty days and nights fasting on the summit of the mountain. ‘The Reek’ as it is known by locals attracts one million pilgrims each year. On ‘Reek Sunday’, the last Sunday in July, over 25000 people climb the reek.

At the top of the mountain is a modern chapel where mass is celebrated. Only 5 miles from the town of Westport, climbing the reek is a fun way to spend a day and the view from the top is definitely worth your time. On a fine day you will see Clew Bay and the surrounding lands of Ireland. It’ll take about three and a half hours to climb the mountain up and down.

Down Patrick Head & Dún briste

Down Patrick Head is a headland between Bally Castle and the Ceide Fields and the best place to see Dun Briste, a giant seastack.

The giant sea stack is found just a few kilometres from Ballycastle village in County Mayo, and is known as Dún briste in Irish which means ‘broken fort’. Down Patrick Head is one of the most striking landmarks along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Downpatrick Head was named after Ireland’s patron saint St. Patrick who actually built a church on the narrow piece of land. The sea stack was said to have been separated from the mainland, and there are plenty of geographical as well as mythical explanations as to why this occured.

Mullet Pennilsula

The Mullet Peninsula also known as the Erris Peninsula is connected to the mainland by the town of Belmullet. Surrounded by the Broadhaven Bay, Blacksod Bay and Atlantic ocean, the area offers plenty of watersports and land activities.

Near the town of Belmullet you will find a tidal pool, where you can enjoy swimming in the safety of a pool while looking out at the Atlantic Ocean.

Erris Head is one of the most westerly points in the west of Ireland. There’s not much between you, the Atlantic ocean and the Americas at this location.


If you are flying into the west of Ireland, you may be arriving at Knock Airport. The town is famous for its holy Shrine and the story of Knock. In 1879 an apparition of Mary was reported to have been witnessed by 15 locals, occurring at the gable wall of the Parish Church.

In the decades that followed Knock would transform from a small village into an international place of pilgrimage.

Leitrim – The Ridge County in the West of Ireland

Glencar Waterfall

Glencar Waterfall reaches 50ft high and is situated at Glencar Lough. The magical atmosphere is heightened by the short picturesque wooded walk with various platforms, specifically designed to see spectacular views of the waterfall.

The Waterfall is famous for inspiring Irish poet William Butler Yeats and even features in his poem, ‘The Stolen Child’.

Where the wandering water gushes

From the hills above Glen-Car,

In pools among the rushes

That scarce could bathe a star,’

WB Yeats

Glencar Alpacas

Glencar Alpacas is a sheep and alpaca farm which offers guided alpaca walks with panoramic views of the area, including the rivers and lakes of Glencar. The alpacas are actually very friendly as they are used to interacting with people.

The walk will lead you to the aforementioned Glencar waterfall as well as to the Swiss Valley mountainside. Adults and children over 12 can walk an alpaca but younger children must be accompanied by an adult.

The alpacas are social and love to be fed and petted. They are not native to the West of Ireland or any other part of the country, so visiting a farm is your best way to see them.

Moon River Cruise on Carrick-on-Shannon

There’s something relaxing about a boat tour. Sit back and enjoy the views as you sail down the Carrick-on-Shannon Moon River Cruise. The round trip takes an hour to complete and the captain will explain the points of interest and folklore of the area you pass.

Another popular activity in Leitrim is canoeing on the river bonnet. Our Leitrim travel guide has plenty more activities, food options, fun history of the area and more!

Sligo – Yeats County in the West of Ireland

Sligo is another hidden gem in the west of Ireland that is often overlooked for holidays


Found on the Sligo-Mayo border and part of the Wild Atlantic Way, Enniscrone offers a great starting place for exploring what both counties have to offer. On a sunny day the beach is breath-taking and you won’t want to be anywhere else.

Surf at Strandhill

Ireland is one of the most underrated surfing nations on the planet. The cold air and water temperatures mean that people often overlook the island’s surfing potential. In reality the west of Ireland’s coastline is full of idyllic waves. We wouldn’t recommend surfing without any experience though so why not take a few surf lessons in Strandhill during your holiday.

From Enniscrone, you can enjoy a day trip to the Ceide Fields, a UNESCO world heritage site. There’s plenty of events ongoing during the summer to ensure that your mornings and evenings will be packed with plenty of fun.

Caves of Keesh

The caves of Keesh are a great hike with a rewarding view from the summit. It is one of the most popular locations to take incredible and unique photos in the West of Ireland. The area has a rich mythological history and there is even a cairn tomb on the hill.

There are 16 chambers inside the cave and some of them actually connect. The hill is part of the Bricklieve mountains. The cave opens to show an amazing view of the surrounding areas.

Guided tours are available, and as the trail can be slippery during rainy days good hiking footwear is recommended.

Lissadell House

One of the most beautiful and historic houses in Ireland is found in Sligo in the West of Ireland. Lissadell House once belonged to the Gore-booth family whose daughter was actually Countess Markievicz, a famous Irish woman known for her role in the struggle for Irish independence.

The countess used her wealth and privilege to fight for equality, and was actually the first women to be elected to Westminster Parliament in London (although she refused to take her seat) as well as the first woman to be elected and serve in Dáil Eireann in Ireland. One of the founding members of the Irish political party Fianna Fáil, Countess Markievicz is considered one of the most famous and influential Irish women in history.

Not the only successful sibling in her family, the countesses sister Eva was a renowned poet and suffragette, while her brother Joslynn created the beautiful gardens that surround Lissadell House.

If thats not enough to draw you to the house, other historical figures such as W.B. Yeats the famous poet, and his painter brother Jack stayed at the house and were inspired by it.

The Walsh family now own the house and have restored the site to its original beauty. Exhibitions about the famous faces that lived in and visited the house, tours of the Alpine gardens and even a tea room serving delicious baked goods will keep you occupied during your visit.

Clare – The Banner County in the South West of Ireland

Moving on from the counties of Connacht to the south west of Ireland and into the province of Munster, we have Co. Clare.


The small but welcoming seaside town of Lahinch is a thriving tourist resort, and its no surprise why. Delicious fish and chips by the sea, great pubs and shops and a beautiful beach make this town one of the best places in not only the south west of Ireland, but the entire country to visit.

Lahinch has also earned the reputation of being one of the best places in Ireland to surf. You can book surf lessons in Lahinch to make the most out of your experience.

Golf at the seaside town of Lahinch

Above all else Lahinch has earned an excellent golfing reputation, and once you see its courses you will understand why. You’ll feel as though you are golfing at the edge of the world, as the Atlantic ocean acts as a backdrop to your game.

Voted #41 on worlds best 100 golf courses, Lahinch’s 9 hole golf course is not just one of the best golf courses in Ireland, but one of the best in the world. Golfing Legends such as Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Darren Clarke have completed the course.

Golfing has become very popular in the West of Ireland, no doubt in part due to the stunning courses we have.

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher is one of the most popular attractions that brings people to the West of Ireland. An unforgettable experience, you will be in awe of your surroundings; there is a reason why so many movies have used the majestic cliffs for filming.

The Cliffs of Moher are believed to be 320 million years old, formed when Ireland’s ancient riverbeds overflooded into the sea and overtime the sand, silt and mud brought by the river became compacted into solid rock which formed the strata, or layers of the cliff.

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher, the West of Ireland

The cliffs run for about 14km and rise to a maximum height of 214 metres above sea level

Having just recently visited the cliffs I can say that it is a great way to spend a few hours of your trip. Even on my trip when the weather wasn’t the best, the whole experience was really enjoyable and something I would definitely do again.

There is a walled path that allows you to safely walk along the cliffs and admire the views around you. There are also gift shops and a visitor centre which includes a museum and a café. On a clear day you will be able to see the Aran islands and Galway Bay. There is an 18km coastal route around the cliffs which offers plenty of great views of the landmark. On the route you will pass by the historic O’Breins Tower and the visitor centre.

About 50min from Shannon airport, the Cliffs of Moher may be one of the first landmarks you visit during your stay in the west of Ireland. Today the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren are a UNESCO Global Geopark.

A 360 degree tour of the Cliffs of Moher in the West of Ireland

The Burren

Next up on our list is the Burren National Park in Co. Clare, which offers one of the most unique landscapes in the south west of Ireland. As we have just mentioned, the Burren is a UNESCO Global Geopark but you may be wondering what that actually means.

UNESCO Global Geoparks are international places recognised for their unique history, geology, landscape and culture. Geoparks are managed with a focus on education, conservation, sustainable tourism and community engagement.

located in the South West of Ireland, the Burren offers a range of diversity than is unparalleled, with 330 year old limestone pavements and caves as well as unique flora, fauna and over 2700 historic monuments. The unique climate and limestone rock create an area where arctic, alpine and even Mediterranean plants grow side by side.

The Burren won the best place to holiday in Ireland in 2022 with the Irish Times and Failte Ireland. This is even more impressive when you consider the emphasis on tourism in Ireland in the last few years.

One of the most unique things to do in the Burren is to explore the underground caverns at the Ailwee Caves and Birds of Prey Centre, or the Doolin Caves.

The Ailwee cave system consists of over a kilometre of passages leading into the heart of the mountain. You will see the underground river, waterfall, stalagmites and stalactites. You can book guided tours online if you wish to visit the caves.

The beautiful attractions we have just listed are only the tip of the iceberg, if you would like to find out more about the banner county, why not check out our dedicated county Clare guide, one of the most tourist friendly countys in the West of Ireland.

Limerick – The Treaty County in the South West of Ireland

Golf at Adare Manor

Awarded 5 stars via Where2Golf, Adare Manor is another popular golf course in Ireland. The Irish landscape offers the perfect natural golf course, which the club at Adare Manor have taken full advantage of.

The JP McManus Pro-Am Commemorative Cap is held every year at the manor, with many of the world’s top professional golfers taking to the stage to raise money for charity.

In 2027, the Ryder Cup will take place on the manor as the Iconic match between Europe and USA heads back to Ireland.

King John’s Castle

If you’re staying in Limerick, why not visit King John’s Castle, on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick city. Explore the iconic landmark and learn about the ruthless King John, his noble nights and the rebellious natives. Over 800 years of dramatic history are just waiting to be uncovered with state of the art interpretive activities and exhibitions.

There is a dazzling array of computer generated animations and ghostly projections to look forward to as you travel back in time.

Dating back to Viking times, the castle has undergone several sieges, battles and triumphs over its long history and still stands tall today.

Want to check out more of what the Treaty county has to offer? Check out our co. Limerick Travel guide.

Final Thoughts – Why you should visit the West of Ireland

We hope you have enjoyed our article highlighting some of the best things that the West of Ireland has to offer. From lively towns and cities, to secluded beaches, piercing mountains, exciting trails and rugged coasts, there is no shortage of things to see. That’s not even mentioning the lush green fields or cobbled stone walls that will accompany you from location to location!

Nature lovers and people who simply want to relax on their holidays will both have more than enough to see and do

Are there any more hidden gems in the west of Ireland that we have left out? We would love to hear all about them in the comments below! So, the only question that remains is will you visit the West of Ireland?

If you have enjoyed this article we have plenty more travel guides and related blogs on the site such as:

The Ultimate Dublin Travel Guide | Best Bars in Ireland by city: the Ultimate guide to over 80 great bars | Unearthing the world’s hidden gem locations | The names of Ireland’s 32 counties explained

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