Things to Do in Clifden
In the heart of the historic district of Connemara, Ireland, Clifden is surrounded by sweeping vistas, quiet back roads and lively activities. The close proximity of hiking, beaches, architecture and wild Atlantic seascapes, Clifden is a perfect base for Western Ireland adventures.
Connemara National Park – Where the Waves Meet the Peaks
Starting at the only fjord in Ireland, Killary Harbor, and stretching upward though the Twelve Bens mountain range, Connemara National Park is eleven square miles of outdoor paradise. Located just nine miles from Clifden, it is easily accessible by car, bike or hiking. An easy day trip with so much to see including the famous Kylemore Abbey with its gothic architecture and walled gardens. Filled with wetlands or bogs, many have stone bridges to walk across them without damaging the ecosystem. One of the most popular hikes is the Diamond Loop which is a gentle sloping walk though the bogs, past fenced fields with herds of sheep or horses grazing peacefully to the peak which overlooks the rocky coast line and spectacular views of sea.
Driving from Clifden along the Sky Road, a 10 mile section is part of a 1500 mile coastal highway that begins in the northern County Donegal and ends in County Cork in the south. Sky Road is a twisting route as it follows the coast line. Vista points along the way are provided with pullouts for photos or just taking in the sunsets. During the warmer months, plan to encounter many other tourists from all over the world enjoying the hospitality of the people of Connemara and County Galway as they tell tales passed down from generation to generation. Some of the drive is quite narrow and you may have to stop for a sheep or pony crossing. Clifden Castle was built in the 19th century by town founder, John D’Arcy. Its massive stone gate still standing but the castle itself is a ruin.
While not well known for its beaches – the ones near Clifden are small sheltered coves that have opportunities for rock collecting, fishing and for the adventurous paddling and windsurfing.
The Town of Clifden
The town of Clifden has approximately 10,000 permanent residents. Every Friday there is Market Day where farmers and craftsmen bring their goods to sell in the town square. Local delicacies like cheese, homemade bread, jams and pies are sold along with fresh vegetables and flowers. Many colorful shops along the main streets in between local pubs and cafes provide an opportunity to meet the people of Clifden.
Other points of interest would be the old Clifden Rail Station which houses a theater that has local musicians, poetry readings and events in addition to a hotel. The Marconi Station, where the first trans-Atlantic telegraph between North America and Europe was received in 1907. Both were gutted for steel to be used in WWII. 30 minutes away is the cottage used in the John Ford movie “The Quiet Man.”
More from SmarterTravel:
- 7 Magical Places in Ireland
- Getting Around Ireland: Transportation Tips
- Ireland Travel Guide: What to Do in Ireland
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