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Where to stay in Galway vs. Clifden vs. Doolin

Can anyone help us prioritize where to stay for the middle part of our trip to Western Ireland?

We are interested mostly in Inishmore, Connemara (the drive and/or the walks in the National Park), and the Cliffs of Mohr. We will be headed down to Dingle for 2 nights after these 3 nights.

Originally we were thinking of Galway for 2 nights and either taking the ferry to Inishmore or driving around Connemara. Then heading over to Doolin and stopping at the Cliffs on the way and possible taking the sunset ferry past the Cliffs from there.

Would we be better off to just base ourselves near Galway for 3 days and do day trips?
Should we try a night in Clifden and do Inishmore from there instead?
Or should we stay 2 nights in Clifden and go to Doolin for 1 and skip Galway altogether?
If we had to choose between Inishmore and Connemara, what would you choose?

Also, we are having a hard time deciding where to stay in Galway. Any suggestions? Somewhere near enough to walk to bars, but not so near them we can't sleep would be ideal.

Thank you!

Posted by
220 posts

Earlier this month, I spent several days in Dingle and then drove to Galway where I stayed for 3 nights. I visited the Cliffs of Mohr on the way up and spent the first night in Galway. The next day, I spent a leisurely day in Galway and on the 3rd day I took the ferry to Inishmore. After the 3rd night, I drove around Connemara and spent the night in Westport.

I enjoyed being in Galway for 3 nights because it was nice to take a break from packing, etc. Both the Cliffs and Connemara are very convenient day trips from Galway. The shuttle bus to the ferry for the Inishmore tour was also convenient; it picked me up at a hotel only 4-5 minutes from where I was staying.

The Galway street scene is entertaining; I found the pubs a little too crowded and loud compared to some cities (especially for listening to the music).

If you wanted to stay two nights in Galway and then one night in Doolin after touring the Cliffs, you would have a shorter drive back to your hotel or B&B that night and be a bit closer to Dingle for the next day.

I stayed in an Airbnb in Galway that was a short walk to the downtown, but in a quiet residential section, so I can't help with hotel suggestions.

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you, fcraymond76!

This was exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. If you had to choose between the Aran Islands and Connemara, which would you go for again?

Posted by
360 posts

First, you can't get from Clifden to Inishmore (or anywhere) by ferry, if that's what you meant (but maybe not). The larger ferry to the Aran Islands departs from Rossaveel, on the coast 23 miles west of Galway Town (www.aranislandferries.com/index.php). The smaller one departs to all three islands from Doolin (www.doolinferries.com).

With distances in Ireland so short, you shouldn't have to choose between Connemara and Inishmore! But if you're squeezed for time, I'd pick the former. If you do visit Inishmore, don't miss Dun Aengus!

With three overnights before heading down to Dingle, I'd suggest the first night in lively Galway Town, then drive the N59 circuit around Connemara (counterclockwise) the next day, stopping in Clifden for the night. There's some interesting history - not to mention the Sky Road - there. From Clifden, head to either Doolin or Rossaveel for the ferry to Inishmore for the third night. Once back on the mainland the next morning, you can visit the Cliffs of Moher en route to Dingle.

Or alternatively - especially if you want to listen to some of the best traditonal music in Ireland (four pubs, all within walking distance of everything) - overnight in Doolin, then do a day trip to Inishmore the next morning. In Doolin, I recommend the Fisherman's Rest B&B just behind O'Connor's Pub. Danny and Mairead are grand hosts. Their website is: www.accommodationdoolin.com/

With either of the preceding, you're seeing and experiencing more as opposed to returning to Galway Town each night.

My stays in Galway Town were always in a B&B near the university (a 15-minute walk to the city center) that's sadly no longer in business. There are plenty of wonderful B&Bs to be had (all over Ireland), many located on the road leading from the town center to Salthill, as well as near the university.

If you'd like a B&B recommendation in Dingle Town, let me know. The one I've stayed in a few times is in a quiet setting, only a five-minute walk from the town center.

With your itinerary, you'll be seeing the most beautiful region in Ireland. No matter where you go there, you won't be disappointed!

Slainte!

Posted by
9363 posts

If you really had to choose between Inishmore and Connemara, I would choose Connemara. Weather or rough seas can sometimes be a factor in whether or not you can even go out to the Aran Islands, or get back. I guess you could always plan on Inishmore with Connemara as a backup plan, but there is so much more to see and do in Connemara than on the island.

Posted by
220 posts

As Nancy pointed out, there is more to see and do in Connemara than Inishmore, and you have more flexibility there. However, I spent several days enjoying the scenery in Dingle and around Sligo as well, so I'm glad I took the time to visit Inishmore because it is a different experience. It was also fun to hear the local guide talk about his island. It's a tough choice to make.