Connemara. The very name evokes images of rugged coastlines, windswept landscapes, and a vibrant tapestry of Irish culture. This wild and wonderful corner of County Galway, Ireland, has long captivated the hearts of travellers seeking an escape from the ordinary. But for those unfamiliar with its magic, planning a trip to Connemara can feel daunting. Worry not because we are here to help! This comprehensive guide will be your compass, leading you through the very best things to do in Connemara, including the charming village of Roundstone, and offering a peek inside the luxurious haven of Within the Village.

A Connemara sheep stands at the lake reflecting the Twelve Bens mountain range in Connemara.

Introduction to Connemara

Connemara is a region of wild beauty, where rugged mountains meet the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. This area is known for its unspoiled natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm Irish hospitality. From the serene lakes and majestic mountains to the vibrant towns and quaint villages, Connemara offers a little something for everyone.

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Where is Connemara?

Connemara is a region of County Galway, on the west coast of Ireland. Referred to as a “savage beauty” by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde the landscape in Connemara is truly unique. Large sections of Connemara are mostly peat bog, strewn by rocks and sculpted by ice a long time ago. Historically, Connemara was part of the territory Iar Connacht (West Connacht) and it is the largest Gaeltacht (Irish speaking region) in the country. Its topography includes numerous mountains, including the Twelve Pins, as well as peninsulas, bays, hidden coves, islands, and is scattered throughout by numerous lakes. Connemara National Park, one of six national parks in Ireland, can be found in the northwest of the region.

Connemara’s National Park is a 2000-hectare state owned conservation centre incorporating mountains, bogs, woodlands and grasslands with wonderful wildlife. Four of the mountains belong to the Twelve Pins range, including the highest, Benbaun (730 metres). At the centre of the park is the valley of Glanmore where the Polladirk River flows. Traces of ancient settlements can be seen in the park, including 4,000-year-old megalithic tombs and markings of former grazing areas.

Nicola Lavin, an Irish travel blogger is wearing a blue floral dress and is walking along a white sandy beach in Connemara, Ireland.

How to get to Connemara

Galway is only 53km from Connemara National Park, but as you travel there you’ll experience the natural beauty of the mountains and lakes as soon as you go past the village of Oughterard. The quickest way of getting from Galway to Connemara National Park is to drive. It takes about 1h 15m.

Flying there

Your gateway to Connemara is likely Knock International Airport (NOC) in County Mayo. From there, you can rent a car for ultimate flexibility (highly recommended in Connemara). Alternatively, some bus services connect Knock and Galway City to Clifden, the largest town in Connemara.

By Car

Driving is the most convenient way to explore Connemara. The region is about a three-hour drive from Dublin, making it a perfect road trip destination. The journey itself is scenic, with plenty of opportunities to stop and soak in the breathtaking views.

By Public Transport

If you prefer not to drive, you can take a train from Dublin to Galway and then hop on a bus to various destinations within Connemara. Bus Eireann operates several routes that connect Galway with towns like Clifden and Roundstone.

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Are you ready to visit Connemara?

Where to Stay in Connemara: Within the Village, Roundstone

Finding the perfect place to stay is crucial for a memorable trip, and “Within the Village” in Roundstone offers an experience like no other. We were lucky enough to have stayed here during a sunny weekend in May and we want to give you a detailed review of this charming accommodation.

Exterior of Within the Village, a luxury self-catering property in Roundstone, Connemara.

Within the Village: A Home Away from Home

Nestled in the heart of Roundstone, “Within the Village” is a boutique, luxury self-catering set of townhouses that perfectly capture the essence of Irish hospitality. The moment you step through the door, you’re greeted with a warm smile and a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. Andy, the property manager, is one of the most welcoming people you will ever meet and he will do everything to ensure that your stay is a comfortable one.

Nicola Lavin, an Irish travel blogger, reads a book on a cosy armchair in Within the Village, a luxury self-catering property in Roundstone, Connemara.

The houses were previously Connolly’s pub and B&B, and many Galwegians have fond memories of chatting and drinking, cosied around the fireplace here. In fact, while we were waiting to check in we heard so many people walk past, reminicising about great nights spent there. The building today has been tastefully renovated to incorporate five townhouses, village to the front, coast to the rear. These are tasteful, cosy short-term rentals that provide elegant finishing and subtle luxury, highlighting regional products and materials through the work of local artists and crafters.


The rooms at “Within the Village” are a blend of traditional charm and modern comfort. Each room is tastefully decorated with local art and crafts, giving you a sense of place and authenticity. The beds are incredibly comfortable, ensuring a good night’s sleep after a day of exploring. The original layout has been cleverly reconfigured, so the original terrace and other buildings are now five creatively named townhouses – Lichen, Bog Cotton, Kelp, Bracken and Sea. The size of the suites range from one bedroom to three and can be rented individually or the whole place is available for exclusive hire.

Bedroom in Within the Village, a luxury self-catering property in the heart of Roundstone village in Connemara, Ireland.
Bedroom in Within the Village, Roundstone, furnished with Irish linen and tweed and curated art.

Each of the suites have something very unique and special to offer. We were lucky enough to be staying in Sea, one of the larger suites with views right out onto Roundstone Bay, but were were privileged enough to get a tour of the other properties by Andy. It is hard to pick a favourite. Each of them are so unique with the curated art giving them all a unique personality. The crooked walls and floors you will find in some of the old renovated houses add even more character and charm.

Bedroom in Within the Village, a luxurious self-catering cottage in Connemara, Ireland.


Guests will receive a warm Irish welcome and orientation on arrival to Within the Village which will include:

  • fully equipped handcrafted oak kitchens containing arrival essentials
  • welcome arrival refreshments
  • solid fuel stove with complimentary supply of wood for arrival night
  • complimentary locally sourced Burren Perfumery toiletries
  • luxury 5 star bedding
  • curated local art and crafted furnishings
  • smart TV’s and free Wi-Fi
  • laptop friendly workspace
  • private and communal terraces for relaxation
  • local knowledge and tips on things to do in the area
  • freshly cooked scones delivered for breakfast each morning
  • free street parking
  • Within the Village is not pet-friendly but they can recommend local trustworthy kennels
Oak hand-crafted kitchen in Within the Village, Roundstone.
Cosy fireplace in Within the Village, Roundstone, Ireland.


One of the highlights of “Within the Village” is its central location right on the main street of Roundstone village. You’re just a stone’s throw away from Roundstone’s charming shops, traditional pubs, and scenic harbour. It’s the perfect base for exploring the wider Connemara region.

Dining table against a reclaimed stone wall in Within the Village in Roundstone, Connemara.

Our Verdict

Within the Village” offers a delightful blend of comfort, convenience, and character. It’s more than just a place to stay; it’s a place to experience the heart and soul of Roundstone. Whether you’re looking for a cosy retreat after a day of adventure or a friendly chat with the locals, these boutique self-catering townhouses deliver.

Things to Do in Connemara

Explore Roundstone Village

Roundstone is a picturesque fishing village that embodies the charm of Connemara. It is a popular holiday resort renowned among artists and naturalists for the remarkable beauty of the surrounding mountains and seascapes. It has a traditional craft centre and local activities include Connemara Pottery, Connemara Jewellery and Connemara Instrument making. Connemara Farming, Connemara Fishing, Connemara Forestry and Connemara Quarrying are carried out extensively in the area.

Charming fishing village of Roundstone, Connemara, one of the best things to do in Connemara.

Two miles from Roundstone, you will find two spectacular beaches, Gurteen and Dog’s Bay who lie back to back forming a tombolo and jut into the Atlantic Ocean. They are a favourite with water enthusiasts due to the crystal clear water and perfect for water based activities. In Roundstone you will find a busy harbour where local fishermen prepare and return with the day’s catch, featuring a mix of Lobster, Crab, Shrimp, Mackerel, Cod plus a wide variety of other fish. Strolling through the town you will discover some fantastic craft shops and places to eat and drink. Here are some of our must-do activities in Roundstone:

Aerial view of the colourful fishing village of Connemara, Roundstone.

1. Stroll Around the Harbour

Start your visit with a leisurely walk around Roundstone Harbour. The views of the Atlantic Ocean, colourful fishing boats, and distant mountains are truly mesmerizing. It’s the perfect spot for some Instagram-worthy photos.

2. Visit the Roundstone Ceramics

Roundstone Ceramics is a treasure trove of handcrafted pottery. They pride themselves in making unique porcelain and stoneware and have been doing so since 1981. Watch local artisans at work and pick up a unique piece to take home as a souvenir. The vibrant colours and intricate designs reflect the beauty of Connemara.

3. Enjoy a Pint at O’Dowd’s Pub

No trip to Ireland is complete without a visit to a traditional pub. O’Dowd’s Pub is a local favourite, offering a warm atmosphere, delicious seafood, and live traditional music. It’s the perfect place to relax and soak in the local culture. Make sure to order their delicious oysters or crab claws washed down with a pint of Guinness. On a sunny day you can even take your pint across the road where stone selves have been arranged to rest it down. There you can really enjoy your drink surrounded by the sheer magic of Roundstone.

Check out our full guide on the best pubs in Galway.

A pint of Guinness and a plate of fresh oysters at O'Dowd's seafood restaurant in Roundstone, Connemara.
Crab claws on a blue plate, cooked in garlic butter and with a lemon wedge on the side.
A pint of Guinness with the backdrop of Rounstone village, a charming fishing village in Connemara, Ireland.

4. Swim in Dog’s Bay

Roundstone lies along the famed Wild Atlantic Way, a scenic driving route. Explore the dramatic coastline, dotted with charming villages and hidden coves. Stop by Dog’s Bay, a haven for surfers and beachcombers for a swim in crystal clear waters.

5. Take a Hike up Errisbeg Mountain

Enjoy this 6.0-km out-and-back trail near Roundstone, County Galway. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it is more of a hill walk then a mountain hike. Bear in mind that there is no distingushable path so make sure that you are comfortable navigating your own route before attempting this walk. This is a very popular area for hiking, running, and walking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring. The best times to visit this trail are March through October. You’ll need to leave pups at home — dogs aren’t allowed on this trail.

Aerial view of Dog's Bay and Gurteen Bay tombolo in Roundstone, Connemara. The waters are crystal clear turquoise blue and the sands are white and soft. One of the best beaches in Ireland.

Your reward will be panoramic views of the tombolo of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay Beach, the Twelve Pins, and the islands. Large boulders sitting atop the peak offer a great place to take in the view.

Discover Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park is a must-visit for nature lovers. Covering over 2,000 hectares of mountains, bogs, grasslands, and forests, the park offers a diverse range of outdoor activities.

1. Hiking Trails

There are several hiking trails within the park, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes. The Diamond Hill trail is particularly popular, offering stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from the summit.

2. Wildlife Watching

Keep an eye out for the park’s diverse wildlife, including Connemara ponies, red deer, and a variety of bird species. The park is also home to many rare and protected plant species.

White Connemara pony in a field of green grass in Connemara, Ireland.

3. Visitor Centre

The visitor centre provides an excellent overview of the park’s natural and cultural heritage. There are informative exhibits, a cosy café, and friendly staff who can help you make the most of your visit.

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Visit Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey is one of Connemara’s most iconic landmarks. This stunning Gothic Revival castle, set against the backdrop of a wooded mountainside, is a sight to behold.

1. Explore the Abbey

Take a guided tour of the abbey to learn about its fascinating history and the Benedictine nuns who still reside there. The beautifully restored rooms and intricate details are really impressive.

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara National Park in Ireland.

2. Wander Through the Victorian Walled Garden

The Victorian Walled Garden at Kylemore Abbey is a horticultural delight. Stroll through the beautifully maintained gardens, featuring a wide variety of plants, flowers, and trees. It’s a peaceful retreat that’s perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

3. Enjoy a Tea Break

After exploring the abbey and gardens, head to the Tea House for a delightful selection of teas, freshly baked scones, and other treats. The views from the terrace are simply breathtaking.

Where is Kylemore abbey:  This popular tourist attraction is just outside Letterfrack and is ~1 1/2 hours drive from Galway city on the N59. It’s located between Clifden and Westport.

Nicola Lavin, an Irish travel blogger is wearing a blue floral dress. She is holding a pink flower and is standing barefoot in a lake in Connemara. Kylemore Abbey can be seen in the distance.

Take a Scenic Drive Along the Sky Road

The Sky Road is one of the most scenic drives in Ireland, offering spectacular views of the Atlantic coastline, islands, and rolling hills. The drive is approximately 16 kilometres long, starting in Clifden town and looping around the Kingstown peninsula, and can be done in about an hour, but you’ll want to take your time to stop at the various viewpoints along the way.

1. Stop at the Viewing Points

There are several designated viewing points along the Sky Road where you can pull over and take in the stunning scenery. Don’t forget your camera – the views are simply out of this world!

Lough Inagh Valley in Connemara, Ireland.

2. Picnic with a View

Pack a picnic and find a quiet spot to enjoy a meal with a view. There are plenty of picturesque places to choose from, and the fresh sea air will make your food taste even better.

Where is The Sky Road Drive: The route starts in Clifden and makes its way out along the coast. It splits into 2, the upper and lower sky road so you can choose which you want to take. We recommend the upper for jawdropping views!

Take a walk out to Pine Island on Derryclare Lough

Pine Island, also known as InishPionóg, is a small island located in Derryclare Lough, a lake in the Connemara region of County Galway, Ireland. It is known for its natural beauty and landscapes, which make it a popular destination for outdoor activities and photography. When you search for images of Connemara online this is the first one you will see and the iconic postcard-style image of Pine Island has become synonymous with Connemara and it is a must see during your time in Connemara. Be sure to bring your camera, especially on a calm day when you can capture the reflection of the island on the lake.

Pine Island reflecting on Derryclare Lake on a still day. It is sunset. One of the best things to do in Connemara, Ireland.

Make sure to make the time to properly explore Pine Island. Most of those who drive by the unique island stop for only a moment, snap a picture and then continue on driving. Most people don’t realise is it is possible to walk onto the Island to fully explore. There is a stone passageway that connects Pine Island to the mainland. It can be rather slippy on wet days so be careful when walking it and wear proper footwear.

Where is Pine Island Connemara: Pine Island is about halfway between Maams Cross and Clifden in the centre of the Connemara region. It’s just over one hour’s drive from Galway city centre.

Experience the Connemara Loop

The Connemara Loop is a scenic route that takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of Connemara. The loop covers a variety of landscapes, from coastal roads to mountain passes.

Sheep grazing in a field at sunset in Connemara. A place of wild and rugged beauty.

1. Visit Clifden

Clifden, known as the “Capital of Connemara,” is a vibrant town with plenty to offer. Explore the charming streets, visit the Clifden Castle ruins, and enjoy a meal at one of the town’s excellent restaurants. Our favourites are Guys Bar and The Lamplight.

2. Discover the Coral Strand

The Coral Strand at Ballyconneely is a unique beach with sand made up of crushed coral. The clear, turquoise waters are inviting for a swim, and the beach is a great place for a relaxing walk.

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3. Explore the Derrigimlagh Bog

Derrigimlagh Bog is a fascinating landscape with a rich history. It’s the site of the first transatlantic wireless station and the landing spot of the first non-stop transatlantic flight. There’s a well-marked walking route with interpretive panels that tell the story of these historic events.

Nicola Lavin, an Irish travel blogger flicks her blue floral dress into the air. The background is the Twelve Ben mountain range in Connemara.

Tips for Booking Your Trip to Connemara

Planning a trip to Connemara can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help! Here are some tips to make your booking process smooth and stress-free.

Best Time to Visit Connemara

The best time to visit Connemara is from late spring to early autumn (May to September). The weather is milder, and the landscapes are lush and green. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so booking accommodations and tours in advance is highly recommended. Connemara is one of those places that is beautiful no matter what the weather is like. We have experienced some incredible moody, rainy days in Connemara. If you do decide to go in the winter months just make sure to check if your desired activities are still running. And always remember that there is no such thing as bad weather just poor clothing so make sure to pack for all weather eventualities. Experiencing four seasons in one day is not at all unusual in Ireland.

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How to Get Around

Renting a car is the most convenient way to explore Connemara, giving you the freedom to travel at your own pace and discover hidden gems. Public transport options are available but can be limited, especially in more remote areas.

What to Pack

  • Clothing: Layers are key! Even in summer, the Irish weather can be unpredictable. Bring a waterproof jacket, comfortable walking shoes, and warm layers.
  • Essentials: Don’t forget your camera, sunscreen, and any personal medications. It’s also a good idea to carry a reusable water bottle.
  • Travel Apps: Download maps and travel apps to help you navigate and discover local attractions.

Budget Concerns

Travelling to Connemara doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some tips to help you save money:

  • Travel Off-Peak: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (April-May or September-October) when prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists.
  • Self-Catering: Stay in accommodations with kitchen facilities so you can prepare some of your meals. Within the Village in Roundstone is a great choice for affordable luxury self-catering. If you can travel in a group with friends to spread the cost it makes a trip to Connemara so much more affordable. Local markets and grocery stores offer fresh, affordable ingredients.
  • Free Activities: Many of Connemara’s attractions, like hiking trails and scenic drives, are free to enjoy.
Quaint Connemara cottage

What If We Only Have a Limited Time to Explore Connemara

If you’re short on time, focus on the must-see highlights:

  • Day 1: Explore Roundstone village, visit Roundstone Ceramics, and enjoy dinner at O’Dowd’s Pub.
  • Day 2: Spend the day at Connemara National Park, hiking Diamond Hill and visiting the visitor centre.
  • Day 3: Take a scenic drive along the Sky Road, visit Kylemore Abbey, and end your day in Clifden.

If you have more time to spend in the region be sure to check out our guides on spending a weekend in Galway or doing the Killary Fjord Walk.


For travellers with mobility issues, here are some tips:

  • Accommodations: Look for hotels and guesthouses that offer accessible rooms and facilities. Contact “Within the Village” in advance to discuss your needs.
  • Attractions: Many of Connemara’s attractions, like Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park, have accessible paths and facilities. Check their websites or contact them for more information.
  • Transport: If you’re not driving, consider hiring a taxi or a private tour guide who can accommodate your needs.

Connemara is a region that captures the heart and soul of Ireland. Its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality make it a must-visit destination. Whether you’re exploring the charming village of Roundstone, hiking through Connemara National Park, or taking a scenic drive along the Sky Road, you’re sure to create memories that will last a lifetime.

We hope this guide helps you plan your perfect trip to Connemara. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination, so take your time, savour every moment, and let the beauty of Connemara unfold before you.

About us

We are Nicola and Ronan Lavin experts in finding unique accommodation all over the world. Voted as the Top 6 Travel Bloggers in Ireland by Stellar Magazine and the Top 10 Travel Influencers in Ireland by readers of the Irish Independent, we are dedicated to helping you find authentic and immersive travel experiences to help you plan your perfect vacation.

**Disclaimer: This blog post was sponsored by Within the Village, but there was no obligation to do a positive post. We genuinely loved our stay there and highly recommend it. We only ever work with brands that we are 100% happy to recommend to you guys and would happily pay for ourselves. All opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you book through one of our links, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us create the wonderful, free travel guides that we do.**

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