Where better than the cultural capital of Ireland to enjoy this year’s staycation? With the rolling green hills, breathtaking coastal landscapes, and more adventure than you could dream of, Connemara should be at the top of your list to explore. So, you love a good hike? Us too! Check out our top trails in Galway, all within driving distance of Maldron Hotel Oranmore. We’ve put together a list of the best hikes in Galway, ranging from easy to difficult, so there’s something for everyone.
We’re sure you’ll have already seen that magnificent photo of Kylemore Abbey. It may be one of the most iconic attractions in Connemara. Experience it for yourself with a walk around the beautiful gardens and grounds of the Gothic Benedictine nunnery. The perfect place for a leisurely stroll, it’s easy to see why the abbey was first built to be a romantic gift by Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret in 1867. The trail is marked easy and can be reached by car in 1hr 20 minutes from Galway’s city centre.
Killary Coastal Park
1hr and 15 minutes drive from Galway city, the newly built looped trail takes walkers to the shores of the Killary Fjord. Access the walk from the Killary Adventure Company at Leenane. Enjoy the stunning views of Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht as you go. You’ll also get a stunning panoramic view of the impressive Maumturk Mountains and Twelve Bens! Spend the morning walking this gorgeous trail route marked ‘easy’. When it’s done, why not opt for taking part in an activity with the Killary Adventure Company; maybe kayaking, gorge walking, abseiling, and more!
Knockma Nature Reserve
On a low hill just west of Tuam, 30 minutes from the city, you’ll find the charming Knockma Woods. The trail used for hiking, walking, and nature trips is marked ‘easy’ to ‘moderate’. There is plenty of parking available at the bottom of the hill and you’ll enjoy great views of Galway and the Turlough Lakes from the top. Look out for the enchanting faery doors on the trees as you mosey through the large oak and ash trees. Legend has it that Maeve, the ‘legendary Queen of Connacht’ was buried in the cairns at the summit.
Diamond Hill Loop
For those hikers who like a little bit more of a challenge, the Diamond Hill Loop trail should definitely be on your bucket list when visiting Galway. There is another lower hill trail, marked easier and is shorter at 2.6km. Park your car at Connemara National Park Visitor Centre, open 7 days a week from 9 am – 5.30 pm. The trail is well maintained with stepping stones, gravel tracks and paved paths the entire way. With gorgeous views of the Connemara coastline and Tully mountain, this is one hike you’ll remember!
Portumna Forest Park Loop
1-hour from Galway city, the lovely Portumna Forest Park boast many trails. From as short as 5km and up to 15km, the walking trails will allow you to explore nature and wildlife to your heart’s content! Will you be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the fallow deer, red squirrel or maybe a badger? There are also great lakeshore views and quiet woodland meadows to enjoy. An abbey is situated on the grounds of the park, dating back to the 15th century.
Benlettery & Bengower
Located near Clifden, this trail features a gorgeous lake and great views of surrounding peaks. You’ll climb two of the iconic Twelve Bens or Twelve Pins mountain range. This trail though challenging is a short hike for a trail marked ‘hard’. Ensure to take a map with you as there is no marked trail. This one can be rocky, so be careful! It’s definitely a trail for those avid hikers among us.
If you want to experience Galway’s sensational viewpoints, the Glencoaghan horseshow loop is right up your street! This route is quite challenging and recommended for experienced hikers. You’ll reach the summit of 6 mountains – wow! Be sure to go prepared and wear layers, as the weather can change quickly. We also recommend to start early and take your time. From the summit, you’ll be able to see Crough Patrick and some of the best views in Connemara. Get there by car in 1hr 15 minutes.
Letterfrack & Muckanaght Circular
Another trail in the Twelve Bens mountain range is the Letterfrack and Muckanaght circular trail. This 19.6km loop is rated difficult and quite tough, so prepare to walk the legs off yourself! With spectacular views, you’ll be glad you decided to take on the challenge.
Maldron Hotel Oranmore, Galway
Situated just outside of the city, Maldron Hotel Oranmore is easy to get to, and the perfect base for exploring the Wild Atlantic Way. Wake up in the cosy beds before going for a dip in the pool. After the days hiking adventures, relax with dinner in drinks in the hotel’s bar and restaurant. With complimentary car parking on-site, you’ll have everything you need for the perfect hiking trip!