The cultural region of Connemara in the West of Ireland is known for being one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the entire world, never mind just Ireland. Connemara is also home to some of the country’s finest walks and hiking trails.
There is nothing better than getting out in nature and exploring the glorious area the right way - by foot! Don’t worry you don't need to be a wilderness explorer to do so, there is a trail for everyone in Connemara, whether you are an experienced hiker or rather a slow stroll.
We’ve put together a list of 5 walking trails that locals and tourist love to visit year in and year out. Make sure you pack your camera as you explore the most beautiful place in the world!
The Cong and Clonbur Forest Trail
Distance - 7.5 km
Duration - 2.5 hrs
Terrain - Forest road & track
Cong is a wonderful place for walking, with good quality off-road trails that wind around the great western lakes of Lough Corrib and Lough Mask.
In this 7.5 km linear trail, you will explore County Galway’s forests and placid lake shores. Spot the geological marvels of the striking limestone pavements and exotic woodland species that make up the stunning natural scenery.
Once your woodland explorations are complete, the pretty Gaeltacht village of Clonbur is the place to stop for that welcome cup of tea.
Claddaghduff Quay to Omey Island Walk
Distance - 5.6 km
Duration - 1-2 hrs
Terrain - Strand & pasture
Omey is a tidal island accessible on foot 2 hours before low water and 2 hours before high water - please check tidal times.
Omey island is a magical place 600 metres offshore, nestled beneath the protruding point of the Aughrus peninsula and sheltered from the worst of the Atlantic swells by the islands of An Cruach (Cruach), Ard Oilean (High Island) and Oilean na mBráthar (Friar Island).
The island is almost entirely underlain by sand. The island supported a large population of over 400 people in the mid-19th century who lived off the rich fishing around the island and from cattle raised on the fertile, lime-rich soils. There is no better place for a leisurely, interesting and revitalising walk than St Feichin’s sacred island, which was the ancestral home of the Connemara O’Toole’s, who moved westward with the O’Flahertys in the middle ages.
This walk begins by following the side road from Claddaghduff church towards the shore. The trail crosses 1km of tidal sand which is impassable for two hours on each side of high tide. The route is marked across the sand to the road on the island.
Understanding the Omey Island tide times in advance of your visit, as we’ve mentioned is really important! Find information on the tide times here. If in doubt, you can also ask Sweeney’s pub in Claddaghduff for advice before setting off.
Be careful as there’s a real danger if you get the tidal times wrong. If the tide begins to come in when you’re on the island, you’ll be stranded there until it starts to go back out again - trust us on this one!
Killary Harbour Coastal Walk
Distance - 9 km
Duration - 2 hrs
Terrain - Pathway
Killary Fjord is referred to as Ireland’s only true fjord, with the hills that line the inlet declining sharply into its waters. The area is also steeped in the history of the Great Irish Famine, this is evidenced by the rocky trail that once served as the famine relief road, as well as the ruined famine village of Foher. The hike along the southern side of the fjord offers panoramic views of Mayo’s Mweelrea Mountain and the harbour itself.
Admire the towering height of Mweelrea, Connacht's highest mountain which rises up to 814 metres as well as the Maumturk Mountains and marvellous Twelve Bens. Discover the hamlet of Rossroe near the mouth of the fjord and see the plaque and building formerly used by Ludwig Wittgenstein, the famous philosopher, as a quiet place to write after World War II, or admire the rows of mussel rafts peeping out of the water, a common sight to the east of the fjord.
The Diamond Hill Trail
Distance - 7 km
Duration - 2-3 hrs
Terrain - Gravel paths, wooden boardwalk & steps.
Part of the Wild Atlantic Way and surrounded by Connemara National Park, the Diamond Hill Trail is a figure-of-eight circuit made up of two loops that connect midway. This trail begins and ends at the National Park visitor centre, which is handily accessible and well maintained. Featuring boardwalk sections through rich bogland along the lower loop, while the upper loop grants breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
The Glencoaghan Horseshoe
Distance - 16 km
Duration - 7-8 hrs
Terrain - Steep ascents.
This ambitious looped hike involves summiting six quartzite peaks that make up the Twelve Bens mountain range, right in the heart of Connemara. This trail is for experienced hikers who are competent in walking the steep ascents – the highest of the six peaks, Binn Chorr, stands at 711 metres (2,332.7 feet). However, the same conditions that make this terrain difficult make the outlook truly stunning. Many consider The Glencoaghan Horseshoe as Ireland’s