County Galway is a popular destination for people who love the Great Outdoors. Visitors can go mountain biking in the foothills of the Twelve Bens, fish or kayak across Lough Corrib, walk around the Aran Islands, hike and camp in Connemara National Park, and visit the grounds of Kylemore Abbey.
Here are 6 popular outdoor activities you and all your family can enjoy in County Galway.
1. Enjoy Mountain Biking Around The Twelve Bens
The Twelve Bens is a beautiful mountain range found in Connemara National Park. For centuries, sailors have used it as a landmark when returning to Ireland across the Atlantic. Today it is a Special Area of Conservation.
The quartzite peaks and surrounding foothills are popular with mountain bikers of all ages. There are several established trails in the area and around the surrounding national park.
The nearby 10-mile-long Derroura Mountain Bike Trail winds through forest with several steep climbs and adrenaline-pumping descents. Along the way, you can enjoy stunning views over Lough Corrib and the peaks of the Twelve Bens.
2. Go Fishing On Lough Corrib
Lough Corrib is the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland and a Special Area of Conservation. In fact, there are many large and small lakes dotted around this beautiful county, many in the Connemara area.
This 44,000-acre lake is renowned among anglers for the quality of its pike, salmon, and brown trout fishing. There are several piers around Lough Corrib where you can rent a boat to experience the abundance of the lake. Alternatively, you can don waders and walk right into the water at shallow points.
The season officially starts in February, and the best fishing is between March and September. The lake is also popular for boating and kayaking.
Image below by The Connemara Greenway
3. Amazing Kayaking in Galway Bay
County Galway is popular with kayaking enthusiasts. Not only does the River Corrib flow through the City of Galway, but there are many lakes, including Lough Corrib, where you can hire kayaks.
Galway Bay is an amazing place to experience sea kayaking. You can kayak past the traditional fishing boats of Galway Docks, head out to Hare and Rabbit Islands, and admire Mutton Island Lighthouse. While out in the bay, you can glance back toward land for fantastic views of Galway City, Salthill, and the Burren.
4. Go Walking Around The Aran Islands
If you want to explore the Real Ireland, the three Aran Islands are fantastic. Here you can see ancient Celtic crosses, abandoned forts, and ruined monasteries. But one of the most amazing things about this area is the cultural and linguistic heritage of the islands.
The Aran Islands are one of the rare locations where Gaelic is still the first language of many people. You’ll find all the native islanders are bilingual, and many of these friendly folks will be happy to teach you a phrase or two over a pint of Guinness.
The Aran Islands are easily reached by ferry from Galway, and their relatively flat landscape makes them perfect for walkers. The many trails around the islands, and the interesting landmarks along the way, mean that the Aran Islands are fantastic for hiking with kids.
Inis Mór, or Inishmore, is the largest island. The 30-minutes’ walk from Kilronan Village to the Blackfort and the cliffs is especially popular. From there, if you wish, you can extend your walk to follow the cliffs down to the lowest point of the island before making your way back to Kilronan.
5. Head Off Hiking In The Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park is one of the most scenic areas of Ireland, with mountain views, beautiful lakes, woodlands, grasslands, heaths, and bogs. It is not only visitors from abroad that go there, but many Irish people love visiting Connemara to hike and camp in the National Park. It is a truly special part of not only Galway, but the world!
There are four popular hiking trails through the park. The trail heads are found near the Visitor Centre, which is close to Letterfrack Village. These vary in difficulty. Some are short hikes to enjoy with your kids, while others involve steep ascents. The more difficult trails are great if you are looking for a workout while you hike.
In the park, you’ll also find scenic picnic areas and a children’s playground for the kids. Camping is allowed in selected areas, so grab your backpack and your tent. Check the park’s website for details about where camping is allowed. Careful planning of your family camping trip will ensure you enjoy a wonderful outdoor experience.
6. Visit Kylemore Abbey’s Wonderful Walled Garden
This religious institution is West Ireland’s no. 1 tourist attraction. Originally, Kylemore was built in 1868 in the style of a castle to be a grand family home. Since 1920, it has served as a monastery for Benedictine nuns.
This romantic Gothic structure and its surrounding parkland offer wonderful woodland walks, fascinating gardens, and beautiful architecture. Take your camera along for some fantastic photo opportunities. Kylemore Abbey is the perfect location for a great family excursion.
And there’s so much more…
There are lots more exciting outdoor activities you and your family can enjoy in County Galway. Sailing and surfing are popular along the coast. With the Ballinasloe Horse Fair and Ballyconneely Pony Show, Galway is a popular destination for equestrian holidays, too. Whatever you and your family love to do outdoors, you’ll find somewhere beautiful to do it in County Galway.