24 Hours in Clifden, The Capital of Connemara
Discover//Insider Guides

24 Hours in Clifden, The Capital of Connemara

Clifden, the Capital of Connemara, is a must visit Galway town. An hour and a half by CityLink bus from Galway City, Clifden is a focal point of community and culture in Ireland. One of the last towns founded in Ireland, this hub of music, mirth and magic has grown into the beloved town we know today.

Full of wonderful local shops, pubs, and hotels, a weekend spent in Clifden is definitely one for the bucket lists. We recently spent a weekend there, and put together a 24 hour guide to Clifden. Check out where we shopped, ate, and slept!

Amble about the sights and shops

Clifden’s size and layout make it the perfect place to walk around and explore. When travelling with CityLink, you’re dropped off right in the heart of the town, just footsteps away from all the action. The town is brimming with incredible local shops, from vintage clothing and book stores, to an artisan fused glass shop and a specialty food market - for a small town there is an abundance of local businesses to explore and support!

Love Vintage is an explosion of colourful and eccentric jewellery and clothing. The shop is run by a mother/daughter duo and absolutely full of incredible vintage pieces, as well as gorgeous contemporary pieces. The walls are lined with faux fur coats and floral kimonos - they work to ensure that these are considered pieces that are ethically sourced. Trust us, you could spend your entire day here!

Connemara Blue was our next stop on our Clifden travel itinerary. We absolutely adore this family run business nestled right in the heart of Clifden. The Crow family work together to design and create beautiful artisanal glass gifts. Located in the Pink Shop off the square, their store is a kaleidoscope of colour. The artwork is clearly inspired by all things Galway - from the wild landscape of Connemara to the Galway Hookers sailing, their work is adored by everyone from locals to tourists.

If you’re still looking to amble about the town before lunch, we recommend browsing through The Clifden Bookshop. The store is a quaint book lovers paradise, with everything from new fiction, Irish classics, and much more. They offer a diverse selection for all tastes. The Connemara Hamper is an award winning delicatessen. With local and international artisan products as well as cheese, coffee and freshly baked goods, this is a great stop to shop and grab some essentials.

Clifden is rich in historical significance, there are a number of sights to check out on your trip. Right in the town square is a monument honouring Alcock and Brown the two men who in 1919 completed the very first transatlantic flight. The two landed in the bogs of Clifden one June morning, making history and quite literally putting Clifden on the map.

Sky Road is one of the sights in Galway that just absolutely blows you away. This scenic route just outside of the town is along the water, and is just stunning. The rolling green, the expansive ocean in front of you, the winding roads that reveal something new and almost sacred with each turn… we could go on and on. If you are able, get out for a quick spin along Sky Road and experience Galway like never before.

Get fed, body and soul!

Just like the shops, there are a number of incredible spots across Clifden to grab a bite to eat. Right on Main Street, Guys Bar is a must visit dining experience. With a warming and welcoming atmosphere Guys Bar nourishes you body and soul with their incredible food menu, and amazing staff! Ran by Rachael and Shane this husband wife duo ensures that each guest feels looked after and has a fabulous dining experience.

The Guys Seafood Skillet was an intoxicating platter of the freshest prawns, mussels and squid drenched in a bright tomato sauce - served with a side of buttery sourdough to sop up all the sauce, this was a beautiful dish that I’m still thinking about… Their menu is incredibly diverse, so there is something for everyone.

Made to an exceptional standard, you can tell right away how fresh and local the ingredients are. The wine list is also abundant and curated by one of Ireland’s top sommeliers, Anke C Hartmann. Not only is the food amazing, but the atmosphere is brillant. On summer days the big windows let the sunshine in. In the evenings the cosy snugs and interior decor add incredible character to the restaurant.

The iconic traditional pub, Lowry’s Bar, was the next stop on the Clifden Summer Tour ‘24.

Lowry’s is a world class pub known for its amazing pints, expansive whiskey selection, and incredible interior. Full of curious oddities and ‘museum like decor’ this pub stands out by being traditional, as well as full of personal character and charm. Sitting outside on a sunny day, pint in hand, was just perfect. Clifden in the summertime is on another level as it is, but outside Lowry’s on the sunny stretch of road is an experience in itself. With live music on in the evenings, the pub is a must stop place on your trip through Connemara’s capital.

Live music and pints

M.C. McGrath’s is a local that is beloved and well known for many a reason. Examples are as follows; the fantastically poured pints, eclectic and enticing decor furnishing the bar, the stage surrounded with signed guitars, motorbikes and memorabilia, and a crew that is always up for the craic.

McGrath’s is one of those places that you could spend a lifetime in, and still feel like you’re going there for the first time. There’s always something new to admire. The pub itself is a legendary spot in Clifden, with evenings that are spent in song and celebration - there is a distinct hum of humanity ringing through the doors of the pub. For a late evening, be sure to call into M.C. McGraths.

Where to stay

Just a short walk from town up to Sky Road, lies the castle on the hill, Abbeyglen Castle Hotel. The stay is a family owned independent 4-star hotel. Run by brothers Ronan and Brian Hughes, this duo is absolutely dedicated to ensuring that each and every guest is looked after and has a magical time at the Abbeyglen.
Once you’ve checked in and explored the vast grounds of the hotel, make your way to the parlour for lovely piano music and champaign. Brian gives a talk for the guests interested in learning about the history of Clifden, the hotel, and the many reasons why this town is so incredibly special.

Dinner is then served later in the evening, also accompanied by live music. There are little considered gestures throughout the evening, like the flags representing everyone's respective homes garnishing the dinner tables, the Irish and American flag placed at ours. We were treated to a special rendition of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ performed by none other than Brian himself - singing along, the dinner crowd erupted with applause and joyful laughter and the evening wore on. The accommodation itself is a beautiful stay - the grounds in the summertime are lush and green. The hotel is beautifully decorated, with large open spaces, gorgeous drapes framing large windows, grand pianos and stunning features sprinkled throughout. If you’re looking for an experience of a place to stay in itself - there is nowhere else other than The Abbeyglen Castle Hotel.

Published on Updated on