When planning for future getaway trips to the lovely little coastal town of Clifden, you're going to want to gather as much insider knowledge as possible and - since we're just that sound - we've only gone and done it all for you! Often referred to as the Capital of Connemara, the stunning town of Clifden is packed with places you simply must visit. Here's our list of all the essential destinations to check out…
FOOD & DRINK
Made famous by its inviting atmosphere and live music seven days a week, Lowry's Bar has become somewhat of a legendary dining destination in Connemara. During the year there is always a vibrant mix of visitors and locals to be found at Lowry’s, making it the perfect spot for a few pints after a day out exploring. One visit here and you’ll understand why Lowry’s earned the title of Best Traditional Bar in Ireland and Best Tourist Bar in Connacht in 2019.
THE LAMPLIGHT WINE BAR
The Lamplight Wine Bar is every wine lovers’ paradise. The team skillfully combine over 20 years of wine industry experience with a passion for food and time honoured hospitality to bring a special experience to all visitors. Their chef Balazs Rakamazi has created a fire and wine menu inspired by a method of barbecuing that allows meat to retain a more succulent flavour, and each dish has been paired with a specific wine for an enhance dining experience. In their wine bar, they have a wide range of biodynamic, organic and sustainable wines on taps and if you're always eager to learn more, then take part in one of their unmissable wine tastings and sign up to their online wine club to receive a monthly subscription of specially selected wines. What makes Lamplight even better is that you can enjoy bed and breakfast accommodation at their cosy Arch Guesthouse, so that your next glass of wine is never far off.
RESTAURANT DARCY TWELVE
If you’re looking to dine out in style, the family run Restaurant Darcy Twelve serves up the finest local produce to the highest possible standard. Combine the incredible new menu with the top notch service from the team and you know you’ve found a winner. Head chef Shane has created an ample array of dishes packed with outstanding flavours, we really can't recommend their spice bag and crispy oysters enough! They frequently switch up the specials to ensure you get to try something new with every visit. We must recommend their desserts, which are made by pastry chef mammy Mary and are worth the trip out to Clifden alone!
EJ Kings has been offering its visitors a chance to enjoy pints in a landmark pub for over 100 years. This popular drinking hole maintains an international reputation for its delicious food and drink and cheerful atmosphere. Specialising in traditional Irish dishes such as Irish stew, fresh fish and chips in beer batter and Connemara mussels this is an ideal spot for a casual lunch, watch a game with friends or for few quiet ones after a long day on the road. Dropping in for one of their daily live music sessions is one of the best ways to end your day in Clifden.
If you’re after a night of live music and perfectly poured pints, then head straight to MC McGraths. Music is at the heart of everything they do, so it comes as no surprise that this family run Irish pub has been in the hands of generations of musicians since its opening in 1860. An upbeat ambience, incredible music seven days a week and nonstop craic, a night out at MC McGrath’s while you’re in Clifden comes highly recommended.
RAVI’S BAR & RESTAURANT
With live music three nights a week and amazing menu options, Ravi’s is the perfect location for any social gathering. This family friendly gastropub’s seasonal menu features an array of locally sourced seafood platters and bar room favourites with an occasional Sri Lanken twist. At Ravi’s, they make all their own spices so you are guaranteed excellence down to the smallest detail when you dine out.
TOM KINGS BAR AND SNUG
One of the local's most beloved drinking holes, Tom Kings Bar and Snug on Market Street is definitely worth the visit while you’re in town. Take the opportunity to acquaint yourself with this integral part of Clifden town. Under its new management this popular spot is now part of a family of four with its sister businesses being Clifden's Alcock and Brown Hotel and Hotel Newport and Hewetson Bros Bar in Mayo. At Tom Kings Bar, the Guinness is perfection, the craic is mighty and you’ll encounter some of the soundest people in the West.
12 PINS COFFEE
Enter into the intoxicating aroma of speciality coffee at 12 Pins Coffee and unwind in the café’s relaxing atmosphere. They’ve got all the usual favourite blends and also stock some more exotic blends that carry a zing. Don’t be afraid to ask the knowledgeable team for recommendations if you’re looking to try a new brew. They've recently expanded into the old Clifden post office to add the new Le Béret French Cuisine to their menu. The array of delicious French dishes on offer includes savoury crepes with Parma ham, goats cheese, red onion and more, and mini sweet crepes. The menu looks absolutely divine so make sure you pop in and try these dishes for yourself.
When you’re in town be sure to pay a visit to the renowned artisan Walsh’s Bakery. With over 65 years of experience under their belt, Walsh’s Bakery has a seriously impressive range of products for you to enjoy. They have loads of homemade scrumptious pastries, cakes, and buns for you to savour while relaxing with your freshly roasted coffee and taking in the buzz of the area.
THE SEA HARE AT ALCOCK AND BROWN HOTEL
The popular Cleggan café The Sea Hare has set up home in Clifden's Alcock and Brown Hotel. Sea Hare's Philippa and Sinead are bringing their fantastic food and quirky atmosphere to Clifden town along with all that seriously delicious seafood that have made them so popular. The new menus are imbued with the same adventurous spirit but the ethos hasn’t changed as everything is still locally sourced through their Connemara produce partners. Don’t miss out on this amazing new venture by booking your table here.
Guys Bar really have built up a reputation of excellence throughout their 150 years in business. They've been greeting visitors to Clifden since day one and it's welcoming atmosphere makes it fantastic spot for chatting with the locals and discovering some must to do things to tick off the bucket list before you leave town. The bar is made of small intimate traditional snugs and corners, meaning no matter rain or shine Guys is an ideal spot for intimate meals out with friends and family.
ABBEYGLEN CASTLE HOTEL
Located on the picturesque Sky Road, Abbeyglen Castle Hotel is every holiday-maker's dream hotel. This Clifden hotel combines splendour and comfort with exciting adventures that you’ll never forget! They have a variety of charming rooms, each one reflecting the opulence of Abbeyglen. These rooms and suites each have their own unique character and some of the superior rooms and castle suites even have four poster beds, open fires and relaxing, free-standing claw-foot baths. Waking up from a deep sleep in the luxuries of a 4-star hotel, taking in the unparalleled beauty of the Connemara countryside and enjoying some of the most mouth watering food and drink imaginable? Yeah, that sounds pretty good to us! Check out their special offers and book your stay here.
ALCOCK AND BROWN HOTEL
Under the care and expertise of their incredible team, experience a getaway like no other at the Alcock and Brown Hotel. Right at the heart of it all, Alcock and Brown Hotel is in an ideal location for you to explore all of the wonderful sights Clifden has to offer. The hotel and bar recently underwent renovations to ensure that you are treated to absolute luxury throughout your stay. Each morning you can start your day by spoiling yourself to the tea/coffee and snacks which are served before 12pm. This boutique hotel offers a choice of gorgeous superior, standard and family rooms that have all been newly refurbished with your comfort in mind. Topping it all off the popular Cleggan seafood café The Sea Hare have recently made a home for themselves at Alcock and Brown Hotel. Bringing you the chance to enjoy all that seriously delicious seafood that have made them so famous during your stay in Clifden. To find out more and to start planning your stay, just click right here.
CLIFDEN STATION HOUSE HOTEL
If you would like to enjoy a relaxing time away in Clifden, look no further than the Clifden Station House Hotel. This modern hotel is amazingly set in the beautiful surroundings of the original Clifden Railway Station and with their award winning Spa and Leisure Centre adjacent to the hotel you are guaranteed to have a restorative stay. Escape from the pace of everyday living to Clifden, where a spooktacular welcome awaits you; book yourself and your family a Halloween break away here.
THE WOODFIELD HOTEL
Boasting picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and the natural beauty of the Connemara landscape, The Woodfield Hotel offers an unbeatable hotel experience. Stay in the comfort of their spacious and bright rooms and enjoy your breakfast, lunch and dinner at Woodfield’s bar and restaurant while taking in the sights and sounds of Clifden Bay. To top it all off the team’s lovely hospitality will have you coming back time and time again to unwind in the luxury of Woodfield Hotel.
OTHER THINGS TO DO
REAL ADVENTURES CONNEMARA
Escape to the West for an adventure of a lifetime. There's no shortage of outdoor activities for you and a group of pals to take part in at Real Adventures Connemara such as coastal kayaking, surfing, coasteering, paddle boarding, rock climbing and hiking. Located just a short five minutes outside Clifden meaning that you and your friends can enjoy an outdoor adrenaline rush and then head straight to the local bars and pubs to unwind with a few refreshing pints. Book here.
TAKE A SPIN AROUND SKY ROAD
If you’re a fiend for breath-taking scenery, the circular route of Sky Road will leave you gasping for air. Well-signposted and easily navigated, the journey will take you all the way to the Kingstown peninsula and back again by the N59 while providing you with views of the rugged Connemara countryside as you travel. When you come to a fork in the road, it will be up to you whether you venture down the more popular upper road or the lesser taken lower road towards the sea. We would definitely recommend packing the camera and a few sandwiches to keep you going!
ENJOY SOME SEA AIR AT CLIFDEN'S BEACH
Picture perfect beaches dot the coastline around Clifden such as the breathtaking white sands of Gurteen and Dog's Bay. Another local favourite, Eyrephort Beach provides an ideal escape against the backdrop of lapping waves. Perch on one of the surrounding stones and watch the tide roll in - you won’t feel the time passing by. With fish in the rock pool and seagulls standing guard, there’s plenty of critters to keep you company on a visit to Eyrephort Beach. Keep your eyes peeled too, because it wasn’t all that long ago that a Viking sword and shield were unearthed on the site!
ON YOUR BIKE!
Clifden has got plenty of lovely routes to choose from. While the Errislannan Loop will bring you past Owenglen waterfall where you just might spot the odd salmon swimming upstream, Cleggan Loop will give you the opportunity to ascend Cleggan Head for optimum views all around. Finally, Roundstone Loop offers a tranquil escape past beautiful bogland and the shores of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay. If you would like to get out exploring all the stunning places listed above, look no further than Clifden Bike Shop bike hires to sort out your mode of transport!
12 PINS MARKET
Explore the range of handmade crafts and stunning designs available for purchase at 12 Pins Market Letterfrack. Everything on display in-store has been made by talented local Connemara artists. While you’re busily browsing the range of beautiful creations, treat yourself to some of the divine treats available at their food market. Little Fish sea food truck is open for the summer outside 12 Pins Letterfrack Pier café so be sure to drop by and pick up some tasty seafood grub. Open during the summer season until the end of October, add a trip out to 12 Pins Market to your to do list while they are in business.
If you’re on the hunt for a truly unique piece of Jewellery, head on over to O’Dalaigh Jewellers. An expert in the craft, the O’Dalaigh family have been creating their incredible jewellery for people all over the world since 1973. They’ve got something that will suit everyone and trust us - it really is impossible to pick your favourite piece out of their breath-taking selection.
Discover the art of brewing original draught beer at Bridewell Brewery. Crisp beers with heavenly flavours that pack a punch. Whether they are paired with food or enjoyed on their own, Bridewell’s Red and Blonde ales are satisfying on the palate and are kind to the mind. Find them on tap in locations all over town, including Abbeyglen Castle Hotel, Clifden Station House Hotel and Guys Bar to name a few. Sample a real taste of Clifden with Bridewell Brewery.
THE WHITETHORN GALLERY
Showcasing the stunning creations of local, national and international artists, The Whitethorn Gallery features a beautiful combination of paintings and sculptures. While in town, pop in and get lost amongst the mesmerising artworks on display in-store. With a range of limited edition prints available for purchase you can bring some of gorgeous creations you find in the gallery right into your home.
First open in 2000, Whistlestop needs to be on your list of shops to visit while in Clifden. Whether you're shopping for yourself and buying a persent for someone else you'll find the perfect gift inside this bright and airy shop. Stocking an electric mix of home furnishings, garden products, ceramics, glassware, baby gifts and jewellery, it is well worth stopping by Whistlestop and browsing the wares for yourself.
With a focus on unique, contemporary design Connemara Blue offers a wonderful array of one-of-a-kind glass art pieces and gifts to suit all budgets. With exciting new designs coming out regularly, it’s always a thrill to discover their newest glass creation. As well as doing their own glass pieces they also offer a bespoke design service, meaning that you can get one of their incredible glass pieces made uniquely for you.
Just a 2 kilometre wander from Clifden town, you’ll find the spectacular ruins of Clifden Castle. Overlooking the bay, this historical landmark dates back to 1812, when it was founded by John D’Arcy. The romantic Gothic style castle is just part of the legacy left by this family, who owned much of the west of Galway in the early 19th century. An afternoon spent admiring the ancient stonework, magnificent pillars and beautifully crafted archways is an afternoon well spent - after all, who doesn’t enjoy acting like royalty for the day?
Erected in 1842 by the people of Clifden, in memory of the founder of Clifden town, John D’Arcy (1785-1839). This square-plan stepped monument contains examples of graffiti dating from 1871 which can be seen etched into the side of the monument. The monument also serves as a focal point for locals and visitors alike to observe Clifden town below and offers a breath-taking view of Connemara’s stunning mountains, bogs and coastline.
ALCOCK & BROWN MEMORIAL
The Derrigimlagh looped walk is an ideal destination to clear your head, this 5km trail will provide you with an abundance of incredible sights that will definitely peak your interest. The most noteworthy among these sights is the landing point of the very first transatlantic flights from 1919, and commemoration to Alcock and Brown, who were the airmen on board when the plane crash landed. As well as that, you’ll also come across the remains of the world’s very first transatlantic radio station- Marconi Station which was greatly damaged during the Irish War of Independence.