Getting there & around
Organised bus tours from Galway are plentiful and offer a good overview of the region, though ideally you’ll want more than one day to absorb the area’s charms.
Bus Éireann (091-562 000; www.buseireann.ie) serves most of Connemara. Services can be sporadic, and many buses operate May to September only, or July and August only. Some drivers will stop in between towns if arrangements are made at the beginning of the trip.
Michael Nee Coaches (095-51082) is an independent line that specifically serves Connemara, with daily buses beginning in Galway, and connections within the area. Connemara towns served include Maam Cross, Recess, Cashel, Clifden, Letterfrack, Tully Cross and Cleggan. If you’re going somewhere in-between towns (a hostel in the countryside, for example) you might be able to arrange a drop-off with the driver.
Your own wheels are the best way to get off this scenic region’s beaten track – though watch out for the narrow roads’ stone walls, just waiting to scrape the sides of your car.
Keep an eye out too for meandering Connemara sheep – characterised by thick creamy fleece and black faces and legs – which frequently wander onto the road. Even Connemara’s flattest stretches of road tend to be bumpy due to the uneven bog beneath the tarmac.
Heading west from Galway, you can either take the coast road (R336) through Salthill, Barna and Spiddal, or the direct inland route (N59) through Oughterard. The journey from Maam Cross northwest to Leenane (R336) or northeast to Cong (R345) in County Mayo takes you through the stunning mountainous region of Joyce country.
Many road signs in this area are in Irish only.