The Burren and Connemara regions on Ireland's west coast are renowned for their wonderful scenery. And although new and well maintained roads and motorways connect the towns of Galway, there are some spectacular alternative routes to explore the lesser seen, idyllic beauty spots around the county. Turn off the main roads to discover Galway’s most scenic drives, with these five picturesque routes.


The Inagh Valley road winds its way through majestic heather covered mountains and around picturesque lakes. The vista is ever changing from day to day as the slightest change in weather is reflected beautifully in the lakes and mountains. Continue through the valley until you meet the N59, take a sharp right then turn left signposted Rossroe. This journey along the south side of Killary Harbour is one of the best drives in Connemara and is part of the Wild Atlantic Way route. The ‘harbour’ is actually a fjord-like sea inlet, dominated by the mountain of Mweelrea.


The Sky Road drive in Clifden is a popular route in the Connemara region and has been described as being the most impressive coastal drive in the country.  The steep ascent along the coastal edge provides a wonderful vantage point with panoramic views of Clifden bay and its many islands.


The road from the picturesque village of Leenane via Doo Lough to Drummin provides an unforgettable driving experience through the Connemara wilderness. The road, which is on the Wild Atlantic Way driving route, winds its way in spectacular fashion along the northern side of Killary Fjord, through a series of valleys between the peaks of Ben Creggan and Ben Gorm. Paul Henry-esque landscapes abound on all sides as you travel north looking out over a sylvan landscape which surrounds the loughs and their small islands along the way.


Leave Galway by the N59 for Moycullen village continuing on to the busy market town of Oughterard, one of Lough Corrib's main angling centres. Leaving Oughterard behind, drive westward towards Maam Cross, the famous central Connemara market cross roads. Turn left and ss you drive the landscape changes dramatically. Greenery gives way to mountains, moorlands and lakes. Turn right at Maam Cross, and as you drive north you will be surrounded by wonderful mountain scenery. At Maam Bridge, take another right, and drive along by Lough Corrib.

Continue through the lively village Cornamona and take in the beautiful views until you reach the village of Clonbur.  It's just a short trip to Cong from here. You cross the border to County Mayo to reach this village, which was the setting for the film "The Quiet Man".

From Cong return to Galway passing through Cross, and on past Glencorrib. The ruins of Ross Errily Abbey are on the right by the Galway/Mayo boundary. Headford is another angling centre and a busy town. Here you can detour right to visit Ross Errily. Return to Headford and then to Galway, with a possible detour to the right to Annaghdown on Lough Corrib, with its ecclesiastical ruins.  


Driving westwards from Bearna, west of Galway City, is Ireland's largest Gaeltacht region. The area between Galway and Lettermore is considered Galway's cultural heartland and is rich in Irish heritage, culture and folklore. Driving along the coast road, there is a striking variation in the landscape. On the left is the powerful Atlantic where the three Aran Islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr are in clear view. To your right is Connemara, a scenic vista of bogs, valleys and lakes whose spectacular intricate coastline encloses the dramatic Twelve Pins (Na Beanna Beola) and Maamturk Mountains. Quiet little roads wind through the majestic landscape and lead you from village to village.