Is driving from Dingle to Galway possible in one day? Whether or not you have started planning for your Ireland trip, you are likely to come across this question.
This is especially true if you are taking a few weeks by car to circle the island or just want to explore the sights along the stunning coastline of County Claire.
During our time in Ireland, we completed this entire drive arriving in the outskirts of Galway by nightfall. I should note that the journey takes around five hours without stops and for this reason some prefer to spend the night half way.
If you are the type of person who does not mind waking up early, driving long distances while stopping numerous times and is content with arriving at your destination at night, you will truly enjoy this drive!
Start Your Drive Through the Mountains
Leave Dingle through the Conor Pass - if you have not already crossed it - and head almost two hours northwest to the ferry crossing in the town of Tarbert. The Pass or R569 is a northern road in or out of Dingle that quickly becomes narrow and twisting as it hugs an incredibly high mountain.
Weaving along sharp cliffs on one side and following a precipice on the other, the trickiness of the drive is justified by the incredible wide ranging views of the valley and the lakes reflecting the mountains nearby.
Once at Tarbert, line behind the many cars and trucks getting ready to board a ferry heading to the town of Killimer. The Shannon Ferry connects Killimer and Tarbert and takes around twenty minutes to cross the calm waters of the Shannon River.
I was quite surprised by the sheer size of the ferry, fitting everything from compact cars to large semis and tour busses.
Walking along the Gigantic Cliffs of Moher
On the other side of the river, drive for two hours along N67, coinciding with the Wild Atlantic Way and head north to visit the Cliffs of Moher.
Running along the entire western portion of the country: from Kinsale until the Northern Ireland border - Derry (Londonderry) - The Wild Atlantic Way is a scenic, coastal route that we had never heard about until our trip to Ireland.
The Cliffs of Moher are located away from N67, but still follow the Wild Atlantic Way, now running along the regional road R478. The cliffs are one of the top visited sites in Ireland and where we saw the highest concentration of tourists during our two weeks.
Standing extremely high and running along the Irish coastline, the cliffs rise from a height of 700 feet from the Atlantic Ocean and stretch for 5 miles.
Tip: You can follow the paths along the cliffs which go in two directions: We chose to take the trail along the left side and were welcomed with panoramic views of the Atlantic.
The Barren Burren
From the cliffs, continue driving on the Wild Atlantic Way by taking R479, passing the village of Doolin and then turning onto R477 to tour a stunning coastal drive: The Black Head Drive.
The short route follows the Atlantic on one side and on the other, the barren widespread landscapes of the Burren.
Extending along the northwestern corner of County Claire, this area has a unique ecosystem of a vast limestone plateau dating back to the Ice-Ages. The Burren region is also known for having prehistoric and early Christian sites including numerous stone monuments and Iron Age forts.
Tip: While driving along Black Head Drive, you will find many outlooks where you can stop and walk above the limestone terrain - the topography is extremely uneven and littered with gaps, stretching from the top of the mountains until the sea.
Relaxing in Oranmore
Located only six miles from the lively city of Galway, the small town of Oranmore is where we stayed overnight. If you are thinking of using Galway as a base for exploring the county, I would highly recommend staying in Oranmore. It has less traffic than its counterpart and for such as small place, the village has many food choices.
No matter where you chose to end your route, on your way to Galway, make some time to see the quiet Corcomroe Abbey.
The ruins of this 12th century stone church lies amongst green pastures in an extremely serene valley - you can walk inside its walled grounds and explore the various tombs within the hollowed church.
KEEP IN MIND
The Wrap-Up: Essentially, if you like long drives and sightseeing, take this route… you will not be bored, I promise.
The B&B: Oran Hill Lodge B & B is located in Oranmore. Extremely comfortable and one of the more expansive inns we stayed. However, the innkeepers were extremely attentive - we could not find a place to wash our accumulating laundry for days and they took care of it as we toured the area.
The Restaurant: Santoor Indian Restaurant is located in the heart of Oranmore. As the name suggests, it offers Indian Food and it is fantastic!
- Want to see the full trip and plan your next? Check out our Ireland Two Week Itinerary!