Connemara National Park

The Connemara National Park (in Irish: Páirc Náisiúnta Chonamara), is located in the western region of Ireland, in County Galway. It was founded in 1980 and encompasses about 2,000 hectares of mountainous landscapes, vast stretches of moorland, heaths, grasslands, and forests in County Galway. The park is known for its population of Connemara ponies as well as its rich flora and fauna. Additionally, it offers a variety of hiking trails that vary in difficulty, making it accessible for visitors of all ages and hiking experience levels.

Opened to the public in 1980, the park includes areas that were formerly part of the Kylemore Abbey estate, the Letterfrack Industrial School, and the private property of Richard "Humanity Dick" Martin, who played a significant role in the formation of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For more information about our trails, unique habitats, and the beautiful flora and fauna we host, visit us.

Information about Connemara National Park


The expanse of land that today comprises Connemara National Park has a rich past intertwined with the region’s history and culture. Originally, a large portion of this area was part of Kylemore Island and the Letterfrack Industrial School, complemented by privately owned lands. Currently, these nearly 3,000 hectares are state-owned and managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service as one of the most iconic Irish national parks.

Connemara National Park

In earlier times, the park’s lands were primarily used for agriculture, notably for cattle and sheep grazing, as well as vegetable cultivation in the lower and more fertile areas. Today, it is still possible to observe remnants of ancient agricultural practices, such as traditional cultivation ridges and drainage systems dating back to before the area was designated as a national park.

The park also serves as a living testament to human presence over millennia. Archaeological discoveries include megalithic court tombs approximately 4,000 years old, evidencing the region’s rich prehistoric history. Additionally, more recent remnants have been found, such as a 19th-century cemetery, a water well from 1870 still in use, and parts of the old Galway road, telling the stories of past generations who inhabited these lands.

Access to the park

Access and entrance gate of Connemara National Park, Ireland

To access the park, head towards the town of Letterfrack, which is located right on the edge of the N59 road. On the map we provide below, you will find the main entrance to the park clearly marked.

Opening hours

Connemara National Park is open year-round and does not have specific opening hours. However, the National Park Visitor Centre is available for visitors from 9:00 to 17:00.

Although the park is open all year, keep in mind that it may close during orange and red weather warnings. Therefore, it is always advisable to check the weather conditions before planning your visit to the park.

How to get to Connemara

To get to Connemara National Park from Galway, you have a spectacular journey ahead of you that is mostly incredibly scenic. The most direct route is taking the N59, which stretches approximately 82 km and has an estimated duration of 1.5 hours by car. Both parking and entry to the park are free of charge.

If you prefer to use public transportation, there are bus options from Galway to Letterfrack, the park’s gateway. Bus Éireann offers service with route 419, while CityLink operates route 923, both heading to Letterfrack and Clifden. The bus journey takes about 2 hours, making it an excellent alternative for those who want a worry-free parking option or simply prefer to enjoy the scenery without driving.

By Car

The main entrance to the park is near the village of Letterfrack, along the N59.

From Galway, it takes approximately 90 minutes by car to reach Connemara National Park. Clifden is about 20 minutes away by car from here.

Along the way, there are numerous impressive places to visit, such as Sky Road, Aughnanure Castle, or Dog’s Bay, so be prepared to spend more time on the road than initially planned.

If traveling from Westport to the north of Connemara, you will arrive in about an hour without stops at places like Killary Harbour, Aasleagh Falls, or a detour to Doolough Valley.

From Dublin, take the M4 and then the M6 to Galway. Here, connect with the N59, which will take you directly to Connemara National Park.

The journey from Ireland’s capital to Connemara takes at least four hours by car.

Recommended Excursions and Activities

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Main Mountains of Connemara

Some of the notable mountains in the park are Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack, and Muckanaght, part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range.

The mountains of Connemara: Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack, and Muckanaght


Benbaun is a mountain in the park that is part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. With an altitude of [insert altitude here], it offers impressive panoramic views of the region and is a popular destination for hikers and mountaineers.


Bencullagh is another notable mountain within the protected area, being part of the Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. With an altitude of [insert altitude here], it offers challenging hiking and climbing routes, as well as stunning views of the surroundings.


Benbrack is another mountain in Connemara, part of the Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. With an altitude of [insert altitude here], it is a highlight for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts, offering impressive views and stunning natural landscapes.


Muckanaght shapes the Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range. With an altitude of [insert altitude here], it offers opportunities to explore Connemara’s natural beauty and enjoy panoramic views of the region from its summit.

What to See and Do in Connemara National Park

If you are exploring Galway and looking for unforgettable adventures, Connemara is your ideal destination. This spectacular corner of the Wild Atlantic Way is brimming with activities for adventure lovers and is perfect for a road trip getaway.

Connemara, in this part of Galway, is home to some of the most impressive and memorable places to visit. You can expect everything from thrilling hikes and peaceful walks to ancient megalithic tombs, serene beaches, and much more, quite different from the Killarney National Park, making it ideal to visit both protected areas if you are traveling through the country.

Get ready to discover the best of Galway in this Connemara guide, where every corner promises a new adventure.

Diamond Hill Trails

Diamond Hill features four different trails that are dog-friendly and suitable for hikers of all ages. Be sure to bring sturdy hiking boots or appropriate climbing shoes, as proper footwear is highly recommended.

The Diamond Hill trails can take you between two and a half to three hours, depending on the path you choose. Although climbing Diamond Hill covers about 7 km (4.35 miles), the spectacular views from the top are well worth it.

To facilitate your trip to Connemara National Park, here are some helpful markers:

  • Purple: Visitor Center
  • Red: Diamond Hill
  • Orange: Connemara National Park hostel/restaurant

These are some of the best walks you can enjoy in County Galway.

Upper Diamond Hill Route

The Upper Diamond Hill Walk is marked in red and is considered the most challenging of the four loop trails in Connemara National Park.

With a total length of 6.7 kilometers (the loop itself is 3.7 km), this hike takes approximately 2 to 3 hours and features a 350-meter ascent. It is widely regarded as the best hike in Connemara National Park.

It is recommended to do this hike clockwise for safety reasons. While Lower Diamond Hill also offers good views, it is the upper loop that truly reveals the beauty of Connemara in all its glory.

From the summit of Diamond Hill, hikers are rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Twelve Bens, Tully Mountain, and, on clear days, even the famous Kylemore Abbey.

In summary, the effort to complete the Upper Diamond Hill Walk is fully justified by the spectacular views it offers, making it one of the most impressive experiences in all of Ireland.

Connemara Ponies

Connemara ponies are a breed of pony native to the region, known for their endurance, versatility, and gentle temperament. They have a sturdy build, with short, strong legs, making them suitable for a variety of activities. Seeing them is quite an experience, especially if you are with children.

Kylemore Abbey

A must-visit in Connemara National Park is the historic estate of Kylemore Abbey. Situated at the foot of one of the twelve Bens mountains, Doughruagh, this gem is unmissable.

This Victorian estate is one of Ireland’s main attractions, known for its beautiful 19th-century Kylemore Castle, which has housed the Benedictine community since 1920.

The nuns of Kylemore Abbey even produce exquisite award-winning chocolates that you can enjoy in the café, Garden Tea House, or during a tour of the Walled Gardens.

The six acres of elegantly maintained gardens highlight the natural romantic beauty of Connemara.

Address: Kylemore Abbey, Pollacappul, Connemara, Co. Galway, Ireland

Sampling Traditional Irish Cuisine in Connemara

After a day of exploring Connemara, there is a wide variety of wonderful dining options to choose from. From traditional Irish food to exotic Asian street food and the freshest seafood, the towns and cities in the region offer a diverse range of restaurants. Clifden, the main town and capital of Connemara, stands out for its impressive views and rich culture and is a hot spot with some of the best restaurants in the area. Additionally, there are fantastic restaurants scattered throughout the region, including in towns like Roundstone, Cleggan, Letterfrack, Ballyconneely, and others.

Trails from the Visitor Center

From the visitor center, located just a minute’s walk from the parking area, you can find several trails to explore this part of Connemara National Park.

Ellis Wood Nature Trail

The Ellis Wood Nature Trail offers a unique experience for hikers of all levels. Although some experienced hikers may underestimate this trail due to its apparent ease, it is actually a delightful walk through a wooded area.

This mostly flat circular trail, only 500 meters long, starts at the visitor center and can be completed in about 15 minutes. It is an excellent introduction to Connemara National Park for both experienced and beginner hikers.

One reason to explore the Ellis Wood Nature Trail goes beyond its easy rating. Here, visitors have the opportunity to observe a variety of tree species, grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs that are not as common at higher elevations on the more popular trails. The diversity of the landscape at the base of the mountains contrasts markedly with the more barren slopes of the surrounding hills.

Additionally, the trail offers the surprise of a small, charming waterfall, which takes on a special beauty during or after rain. On maps, the Ellis Wood Nature Trail is marked as a green route, indicating a tranquil and natural experience for visitors.

Sruffaunboy Walk

Sruffaunboy Walk is recognized as one of the most popular trails in Connemara National Park, especially among families with children.

With a length of 1.5 kilometers, this trail is easy to follow and well-maintained, making it suitable for people of all ages and skill levels.

The gravel path takes you on a pleasant journey along the lower slopes of Diamond Hill, offering not only charming views but also the opportunity to visit the Pony Paddock, where you can see heritage pony breeds, including the famous Connemara pony.

Additionally, the stunning views of Ballynakill Harbour, with the majestic Tully Mountain dominating the coastal landscape, are one of the highlights of this trail.

It is important to note that Sruffaunboy Walk shares part of the trail with Lower or Upper Diamond Hill Walk, so there is no need to worry about missing out on anything. For example, we did the northern part of the loop on the way down.

Connemara Museum in the National Park

The museum inside the white-painted building may be modest compared to others like the Cliffs of Moher or Bru na Boinne, but it is worth visiting if you want to learn more about the fauna, flora, and geology of Connemara. Additionally, the area also features a small café, a picnic area, and a fairly large playground for children.

Therefore, the visitor center not only serves as an introduction to the national park but also as an excellent resting point before or after your outdoor adventures.

Connemara Wildlife

Horses grazing in Connemara National Park, Ireland

Connemara National Park is renowned for its diverse birdlife. Among the most common species are the meadow pipit, skylark, white wagtail, chaffinch, European robin, and yellowhammer. Native birds of prey include the common kestrel and Eurasian sparrowhawk, although the merlin and peregrine falcon are less frequently seen. During the winter, migratory species such as the wren, European robin, redwing, fieldfare, song thrush, and dipper arrive in Connemara.

Mammals, although often difficult to spot, are also present in the park. Field mice are common in the woods, while badgers, foxes, pine martens, and bats are more active at night. Other mammals spotted in the park include red deer, otters, hares, stoats, and pygmy shrews. Red deer, once extirpated from the area about 150 years ago, were recently reintroduced to the park. Currently, the largest mammal in the park is the Connemara pony.

Connemara Flora

Flora of Connemara, Ireland

The predominant vegetation in the protected area includes western blanket bog and calcareous grassland. The bogs are found in wet, low-lying areas, while the heath exists in drier mountain zones. Purple moorgrass is a notable plant that creates colorful landscapes throughout the countryside. Carnivorous plants play an important role in the park’s ecosystem, with the most common being butterwort and sundew. Since the bogs contain few nutrients, many plants obtain their energy from digesting insects. Other commonly found plants in the park include lousewort, bog cotton, milkwort, bog asphodel, orchids, bog myrtle, as well as a variety of lilies and mosses.

Best Time to Visit Connemara

Summer stands out as the best time to visit Connemara National Park. The days are warm and long, and the weather is generally pleasant, making it an ideal time for exploration. Many travelers consider this season the best time to visit Ireland in general. However, some also find early autumn and late spring to be equally attractive options, but it is advisable to check the weather forecast a few days before to ensure clear skies.

Personally, we visited the national park in May and enjoyed favorable weather and fewer crowds, which made our experience exceptional.

Out of season, you are likely to encounter cooler temperatures and abundant rainfall. Although Connemara National Park is popular during the summer, it is also possible to explore it in winter. Winter walks can be very rewarding, but it is crucial to be prepared for the elements.

The best time of day to visit the park for hiking is early in the morning to avoid crowds, especially during peak season.

Camping in Connemara

Within Connemara National Park, there are no designated camping areas with facilities or caravan sites. Overnight stays in the parking lot are also not allowed.

However, wild camping is permitted within the park as long as a strict code of conduct is followed. This involves setting up camp at a certain distance from buildings, carrying out all generated trash, and obtaining a permit to light fires.

Total Recommended Time for the Visit

Depending on the route you choose and your fitness level, it is reasonable to set aside between three to five hours to explore Connemara National Park.

The hiking time within the national park can vary between one to four hours, depending on the length and difficulty of the route you choose. Additionally, you may want to allocate extra time to explore the visitor center or enjoy lunch in the picnic area.

Accommodation Near Connemara National Park

When looking for accommodation near Connemara National Park, you will find a variety of options including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses along the N59 and its surroundings. You can check availability here and here.

  • Connemara Coast Hotel in Galway: located by the sea, just a minute’s drive from Galway Bay and 11 minutes from Pearse Stadium. This elegant hotel is 11.5 km from Eyre Square and Galway Cathedral, making it well-connected to explore the region. Check availability here.
  • Lough Inagh Lodge Hotel: if you stay in Furbo (Galway Bay), you will be close to Bearna Golf and Country Club. This 4-star hotel is a few kilometers from Silver Strand and Rusheen Riding Centre. Check availability here.
  • Rosleague Manor Hotel: this 19th-century hotel is located just 5 minutes’ drive from the park entrance and offers elegant accommodation in the heart of Connemara. With a beautiful setting, spacious rooms, excellent food, and free parking.
  • Clifden Station House Hotel: located in the center of Clifden, about 15 kilometers from the park, this hotel offers clean and modern rooms, helpful staff, a magnificent breakfast, and free parking.
  • Delphi Resort Hotel and Spa: this 4-star hotel is just a 35-minute drive from the park and boasts an incredible location, cozy rooms, and free parking. It also features excellent facilities such as a spa, steam room, and sauna, perfect after a long hike in the national park.

Nearby Towns Worth Visiting

In addition to outdoor activities within the protected area, you can also enjoy cultural and leisure visits to nearby towns. These include:


Clifden, known as the "Capital of Connemara," is a charming town surrounded by stunning landscapes. It is a perfect place to stay due to its strategic location, allowing easy exploration of the entire Connemara region. This bustling town in summer and quiet in winter offers a good variety of hotels, restaurants, authentic Irish pubs, and small shops. Clifden is also the ideal starting point for the "Atlantic Coastal Route," one of Ireland’s most spectacular routes.


Located north of Clifden, Cleggan is a quiet coastal town that attracts those seeking peace, hiking trails, or outdoor activities like windsurfing. From Cleggan, you can take a ferry to Inishbofin Island, a tranquil place ideal for exploring by bike. The island is known for its rich history, including a 7th-century monastery and a Cromwellian-era prison for monks. Cleggan is also famous for its annual dance and music festival, as well as the Bia Bo Finne Food Festival.


Letterfrack is right at the entrance to Connemara National Park and is known as an excellent starting point for exploring the park. Founded by a Quaker colony in the 19th century, this town offers not only access to the park but also the chance to immerse yourself in local musical events such as Bog Week and Sea Week. The proximity to Kylemore Abbey, one of the area’s most important landmarks, makes Letterfrack a lodging option with rich cultural and historical context.


Located further east, near Lough Mask, Leenane is a tranquil town on the edge of Connemara, famous for its Sheep And Wool Centre. This small museum is dedicated to preserving the tradition of sheep shearing and wool weaving. Leenane also offers stunning natural landscapes, including Killary Harbour, a fjord surrounded by the Maumturk, Sheefry, and Twelve Bens mountains. The town is an attractive destination for its seafood and crafts, as well as the charming B&Bs that have been restored from old cottages.