The West of Ireland is an enchanting place filled with colorful towns and villages, long stretches of stunning coastline, soaring sea cliffs, and craggy countryside that boasts a uniquely desolate beauty and a vibrant cultural heritage rich in tradition. Quaint villages are a quintessential part of the Irish landscape. While the bustle of city life with upscale shopping and restaurants is attractive, you will find the real Ireland out in the countryside. Here are top 10 can’t miss small towns and villages in the West of Ireland.
1. Adare: Renowned as Ireland's prettiest village, Adare is a major tourist destination with many tours of Ireland stopping off in Adare. The local heritage centre gives a deep insight into the history of the village and also hosts a number of craft shops and a restaurant. Adare is a very popular wedding and conference venue and has recently become a major golf destination hosting the Irish Open at the Adare Manor Hotel &Golf Resort.
2. Ennis: With narrow streets and quaint shops in every nook (we're not sure what a cranny is so we're avoiding mentioning them), Ennis is, perhaps, the most endearing town in Ireland. When you visit Ennis, walk along Market Street, away from the main drag and duck into the alley cutting over to the river. You will find a number of out-of-the-way shops where normally only the Irish shop.
3. Cong: The village is small and intimate with excellent pubs. Also, there is an authentic famine house nearby and the ruins of an old abbey right in the town. Adjacent to the abbey, you will find a path along the river where you can stroll through one of the loveliest forests in Ireland.
4. Bundoran: Popularly known as Ireland’s Premier Seaside Resort, is located on the shores of the broad Atlantic Ocean against a backdrop of the majestic Ben Bulben mountain range. With a wealth of activities and facilities on offer to suit all tastes, Bundoran is widely recognised as a ‘hub’ destination to discover and experience the richness of our local and surrounding areas.
5. Donegal Town: Donegal Town is charming and picturesque, with a small harbour where the Eske River enters Donegal Bay and a pleasant town centre, known as the Diamond. The Diamond is a spacious, open pedestrian area surrounded by hotels, shops, pubs, restaurants and coffee houses. It is the fifth largest town in the county.
6. Castlebar: A busy bustling Market Town and is one of the fastest growing towns in the country. Castlebar was originally a garrison town and derives its name from a settlement around the de Barra Castle in the 11th century. A town steeped in history with one of the oldest buildings being Christchurch whose foundation stones were laid in 1739. Since then it has featured in the battles of 1798 and has been the birthplace of many a famous son.
7. Killybegs: Killybegs is a bustling town where local and foreign ships tower over the quayside. With large numbers of both trendy and modern restaurants and the more traditional pubs, Killybegs offers the visitor a variety of good food, drink and entertainment.
8. Ardara: Ardara is a designated Heritage Town and also a well known centre for the manufacture of Donegal homespun tweeds. The area boasts a thriving tourist trade and social scene, and has been dubbed "The Festival Capital of Donegal".
9. Clifden: If you’re thinking of traveling to the West of Ireland, and in particular Connemara, well then you’ve come to the right place. Clifden is the perfect base to explore Connemara’s rich landscape and heritage.
10. Killaloe: Killaloe, in County Clare is a network of charming narrow streets, flanked by old shops and houses, that climb up the steep hillside and look down over the 13th century cathedral.
Visit these quaint Irish villages and towns on Celtic Tours West of Ireland Tour. With our West of Ireland tour, you will travel back in time as you visit Achill Island with its wild views of mountains and beaches, experience the highest cliffs in Europe at Slieve League and see the traditional fabric arts of Ireland in motion: spinning, knitting and weaving as we travel along the scenic routes of Adara and Glenties. Visit our website to book your West of Ireland tour today!