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10 things to discover on your next trip to Connemara

Connemara's landscape is rugged and rocky, but during autumn, colourful wildflowers carpet the headlands, and the hedgerows are ablaze with fiery-orange montbretia, scarlet fuchsia and yellow gorse.

You'll find some of the country's best tracks and trails, great golf and water activities among this showy scenery. Being on the edge of Galway Bay and the Wild Atlantic Way, you'll also find the freshest seafood, and, being on the edge of Europe, you'll find a romantic remoteness where history and heritage are preserved, including the Gaelic language.

Are you looking for some destination inspiration? Here are ten captivating things to do in Connemara.

Pota Café, Baile na hAbhann

Pota is an award-winning, bi-lingual café in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht. Set in a pretty thatched two-storey building, on the menu, you'll find creative dishes made with the best local food with an emphasis on organic and sustainable ingredients — the cafe delights in celebrating local producers and the lively and vibrant community in south Connemara.

Billed as the last stop before the Aran Islands, this is a charming place where you can soak up the region's culture and cuisine and the sweeping views surrounding you.

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The Seaweed Centre, Litir Mealláin

There are many wonderful wellness experiences to enjoy along the Wild Atlantic Way. One of the most uniquely Irish therapies is a seaweed bath. The silky seaweed feels wonderfully soft against your skin, and its therapeutic properties ease any tiredness and tension in your body.

At the Seaweed Centre in Leitir Mealláin, a small island and village on the coast of southern Connemara, you can relax in a seaweed-filled tub whilst basking in the stunning views before heading into the steam room to relinquish all of your stresses. It's remarkably restorative.

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Ionad Cultúrtha an Phiarsaigh is a small restored cottage in Ros Muc, in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht. Patrick Pearse, writer, educator and leader of the 1916 Rising, spent his summers in this cottage.

The Black and Tans burnt the cottage's interior during the War of Independence, but the local community has since lovingly restored the building. It now contains an interactive exhibition and several mementoes that tell the story of Pearse and contemporary life in Connemara, including how the Irish language, Gaelic sports and traditional music are part of everyday life.

This historical attraction is a key discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way route, and to get to the cottage from the visitor centre, you take a scenic looped walk through the Connemara bog. The views are magnificent.

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Vast swathes of woodland surround Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, while the brooding 12 Bens Mountain range dominates the scenery. It is a wonderfully picturesque setting to return to nature and embrace the great outdoors.

Around 16 kilometres of trails take you through the estate's native woodlands and along lakeshores and riversides. As you roam the estate, you can spot flora and fauna, enjoy a quiet picnic and admire the castle, which retains its architectural integrity.

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Located within the walls of an old Franciscan Monastery in a quaint fishing village, Roundstone Music and Crafts is where master craftsman, Malachy Kearns, creates his famous bodhráns. He is Ireland's only full-time bodhrán maker.

The bodhrán is a homegrown Irish percussion instrument made from wood and goatskin, and in the shop, you can see Malachy at work. You can also attend demonstrations, buy music and other musical instruments, and Irish craft fashion. Malachy gives talks daily about the history, making and playing of the bodhrán. So, expect lots of music and singing when you visit. There is also a small folk museum and café where you can spend some hours absorbing the culture and coffee of the region.

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Connemara Championship Golf Links is the only links course in Co. Galway. Surrounded by the splendour of the 12 Bens Mountain range and the wild Atlantic Ocean, this 27-hole, par 72 course is breathtakingly beautiful. As you play, you feel like the landscape is part of the course as waves pound on white sand beaches below and holes climb in the rocky rolling hills where you can further admire the mountain and ocean views.

When finished on the fairways, you can quieten a rumbling tummy and quench your thirst in the modern clubhouse bar, coffee shop and restaurant, which serve dishes made with local ingredients.

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Connemara Sands Hotel, Ballyconneely

Rejuvenate and refresh with a spa day in the Connemara Sands Hotel. The Sands Seaweed Spa uses Voya organic seaweed products to transfer the ocean's healing powers to you. Choose from traditional seaweed baths, body scrubs, facials, massages and relaxing rituals designed to aid the recovery of both body and mind.

When your pampering session is over, it's time to replenish your body with delicious, nourishing food in the Sands Bar traditional Irish pub. The menu is a wonderful celebration of the fantastic local food resources from both the land and the sea. Make sure you leave room for Jimmy's homemade Connemara seaweed ice cream. Jam-packed with nutrients, this is one dessert that is seriously good and good for you.

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Take a fascinating farm tour with DK Connemara Oysters. The experience lasts about one hour and takes place at its oyster farm in Ballinakill Bay, one of the oldest oyster farms in the country.  

On the eye-opening DK Connemara Oyster Experience, you'll find loads of interesting tidbits and facts about these marvellous molluscs, including their remarkable life cycle from seed to plate. The bay is gorgeous, and if you time your visit to coincide with the spring tide, you can walk on the seashore and out to the oyster beds.

At the end of the tour, you'll learn how to shuck an oyster to pop one of these beauties open, and you'll also get to try the oysters, which taste like the surrounding peaty landscape.

DK Connemara Oysters, Ballinakill Bay

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The Derrigimlagh Bog is a Signature Discovery Point along the Wild Atlantic Way, just a few minutes outside of Clifden, off the main road. On this atmospheric walk, you'll discover this "Wonder of the Wild Atlantic Way" with its complex ecosystem with rare plant and animal species.

Derrigimlagh is an important historical site too. In 1907, Guglielmo Marconi set up a large station on the bog, which sent the first commercial wireless service across the Atlantic. It was also here, in 1919, that the inaugural transatlantic flight, piloted by John Alcock and Arthur Brown, ended abruptly when their aircraft crashed near Marconi's station.

The 5km looped walk is along a paved bog road and boardwalks, making it accessible for buggies and wheelchair users. There are brilliant interpretive panels along the route telling the story of the site's significance. It is an immersive, engaging and fascinating walk, and one that can be done and enjoyed by people of all ages — kids will love it.

Derrigimlagh Bog, Ballyconneely

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The Sky Road, Clifden

The Sky Road is a short but scenic 16km looped route that takes you onto the Kingstown peninsula and back into Clifden.

The lower road takes you toward the sea and gets you up close to the landscape, whereas, from the upper road, you have sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the islands of Inishturk and Turbot, and Mayo coastline to the north and Clare to the south. At the road's highest point is a car park where you can pull in safely and fill up your camera roll with snaps of the sensational scenery.

Cycling the Sky Road at sunset is magical and mesmerising as nature puts on a technicolour performance only matched by the vibrancy of the landscape during the autumn months.

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So, what are you waiting for? Connemara is calling, and with its kaleidoscopic landscapes in full bloom, now is the ideal time to book a break to this enchanting destination.

The Leave No Trace principles help us make as little an impact as possible on the incredible Irish landscape as we explore the outdoors this summer and beyond. Keep outdoor areas safe, clean and free from waste/hazards, and help protect the natural environment. Love this place, leave no trace.

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