County Clare—famous for its dramatic coastlines and lively music scene—is one of Galway’s neighboring counties. The small city of Ennis serves as its capital and transportation hub. With just 41 miles (65 km) separating Galway from Ennis, it’s easy to experience both in the same trip. The most convenient way to make the journey is by car, either rental or private transfer. The scenic drive wraps around Galway Bay and arrives in Ennis in just about one hour.
If you have time to extend your trip, this 8-day walking itinerary explores the region’s highlights, including the Burren, the Aran Islands, and Connemara.
Public transportation is a great, budget-friendly alternative to driving. With numerous daily departures, regional trains and buses connect the two cities in about 1-1.5 hours. If you wish to reach some of County Clare’s popular sights, you can easily continue by bus from Ennis.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 1 hour, more with stops
The quickest and most convenient way to travel between Galway and County Clare is by rental car or private transfer. To reach Ennis—Clare’s capital and transport hub—you’ll leave Galway via road N67 through Oranmore. Before connecting to the M18 highway, you’ll curve around picturesque Galway Bay. From here, M18 takes you straight south to Ennis.
County Clare’s spectacular nature is worth a detour, including the world-famous limestone landscape in Burren National Park. This region sits just west of highway M18 and includes attractions such as Aillwee Cave, Poulnabrone Dolmen (a Neolithic tomb), and several walking trails.
If renting a car, consider taking the scenic route along N67 and N65, which adds only one hour to your trip. You’ll pass through the popular music town of Doolin, as well as the famous Cliffs of Moher and Lahinch Beach.
Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours
You can also take a direct train from Galway, which detours east to Athenry before turning south towards Ennis. Depending on departure time, the route takes 1-1.5 hours and passes through scenic Irish countryside. Grab a window seat to enjoy the views, particularly those between Gort and Ennis.
Duration: 1 - 1.5 hours
The bus is another great alternative. Bus Éireann—Ireland’s regional coach service—offers about five direct departures each day. A seat on the right side of the bus will get you glimpses of Galway Bay and the Burren. Many routes continue past Ennis and further into County Clare to some of the area’s most popular sights (including the Cliffs of Moher).