If you’re looking to get out and about with the kids, there’s nothing better than a day in fresh air exploring. Galway offers plenty of countryside to choose from, so we’ve rounded up 10 places for great family walks in Galway that are perfect for a family-friendly day out.
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Galway is a beautiful county with lots of hidden gems and picturesque villages waiting to be discovered. There are also a large number of woodland, coastal, city and lakeside walks in Galway that make for great family adventures!
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Family-Friendly Walks in Galway
Park the car just off the main road, and start your walk by following the path through the woods. When you come out of the woods, you can either go right and walk up towards the Cappagh Road playground (great selection of equipment for different age groups), or continue on straight and do a longer loop around the playing fields.
Rusheen City Park is also nearby, situated across the road.
Take the Monivea road out of Galway, past Carnmore Cross until you reach the village of Monivea. The entrance to the woods is at the end of the village.
Taking the road to the right brings you to the Ffrench family Mausoleum, an amazing castle-like structure. You can take a left there through the woods to see the old Ice House and loop back round to where you started.
If you take the path to the right of the mausoleum you can do a longer walk round back to Monivea or straight on to an old windmill. All paths are safe to cycle on.
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The walk takes you through a deciduous forest that covers a large hill. Park at the bottom of the hill in the car park and start your walk here. The path leads in a large circle up and down the hill, where you’ll have great views from the top of the hill across the whole of east Co. Galway.
The forest is well established with lots of large old trees and wild shrubbery. There are plenty of old fallen trees and branches for climbing, as well as several picnic benches and tables.
Terryland Forest Park
The Terryland Forest Park project was designed to create an harmonious blend of recreational/educational facilities and natural habitats of wetlands and woodland.
A recommended walk would start on the Dyke Road near to the Black Box. From there continue along the banks of the River Corrib as far as Terryland Castle in order to enjoy the natural scenery and wildlife of the River Corrib, which is without doubt one of Ireland’s most important natural corridors.
Galway City is unique amongst Irish cities in having such a large area of its riverbanks untouched by built development. One can enjoy the sights of otters in the waters close to Jordan’s Island and kestrels hovering over the fields as well as hearing the sounds of reed warblers emanating from the wetlands.
From the castle ruins, retrace your steps, go under the bridge and take the stairs up onto the Quincentennial Bridge road, entering the Terryland Forest Park from the main gate. The circular path will bring you past the Terryland River, through woods of native Irish trees that have quickly become a magnet to a diverse range of flora and fauna including pheasant, voles, hare, heron and mushrooms.
There are several walks available at Coole Park, but the Family Walk is our favourite of course!
Start off at the visitor centre, then walk up past the deer enclosure on your left. Branch right and head to the walled garden, past the Autograph Tree (don’t forget to stop at the sundial in the middle of the garden). The walk takes you out of the garden and into the forest, then loops around. You reach one “crossroads” on the path where you could take a right down to the river, go straight on for a longer walk or turn left to go back to the visitor centre.
Newcastle River Walk
Start your walk from the NUIG sports ground car park. Walk down towards the river, where you will see historic Menlo Castle across the river. Once you come to the river, turn right and walk along past the old tea house.
You can continue along the river for some time until you reach Corrib Village. If the Village is open (usually summer months), you can go up through the grounds and out onto the main road and loop back to where you started. Alternatively, if you want a longer walk, you could continue along to the NUIG campus, then double back on yourself.
There is plenty of bird life and interesting trees and marsh plants to keep an eye out for, including bulrushes growing in the summer time.
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Galway City River Walk
One of the most fascinating walks in Galway takes you on a tour of the city itself. Start at the Millennium Playground and walk across the bridge over the small canal (there are usually ducks here) to the back of the Cathedral, then cross over the Salmon Weir Bridge.
Cross the bridge on the right hand side and turn right at the end, then right onto the walkway which will take you down along the river Corrib (on your right) and a small canal (on your left). You can walk all the way to the Spanish Arch and the city museum along this route, and on to the Claddagh and Salthill too (you can get the bus back again if little legs are tired).
When you reach the end of the walkway at William O’Brien Bridge, you can cross over Bridge St to continue on a further walkway until you reach Wolfe Tone Bridge with views over the Claddagh. Take a right here and then left to continue (river on your left) down the Claddagh where you will find the famous swans. There is also a playground and toilets here if you fancy a break.
The whole route from Cathedral to Claddagh is easy for preschoolers and reasonably buggy friendly apart from the pavement along the Salmon Weir Bridge which is narrow.
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Diamond Hill Trails at Connemara National Park
Spanning nearly 3,000 hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths and woodlands, Connemara National Park is a fantastic spot for walking and hiking. There are four designated trails at Connemara National Park, all starting at the visitor centre at Letterfrack.
Whether you have little ones who just need to run off some steam or more adventurous kids who are up for a hike, there is a suitable trail to choose from:
- Ellis Wood Nature Trail (0.5km)
- Sruffaunboy Walk (1.5km)
- Lower Diamond Hill Walk (3km)
- Upper Diamond Hill Walk (6.7km)
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Portumna Forest Park
Portumna Forest Park covers more than 450 hectares and is a great source of natural inspiration for Galway families. There are four walking trails of varying distances to choose from, as well as cycling routes and orienteering courses.
There is an old abbey, now under the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW), within the Park which dates back to the 15th century. The castle nearby, which has had considerable restoration work carried out by the OPW, dates back to the 17th century and was the seat of the Earl of Clanrickarde.
Keep an eye open for wildlife along the way, including red squirrels, foxes, badgers and a large population of Fallow deer. There is also a new bird hide which provides great cover for spotting the White Tailed Sea Eagle and other birds.
Inishbofin Middlequarter Looped Walk
Inishbofin lies 10km off the coast of Galway and offers a truly unique option for family walks in Galway. There are three looped walks, with varying difficulties, all with stunning views of the island’s beautiful scenery.
The 5km Middlequarter walk runs over Inishbofin’s second highest point, which on a clear day offers panoramic views of Achill Island’s mountains, Inishturk and Clare Island, the Twelve Bens, Maumturks and Croagh Patrick. The track takes in Inishbofin’s historic and varied Iron and Bronze Age landscapes with mill stones, partitions and evidence of round stone houses. The terrain is a mix of minor roads, bog roads and laneways so better suited to older children and confident walkers.
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What other family walks in Galway have you enjoyed together? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!