I think it is Whales who always recommends the Clifden drive for scenic beauty.
For myself (not a Galway native) but have done some whistlestop tours or Connemara in the past your trip looks like a very nice one. It's a long trip too, so don't underestimate how long it might take you to complete it. I feel that including Westport might not be feasible in the time you have (5-6hours). If the weather is good you will want to stop and 'smell the roses' and this will take time.
I suggest that when you get to Clifden you then drive back to Galway via the N59.
A good rule of thumb when touring Connemara is to stick to the coastal roads as much as possible as the scenery there is very dramatic.
This is part of your 30 hours so its a max 6hour loop (from where?). Westport is out of range, Clifden via the coast is possible but don't miss the road at Costelloe or you will finish up at the Coral Beach and you dont have time for that. At Maam Cross go straight on to Leenane up the Famine Road (R336). Turn left on the N59 and to Clifden via Kylemore Abbey. Perhaps you will have time to take the R341 from the bottom of Clifden via Roundstone up to the N59 There are lots of other routes around Clifden like the Sky road and Bog road but I am sorry but really doubt you will have the time.
Yes, I am planning on doing scenic drives around Galway (dropping the Ring Of Kerry idea as it will be very tight). So, from Galway, I'll leave as early as I can, say 7:30 AM on Mon, Nov 16. My Aer Lingus flight leaves Shannon 5:15 PM that evening. Seems like from Galway:
- I go to Carraroe via R336 & R343
- Head to R336 to Leenane
- N59 to CLifden
- Come back to Galway via N59
This would be 200KM of driving. So, just the driving might take 4.5 hours (Google saying 3.25 hrs). With stops, this might be 6 hours. If I head to Shannon, that seems another 1.25 hours.
Does this sound right & reasonable. Should I skip/add somehting to this? Also, are there fair # of petrol stations on these roads?
the coastal road is out by carraroe - i find this road, esp. from spiddeal on into rossaveal and carraroe very monotonous and not great scenery wise.
the clifden road is not a coastal road but it much more lush and scenis, with nice villages on the way
I see, so for the best scenery, Should I skip R336 & take some other routes. Say, use the time to explore Clifden? Think, I can go faster to Clifden, maybe take Sky Rd/, & some other nice roads. What roads would you guys suggest I can take to see better scenery? Also, are there any dangerous roads to avoid?
The Sky Road drive outside of Clifden is lovely. It's a short loop but you will travel verrrry slowly due to the very narrow and winding road, but it's a really great drive you shouldn't miss. Connemara National Park is not to be missed and you have to at least drive into the Kylemore Abbey parking lot to take pictures!
If you have time, the 335 which you can pick up off the N59 just past Leenane is just spectacular. High mountains and deep lakes. It's one of my favorite scenic drives in Ireland and you'll pretty much have the road to yourself. Other than the sheep, of course.
Just another suggestion to go along with the ones you've already got here - timings are approximate and in 'ideal' conditions, in reality they are dependent on local traffic and animals rather than distances/speed, and don't include stops:
Galway - N59 - Oughterard (20-30 mins)
Oughterard - N59 - Recess (15 mins)
Recess - RIGHT onto R344 - Lough Inagh Valley (5 mins)
(this is our personal favourite stretch of Connemara driving)
Letterfrack - N59 - Clifden (20 mins)
Sky Road round trip (20-30mins)
Clifden - R341 - Mannin Bay/Coral Strand/Ballyconneely (20-30 mins)
(if you only make a scenery stop once then make it in the Mannin Bay area)
Ballyconneely - R341 - Roundstone (10-15 minutes)
(two of Ireland's best beaches on the left: Dog's Bay and Gurteen)
(ready for a pub lunch? http://www.odowdsbar.com/ in Roundstone)
Roundstone - R341 - Toombeola (10-15 mins)
Toombeola - R341 - Cashel (10 mins)
(we lived here by the pier in Cashel Bay for two blissful years)
Cashel - LEFT onto R340 - Recess (10-15 mins)
Recess - N59 - Galway (45-60 mins)
Thx, for the quick & very helpful reply guys. I am sure, I'll fun in Ireland. Thx for your help! Think, I'll more questions to ask a bit later :)