Classic Ireland Extended (Two Weeks Plus)
The aforementioned route can easily be extended to two or more weeks. This will allow you time to explore the ancient attraction of the Aran Islands along with breathtaking Connemara and Ireland's northwestern gems.
Following Galway City, head to the Aran Islands from Rossaveal (one hour west of Galway City) or from Doolin (County Clare). A sunny day on the islands is considered a godsend, so hop on a bike to see Dún Aengus (dún means “fort”), ancient stone huts, and basking seal colonies. Other options include hiring a local driver with a van from the boat pier, or better yet, hop on a buggy, often pulled by a tractor with tours given by local fishermen turned seasonal tour guides. The Kilmurvey House B&B on Inishmor and the Radharc an Chlair B&B on Inisheer make great points from which to explore further.
Moving into the Connemara National Park, lands of heath, bog, and rolling mountains sprouting wildflowers make the trip exceptionally worthwhile. The towns of Roundstone and Clifden both make good base points. While in Connemara, visit Kylemore Abbey, along with its cathedral and mausoleum to learn about the Henry family's luxurious lives and wrenching losses. If staying in a castle tops your list, head over to Cong for a night in the elegant Ashford Castle and view the town where The Quiet Man was filmed.
The 12km (8-mile) walk around small Inisheer is called the Inis Oírr Way. This is a splendid way to get around this isle; the loop takes you past the lighthouse and the Church of the Seven Daughters (Cill na Seacht nIníon) with views of the O'Brien Castle and various burial mounds.
En route into County Mayo, a boat ride to Clare Island (or far-removed Inishturk Island) puts you in prime walking country, as does a venture up Croagh Patrick Mountain. Following, scenic Westport and Westport Quay offer their splendid views of the bay. Astounding Achill Island is accessible by car; its appealing remoteness is highlighted by some of Ireland's most hidden cliff-side scenery.
An epitome of Ireland's true rustic nature, County Donegal is a must and will require some time to explore. The remarkable vistas along the Slieve League Range and stunning walking therein beckon hikers far and wide. Following, take a side trip to the folk village of Glencolmcille before sleeping at the extravagant, yet well-priced, Donegal Manor or the Inishduff House B&B in Kilcar.
Ensuing is the glorious drive through the Glengesh Pass and up to the Rosses before heading to the Glenveagh National Park, which can easily take up an entire afternoon. A drive (or climb) along the Errigal Mountain is an awe-inspiring adventure, as are the picturesque vistas afforded at the tip of the Bloody Foreland Head. The next day, steer around historical Inishowen Peninsula.