If you’re heading out West this St. Patricks weekend or indeed any time over the Summer, make sure you plan it into your trip to stop in Oughterard for a bite to eat. This little town has always been a popular tourist destination but is quickly making a name for itself as a foodie destination. Situated about a 30 minute drive from Galway city and on the route leading out to Diamond Hill and Kylemore Abbey it’s the perfect place to stop for a meal or coffee and cake.
Oughterard itself is a small but lively town most famous for its fishing and angling scene. Set on the banks of Lough Corrib it is the perfect place to come on a weekend for a walk or stroll. My dads family are from Oughterard and I used to love coming out here for Summers as a child (and still do even now). For a small town it actually has a lot to offer activity wise so if you’re staying around Galway I would highly recommend it for a day trip.
What to do:
- Go for a walk: There is a lovely short walk leading from the town down to the waterfall where you’ll often see salmon jumping against the current – kids love it. For the more serious walkers check out some of the other routes on the Oughterard Tourist Board page.
- Climb a hill and admire the scenery: Another thing I love to do out here is to climb the Hill of Doon (well you don’t actually climb the hill but you climb the hill opposite it to get a view of it). It’s not that big, although it seemed like a mountain when I was smaller. You may have to avoid some sheep but it just adds to the challenge really. Afterwards, if you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day then you can go for a dip in the lake. It’s possibly the most refreshing water to swim in and the views of the islands are spectacular.
- Go on a cruise: If you want to get out on the water but don’t want to get wet then during the Summer months Corrib Cruises run a tour that leaves daily from Oughterard and takes you out to Ashford Castle and Cong for the day. This is a great way to see the lake and islands.
- Go Fishing: Oughterard has a world calass reputation on the fishing and angling scene and the town comes alive in May for the annual Mayfly Festival.
- Visit a Castle: Aughnanure Castle is another great activity. It’s a small but very well preserved castle set in woodlands. It only costs €2 for a child or student or €10 for a family so is well worth checking out.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite then head into town for a bite to eat. I’ve listed some of my favourites here (in no particular order!) but what they all have in common is great food and friendly staff.
If you’re heading out in the morning then this is definitely the place to grab a coffee and scone either to takeaway or sit in. It also has a breakfast menu with pancakes and fry ups. The Connemara Greenway is a lovely cosy cafe that is hugely popular with tourists and locals due to the quality of food as well as extremely friendly staff. Almost all of their ingredients are locally sourced and their desserts are homemade. If you’re passing at lunch time then I highly recommend the grilled salmon salad (a personal favourite of mine). They also have a range of sandwiches, soups, stews, quiches, lasagnas etc. as well as a separate dinner menu. If you still have room they also have the most tempting homemade dessert fridge!
The Boat Inn is situated in the main town square, although the town is very compact so everywhere is extremely central! Yet again you’ll find great food and friendly staff here. It does very good pub grub (burgers, curries, stir-fries, stews etc.) as well as lovely sandwiches and salads (I love the superfood salad). If the weather is nice then grab a seat out front as it is a sun magnet and a great spot for relaxing and watching the world go by.
Yet another venue with great food and extremely friendly staff! This recently converted traditional thatched cottage is warm and cosy – perfect if you happen to arrive on a not so sunny day (which let’s face it is highly likely in the West of Ireland although I heard we’ve been promised a nice Summer….). With open fires, traditional music and entertainment you probably won’t want to leave…
This is the best place to go on a cold, wet day as you can enjoy your meal snuggled up beside an open fire. The decor is very traditionally Irish and I love their wall of clocks. They also do an unbelievable creamy seafood chowder which I highly recommend.
Although a newcomer to the town I was really impressed by the food when I tried it out this week. They have a really good salad selection – I chose the confit duck salad which comes with gorgeous caramelized hazelnuts, pickled vegetables and what I’m guessing was homemade brown and treacle bread for €9.50. They also have a hot lunch menu (think pork belly, prawn tagliatelle, Louisiana chicken burger, lemon and pepper goujons) as well as dinner and Sunday lunch menus.
If you want to make a full day trip out West then I would advise taking the route from Galway, through Moycullen, Oughterard, Maam Cross, Recess and ending up at Kylemore. The drive takes about an hour and a half each way but the views are absolutely spectacular. You honestly forget how beautiful Ireland is sometimes. I did this drive a few weeks ago and loved every minute of it. We stopped in Oughterard for coffee on our way out and pulled in outside Lough Inagh Lodge on the way to take a few photos. We then headed on to Kylemore Abbey and stopped in Oughterard for dinner on our way home.
You could also head out to Connemara National Park and climb Diamond Hill. Diamond Hill is more of a tough hill walk than a climb and when I did it I saw so many families with kids so it’s very do-able. The views from the top are breathtaking so make sure you bring your camera (think of the selfies you could get up there 😉 #doitfortheinsta).
So hopefully this post has given you some inspiration. If you head out to Oughterard and stop in any of the restaurants then let me know what you think! Snap me, tweet me, Facebook me or drop me an email. I always love to hear from you guys!