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The great escape

Connemara, Ireland

Francesco Vaninetti/Getty Images

This rocky region in Co Galway offers wild coastal landscapes, charming towns, delicious food and creaky pubs, says The Times. The landscape changes colour by the day – Oscar Wilde was a fan of Connemara’s “savage beauty”, calling it “in every way magnificent”.

Places of note Take a boat tour of Killary Harbour to spot dolphins, seals and even sharks. Kylemore Abbey is a gorgeous Victorian pile with a walled garden and a gift shop stocking soap and chocolate made by the Benedictine nuns who took over the abbey after the First World War. Westport House is in beautiful parkland, with views over Clew Bay, and Westport town has what novelist William Thackeray called “the most beautiful view I ever saw in the world”, following a visit in 1842. Drive along the Sky Road for breathtaking Atlantic views and hike through the Twelve Pins mountain range for widescreen vistas of Connemara National Park.

Famous faces Peter O’Toole always maintained that he was born in Connemara (although he actually hailed from Leeds). Matt Molloy’s Pub in Westport is owned by a member of the Chieftains and has live music every night.

To eat For homemade bread, local salmon and mussels near Killary Harbour, head to the Misunderstood Heron food truck or the Blackberry Restaurant. The Connemara Smokehouse, on picturesque Bunowen Pier, serves honey-roast salmon smoked over beechwood. For a smarter evening out, the Owenmore at Ballynahinch Castle has crisp white tablecloths, river views and a sophisticated menu.

1 To stay

Next to a lough north of Killary Harbour, Delphi Lodge feels more like a private home than a hotel: guests meet for pre-dinner drinks and canapés before sitting down at a communal table for local lobster. The reception rooms are full of antiques and the modern, light-filled bedrooms have stunning views. Doubles from €190 a night, B&B.

2 To rent

Four-bedroom Stoneacre Cottage is the perfect base for exploring the region. A three-minute walk from Leenane’s pubs, cafés and restaurant, it has views of Killary Harbour and a large garden. From £197 a night.

3 To Airbnb

Oystercatcher Cottage looks out over the sea from its clifftop position on the Wild Atlantic Way. In summer you can watch the sun set across the water from the terrace – if you’re lucky, you’ll see a dolphin. The two bedrooms are accessed by ladder: worth noting after a few sundowners. From £442 for three nights.

4 To buy

This three-bedroom, three-bathroom house in Leenane has views of the Atlantic and the Maumturk Mountains from its floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows. It’s been smartly renovated, with granite kitchen counters, hardwood floors, exposed ceiling beams and a decked barbecue area. €725,000.