Galway is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Ireland, offering a wealth of attractions and activities that are sure to delight visitors of all ages and interests. From the colourful buildings of Eyre Square to the medieval walls of the Galway City Museum, there’s always something new to discover in this vibrant region of Ireland.
So if you’re looking for an unforgettable travel experience in Ireland, be sure to add Galway to your itinerary. With its friendly locals, stunning scenery, and vibrant cultural scene, Galway is a destination you won’t want to miss. Start planning your trip today and get ready to discover all that this amazing city has to offer.
Briefly Overview Of Galway
Galway also known as the city of the tribes is a charming coastal city located in the west of Ireland. It is known for its vibrant cultural scene, colourful buildings, traditional music, and warm hospitality.
The area is a popular destination among tourists who are drawn to its lively atmosphere and picturesque surroundings. Whether you’re interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply relaxing in a friendly pub, Galway has something to offer for everyone.
Purpose Of The Article
The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive travel guide, offering readers a detailed overview of the city’s attractions, accommodations, restaurants, nightlife, and more. This Galway guide will serve as a useful resource for visitors who want to make the most of their trip and experience all that this vibrant city and county has to offer.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, this guide will help you plan you’re itinerary and discover the best things to do in Galway.
A Few Things You Need To Know When Visiting Galway
If you’re planning a trip to Galway, there are a few things you should know before you go. There are plenty of things to see and do, and the area is known for its unpredictable weather. The best time to visit is during the summer months when the weather is warmer and the days are longer.
However, even during the summer, it’s always a good idea to bring some warm layers and a waterproof jacket, just in case.
When it comes to getting around Galway, the city is relatively small and easy to navigate on foot. Most of the main attractions, such as the Spanish Arch and Eyre Square, are within walking distance of each other. However, if you want to venture further afield, there are plenty of bus and taxi services available.
Why Is Galway Called The City Of The Tribes?
Galway is often referred to as the “City of the Tribes” because of its historic association with fourteen prominent merchant families, known as the “tribes,” who dominated the city’s political, economic, and cultural life in the medieval period. These tribes included the Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D’Arcy, Deane, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerrett families.
Map Of Where Galway Is Located In Ireland
Useful Map Of Galway
Getting To Galway
Getting to Galway is relatively easy thanks to the city’s central location on Ireland’s west coast. There are several modes of transportation available, including flights, trains, and buses.
If you’re flying in, the nearest large airport is Shannon Airport, which is approximately an hour’s drive from the city. Alternatively, you can fly into Dublin Airport and take a bus or train to Galway, which takes around two and a half hours. Galway airport is just outside the city, it has limited flight destinations, and it’s perfectly located just outside Galway City.
If you prefer to travel by train, there are regular services from Dublin to Galway, with several stops along the way. The journey takes around two and a half hours, and trains run several times a day. There are also direct trains from Limerick and Cork to Galway.
For those who prefer to travel by bus, there are several bus companies that operate services to Galway from various cities across Ireland. Bus Eireann is the main provider, offering several services per day from Dublin, Limerick, and other major cities.
Once you arrive in Galway, there are several transportation options available to help you get around the city. These include buses, taxis, and rental cars. Most of the city’s main attractions are within walking distance of each other, however, making it easy to explore on foot.
The Best Things To Do In Galway
Here are some of the best things to do in Galway!!!
Take A Stroll Around Salthill
Salthill is a beautiful seaside neighbourhood located just a few kilometres from the city centre and visiting this area is one of the best things to do in Galway! It’s a popular destination for visitors and offers a wide range of activities and attractions.
One of the main draws of Salthill is its beautiful promenade, which runs along the coast of Galway Bay. You can take a leisurely stroll along the walkway and enjoy stunning views of the ocean and the city. There are also several parks and playgrounds along the promenade, making it a great place to visit with kids. Be sure to include it in your itinerary when planning your Galway travel guide.
Explore The Galway City Museum
The Galway City Museum is a must-visit attraction and great for anyone interested in history, it is one of the best things to do in Galway if you are into history. The museum features a wide range of exhibitions and displays, covering everything from prehistoric times to the modern day.
You can explore the history of the city’s famous Claddagh fishing village, learn about the life and works of famous Irish writers such as WB Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, and discover the fascinating story of the Spanish Armada and its connection to Galway
Attend The Galway International Arts Festival
Attending the Galway International Arts Festival is one of the top things to do in Galway for anyone interested in art, music, theatre, and culture. The festival takes place every summer and features a wide range of events and performances, from world-class theatre productions to live music concerts and exhibitions.
The Galway International Arts Festival has been running for over 40 years and has become one of the most highly anticipated events on the Irish cultural calendar. The festival attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to experience the vibrant and dynamic atmosphere of the city of the tribes during the festival.
Go On A Connemara National Park Hike
Going on a Connemara National Park hike is one of the best things to do in Galway to experience the natural beauty of the region and the surrounding region. The national park is located in the stunning Connemara region and offers visitors a chance to explore the rugged landscape and breathtaking views.
The national park covers over 2,000 hectares of unspoiled wilderness, including mountains, lakes, and bogs. There are a number of hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from easy walks to very challenging hikes that will take you to some of the most spectacular viewpoints in the region.
Visit The Galway Atlantaquaria
If you’re looking for things to do in Galway and are interested in marine life and the ocean, a visit to the Galway Atlantaquaria is a must-do activity when you’re in town. Located on the Salthill Promenade, the Atlantaquaria is one of the largest and most impressive aquariums in Ireland.
The Galway Atlantaquaria is home to a wide variety of marine animals, from tiny seahorses to massive sharks. You’ll be able to see and learn about a diverse range of species, including colourful fish, jellyfish, starfish, crabs, and lobsters, and it’s one of the top things to do in Galway for kids.
Enjoy A Night Out In The Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is a bustling and vibrant neighbourhood in the city, and it’s one of the best places to go if you’re looking for a good night out. With a plethora of bars, pubs, and restaurants, there’s something for all ages in the Latin Quarter, it is arguably one of the best things to do in Galway.
No matter where you go in the Latin Quarter, you’re sure to have a great time. With its lively atmosphere, friendly locals, and endless options for food and drink, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone looking to enjoy a night out.
Take A Ferry To The Aran Islands
If you’re looking for a day trip from the city of the tribes that’s a little more off the beaten path, why not take a ferry to the Aran Islands? This group of three islands off the coast of Galway is a unique and beautiful destination that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
One of the best ways to experience the islands is by taking a tour, which will take you to all the major sights and provide you with a wealth of information about the history and culture of the island. You can also enjoy some traditional Irish music and dance at one of the local pubs making it one of the finest things to do in Galway!
Discover The Hidden Gem Of Kylemore Abbey
Nestled in the heart of Connemara, Kylemore Abbey is a hidden gem that’s not to be missed on your trip. This beautiful estate is home to a stunning Gothic castle, a Victorian walled garden, and tranquil lakeside walks, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.
The history of Kylemore Abbey is as fascinating as it is beautiful. Originally built as a private residence in the late 1800s, the castle was later sold to the Benedictine nuns who established a girl’s school on the grounds. Today, the castle and grounds are open to the public, allowing visitors to explore its rich history and breathtaking beauty and it is one of the top things to do in Galway if you like castles.
Drive Over To Clifden
Clifden is a beautiful destination for those looking for a picturesque and charming town with plenty of things to do. Located just an hour’s drive from Galway, Clifden offers visitors a break from city life while still providing plenty of heaps of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
One of the top attractions in Clifden is the Sky Road route a scenic drive that offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding landscape and is probably one of the most scenic things to do in Galway.
Check Out The Spanish Arch
One of the most iconic landmarks in the city of the tribes is the Spanish Arch. This impressive structure was originally built in the 16th century as a protective wall for the quays in the Claddagh area of the city.
Today, it stands as a testament to the area’s rich history and serves as a popular tourist attraction. The Spanish Arch is one of the best FREE things to do in Galway.
Relax In The Best Pubs In Galway
Galway city is known for its traditional Irish pubs, which offer a lively atmosphere and a taste of Irish culture. From traditional music sessions to pub quizzes and live sports, there is something for everyone in the pubs of Galway.
Some of the most popular pubs in the city include Tigh Neachtain, which has been serving pints since 1894 and has an extensive collection of Irish whiskeys. Another must-visit pub is The Quays, which has a lively atmosphere and serves up a great pint of Guinness. For those looking for something a little more low-key, The King’s Head offers a cosy setting with a traditional Irish feel.
If you’re looking for live music, you won’t be disappointed. Places like Monroe’s Tavern and The Crane Bar host regular traditional Irish music sessions, these trad music sessions are one of the top things to do in Galway, and a great way to experience the local culture.
Stop At The Quiet Man Bridge
The Quiet Man Bridge, also known as the Ballynahinch Bridge, is one of the region’s most iconic landmarks and one of the best FREE things to do in Galway. Located just outside the village of Oughterard, this charming little bridge is a popular destination for tourists and film enthusiasts alike.
The bridge was made famous by the 1952 film “The Quiet Man”, which starred John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara and was filmed in various locations throughout the west of Ireland.
Tak A Look At Galway Cathedral
Visiting Galway Cathedral in Ireland is a must-do if you’ve ever wanted to feel as if you stepped back in time. Built-in 1965, this beautiful ancient building impresses everyone who sets foot inside its doors.
From the courtyard and landscaped gardens to the monumental bell tower, every part of it is breathtaking. Inside the cathedral, there are numerous stained glass windows depicting Irish saints and scenes from the Bible. This is one of the top things to do in Galway if you like churches and cathedrals.
Drive The Sky Road In Galway
Drive the Sky Road in Clifden, known for stunning views of the ocean, the dramatic route offers some amazing views of Connemara National Park. Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, this drive is perfect for a casual day trip and offers plenty of opportunities to stop along the way to appreciate its untouched beauty.
This route is one of the top things to do in Gawlay if you like scenic road trips. Sit and relax or take a hike up Diamond Hill and enjoy even more amazing scenery.
Taking A Plane To The Aran Islands
Taking a plane to the Aran Islands is a fantastic and convenient way to experience some of the best beauty Ireland has to offer. While this isn’t exactly an everyday activity, it’s definitely worth doing if you’re ever in the area.
Not only do you get unparalleled views of Galway Bay during your flight, but you then arrive on one of the three Aran Islands which just scream “Irish adventure” making it one of the most adventurous things to do in Galway.
Explore Killary Fjord
Killary Fjord in Connemara is one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Ireland. With the amazing mountain ranges cutting through its tranquil waters, it is the only fjord in Ireland and provides a truly unique experience to visitors.
Boats are available at the pier so that you can explore Killary from the water, taking in its lush emerald-green hills and imposing cliffsides, not to mention all of its incredible wildlife! Killary Fjord had something special waiting around every bend and is arguably one of the most unique things to do in Galway.
Check Out Dog Bay Beach
Dog Bay Beach is a great spot for casual beachgoers looking to enjoy some sun and sand. Located just outside the bustling city of Galway, this sandy stretch offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, with warm waters perfect for a swim.
The shoreline of Dog Bay Beach is particularly interesting as it’s made up of a mix of enormous rocks and rugged cliffs, making it ideal for exploring and taking pictures and one of the best things to do in Galway if you like really nice beaches.
Visit Yeats Tower
If you’re looking for a unique attraction, the Yeats Tower is definitely one worth visiting. This historic tower, which was home to Nobel Prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats, overlooks some green Irish fields and provides a beautiful view. This is one of the finest things to do in Galway if you are interested in WB Yeats.
Inside the structure is a museum that contains artefacts related to Yeat’s life and work, including original sketches and letters by him. You’ll be able to get an insight into the illustrious poet’s life and works as you explore the museum.
Take A Stroll At Eyre Square
Eyre Square is an iconic spot for locals and travellers alike. It’s a lively pedestrianized square lined with shops, cafes, and popular pubs that really comes alive at night. The square is in the centre of the city it provides quick access to all the local must-see attractions as well as being a scenic spot on its own right – perfect for long relaxing sunny days or just people watching (and maybe catching some live music).
Whether you’re after drinks, great food, or even some shopping Eyre Square has it all, no visit to the city of the tribes is complete without spending some time here, it’s one of the best things to do in Galway.
Go Down Into Glengowla Mines
Glengowla Mines is a unique slice of Irish heritage. Located in the old mining village of Oughterard, Glengowla Mines consists of two distinct levels, each full of intriguing twists and turns throughout its labyrinthine passages.
Dating back to the 1820s, the mine was built by gold prospectors looking to strike it rich and contains a variety of mine buildings, man-made tunnels and shafts that were used during its heyday. It even features one of the oldest examples in Europe of an “inclined skitation”, a ride down into the depths making it one of the most unique things to do in Galway.
Travel The Wild Atlantic Way Galway Section
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of Ireland’s must-see attractions, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint when you get this route, it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Galway!
This enchanting city sits perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and is full of character, this route has some of the best scenery in the world with so many old castles, and charming colourful villages to see. The Wild Atlantic Way Galway has to be seen to be believed!
WAnder Around The Galway Christmas Market
The Galway Christmas Market is one of the highlights of the festive season. Set up in Eyre Square and on Church Street, this vibrant market brings a touch of European flavour to the west coast of Ireland. Visiting shoppers can take their time browsing the stalls selling seasonal crafts, traditional Irish foods and produce, handmade jewellery and clothes, decoration pieces, and much more.
Throughout the market, entertainers perform traditional Irish music as well as tasty treats to tantalise your taste buds, this is one of the top things to do in Galway with kids
Visit Lovely Leenaun
Nestled on the edge of Killary Fjord, Leenaun is a stunning destination for any type of traveller. Whether you’re looking for traditional pubs and stunning landscapes, or perhaps a spot of fishing off the shore, Leenaun is sure to provide plenty of activity.
With a wide range of freshly caught seafood dishes as well as myriad events each month, including the famous Connemara Mussel Festival. Leenaun proves itself time and time again as a memorable stop and one of the top things to do in Galway.
Get Some Food At The Galway Market
The Galway market offers a unique shopping experience full of fishermen, fresh produce, and the sounds of traditional music. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with the locals and gain an appreciation for the local food.
This outdoor weekly market has been operating since 1610 and has proven to be extremely popular, particularly among tourists due to its friendly atmosphere and abundance of goods on offer. Galway Market encompasses a mix of fashionable clothing, crafts, plants, handmade jewellery and so much more!
Visit The National University Of Ireland
The National University of Ireland is an internationally renowned university serving over 18,000 students from more than 100 countries. It offers an incredible variety of courses from undergraduate to postgraduate levels and it also boasts a wide range of research centres supported by Irish and European Union funding.
The college offers a comprehensive set of courses, and the NUI Galway campus is well-known for its beautiful landscapes, featuring riverside views, inspiring harbour walkways and majestic architecture. As the only tertiary education institution in the West of Ireland that offers top-quality academic programs covering multiple disciplines.
Buy A Bit Of Connemara Marble Jewellery
Connemara marble is one of the most sought-after stones in Ireland. Connemara marble has been mined for centuries and is renowned for its beauty and durability. Named after its legendary “green” hue, this distinctive marble is available in many sizes, shapes and shades that can be used to create striking jewellery and artwork.
Its stunning array of patterns makes it a popular material for artisans around the world to use in their projects. Whether you’re looking for an original piece or simply want to admire its eye-catching beauty, a trip to Connemara is one of the coolest things to do in Galway.
See the Historic Dungaire Castle
Dungaire Castle is a spectacular 16th-century castle located in Kinvarra. Dungaire Castle remains impressively intact with its turrets and towers standing tall over the surrounding landscape. The grounds are magnificently manicured, providing visitors with pathways across lush lawns which unravel the secrets of Irish history and folklore.
The castle provides a bridge between two different worlds, you can wander through 16th-century romanticism while taking in stunning views of panoramic sea vistas. It is one of the best FREE things to do in Galway.
Take A Road Trip Around Connemara
Connemara is an absolutely stunning location and makes for a great road trip. Lush green fields, breathtaking mountain views, rivers, lakes and more make up the picturesque landscape here.
You can explore this natural beauty on your own or join a guided tour to take in everything from historical ruins to majestic lighthouses. Beyond these wonderful sights, there are plenty of outdoor activities that can be enjoyed such as hiking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking.
Kinvara, located on the west coast of Ireland, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This charming fishing village is picturesque. Kinvara offers something for people looking for a tranquil, peaceful getaway.
The town also offers a range of great eateries and pubs that offer excellent food and drink experiences. Whether it’s a light lunch in an old-fashioned pub or a romantic dinner overlooking the harbour, Kinvara won’t disappoint.
Try Out Derrigimlagh Bog
Derrigimlagh Bog is an enchanting spot that offers visitors spectacular views of the sprawling vastness of the bog and the greater Connemara landscape.
The bog is noted for its flowering heathers which turn red in the summer months, and it boasts some lovely walking trails that pass by ancient monuments like megalithic tombs. Derrigimlagh Bog is a truly peaceful place to spend time surrounded by nature’s beauty.
The Best Day Tours From Galway
Here are some great day trips you can take!!!
1. Visit The Cliffs of Moher
Located just a short drive from the city of the tribes, the Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most iconic natural sites in Ireland. This popular day trip to the Cliffs of Moher is located about an hour and a half south of Galway.
These stunning cliffs rise 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. There are walking trails along the cliffs, as well as a visitor centre with exhibits on the geology, flora, and fauna of the area.
2. Try A Connemara Day Tour
Another nearby natural wonder is Connemara National Park, located about an hour northwest of the city of the tribes. The park features rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and stunning coastal scenery, A visit it this national Park is a great way to spend a day, taking in one of the most beautiful national parks in Ireland.
3. Head To Kilkenny For The Day
For those interested in history and culture, a day trip to the medieval city of Kilkenny is a must. Located about two hours east of the city of tribes.
Kilkenny is known for its well-preserved historic buildings, including Kilkenny Castle and St. Canice’s Cathedral. There are plenty of things to see and do including shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore, as well as a lively arts and culture scene.
4. Pop Over To The Aran Islands
Another popular day trip destination is the Aran Islands, a group of three islands located off the coast of Galway.
The islands are known for their rugged beauty, traditional Irish culture, and ancient archaeological sites. you can take a ferry from the city of the tribes to explore the island’s many attractions, including the prehistoric fort of Dún Aonghasa on Inishmore and the traditional fishing village of Kilronan on Inis Mór.
5. Do A Day Tour Of Dublin
Finally, the historic city of Dublin is just a two-and-a-half hour drive or train ride from Galway, making it a perfect destination for a day trip. Dublin is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, including world-class museums, galleries, and theatres. Some must-visit attractions include Trinity College, the Guinness Storehouse, and the historic Temple Bar neighbourhood.
Where To Eat In Galway
Galway is a foodie’s paradise, with a diverse culinary scene that caters to all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re looking for traditional Irish cuisine or international flavours, you’ll find it all in this region.
Here are some of the best places to eat:
- McDonagh’s: If you’re looking for the best fish and chips in Galway, look no further than McDonagh’s. This family-run restaurant has been serving up fresh seafood since 1902, and it’s still going strong today. The portions are generous, the prices are reasonable, and the quality is unbeatable.
- Kai Cafe + Restaurant: This award-winning restaurant is a must-visit for foodies in Galway. Kai serves up creative, contemporary cuisine made with local, seasonal ingredients. The menu changes regularly, but you can always expect fresh, flavorful dishes that are bursting with colour and texture.
- Ard Bia at Nimmo’s: For a unique dining experience in Galway, head to Ard Bia at Nimmo’s. This quirky restaurant is housed in a historic building overlooking the River Corrib, and the menu features an eclectic mix of international and Irish cuisine. Try the slow-cooked lamb shank or the vegetable tagine for a taste of the Middle East in Galway.
- The Dough Bros: Pizza lovers won’t want to miss The Dough Bros. This popular pizzeria is known for its wood-fired pies made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The menu is simple but delicious, with classic toppings like pepperoni and mushroom as well as more adventurous options like spiced lamb and roasted cauliflower.
- Cupán Tae: For a taste of traditional Irish hospitality, head to Cupán Tae. This cosy tea room serves up homemade cakes, scones, and sandwiches alongside a wide selection of teas and coffees. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon break, and the vintage decor will transport you back in time.
No matter where you choose to eat, you’re sure to find delicious food and warm hospitality. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and try something new – you might just discover your new favourite dish.
The Nightlife In Galway
If you’re looking for an authentic Irish pub experience, there are plenty of options in Galway. Tigh Neachtain is one of the oldest pubs in the city, with a cosy and traditional atmosphere. The Quays is another popular option, known for its live music and hearty pub food. For a more relaxed vibe, head to O’Connell’s Bar, a favourite among locals for its cosy atmosphere and friendly staff.
If you’re looking for a trendy and modern nightlife experience, there are plenty of options as well. The Dáil Bar is a popular spot, known for its creative cocktails and craft beers. The Roisin Dubh is another must-visit, with an eclectic mix of live music and comedy shows.
Shopping In Galway
Galway is a city with a vibrant and diverse shopping scene, offering a range of unique and locally-made products. From bustling markets to charming boutiques, to fashionable Irish handmade items.
One of the must-visit shopping destinations is the Galway Market, which takes place every Saturday and Sunday. Here, you can find a variety of stalls selling everything from local produce to handmade crafts and jewellery. The market has a lively and colourful atmosphere, with street performers and musicians adding to the ambience.
For those interested in fashion and design, the Galway Designers Studio House is a must-visit. This boutique showcases the work of over 50 local designers and artists, offering a unique and eclectic selection of clothing, accessories, and homewares.
Another great spot for fashion lovers is the Treasure Chest, a family-run business that has been operating in Galway for over 40 years. The store offers a wide range of clothing and accessories, including traditional Irish knitwear and jewellery.
If you’re looking for unique souvenirs and gifts, head to the Latin Quarter, where you’ll find a range of independent shops and boutiques. Pop into My Shop…Granny Likes It for quirky and nostalgic gifts, or visit The Secret Garden for handmade pottery and homewares.
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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
What are some must-see attractions in Galway?
This charming city is located on the west coast of Ireland. It has a rich history, lively culture, and a host of attractions that draw visitors from all over the world, the best ones are Connemara National Park, the Wild Atlantic Way route, Galway City Museum and The Spanish arch.
What are some fun activities to do in Galway?
Galway has plenty of fun activities to keep visitors entertained. One of the most fun activities to do is to explore the city’s medieval architecture and narrow streets on a walking tour. Another fun activity is to take a day trip to the Aran Islands. The Galway Atlantaquaria is also a great place to visit for a fun day out. It’s Ireland’s largest aquarium and is home to over 170 species of fish and marine life.