Nestled on Ireland's scenic west coast, the historic city of Galway, or Gaillimh in traditional Gaelic, is renowned for its vibrant culture and friendly, bustling streets. The brightly coloured buildings that adorn the water’s edge add real character to an already charismatic city, and there’s an excellent mix of traditional charm and contemporary culture.
Galway’s glorious seaside setting, medieval architecture and critically acclaimed food scene all add to its allure. Famed for its artistic outlook (Galway is a UNESCO City of Film), friendly locals, and up-tempo atmosphere, Galway doesn’t really do downtime – making it the perfect place for an action-packed visit, from day trips to weekend breaks.
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Nestled on Ireland's scenic west coast, Galway is renowned for its vibrant culture and bustling streets.
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This scenic seaside area in Galway is located around 2km from the city centre. It’s made up of several small beaches, and plays host to several amusements and leisure activities. As well as being a great spot for a family day out, you’ll find plenty of locals taking a stroll or simply relaxing.
Galway’s Spanish Arch was originally an extension of the city walls, and was built to protect the quays. Interestingly, there’s no proven link between the Spanish in Galway and the building of the arch, making the name somewhat of a misnomer. You can learn more about this at the Galway City Museum, which is located at the arch.
If there was ever a time for somebody to visit Galway, it would be in the lead-up to and during the Galway Races. This is an internationally renowned festival where you will witness some of the world’s best horses and riders.
This weekly food market takes place in Church Lane, in front of the St Nicholas Collegiate Church, and showcases the best of local produce. Interestingly, there’s been a market trading here for centuries. Be sure to visit when hungry, as there’s a great selection of takeaway food stalls.
Connemara National Park will present you with some of the most incredible views you will ever witness. Even beginners will enjoy the picturesque three-hour walk, a truly spectacular adventure in all kinds of weather.
Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold is home of the Claddagh Ring, Ireland’s most famous traditional ring. Rings have been made at this shop in Quay Street since 1750, and you’ll find a whole range of Celtic jewellery that the staff will happily talk you through.
Galway has a reputation for the quality of its music scene, and on nearly every night of the week, there’s something going on. Keep an eye out for sessions in atmospheric pubs such as Monroe’s, Taaffes and Tíg Coilí, all in the city centre.
The Quays is widely considered one of the best pubs in Galway, and is the perfect place to pull up a pew (no, really – the interior boasts church pews and stained glass windows) and have a chat with some friendly punters – locals and fellow tourists alike.
11 Quay Street
Monroe’s is an old-school, rustic Irish pub. It seems huge from the outside, but step across the threshold and you’ll discover a cosy, intimate interior. Expect energetic live music and Irish dancing on a regular basis, along with award-winning food and helpful staff.
14 Dominick Street Upper
Located centrally in Galway’s Eyre Square, O'Connell’s is an incredible bar which also happens to contain one of Galway’s best beer gardens. Be sure to explore when you first walk in, as there are more rooms than you think, each one packed with a character of its own.
Brasserie on the Corner offers a great choice of lunch, evening and Sunday meals, ranging from sizzling seafood to sumptuous steaks. It’s won a plethora of awards over the years, so is certainly worth a visit during your stay in Galway.
With fresh, seasonal specials on a daily basis and hearty, satisfying portions, Oscar’s never disappoints. This is a fish restaurant with a difference, with really imaginative dishes. As you’d hope, the seafood is sourced from local fishermen and fishmongers and caught off the Galway coast.
Upper Dominick Street
Based in the village of Barna (just a 10-minute drive from Galway), O’Grady’s on the Pier is the perfect place for all occasions. It offers high quality local seafood and fine meat dishes in a fabulous setting, with striking views of Galway Bay.
Galway offers various kayaking options on the River Corrib, which flows through the city, as well as sea kayaking opportunities in Galway Bay. If you’re seeking some outdoor adventure, this is a great day of fun.
The Derroura Mountain Bike Trail is considered one of the best natural mountain biking trails in Ireland. It will take you about one and a half hours to complete, and is a relatively easy trail to ride. Visit the Derroura Mountain Bike Hire website for more information on this exciting activity.
If you’d really like to get up close to nature, why not book a scuba diving experience with Scubadive West? From adventure day trips and dive safaris to a full range of PADI dive courses, this is the perfect opportunity to see the beautiful Irish seabed.