Known as the “City of Tribes,” Galway is a vibrant destination on Ireland’s west coast. This charming city has much to offer to travelers
In this guide, we’ll provide essential information for your Galway visit. From the best time to go to navigating the city’s neighborhoods, we’ve got you covered.
Is Galway worth visiting?
Galway is definitely worth visiting for its beautiful city center, vibrant cultural scene, friendly locals, and proximity to natural attractions like Connemara National Park and the Cliffs of Moher.
It offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that make it a must-visit destination in Ireland.
Why is Galway worth visiting?
It’s Ireland’s most beautiful city
Galway is considered the most beautiful city in Ireland, with its medieval city center featuring cobbled streets, street music, and a lively atmosphere.
The city’s vibrant cultural scene, including traditional Irish music, lively festivals, and a thriving arts community, adds to its charm.
Additionally, Galway is known as the festival capital of Ireland, with the International Arts Festival held every summer in July.
It’s a place of nature, adventure, history, literature, and Irish culture in one
Galway’s proximity to Connemara National Park and the famous Cliffs of Moher makes it a paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
The city’s maritime history and literary significance further enhance its appeal.
Galway is also renowned for its friendly locals, live music, great food, and cozy pubs, making it an ideal destination for experiencing Irish culture.
It’s a festive city
Galway hosts a terrific Christmas market and is home to one of the biggest horse races in Ireland. Shopping enthusiasts will also find plenty of opportunities to shop till they drop.
Overall, Galway offers a unique combination of natural beauty, rich history, cultural vibrancy, and warm hospitality, making it a destination well worth visiting.
What is Galway known for?
Galway is known as the festival capital of Ireland, because it hosts 122 festivals and events every year on average. It has a vibrant atmosphere that makes it fun to visit at any time.
Galway is also the birthplace of the Claddagh ring, a traditional Irish symbol of love, friendship, and loyalty. There are many places where you can buy these rings, and the first shop that made them is still open today.
If you want to buy a Claddagh ring, Galway is definitely worth a visit.
How to Get Around Galway
There are a few ways to get around Galway. You can walk, ride a bike, take the bus, rent a car, or grab a taxi, depending on your preference and destination.
The city center is best explored on foot because many streets are only for people to walk on, and you can easily get to all the main things to see in the city.
Bus Éireann has buses that go around the city. Most buses start from Eyre Square in the middle of town.
For any trip in the city that’s longer than 7 ½ kilometers (about 4.6 miles), it costs 2.70 euros. Trips shorter than 7 kilometers cost 2.30 euros.
If you get a rechargeable Leap Card, you get a 30-percent discount on the fare. You can buy a Leap Card at different places.
There are 195 bicycles available to borrow or rent at 16 places in the city through a bike-sharing program sponsored by Coca-Cola Zero.
If you want to use a bike for less than 30 minutes, it’s free. Even if you want to rent a bike for three days, it’s only 3 euros.
If you need a car for day trips or to go outside the city, you can rent one at the airport or in the middle of the city. But remember, in Ireland, you drive on the left side of the road.
Speed limits are in kilometers per hour, so it’s good to know the conversions or carry a paper with them.
Most car rental companies need a driver’s license from your country, not an international one. Check with your rental company before your trip.
If you need a taxi in the city, it’s easy to find one near hotels and the main things to see.
Best Time to Go
June or July are the best months to visit Galway if you prefer the warmest weather.
The temperature averages 17-19°C in these months, while it’s much colder in the other months. However, Galway is also very crowded with tourists in June and July.
Things to See and Do in Galway
Explore the Lively Quay Street
Quay Street is the heart of Galway, where you can feel the Irish spirit. It’s a lively and colorful street, full of pubs, restaurants, shops, and music.
You can enjoy the traditional Irish food and drink, shop for local crafts and souvenirs, and listen to the street performers. Quay Street is a great place to have fun and experience the culture of Ireland.
See the Remarkable Spanish Arch
From Quay street in the heart of Galway, you can reach the Spanish Arch in just three minutes by walking.
The arch dates back to the 1500s, but it was actually added to an older wall that the Normans built in the 1200s to defend themselves from the Irish. The Spanish Arch is a remarkable piece of history that you should not miss.
Take a Stroll at the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter, also known as the Spanish Quarter, boasts a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of the lively Quay Street. Here, you’ll encounter a tapestry of colorful street art, live music performances, and a variety of charming shops.
It’s conveniently located just a brief 5-minute stroll from both Quay Street and The Spanish Arch.
Much like Quay Street, the Latin Quarter is a prime spot for enjoying buskers. Busking, a cherished Irish tradition, is exceptionally well-represented in Galway, making it an ideal city to immerse yourself in this unique musical experience.
Visit the Galway Museum
If you want to learn more about the area’s archaeology, history and culture, you should visit the Galway City Museum, which is the top museum in the region. It has a lot of interesting exhibits that are written in both Gaelic and English.
The museum is suitable for kids, and it’s not too crowded. You can see everything in about an hour, or you can take your time and spend a couple of hours there.
The admission is free, but you can make a donation if you want to support the museum.
Sample Some Classic Irish Cuisine
Galway has some great places where you can enjoy traditional Irish food. You can sample strew, beef, lamb, mashed potatoes and more, along with a pint of beer.
If you’re vegetarian, you can have salads with goat cheese from Ireland and other things.
Neighborhoods to Visit
Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a stunning coastal route that spans nine counties in Ireland. It offers amazing views, attractions, and activities along its 1,500 miles.
You can see the Cliffs of Moher, castles, golf courses, and the Doolin Cave, among many others.
People who drove on the route said it was “wild and wonderful” and “spectacular”.
The Aran Islands are a place where you can experience the true ‘old Ireland’ – where people speak Irish, where the landscapes are stunning, and where the terrain is unique.
The Aran Islands are also known for their knitwear, which has a special design and is sold in a shop on Quay Street that I mentioned before. You’ll be amazed by the ancient buildings and the breathtaking views.
The Aran Islands aren’t very popular among international tourists, so they’re a great choice if you want to avoid the crowds.
Connemara National Park
Connemara is a beautiful place for hiking, with mountains and lakes. It’s a great destination if you love nature and scenery.
There are hikes of varying difficulty levels available, with options like the 0.5 km Ellis Wood Nature Trail and Strauffonboy Trail for families with kids, or the 3 km Lower Diamond Hill Loop for those seeking a moderate challenge.
The Village of Cong
Cong is a small, charming village perfect for a nice afternoon trip. The main things to see are the old Cong Ruins, which are almost 1,000 years old.
Cong became famous a long time ago because they filmed a movie here in the 1950s called “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne. You can still find statues from “The Quiet Man” movie all around the village.
The Burren is a truly unique and rocky wonderland. It stands out from the rest of Ireland because it’s covered in lots of rocks.
Underneath those rocks, rivers flow secretly, creating a special landscape. There are also some one-of-a-kind plants here that don’t grow anywhere else.
The Burren offers something for everyone: scenic trails for hikers in the National Park, a fascinating exploration of the old Ailwee Cave, and a sweet treat at the Doolin Chocolate Shop.
One of the traveler’s cherished experiences while exploring Ireland, particularly in the Galway area, involved the discovery of medieval castles. Notably, there were two such castles conveniently located within a 45-minute drive from Galway City:
- Oranmore Castle, just a 23-minute drive away.
- Dunguaire Castle, reachable in 37 minutes by car.
- Kylemore Abbey, a picturesque 1-hour and 9-minute drive from the city.
Where to Eat
- Tuesday to Thursday – 5 PM to 9 PM
- Friday to Saturday – 4:30 PM to 9 PM
- Sunday & Monday – Closed
Aniar, Galway’s only Michelin starred restaurant, offers innovative terroir-based dining on Dominick Street. Owned by the same people behind Cava Restaurant, Aniar focuses on local ingredients and natural influences.
The menu features dishes like salt beef with radish and hazelnut, wild brill with celeriac and clams, and a dessert of seabuckthorn pannacotta with caramel and apple crumble.
- Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday – 6 PM to 9 PM
- Lunch: Sunday – 12:30 PM to 3 PM
Lignum is a restaurant in Bullaun, Ireland, known for its traditional wood-fire cooking. Chef Danny Africano and his team have created a renowned establishment, offering fine Irish cuisine.
The menu at Lignum showcases inventive dishes that maximize flavor and nutritional value. With its rustic ambiance and positive reviews, Lignum is a must-visit dining destination in County Galway.
Brasserie on the Corner
Brasserie on the Corner in Galway City is famous for its delicious seafood and steak dishes.
Their menu has a wide range of options, including seafood starters and various beef, lamb, and seafood main courses, ensuring there’s something for every palate.
Additionally, the restaurant’s cozy atmosphere, elegant decor, and friendly staff make it a must-visit for a fantastic dining experience.
Address: White Gables Restaurant, Moycullen Village, Co. Galway, H91 FR63, Ireland
Phone: +353 91 555 744
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10 AM to 5 PM (with late evening opening on Fridays until 7:30 PM)
White Gables Restaurant is a place where you can eat traditional Irish food in an old stone cottage. They have a lot of seafood dishes, like lobster from their own tank.
The restaurant looks cozy and old-fashioned, with red walls, flower lamps and dark wood furniture. You can also have meat dishes, like steak and t-bone.
Ard Bia Nimmos
- Cafe: Monday to Friday – 10 AM to 3 PM
- Dinner: Sunday – 6 PM
- Brunch: Saturday & Sunday – 10 AM to 3 PM
Ard Bia Nimmos is a great restaurant that won a big award from a magazine. It has a nice dining room with a view of the river and the old arch.
It makes yummy food with fresh and local ingredients. You can also see some art upstairs and talk about it over coffee.
Where to Stay
Snoozles is an affordable hostel located in the heart of Galway, offering comfortable accommodations. It’s conveniently situated near the train station, Eyre Square, and the historic Spanish Arch.
With free Wi-Fi, a bar, games room, and breakfast buffet, guests can enjoy a range of amenities.
The hostel provides private bathrooms and lockers in its rooms and dormitories, making it an ideal place to meet fellow travelers and immerse oneself in Galway’s vibrant culture.
The Savoy Hostel in Galway is a 2-star accommodation located in the city center, just a 10-minute walk from Eyre Square Centre. It offers a gaming room, board games, and books for children.
The property has 15 rooms, each with a private bathroom. Guests can enjoy a common kitchen and access to various activities such as horse riding, bowling, and mini golf.
Ash Grove House
Ash Grove House is a charming bed and breakfast located in the heart of Galway, Ireland. This family-run establishment offers comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms, ensuring a relaxing stay for guests.
The friendly and attentive staff go above and beyond to make visitors feel welcome and cater to their needs.
Ash Grove House in Galway offers a great location, homemade breakfast, and a cozy stay for travelers seeking a memorable experience.
The Western Hotel
The Western Hotel is a charming Georgian building that combines old-world style with modern comforts. It’s conveniently located near Eyre Square, making it a great base for exploring the city.
The hotel has 43 ensuite bedrooms and four suites for guests to choose from. While staying here, you can easily visit attractions like Eyre Square, Galway Cathedral, Galway City Museum, and Salthill.
Leonardo Hotel Galway
Address: Quay St, Galway, H91 E8D7 Galway
Phone: +353 91 566444
Email: [email protected]
Leonardo Hotel Galway offers 130 stylish rooms with Galway Bay views, perfect for business and leisure travelers. It’s close to historic sites, shopping centers, and transport.
Onsite dining includes a bar, restaurant, and coffee bar. Shop Street, a lively cultural hub, is a quick five-minute walk. Rooms accommodate three adults or two adults and two children.
Where to Shop
Address: 1- Ireland, 7 Lombard St, Galway, Ireland
Phone: +353 83 847 8930
- Saturday – 8 AM to 6 PM
- Sunday – 12 PM to 6 PM
This is a weekly outdoor market that has been trading for centuries in the centre of Galway city. You can find fresh produce, flowers, cheese, bread, and more from local vendors, as well as some souvenirs, crafts, and art
Tiny Traders Village
The vibrant and colorful local community marketplace operates every Saturday in one of Galway’s most historic buildings. In this chilled-out atmosphere, you can enjoy a wide array of local foods, art, crafts, cosmetics, beverages, and live music.
- Monday to Wednesday – 10 AM to 7 PM
- Thursday – 10 AM to 8 PM
- Friday – 10 AM to 7 PM
- Saturday – 9 AM to 7 PM
- Sunday – 11 AM to 6 PM
This is a luxury department store that sells designer fashion, beauty, homewares, and gifts. You can find brands like Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, and more in this store.
Brown Thomas also offers personal shopping services and exclusive events for its customers.
- Monday to Saturday – 9 AM to 6 PM
- Sunday – 9 AM to 6 PM
This is the home of the authentic Claddagh ring, which is a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship.
You can find Claddagh rings in various metals and designs in this store. You can also find other Irish jewellery, such as Trinity knot earrings, Celtic cross pendants, shamrock bracelets, and more.
Aran Sweater Market
This is a family-run business that produces and supplies high quality Aran wool knitwear to the global market. You can find traditional and contemporary styles of Aran sweaters, cardigans, hats, scarves, and more in this store.
Claddagh Jewellers also sells Irish jewellery, such as Claddagh rings, Celtic necklaces, Irish earrings, and more.
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop
- Monday to Saturday – 9 AM to 6 PM
- Sunday – 12 PM to 6 PM
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in the city centre is a must-visit for book lovers, offering a diverse collection of new, used, and rare books on various topics, including Irish literature and culture.
With its cozy and welcoming ambiance, it stands out as one of Ireland’s top independent bookstores.
Cloon Keen Atelier
Address: 21A High Street, Galway, H91 Y266
Phone: +353 91 565 736
- Monday to Saturday – 10 AM to 6 PM
- Sunday – 12 PM to 6 PM
If you’re looking for a special perfumery, you should visit Cloon Keen Atelier. It’s a small family business that makes original products for your body, bath and home.
They have a professional perfumer who can help you choose from their products, which are made in Galway.