Although relatively small — the fourth largest in Ireland — Galway is a very lively city. Galway is located on the West Coast of Ireland, meeting the Atlantic Ocean and the tourism trail, “Wild Atlantic way”. Famous for its nightlife and live music, you cannot be disappointed by the warm atmosphere emerging from the city!
If you plan to stay in Galway for two or three days, you can dedicate one day to the city centre and another one to the Aran Islands. Moreover, if you are on an Irish road trip, Galway is perfectly located between Connemara National Park and County Clare where you can find the famous Cliffs of Moher. You can easily reach Galway by bus; it is only 3 hours away from Dublin!
Stroll around Galway’s colourful streets
As said previously, Galway is a tiny city but has a lot of character! The heart of the city is located around Eyre Square, a small meeting park surrounded by many lively streets. Amongst them, the most famous areas are High Street and Quay Street, in which you can find numerous traditional pubs, shops, cafés, restaurants and so on. In this area, called the Latin quarter, you can admire the medieval architecture, the colourful facades and Irish flags above your head everywhere. To feel the Irish vibe, my advice is to stroll around this dynamic area and enjoy street music (performers are at every corner of the city) and have a walk to the Spanish Arch.
The Spanish Arch is an arch remaining from 1584, that in the past used to protect the city’s quays. Just by the arch the River Corrib awaits, which you can walk on the path going up to Galway Cathedral. If you are unlucky and it rains, you can visit the Galway City Museum, but for more fun you should go to a pub and listen to some Irish folk music.
Have a taste of Galway’s nightlife
Galway is famous for its lively nightlife, good music and pubs. You can enjoy a pub crawl on High Street, where pubs line the streets. Don’t miss The King’s Head, which is definitely one of the best pub in Galway, with good live music and fun! Grab your pint of Guinness and enjoy!
If you do not trust me, then you should definitely visit Galway for Saint Patrick’s Day, the 17th of March! It is a national bank holiday in Ireland to celebrate Saint Patrick, the primary patron saint of Ireland. On St Paddy’s day, parades and religious processions are set all around the country to celebrate this event. Everyone wears Irish colors (or dresses like a leprechaun). The celebration usually starts in the morning and goes until late during the night. Good fun is ensured, trust me! This event has become one of the greatest celebrations in the world in the recent years, attracting thousands of people.
Enjoy the peacefulness of Inishmore, Aran Islands
If you have ever dreamt of discovering a wild island, lost in the middle of nowhere, rush to the Aran Islands. It is a group of three small islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay. From Galway, it takes one hour to drive to the ferry pier, and then about 50 minutes on the boat. To avoid seasickness, it is best to avoid this journey on days with bad weather (often the case here), because the sea can be quite rough. You can book a tour online with Lally Tours (including the bus from Galway to the ferry pier and the ferry trip), the adult ticket to Inishmore is 32 EUR (34.8 USD).
Once you’ve arrived, depending on the weather, you can rent a bike and cycle around the island, which is only 14 square meters (150.7 square feet). If you are unlucky and show up on a rainy day as I did, you can take a taxi tour of the island for 15 EUR each (16.3 USD). Taxi drivers are used to tourists and will stop at every beautiful sight and interesting place. What makes Inishmore so special is how silent it is: no city noise, no traffic, just peace and wind.
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
Sites not to be missed on Inishmore
On Inishmore, do not miss Dun Aengus (Irish Dún Aonghasa), a prehistoric hill fort built at the edge of a 100 metre high cliff (328 feet); the view of the sea is impressive, and even with a bad weather, such as fog and wind, it makes it even more spectacular and mystical. However, watch your step; there are no safety barriers! Entrance to the site is 5 EUR (5.60 USD) for an adult.
You can stop at Poll na bPéist (The Wormhole), a rectangular shaped natural geological formation that could be compared to a natural swimming pool. However, it is not a swimming pool, and with the tide, it can become a dangerous place. Watch out, it’s slippery! Besides, the hike to reach The Wormhole is a bit tricky (maybe not suitable for children).
Take your lunch break at Bayview House & Restaurant
What about tasty fish and chips as a reward after a stormy ferry trip in cold and rainy weather (if you have managed to pick a sunny weather day, then you are as lucky as a leprechaun)?! This restaurant serves traditional Irish meals such as this fish & chips, battered in Guinness and served with tartar sauce — delicious! Located in the heart of Kilronan Village, and just by the sea, it is the perfect place to have a break. Prices are affordable (the fish and chips are 12.90 EUR / 14 USD) and the service perfect. Soups, salads, burgers, pies, mussels: there is something for every taste!
Experience the Irish "craic" on the West Coast!
So, if you end up in the West Coast of Ireland, partying in Galway is a “big to-do” and the Irish countryside should not be missed. Stop by the Aran Islands for its wildness, Connemara National Park, the Dingle Peninsula and so many other places! Ireland is all you can ask for when travelling (maybe not the hot weather but you could be surprised): friendly people, stunning landscapes, good fun, good “craic” (Irish word meaning having fun or a laugh) and MUSIC! What are you waiting for?
Get Trip101 in your inbox