Galway is an enchanting city in Ireland that goes well beyond the “Galway Girl” song Ed Sheeran just released this year. The city sits on the western side of Ireland on the River Corrib and is located about a 2.5 hour drive from Dublin. Galway can often be skipped on Ireland itineraries but not only is it a beautiful city itself, it can be a great base for day trips around the area like Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. Even if you’re only passing through Galway, you should definitely stop for a few hours to explore some of the things the city has to offer and luckily, it’s a pretty easy city to see in a short amount of time. Here are some things you can do and see…
Just like any Irish city or town, Galway is home to some great pubs. Tig Coili is known for it’s traditional music seven days a week, O’Connells boasts one of the best beer gardens in the city, Monroe’s is a massive pub but with a welcoming atmosphere and those are just to name a few. Check out this list of the top ten pubs in Galway to help you pick and choose for your pub crawl.
If you’ve read my blog before you know I’m not much of a history buff, however I can appreciate beautiful architecture and the Galway Cathedral definitely stands out in the city. Although this cathedral is pretty new in comparison to other places in Ireland (built between 1958-1965) is is the last great stone cathedral ever to be built in Europe. In this small city, this cathedral definitely dominates the skyline and although visiting from the outside is beautiful, you can also go in to admire the rose windows and wall paintings. The cathedral is usually open from 8:30am to 6:30pm and there is no admission charge to enter.
St. Nicholas Church
This church is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland in continuous use. The church is located in the heart of the city and parts of it date back to 1320. It is said that Christopher Columbus prayed here in 1477 before sailing in an attempt to the reach the New World. You can visit the church for a service or just enjoy the historical church from the outside.
Walk along the river
Given that Galway falls on the River Corrib, a walk along the river through the town can be an excellent way to see the city and soak in how beautiful it is. If you are looking for even more gorgeous sites of the city, walk The Long Walk which is where you’ll see the colourful houses that dot the river and gorgeous views.
Galway’s street market has been happening in Church Lane by St. Nicholas Church in the city centre for centuries now. The market is open all year on Saturday’s from 8am to 6pm and Sunday’s, bank holidays, Friday’s in July and August and every day during the Galway Arts Festival from 12pm to 8pm. You’ll find the street lined with stalls selling all sorts of crafts and goods from art, to homemade soap and other crafts.
Buy Claddagh rings
The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty and friendship. The design and customs associated with these rings originated from the fishing village of Claddagh which is located just outside the old city walls of Galway and which is now considered part of Galway City. The history of these rings date back to the 17th century and can be seen warn on peoples hands around the world. Given the history of the ring originating in the area, although you can find them everywhere in Ireland, you should definitely consider buying one here. Thomas Dillons is known to be one of the original makers of the ring and you can actually visit their museum located at their shop.
Quay Street is a small street in central Galway that is for pedestrians only and lined with pubs, restaurants, live music and cute shops. If you’re looking for some entertainment, whether at night or mid-day, Quay Street can be a fantastic place to go to kill some time and soak in what the city has to offer. If you’re looking for fresh seafood, McDonagh’s is your go-to. If you’re looking for a traditional pub, you’ll find an abundance, but Tig Coili is fantastic and has live music seven nights a week.
Here are just SOME things you can do in the city of Galway, but either way, I definitely recommend you leave at least a few hours on your trip through Ireland to enjoy this gorgeous city. I promise you’ll fall in love.