Are you visiting Ireland soon? One of the must-visit destinations in the country is Galway. Galway, Ireland is a charming and picturesque city that will leave you in awe. From its rich history and vibrant culture, Galway is a wonderful place to explore. From historical Spanish Arch and Galway City Museum to charming Quay Street and Latin Quarter, Galway has everything to offer to visitors. Whether you’re a solo traveler or traveling with family, this West Coast Irish city has something for everyone. In this blog post, we’ll uncover 7 Interesting things to do in Galway to help you plan your itinerary.
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Our Trip to Galway
We visited Galway on a Sunday in July when Buddy’s choir was on tour in Ireland. Buddy arrived in Galway in the early afternoon with his choir. And Sal and I arrived late in the evening after spending the morning driving the Dingle Peninsula on the Wild Atlantic Way and visiting the Cliffs of Moher. Because we were following Buddy’s tour, and they were leaving early the next day for a performance in Trim, we only had 12 hours in Galway!
I know that 12 hours is not enough time to see Galway. But if you are passing through and want to take in the sites, we are sharing some things that we did that we loved.
7 of the Best Things To Do in Galway
1. Stroll under the Spanish Arch
Located near the Corrib River, An Póirse or the Spanish Arch is one of the most famous landmarks in Galway City. The arch, which dates to the 1584, is one of two remaining arches of Ceann an Bhalla, an extension of the city wall. It is assumed the site got its name Spanish Arch possibly in reference to the Spanish galleons that used to dock nearby.
Fun Fact: The arch was housed at the Galway City Museum until 2006 when it was moved to its current spot on the Long Walk.
After checking in to our Airbnb (more on that later!), the first site Sal and I stumbled upon when we began exploring Galway was the Spanish Arch. We just so happened to be walking the Long Walk and voila! There it was and we walked right underneath it!
Buddy says, “My choir did not stroll down the Long Walk and I missed the Spanish Arch.”
Great for: Any one on a stroll
2. Visit the Galway City Museum
The Galway City Museum is another popular spot for visitors to the city. The museum hosts numerous exhibitions that focus on Galway’s history and archeology as well as sea science. With artifacts from prehistoric Galway through the 20th century, the museum is the perfect spot to learn about the rich history and culture of Galway City.
The Galway Museum is located at Spanish Parade, Galway, H91 CX5P, Ireland right next to the Spanish Arch. The museum is free, however, there is a suggestion of €5. But make sure to check the website for the most up-to-date information, including hours of operation. The museum is closed on Mondays.
After walking through the Spanish Arches, Sal and I happened upon the museum. As museum lovers, we decided that we would visit the museum early in the morning before leaving Galway. Unfortunately, the museum is closed on Monday, and we arrived in Galway late on a Sunday, after the museum closed. So, we did not get to visit the museum on this trip to Galway. Maybe next time.
Buddy says, “We also did not get a chance to visit the Galway City Museum. It was a very quick trip to Galway.”
Great for: History buffs, Museum lovers.
3. Explore Eyre Square
The beautiful and historic An Fhaiche Mhór or Eyre Square in Galway is a lovely park in the middle of town complete with a playground, public art, and seasonal markets like the Galway Christmas Market.
These are the top things to see:
- The Browne Doorway, a massive Renaissance door and former entrance to the Browne House. Built in 1627, it was moved to its current location in Eyre Square in 1905.
- The Quincentennial Foundation designed to represent a Galway Hooker, Galway’s traditional fishing boat.
- The 14 Tribes Flags that represent the 14 of Galway’s historic merchant families.
And if you are a shopper, you are in luck! The Eyre Square Centre stands nearby.
Fun Fact: Eyre Square’s official name is John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.
After leaving Galway City Museum, Sal and I walked to Eyre Square. Although we visited at dusk, we were able to take in the Quincentennial Fountain, the 14 Tribe Flags, and see the Brown Doorway lit up with red lights. I was glad we made the walk to this historic part of the city. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to shop at the near by center.
And unfortunately for Buddy, his choir did not venture to Eyre Square with his choir.
Good for: Families with children (for the playground), public art enthusiasts, and history buffs.
4. Explore the Latin Quarter
Nestled in the heart of Galway is a delightful gem known as The Latin Quarter. This charming neighborhood is a hub of history and lots of activity! It is also renowned for its lively nightlife, bustling atmosphere, and colorful buildings. There are a wide variety of restaurants and shops on High Street. From street performers to local artists, there’s always something interesting to see and do in this vibrant part of the city.
After leaving Eyre Square, Sal and I went to the Latin Quarter in search of food. We were hungry after a long day of travel and site seeing. After grabbing a bite to eat and walking on Quay Street, Sal and I visited a few pubs.
5. Walk Quay Street
Quay Street is a popular and lively pedestrianized street in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter. Lined with colorful buildings that house an array of cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and pubs, it’s a bustling spot great for people watching. The street is filled with music from pubs and buskers alike. It is a great place to grab a bite to eat, some coffee, or a pint at one of the famous pubs.
Pro Tip: Quay Street can get very busy! When there are crowds, be aware of your surroundings and watch for pick pockets!
Sal and I walked Quay Street after grabbing a bite to eat. And as we strolled along, guess who we ran into? Buddy! His choir was also site seeing at the same time.
Buddy says, “I had a lot of fun walking around Quay Street with my friends. After dinner, we split into groups and went exploring and site sightseeing. It was a lot of fun. My parents saw me, but I did not see them.”
6. Grab a bite or a pint
If you are in the Latin Quarter, why not stop in to one of the many restaurants With so many restaurants, cafes, or pubs for some nourishment. Afterall, half the fun of traveling is the opportunity to try new local cuisines. Plus, pubs are a great place to listen to some traditional Irish music. Galway has many fun and delicious places to eat and drink that will leave foodie travelers and hungry travelers alike, delighted.
Places to eat
During our 12 hours in Galway, Sal and I had two memorable meals in Galway, dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately, we were not there long enough to indulge more. Here are the places we dined in Galway.
- Dinner: McDonagh’s on Quay Street. This Chippy was founded in 1902 and has been serving Galway for over 115 years! It is a must-visit if you are in Galway city. It can get busy during mealtimes so expect lines and a full restaurant. In our experience, the lines moved fast.
- Breakfast: Grind Coffee and Food Hub located on Merchants Road, this restaurant has good coffee and serves brunch all day. It was the perfect place to grab a bite before heading off on our next adventure.
Buddy says, “Oh yeah. My choir. I am not even going to share where they took us to eat in Galway. It is embarrassing. Let’s just say it wasn’t local and I wish I would have been with my parents to try McDonagh’s.”
Places to drink
And we also stopped by the historic The Kings Head Pub for a drink to unwind at the end of a very long day of travel. It was fun grabbing a drink in a pub founded in 1649 (older than most countries on my continent I might add!) in a building that dates back to the 13th century!
Great for: Foodies. History buffs, specifically for a visit to McDonagh’s and The Kings Head Pub. Families and travelers of all ages.
7. Spend the night in a boat!
If you are looking for some out of the ordinary accommodation in Galway, why not stay in a boat! Instead of a hostel or hotel, check out VRBO or Airbnb and look to see if there is a boat available. Staying in a boat is a unique way to experience Galway. You will be gently rocked to sleep and wake up to the sounds of the water. It will be a memorable experience.
When looking for a place to stay in Galway, I found the Lovely Laura Lucy on Airbnb. A former German Polizel patrol ship turned party boat is now a unique place to stay on a private historic dock in Galway. As lifelong desert dwellers, neither Sal nor I had ever spent the night on a boat. We decided to book the place right away. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience for us!
Buddy says, “Yeah unfortunately I did not get to stay in a boat. I stayed at the Sleepzone Galway City Hostel with my choir.”
What we missed
Because 12 hours in Galway is absolutely not enough time to fully explore the city, this is what we missed on this trip. I am hopeful we can return one day soon and get a chance to take in these sites (and stay in a boat!).
- Galway Cathedral
- Galway Atlantaquaria
- Salthill Promenade
- Salthill Beaches
- Galway Bay
- And the Galway City Museum because it was closed when we visited.
What to bring for a trip to Galway
These are a few of our suggestions that you can find on Amazon. Feel free to add to this list as you see fit!
- A refillable water bottle, a small one that fits is a purse.
- A crossbody travel bag. My favorite (that I use even when I am not traveling) is the anti-theft messenger bag by Travelon. I have used this bag for our European adventures since 2018. I love that it is not too big but can fit a small water bottle and umbrella.
- Lip balm
- A portable power bank and charger
- An umbrella
What to wear to explore Galway
The weather can change quickly in Ireland, so layers are always a good idea. I was happy to arrive in Galway and exchange the hiking boots and waterproof clothes for some city wares.
During my 12 hours exploring Galway, I wore:
- Comfortable walking shoes! After ditching my hiking boots, I put on my go-to walking shoes for visiting cold or rainy cities in Europe. For good measure, I used waterproof shoe spray on the boots since I was traveling to a rainy place.
- Comfortable socks
Pro tip: Break your shoes in before you travel! If you are buying new shoes for your trip, make sure you wear them around your city to break them in before you travel. This will save your toes from blisters and pain once you begin your adventures!
- Layers that can be mixed and matched. I wore dark pants, and a long sleeve shirt all from Stitch Fix.
- A coat, preferably a rain jacket. This used this Columbia rain jacket for our trip to Ireland and Scotland and it kept me nice and dry.
Is Galway worth visiting?
Yes! I only wish we had more time there. Perhaps next time we will spend a couple days there to take our time with the site and perhaps even drive up to Brigit’s Garden Gairdin Bhride to visit the Celtic Gardens. And maybe next visit, we will have time to film a Movement Postcard.
Buddy says, “I agree. I wish we had more time there. I didn’t get to see or do a lot of things. But that’s how it is when you are on tour.”
Galway is a beautiful and lively city in the west of Ireland that offers a lot to its visitors. From its colorful streets, public art, and historic landmarks, this costal destination has something for everyone. If you’re planning to visit Ireland soon, make sure to add Galway to your itinerary. It’s a city that you won’t regret visiting!
Have you visited Galway? If so, what are your top recommendations? Are you planning a trip to Galway on Ireland’s West Coast? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- One Day in Dublin: 9 Interesting Things To Do
- Day Trip to Kilkenny: 5 Interesting Things To Do
- Cliffs of Moher: 5 Simple Tips for Visiting
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