15 best things to do in Galway
Even the Irish themselves make their way to Galway if they want to have an especially good time!!
Located on the west coast of the Atlantic, Galway city blends the best of Ireland’s traditions and ambience. With its rich culture, history, craic agus ceoil (Irish style fun and music), Galway is the kind of city that could easily seduce you with its charms luring you to stay at least for a few days. And why not with plenty to see and do, and an incredible atmosphere right by the Atlantic sea?
Here are our choice of 15 best things to do in Galway when you hit this great Irish city looking for a good time, but hoping to leave a bit more enriched as well!!
1. Meander around medieval Galway & be sure to get some Instagrammable photos at the Spanish Arch
Galway grew from being a small fishing village to a prosperous medieval town, which would later become known as the City of Tribes. This is because from the 13th century, Galway was ruled by fourteen rich merchant families.
It was in 1232 that Galway became a walled town after the Anglo Norman conquest. During the medieval era, the city enjoyed lucrative trade with Spain and Portugal, because of its strategic location. Today you can still see some of these walls, with the famous Spanish Arch being iconic of Galway city.
2. Don’t miss the Galway City Museum
The pulse of the city’s heritage and history, the Galway City Museum shouldn’t be missed. Located above the Spanish Arch, the Musuem is home to superb collections that can walk you through the prehistoric and medieval eras, as well shedding light on the city’s social history.
Set in a gorgeous spacious modern building, the exhibitions are spread over three floors engaging visitors in subjects such as Galway’s sea science, history and archaeology. Currently the Galway City Museum is ranked as the 11th best free attraction in the whole of Ireland.
3. Immerse yourself in the Galway pub culture
Unless you arrive far too early in the morning and it would be an absolute disgrace to be seen in a bar, one of the first things you should do when you visit Galway is check out the amazing pub culture.
Of course Ireland is famous in general for its drinking culture, but in Galway you can find one of the country’s liveliest, buzzing pub scenes. It’s the perfect way to get a true taste Galway city.
4. Sample a Galwegian Irish breakfast or brunch
Diving into Galway’s pop culture too early in the day can be a lot of fun, but also me that you might miss other experiences.
Don’t worry the pubs will be full of fun later in the day and of course in the evening, so instead sample tasty Irish breakfast or brunch. Check out our top suggestions in 15 places in Galway to kickstart your day with a great breakfast or brunch
5. Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is the liveliest place in the city. Shop Street and High Street are the two main streets there. In the Latin Quarter, you’ll find Lynch Castle, an old castle that has now been transformed into a bank. The Latin Quarter is the best place to go for a pint.
6. Eyre Square
Eyre Square is the main square of Galway, where you can find a shopping centre of the same name. Actually the square’s official name is John K. Kennedy Memorial Park.
From around mid-November each year, the square welcomes Galway’s Christmas market. Christmas is a magical time to visit the Galway. If you go at Christmas, don’t miss the Christmas market.
7. Galway Cathedral
In the city there are two cathedrals: one Catholic and the other Protestant. St. Nichola’s Collegiate Church (Cathedral of St. Nicholas) is a medieval, Protestant cathedral, and the place where the book The Great Book of the Irish Genealogy was created. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Nicholas is Catholic. Entry is free. Its building is one of the most spectacular in the city and is built on an old prison.
8. Taste the local foodie offerings
Galway’s foodie scene is superb. From fine dining to casual cafés, Galway has lots of foodie offerings. Check out the inspirational flavours of Kai or the innovative technique of Loam and Aniar; a Galway Michelin star restaurant.
If you would like to appreciate even more about the food of Galway, there are walking tours available with Galway Food Tours.
9. Mc Donagh’s
Of course Galway is a seaside city and to sample the wares of the sea, my recommendation is that you go to Mc Donagh’s. It is an institution in the city and its fantastic,award-winning fish and chips are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
10. Go to a trad music session
A trad …which is a traditional music session has to be done at least once when in Ireland. Certainly Galway is a great choice to experience an Irish trad music session, as the city seems to live and breathe music. Some good options are An Púcán, Tigh Cóilí, Taaffes and The Crane Bar. And another couple of pubs we enjoyed just for a drink ….are below …
11. The Kings Head
At No. 15 High Street you can stumble into The Kings Head. It attracts a young crowd into its beautifully decorated interior which tells of days gone by.
12. Séhán Ua Neáchtain
A little further on, at the height of Upper Cross St, the blue facade of Séhán Ua Neáchtain should catch your eye. The first time I went there was a family there talking Irish (Gaelic) to each other. Personally I love the language, but I know from my Portuguese partner how incredibly different it sounds to foreigners.
13. Buy a Claddagh ring
The Claddagh ring is one of the most important symbols of Ireland. It’s in all the souvenir shops. The origin of this ring dates back to a small fishing village in Claddagh, just outside Galway. 300 years ago this ring was designed, a symbol of commitment, in this village.
14. Take in a festival
Festivals are a fabulous time to visit most places and Galway is certainly no exception to this rule! I’ve been there in the summer time for the Galway International Arts Festival (July)and it was incredible fun. The city was bubbling over with craic, colour and cultural events. Other great festivals in Galway are the Galway Film Fleadh in July and in September, the Galway International Oyster Festival.
15. Check out a market
To top yourself up with the Galway good vibes, head to the market at the weekend. Stalls are overflowing with colour and there’s an abundance of super flavours to be tasted, all by St Nicholas’ Medieval Church.