Galway city and the surrounds have so much to offer a visitor to this area. I have put together a list of my favourite things to see and do in Galway as well as some places to eat and drink.
To begin with, most visitors will head to Shop Street, the main street in Galway, which is jam-packed with shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs. Buskers and performers line the street, entertaining the often large crowds. Head down to the river via Quay Street (pictured), which has some fantastic restuarants and bars.
The Spanish Arch
A favourite for locals and visitors alike on a sunny day is to head down to the Spanish Arch and the Claddagh with a coffee or a few beers and just soak in the rays in a very beautiful area. Not many cities have a river as clean or as beautiful as the Corrib.
While you’re at the Spanish Arch, take a tour of the museum. It’s free to enter the Galway City Museum, where you can discover Galway’s rich history. Go to the viewing space on the third floor for a great view of the Corrib.
Take a walk
Stroll along the promenade in Salthill, referred to as “the Prom”. This is a very popular spot for walking and running. Take a break down near the diving tower at Blackrock (pictured) and listen to the waves hitting the shore, or go for a swim. Salthill itself has some very nice restaurants (I would highly recommend La Collina, a small Italian restaurant) and a few pubs, as well as an aquarium, arcades and a small amusement park in the summer. Drop into the Bean and Cone for coffee and ice cream.
One of my favourite places to walk on a nice day is along the Corrib River (pictured). Start at Jury's Inn Hotel down near the Spanish Arch area. There is a walkway that runs along the river right up to the Salmon Weir Bridge near the Cathedral. You can also continue on along the corrib past Galway Court House and up to where the Corrib Princess docks. If you wish, from here you can take a trip on the on the Corrib Princess. The Corrib River and Lake are simply majestic and would be highly recommended.
Other good places for a stroll include the Long Walk at the Spanish Arch, the Barna Woods or Merlin Woods.
Many people will head to Connemara National Park or the Sky Road to Clifden and though this would definitely be recommended, the other side of Connemara shouldn’t be overlooked. Carraroe for example in the summer is a great place for a day trip. There are many small beaches here, including a coral beach, Tra an Doilin. My personal favourite is a small beach called An Caoran Mor. There is a small pier and if the tide is in it’s a great place to swim and snorkel, if you can find the beach that is. There is also a great view of the Martello Tower in Ros an Mhil from here. This tower, like many such towers around the country, was built by the British in the early 1800s to protect vulnerable coastal areas from American merchants and French warships. You can reach the tower by heading to Ros an Mhil. It is difficult to find and you may have to ask a local. It is possible to climb into the tower, although you do so at your own risk. The cannon remains on the top to this day.
Take the plane from Minna Airport in Inverin, which only takes 7 mins or get the ferry from Ros an Mhil. The Aran Islands are a real throwback to old Ireland. Renting a bike is the best way to explore the Islands. Inis Mor is the most popular and has the famous Dun Aonghas fort, but I would recommend Inis Oirr, which has a beautiful beach as well as the shipwreck, the Plassey.
You must also go to Cong, it is breathtakingly beautiful. Although it is in Mayo, it is only a 45 minute drive from Galway City. The town itself is beautiful, but you will also find the Quiet Man Cottage and Ashford Castle, which has superb grounds, as well as fishing, horse riding, hiking and golf.
Galway is a lively, buzzing town with a great nightlife. Some popular bars include the Dail Bar, the Front Door and Busker Brownes on Cross Street and the Quays bar on Quay street. These are late bars and are great fun but can get very crowded.
For a more authentic experience, head to the Dew Drop Inn on Cross Street, and Freeney’s or Taffes on Shop Street. For a traditional Irish music session tig Coili on Shop Street or the Crane Bar on Dominic Street are two of the best. If it's a nice day make sure to grab a seat outside Neachtains on Cross Street (pictured), a great place to have a drink and watch the world go by.
For beer gardens head to Eyre Square and Forster Street for a pint in O’ Connells, An Pucan or Rabbittes bars.
If you prefer live music to a night club head to Monroes or the Roisin Dubh on Dominic Street.
If you like your craft or international beers The Salt House on Raven Terrace, overlooking the Claddagh, The BierHaus on Henry Street, or The Twelve in Barna are quite good.
Places to eat
For lunch or an early dinner, Pub grub is the order of the day in Galway. The Imperial Hotel on Eyre Square is great for carvery lunches. The Skeff on Eyre Square, The King’s Head on High Street and McSwiggans in Wood Quay are all good.
The G Hotel is a fancy option for afternoon tea. A little bit pricey, but if you can afford it, it’s well worth it.
If you’re just looking for a fresh wrap or some coffee, Food for Thought, Gourmet Tart and Pascal’s are great. These can all be found around Abbeygate Street, not too far from Shop Street. On Shop Street itself is the excellent 56 Central. It's upstairs from Zhivagos.
In fact there are lots of good little cafes in Galway. Stay away from the likes of Costa and Insomnia as there are plenty of small independent cafes for much better value and food. Cupan Tae down near the Spanish Arch is another good example. Less well known is the Corrib House Tea Rooms (picured), down behind the Town Hall.
Dominic street and streets around it have some of the best restaurants in Galway. Creole, Kai, Rouge, Oscars and Cava can all be found in this area.
Down by the Spanish Arch there is a really nice restaurant called Ard Bia at Nimmo's. The seafood is top notch here.
If you have a car, head to Barna, where you will find Donnellys, The Twelve, Mulberrys and Grady’s On The Pier, all excellent restaurants.
If you’re after a few pints and you’re looking for something quick and satisfying , The Charcoal Grill or Supermacs on Cross Street will do nicely.