Galway city is known for its lively atmosphere and very friendly people It’s a great spot in the West of Ireland to escape to for a weekend or a few days! It’s such a beautiful city that even Ed Sheeran had to write a song about it. It’s a harbour city with great a diversity of historical landmarks and food. So you’re wondering what to do in Galway City in Ireland? Look no further!
Stay on Eyre Square:
Eyre Square (‘An Fhaiche Mhór’ in Irish) is Galway’s main public space and greenery and the centre of the happenings in the city. It’s main landmark is the Quincentennial Fountain which is a bronze abstract depiction of the“Hooker”, a traditional fishing boat unique to Galway. You will also see the historic Browne family mansion doorway on the square. The Renaissance doorway is a reminder of the great architecture in the days of Galway’s civic opulence between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. If you are booking somewhere to stay I highly recommend a place around Eyre Square as you will be in the heart of the city.
We stayed in The Hardiman Hotel and it was a dream stay situated right on the square. The flawless and luxurious hotel has been accommodating guests since 1852. It’s right beside all of the main transport hubs and if you’re staying in the hotel you will get a discount on the price of your parking ticket in the Hynes Car Park. This is just down the street and we saved more than 60% on parking with this! You can eat your breakfast, lunch or dinner in the Gaslight Brasserie and have a night cap in the Oyster Bar. They have an open fireplace with comfortable seating in the lobby for all seasons giving a warm welcome to all guests.
What to do in Galway City:
- Walking Tour: Galway city is a small city so all attractions are within walking distance. A good way to see the main sights is to take a walking tour and you can choose between a free public or private tour. It should only take around 90 minutes in total and the main highlights are:
– Kirwan’s Lane
– Lynch’s castle
– Latin Quater
– St Nicholas Church
– Spanish Arch
– Medieval Walls
– Lynch’s Window
- Shop Street: Galway’s main shopping street is lined with all of the high-end retail stores as well as a variety of specialist and tourist shops offering unique gifts. This street is for pedestrians only and if you stroll down here you’ll feel the real buzz of the city!
- Aran Island Day cruise: If you are spending a few days in Galway this is a great activity to do! It is a full day trip where you take a cruise out to the Aran Islands and end up at the iconic Cliffs of Moher. The journey costs around €50 per person.
- Corrib Princess Boat cruise: If you don’t have the time for the Aran Island cruise but still want a similar boat trip experience, then you should definitely get on the Princess Corrib Boat cruise! It costs 20 euro for a ticket which you can purchase on ‘Get Your Guide’ app. The boat takes you down the River Corrib and onto Lake Corrib and sets off from Woodquay twice a day from May to September. On the river you’ll pass the ruins of Menlo Castle and learn a lot of interesting facts about the area. There’s a bar on board too so you can sit back and relax with a pint or even a cup of Irish tea.
- Salthill Promenade: If you head southwest from the city centre you’ll soon come to the Salthill Promenade. The promenade is two kilometres long with a beautiful perspective from the north side of the bay. The views on the shore are incredible and this spot is the midway point of the Wild Atlantic Way. The promenade is also lined with bars, seafood restaurants and cafes so you can stop for a bite to eat when you’re finished the walk!
Where to Eat and Drink:
You’ll be spoiled for choice for food and drink options in Galway! There’s a great atmosphere anywhere you go with a wide variety to suit all tastes and here are some of the places I recommend:
- Da Roberta’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
- The Secret Garden
- Jungle Café
- Deely’s Café
- Bar Italia – Italian pastries
- Cupán Tae
- The Skeffington Arms
- The King’s Head
- The Dew Drop
- Buscar Browns
- Hyde Bar & & Gin Parlour
Day Trip to Kylemore Abbey:
Nestled in the heart of Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, the Benedictine monastery is a place of beauty and a great day trip from Galway city. It takes around an hour and a half to drive there but you will drive through wonderful scenery on your way through Connemara, a region with many Gaeltacht areas.
Once you have bought your ticket (€15 per adult entry) into the abbey you can explore around the 1,000 acre estate:
- Go inside the Abbey
- Neo-Gothic Cathedral
- Victorian Walled Gardens
Kylemore Abbey was built by Mitchell Henry for his wife Margaret Henry back in 1877. It was owned by many after the Henrys’ time, including the Duke and Duchess of Manchester and from the 1920s was run by the Benedictine nuns. The nuns were really taken by the stunning castle that lights up at night as it was the first privately electrified house in Ireland. Up until 2010 it was also a secondary school with more than 150 students attending classes in the rooms of the Abbey. The history is truly fascinating so make sure to go to one of the complimentary tour guide talks that are offered three times a day throughout the year, at 11.30am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm.
The six-acre Victorian Walled Gardens on the estate have been restored to full bloom by the nuns and are open to the public for tours and walks. The gardens are very impressive and have a large team of gardeners to keep the beautiful scene overlooking Diamond Hill and Doughruagh Mountain. There is also a Tea House right before the gardens where you can stop in and have a hot beverage and something to eat. If you have the time to visit the Abbey I really recommend it and it is one of the most visited attractions in the West of Ireland. You can book a day trip from Galway with Get Your Guide.
I hope this guide helps when you are planning a trip to the festival capital of Ireland! Galway is such a unique city with many hidden gems. If you are are also visiting Dublin make sure to check out this guide.
Thanks for reading,