Originally a small fishing village, Galway - the City of the Tribes - is now a thriving cultural hub, renowned for its friendly people, great nightlife, fabulous festivals and eclectic restaurants. You’ll get a taste of ‘Old Ireland’ here too, with traditional crafts, music and customs found in every corner of Galway’s city and county.
If you Like HISTORY, you’ll Love:
The Latin Quarter, on the left bank of the River Corrib and in the heart of Galway, is one of the city’s busiest and most historic areas. Home to the Spanish Arch (originally part of the city’s walls, the arches were partially destroyed in 1755 by the tsunami generated by the Lisbon earthquake); the Galway City Museum; Galway’s centuries old Saturday Market; and St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church - where it is said Christopher Columbus attended in 1477. Here you’ll really get into the holiday spirit along the cobblestone streets. Thronged with locals and visitors, it fuels Galway’s reputation as a quirky and vibrant international city.
Overlooking the Spanish Arch, this spacious and modern Museum houses a variety of permanent and touring exhibitions representing Galway's rich archaeology, heritage and history. Learn about an topics such as World War I, Medieval Galway, The Galway Hooker, and Galway’s cinematic story. Open Tuesday to Sunday, admission is free!
If you Like SHOPPING, you’ll Love:
In addition to the usual high-street and department stores, many of which you can find in the Eyre Square Centre, Galway offers something different - an array of local and Irish craft stores, perfect for sourcing an authentic souvenir or gift. On William Street, you’ll find both Galway Bay Gifts, selling everything from tweed caps to Claddagh Rings; and The Treasure Chest, which stocks high-quality china, crystal, linen, pottery and ladies fashions. If on High Street, head to Ó’Máille - famous for its selection of handmade traditional Irish clothing and crafts including the ever popular handknit Aran sweaters; and The Kilkenny Shop, Ireland's largest emporium for Irish Designed products. Close by, in Kirwan’s Lane, Judy Greene Pottery sells all kinds of beautifully hand-painted traditional pottery, made in her workshop.
Galway is famous for its bustling street market, held year round on Saturdays (and Fridays and Sundays during the summer months). Trading in Church Lane, market-goers will find hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce and locally produced crafts, along with hot food stalls offering spicy curries, freshly made crepes, traditional falafels and even sushi! Browse the beautiful jewellery made from Connemara marble; fine print collections featuring images from Galway Bay and beyond; hand turned wooden bowls, lamps and mirrors; and fair trade gifts from around the globe. Enjoy Oysters fresh from Galway Bay, sample a still-warm slice of Olive bread, and choose from an international range of cheeses.
If you Like GOOD FOOD, you’ll Love:
Galway’s only Michelin-starred restaurant and a multi-award winner, Aniar is a terroir based eatery - meaning the chefs use only fresh, local and seasonal ingredients from Galway and the West of Ireland. The menu changes daily and the staff offer excellent wine pairing advice. Their Tasting Menu is a must-try! Reservations highly recommended.
The award-winning Cava Bodega (and sister restaurant to Aniar) serves the very best of Spanish food and wine, with a particular focus on their tasty tapas dishes - which famous food and wine connoisseur Tom Doorley has declared ‘The Best Tapas in Ireland’! This lively restaurant with open kitchen, over 50 regional tapas to choose from, and a stellar wine list, makes a fantastic start to any night in Galway City. Allergens list available, reservations highly recommended. It's a favourite of TopAttractionsIreland.com too!
Oscar’s, winner of the Georgina Campbell Guides ‘Seafood Chef of the Year Award 2014’, offers a selection of quality, fresh Galway seafood and other local produce. Their menu changes according to what’s best at market that day but expect mouth-watering mains like Grilled Supreme of Clare Island Salmon; a Crab Claw & Prawn Melt braised in white wine Veloute; or free range Chicken Breast stuffed with Galway Killeen goat’s cheese and prosciutto, basil and almond pesto.
Located on the bustling Quay Street, this casual, cosy and quirky restaurant offers a varied and seasonal menu, with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free offerings. Changing daily specials include items like Beef & Guinness Stew; a Chickpea, Spinach & Roasted Vegetable Casserole with Cous Cous; and Thai Sweet Chilli Mussels. On a fine day, sit outside and revel in the buzz of one of Galway’s liveliest streets.
Winner of the ‘Best Newcomer Award’ at the Irish Restaurant Awards, the Dough Bros serves wood fired pizza and craft beers in a casual and trendy environment. Specialising in Neapolitan style pizzas, using fresh, seasonal and local produce, their Head Chef has even trained in Naples! If you’re a pizza lover in Galway, a visit here is a must!
This traditional Irish tea shop by the Spanish Arch specialises in quality home baking and offers thirty different types of herbal loose-leaf teas! Sip your choice from a floral China cup and mismatched saucer with a delicious homemade scone, or indulge with a full Afternoon Tea served on a China Cake stand - bliss! Full breakfast and lunch menus available.
If you Like FAMILY DAYS OUT, you’ll Love:
Located just 3km from Galway City, this seaside resort is jam-packed on a sunny day. Walk along Ireland’s longest Promenade with a ‘99’ (soft serve ice-cream), relax on the sandy beach or dip your toes in the invigorating Atlantic sea. Stroll down the main street of casinos, pubs and restaurants and enjoy a pint of ‘the Black Stuff’ outside one of the local pubs, or a freshly cooked gluten-free battered cod at Salthill Fish & Chips. Kids will love playing the slot machines, taking a spin on the Waltzers at the summer amusement park or playing a round of mini golf at Leisureland, located on the Prom.
Just a 60-minute drive time will get you to the Burren National Park - a 1,500 hectare area of Special Conservation. Marvel at the unique, lunar-like karst landscape, megalithic tombs and monuments older than Egypt's pyramids; discover diverse flora with arctic-alpine plants living side by side with Mediterranean plants; or try and spot some of the wildlife to be found there including hares, foxes, lizards, wild goats and the elusive pine martin!
When you’re done exploring (or if the weather takes a turn), head to the Burren Centre in Kilfenora, where you can learn about this stone-carved land through a multi-dimensional exhibition. For more information, and best value tickets, see here.
Little (and big!) explorers will love a visit to one of the Burren’s two showcaves - the Aillwee Cave & Birds of Prey Centre in Ballyvaughan, or Doolin Cave, just outside the beautiful and traditional Doolin village. At Aillwee, you can take a 35 minute guided walk through beautiful caverns and alongside the thunderous waterfall, before exploring the hibernation chambers of the long extinct brown bears complete with real bear bones! Take in a flying display at the on-site Birds of Prey Centre - home to one of the largest and most varied collection of Birds of Prey in Ireland. Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite - the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. Suspended like a chandelier, it’s hard to believe it was formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years! Entry fee includes use of the charming Farmland Nature Trail looped walk, where the kids will enjoy seeing indigenous species of flora, rare animal breeds and fantastic views. You can buy tickets to both these fantastic attractions here.
Finally, no visit to the Burren would be complete without seeing the world-famous Cliffs of Moher, near Liscannor. Ireland’s most visited natural attraction stretch for 8km and offer views that are truly breath-taking. More information and best value tickets are available here.
If you Like FESTIVALS, you’ll Love:
Held in September each year, at the Spanish Arch, the Galway Oyster Festival is the oldest oyster festival in the world! It guarantees a fantastic festival atmosphere throughout the city with seafood trails, the World Oyster Opening Championship, foodie talks, family activities, live music, cooking demos and more.
Ireland’s biggest and most famous racing festival sees over 150,000 people flock to Galway to enjoy the buzzing festival atmosphere, fabulous fashion, great nightlife and of course top-class racing, with 49 races taking place over the week-long event.
One of Europe's premier cultural events, GIAF is a creative collision of performance, music, visual art and discussion. Enjoy everything from world-class theatre to impromptu musical performances on the city streets, from side-splitting comedy performances to concerts by the biggest names in Irish music...and lots more in between!
This weeklong event features the very best names in comedy from around the world, plus top home-grown headliners and has been described an ‘an inspired selection of comedy brilliance' by The Irish Times. Confirmed acts for 2015 include Nina Conti and Dylan Moran.
Named among the ‘25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World’ by Moviemaker Magazine, This Film Fleadh is a 6-day celebration of the wonder of cinema. It’s a great place to go celebrity-spotting, as previous guests have included Martin Sheen, Brendan Gleeson, Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Woody Harrelson, Maureen O’Hara, Gabriel Byrne & Pierce Brosnan to name but a few!
If you Like GREAT NIGHTLIFE, you’ll Love:
Centrally located and popular with locals and visitors Tig Coili hosts traditional Irish music sessions every night - making it a great place to go for the atmosphere, the craic and a chat with the locals!
With old style shrugs, 130 different Whiskeys, a selection of both home-brewed and craft beers, and live music every week, Tigh Neachtain’s is the idea place to experience a ‘traditional’ Irish pub!
This very popular pub, with five bars spread over two floors and stretching over two streets, is popular with the 20 to 35 age group. With dark wood, stained glass and cosy alcoves, the Front Door manages to retain that intimate feeling despite its size! This late bar (until 2am) fills up quickly, and is busy all weekend long.
Facing Galway’s famous Eyre Square, O’Connell’s is a popular venue attracting a diverse crowd. It boasts what is arguably the city’s best outdoor beer garden - complete with live music, heating, picnic seats and two outdoor bars - making for a fantastic atmosphere, whatever the weather! Sports fans will be content with the pub’s four ‘big screen’ televisions and one outside, showing a multitude of sporting events.
Located in the stylish and boutique House Hotel, this bar is always busy at weekend with a great atmosphere, fantastic cocktails, a late bar, DJ & dance floor. Cocktail classes also available - great for groups!
What’s the one thing you’d recommend to see/do on a visit to Galway?
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