Ireland travel guide: 11 fun things to do in beautiful Galway city

We’ve driven the Galway part of the Wild Atlantic Way many times over and for a good reason – every meter of the road brings you closer to traditional villages and beaches full of fantastic sea stacks.

When we agreed to spend Valters 40th birthday in Galway, I knew we’d enjoy the time spent there but didn’t quite expect the weekend to be such a perfect way to become more deeply acquainted with this part of Ireland.

Although the sun never made an appearance and the gusty winds had knocked off all the leaves from the trees we were stupefied with the splendour we encountered there. We were grateful for a chance to discover a different side of Ireland that won us over many times before.

Galway is a beautiful city, and for a change, it was refreshing to enjoy somewhat loose planning and let the cobbled streets lead us wherever they wish.

Galway is  Irelands fifth-biggest city and was set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2020. It’s also one of the most popular day trips for anyone visiting Emerald isle as venturing beyond Dublin’s walls right across the country to explore it will enable you to see the variety of the island.

The Long Walk is one of the most iconic Galway attractions and makes for a perfect photo stop.

Ireland travel guide: 11 fun things to do in beautiful Galway city

Colourful even on a cloudy day, Galway –  known as “The City of the Tribes” – is bursting with charm, art, local legends and music. Are you making plans to visit Ireland and take a trip to the wonderful West? A visit to Galway should definitely be on anyone’s travel list. 

And once you visit, you’ll see for yourself that it’s pretty hard not to fall under Galway’s spell. Here you can relax at Eyre Square, wander around Galway University grounds, go on brewery tours and step inside Lynch’s Castle (now AIB Bank), situated between Shop Street and Abbeygate Street.

In this blog post, we would like to share some of the best things to do in the city whose trade and politics was once controlled by 14 families.

#1. Wander around the Latin Quarter

Situated on the left bank of the River Corrib, Latin Quarter, a hook-shaped district of cobblestone streets,  is a popular place to grab a bite, capture colourful facades or just simply stroll through it.  In the lively Latin Quarter, you’ll find cities best-known pubs,  affordable, yet a tad noisy travellers hostels,  independent stores and various attractions.

Galway’s Latin Quarter is a cultural part of the city, and its little side streets are great for a little wander while you enjoy the street artists, known as buskers, playing fantastic music. The main street is called Quay Lane, and you can’t beat the amazing energy bouncing from the area. Take time to chill out with a pint in one of the outdoor seating areas and enjoy people watching.

Beautiful Galway city basking in the summer sun.

#2. Take a boat trip

If you ever get a chance to see the coast from the water, take it, an aquatic perspective of the city and its surroundings will leave a lasting impression. Jump on the Corrib Princess for a very scenic 90-minute cruise on River Corrib, take in the sights, take notes on how to make Irish coffee and learn the history of Blake Castle.

The Corrib Princess operates from May to September, offers a knowledgeable captain, a heated indoor cabin for those rainy days, a venue for a private party and full catering facilities.

Prices for the river cruise are Adult €17, Family (2 Adults and up to 3 Children under 14) €40, Student / Senior €15.

#3. Go on a hunt for the best Irish arts and crafts

Some of the city’s best handmade crafts can be found in a handful of shops. Whether you are looking for quirky jewellery, Aran sweaters, artisan brews or the famous Claddagh Ring,  Galway has it all.

Check out the beautiful Wooden Heart shop, packed full of wooden toys, books, incredible dollhouses and early learning toys. Make your way to Galway’s Farmers Market located by St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church for vintage jewellery, a great variety of food, handmade soaps and rare books.

Don’t forget to sample an award-winning Galway Hooker – a beer brewed using only malt, hops, yeast and water. Stop at Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold to learn the story behind the ring and travel to Roundstone Music and Craft Shop, located in Roundstone and run by master craftsman Malachy Kearns that makes one-sided drum known as the Bodhrán (Bow-Rawn).

Often known as a Fisherman sweater, Aran sweaters are distinguished by their use of complex stitch patterns.

#4. Walk around the Salthill promenade

Salthill and its beautiful promenade where during the summer months you can see locals jumping off of BlackRock Diving Tower is a lovely seaside town situated 10 minutes away from Galway city.

To reach the Salthill Promenade travel southwest of the city centre and you’ll find lots of restaurants, cafes and plenty of beaches to enjoy. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the peaks of Connemara and an outline of The Burren.

Galway Atlantaquaria, run by the National Aquarium of Ireland,  is located in Salthill too. It’s a small but very decent aquarium where you can see lots of sea animals such as the Stingray, blowfish, flatfish and sharks.

#5 Visit Charlie Byrne’s Bookstore

If you are a fan of independent bookstores, where the rooms are stacked floor to ceiling with books, then you have to pay a visit to Charlie Byrne’s Bookstore.

In a labyrinth of cosy rooms, you’ll be able to find any genre imaginable and all for very affordable prices. Wandering through the shop is one of the best free things to do in Galway as there are well over 100,000 second-hand, new and bargain books.

There are so many books that in fact they are even stacked at the entrance of the shop making look more appealing. It’s easy to get lost browsing the shelves for a couple of hours, and it’s impossible to leave empty-handed as some of the books cost as little as 3 euros, a must go for a book worm!

Address: The Cornstore, Middle St, Galway

A booklovers dream and a must place to visit in Galway.

#6. Pay a visit to Galway City Museum

Founded in 2006 and located beside the Spanish Arch Galway city museum is well kept and comprehensive and is a great place to spend an hour or two during a visit to Galway.

The entry to Galway City Museum is free to enter for anyone who is interested in cities history, and it also makes for a great place to hide from unexpected rainstorms.

Various exhibitions are laid out through the museum’s three floors, each dedicated to different subjects such as cities’ prehistoric pats, artwork and marine life. There’s even a Galway Hooker for anyone to admire, the Williamites Wars and Maritime Wrecks off the coast of Ireland all covered in great detail

Opening hours | Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am -5pm (12pm on Sundays)

Galway City Museum is a must for anyone travelling with kids.

#7. Snap a photo of Fishery Watchtower

Built in 1852/53 by the Ashworth Brothers, Fishery Watchtower is one of Galway cities landmarks. The yellow tower’s purpose up until the 1970s was to keep an eye on the fishing boats operating on the river. Nowadays, you’ll find a small museum with exhibits telling the history of Galway’s fishing heritage.

Address: Wolfe Tone Bridge, Galway

#8. Admire Galway Cathedral

Designed by J.J.Robisnon and built in the 1950’s Galway Cathedral, the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven, is one of the youngest stone cathedrals in Europe. Located in a part of Galway City known as Nun’s Island, Galway Cathedral is one of the city’s largest buildings, and its dome can be seen for miles around.

Initially, the location of the city prison, the cathedral houses impressive dome, stone walls and beautiful rose windows by George Cambell. The floor of the cathedral is made from Connemara Marble, and the light flowing through the windows create a wonderful atmosphere.

The cathedral is open to the public and free to visit. Opening hours for visitors are from 8:30am – 6:30pm and if you wish you can join the daily mass to hear one of the finest pipe organs in the country.

Inside Galway Cathedral.

#9. See the Spanish Arch

Dating back to pre-medieval times, the Spanish Arch are two remaining arches on the Ceann a Bhalla. Located on the left bank of the Corrib River, right beside Galway City Museum, it’s one of Galway’s historical gems that used to house soldiers who manned cannons on the roof. The simple arch, once partially destroyed by the tsunami in the 1800s was originally constructed by William Martin and built in 1584.

#10. Go on a day trip 

Road trips in the West is always a very good idea as this part of Ireland is renowned for their wonderful scenery. Travelling to Galway and not taking advantage of nearby world-class attractions would be a foolish thing to do.

You can book an organised tour or be adventurous and go for a self-drive tour. Galway is perfectly positioned for some great day trips, and some of the best include the astounding Cliffs of Moher, beautiful Connemara, remote Aran Islands, Kylemore Abbey and Burren National Park.

Some of the best scenic drives we would recommend:

Inagh Valley to Killary Harbour

Sky Road, Clifden

Leenane to Drummin

Bearna to Lettermore

IMG_0773 (1)
The Cliffs of Moher are truly breathtaking, and Irelands top sights.

#11. Visit Galway for Christmas magic

You’ll love seeing Galway dressed up for the Christmas season looking stunning with beautifully decorated shop windows and twinkling street lights. The annual Christmas Market in the main event taking place at Eyre Square with a traditional carousel, plenty of market stalls, a 32 meter-high wheel, Santa’s Express Train and carol singing on display.

Don’t be put off by travelling to Ireland in winter, even on the coldest and darkest days there’s something to see and do. The weather is wetter and the days are shorter, but there are fewer crowds, and you don’t need to fight your way through the crowds. Always bring plenty of warm socks, water-resistant boots and a warm hat to keep you dry and cosy.

Lots of beautiful Christmas decorations and twinkling lights in Galway City.

Where to stay in Galway

If you are spending a couple of days in Galway, you need a place to stay. Your accommodation will depend on how you travel. If you are on a road trip around Ireland, then you need a place where you can park a car. Parking in the city centre is expensive, so it’s best to find a hotel or other accommodation with free parking.

On our last trip to Galway, we decided to splurge out a little bit and stayed outside the city in a hotel with fantastic ocean views because it was Valters’ 40th Birthday trip. We ended up choosing the Connemara Coast Hotel for a relaxing family break and couldn’t be happier to recommend it to anyone.

Where to stay in Galway will depend on your budget and needs.

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Now, over to you!

Have you been to Galway? Let us know in the comments below!

Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Galway and have travel-related questions!

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

75 thoughts on “Ireland travel guide: 11 fun things to do in beautiful Galway city

    1. Thank you! Galway is one of Ireland’s most picturesque cities – there are many colourful shops selling hand-carved wooden toys, lively pubs and a fantastic atmosphere to keep you entertained. Thanks for stopping by, you would love exploring Galway. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sheree. Galway was named as one of the top places to visit in the world in 2020 by Lonely Planet and was set to become European Capital of Culture, but that’s not happening now due to pandemic. Thanks for reading and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jo. I hope you get to explore Ireland one day and visit West Coat too. While many visitors flock to Dublin, I much prefer the vibe of Galway. From wanderings cobbled streets to appreciating bursts of colours, it’s a fantastic city to visit. Aiva


  1. Gorgeous! I went to Galway with a school trip when I was 15, it was actually the first time I went abroad. I remember the street music and the incredible vibes. I wanna go back now and enjoy a pint at the pub, eat some seafood and visit bookstores. Lovely post, thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and thanks so much for stopping by. Galway is a vibrant Irish city in the western region of the Emerald Isle, and I’m so delighted we finally had a chance to explore. Being a tourist in your own country can offer as much excitement as travelling abroad, especially if you choose to visit places like Galway. Have a good day and stay safe. Aiva


    1. Thanks so much, my friend. The bookstore was one of the reasons why we wanted to go back to Galway; you can easily spend a couple of hours browsing shelves and finding awesome reads. Galway city is set to become a European Capital of Culture 2020 with amazing events and spectacular shows. I hope it goes ahead, given the current pandemic situation, as the event is planned for July. Thanks for stopping by and stay safe. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Galway is a small and walkable city that’s a joy to explore at any season. We’ve been lucky enough to take countless trips every since we moved from Dublin to Sligo and every time found something new and exciting to do. Thanks for reading, I hope all is well. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We first saw Galway in 1977 on our honeymoon. It lured us in with its beautiful sunlit coastal views from afar and then proceeded to rain for 2 days. Similar happened in our return in 2017. It poured our first night in and then scattered showers for the next day. Still, some good exploring to the Latin Quarter, Spanish Arch and Salthill. We had our Irish guides J & F, so managed to see the highlights. Will be Skyping with them today to see how they are doing. Hope you and your family are doing well. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Allan, how are you doing today? I’m glad to hear you had a chance to visit Galway twice because walking around it is like walking through the pages of a history book. I always look forward to exploring Quay Street and listening to talented buskers. And Erieira loves Galway City museum – it’s a perfect place to hide away from frequent rain showers. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day. Greetings from sunny Ireland. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for such lovely feedback. There are many reasons why anyone should visit Galway at least once and its beautiful bookstore is definitely one of them. Thanks for stopping by and stay safe during these uncertain times. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for all that helpful information. It may come handy next year, because, unfortunately, we had to cancel our visit to Ireland, which we had planned for May.
    Take care, and stay healthy,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hI, Pit! I’m sorry to hear you had to cancel your grand Irish adventure due to pandemic. I know how that feels because our two upcoming trips to the Netherlands and Scottland had to be cancelled. I hope you make it to Ireland one day.
      Until then, stay safe, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Maggie, thanks for stopping by.

      We visited Galway city for a weekend with our campervan and stayed the night in the Galway Docks, where we could park up overnight. This was great as it meant we could walk straight into town and explore without having to worry about driving anywhere. It’s an amazing city to explore; we can highly recommend it.

      Stay safe, guys!


      Liked by 1 person

    1. The streets of Galway are alive with music, traditional pubs and independent store. And if you happen to visit during one of its festivals, you are in for a treat. I hope things go back to normal so we can start travelling again. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Allison, so glad to hear from you. Sometimes I choose a certain destination because of bookstores and Galway was no different. It is said to be the best independent book shop in all of Ireland and on our last visit we had a chance to partake in a storytelling event. A fantastic experience for the whole family. Thanks for stopping by and stay safe, my friend. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Brian, how are you doing today? Yes, we are in lockdown in Ireland, which is more than likely to be extended beyond April 12, according to Irish health officials. All non-essential trips have been banned in addition to the rules that were already in place. In essence, the only exceptions are for travelling to essential work, to shop for food or household goods and healthcare appointments.

      So far we are doing great, we are still allowed to go for an exercise once a day within 2km from where we live. The rest of the time we spend reading, writing, dancing, baking and painting.

      I hope all is well with you. Stay safe. Aiva xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Consider at least all of april, and I wonder, May? Id the numbers don’t go down? The thing is some are already starting to think about deconfinement. How to do it.
        So far so good here. Lots of reading and writing too…
        Stay safe Aiva.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Thom! I wouldn’t mind going back to Galway or any other place for that matter. But we just have to wait for things to go back to normal. So, for now, we are patiently spending time at home in isolation. Thanks for stopping by and stay safe. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So colorful and enticing. I feel for the Irish people and the Galwegians (?) about the pandemic ruining their chance to be the Capital of Culture. I hope the powers that be just push it back to 2021, much like they’re doing with the Olympics.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved your take on descriptive derivative with the Galwegians! I might need to use mister Google to dig deeper into this particular matter. But knowing that people from Glasgow are known as Weegie – a contraction of the world “Glaswegians” I can easily see how we could settle for Galwegians.

      Yes, Galway had this once in a lifetime opportunity to host one of the biggest cultural events in a world, and we were getting ready to see as much of the shows and events as possible. I haven’t seen the updates yet, whether it’s been cancelled or not. I know that Edinburgh’s August festivals are cancelled due to coronavirus, for the first time in 70 years.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well. Stay safe. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing your adventures. I must admit I have a lists of countries I want to visit, but Ireland was not on that list. That was until I read this post about this beautiful city. Safe travels to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, and thanks for stopping by! There are many beautiful towns and cities worth exploring in Ireland and Galway is one of them. Writing and reading about different place from around the world is a great way to distract yourself from the current pandemic crisis, even if it’s just for a minute or two So, thanks for stopping by and I’m glad to hear you would love to visit Ireland. Stay safe. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, guys! Brimming with books on every imaginable subject, Charlie Byrne’s is one of my favourite places in Ireland, and you can easily browse without obligations. The store is run by archaeologists, and it’s a must-see place for anyone that loves reading. Thanks for stopping by and stay safe. Aiva xxx


  6. Hello Aiva, wot a lovely place to visit! Certainly now on my list for Ireland! And as always the loveliest photographs😊. Thank you, my friend, for such great information. I will print out all yer articles on Ireland and take them with me, I won’t need a travel guide. Yours is the best! Take good care of yourself and your family my friend. All the best to ye! And I hope ye enjoy a beautiful Sunday 🙂🌹


    1. Thanks so much for your lovely words and never-ending support, Francisco! Going through photos and writing about our past travels is one of the things that keep me sane during the lockdown. I hope you are doing well, all things considered, of course.

      Irelands usually-busy multi-lane highways have been empty for weeks and the only sounds throughout the most days are seagulls fighting and dogs barking. Just like people from around the world, we are confused and frustrated. Having said that, the sense of solidarity and support among people has been nothing short of incredible.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend! Happy Easter to you and your family. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Aiva, and a very happy Easter to you and your family. Yes, we are all in the same situation, all around the world. This pandemic has become the great equaliser and I only hope that it ends soon, all over the world, so that we can go back to our ordinary lives but as better persons, with a little more understanding of the realities of life and a little more love in our hearts for everybody. Take good care and all the best to you, stay safe and don’t despair, this will end, life always triumphs.
        Thank you always for your support and for your words of encouragement,


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. We are dreaming of travelling too, although it doesn’t look like we are going anyplace soo. Our lockdown has been extended for a further three weeks, and we just have to find more ways to keep us all sane. Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Galway and Ireland all look both so amazing and colourful.
    Even though I have lived in London I have never had the chance to visit it.
    Thanks for all the suggestions, I wrote everything down hoping to visit it as soon as COVID is over.

    Have a nice day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! This was our third time visiting Galway, and I was still genuinely surprised by how beautiful the city was. We were hoping to go back this summer, but all our plans are now cancelled due to COVID. Fingers crossed we see the end of pandemic soon. Stay safe. Aiva


    1. It takes around 2 hours and 30minutes each way to travel from Dublin and Galway. If you start early enough and only have a day to spare, it can be easily done. Galway is relatively small, and you can see all of its tourist attractions, have lunch and go shopping for handmade goodies in one day. I hope you get to visit Galway; it’s an amazing and vibrant city. Stay safe. Aiva


    1. Ahh… we are dreaming of travelling too! Ireland and its biggest cities are a joy to explore. For such a small country, it has a lot to offer any traveller, whether you’re visiting for a few days or a few months. Fingers crossed we can go back to exploring the world soon. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva


    1. Hi, Nadia! Glad to hear you had a chance to visit Galway and the Cliffs of Moher. We were planning to go back this summer but looks like it’s not happening due to the pandemic crisis. I hope you get to see Galway and surrounding landscape, that’s both rugged and rolling, coarse and charming, again. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Galway looks like such a lovely city to visit, I’ve heard many good things about it so definitely somewhere I hope to visit soon.
    It looks beautiful in your Christmas-y photo too! I’m sure a Christmas / NY trip would be great fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jason, you would love walking around Galway, listening to the never-ending music, taking in the sights and making unforgettable memories. We were fortunate to visit Galway three times last year and I could easily go back in a heartbeat. Just waiting for the green light from the government, but from what’s looks like, well be able to travel within the country only from 20th of July! Two more months to go. Take care and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m sure I would too.

        It looks like a lot of places are hoping to be open to tourists again this summer so hopefully we won’t have too long until we’re traveling again. Take care too!


    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you get to visit Ireland one day. We have so many countries on our travel wish list but due to the current pandemic situation are planning to stay in Ireland and explore more of it. Have a good day. Aiva


    1. I hope you had a great time staying at Galway Bay. We love great outdoors and would usually stay outside of bigger cities, but once in a while, it’s nice to nice to stay nearby and visit museums and go shopping. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂


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