Galway is one of the most popular cities in Ireland and it’s not hard to see why! Home to traditional Irish pubs, lots of activities, and a vibrant atmosphere, this city is one of the best places to stay if you’re exploring the country. You’ll also find plenty of fun things to do in Galway!
Whether you’re looking to learn how to Irish dance, take a food tour, or simply walk along the Salthill Promenade, this charming city has something for everyone. Galway is also found along the Wild Atlantic Way. This makes it a great option if you’re looking to take day trips out of the city.
This guide will detail everything you need to know about visiting Galway. There will be recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, and best of all, the types of activities in Galway that you can do. I’ll also include some other insider top tips to ensure you get the most out of your visit. So let’s get started!
- Essential Tips Before You Visit Galway, Ireland
- Fun Things to Do in Galway, Ireland
- 1. Listen to live music at a traditional Irish pub
- 2. Walk the Salthill Promenade
- 3. Go on a scenic cruise of Lough Corrib
- 4. Learn how to traditional Irish dance
- 5. Visit some of Galway's museums
- 6. Go on a Galway food tour
- 7. Wander around the Latin Quarter
- 8. Drive part of the Wild Atlantic Way
- 9. Head out on a day cruise to the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher
- 10. Take a day trip to other destinations
- Best Places to Stay in Galway
- The best restaurants in Galway for foodies
- Fun Things to Do in Galway Conclusion
Essential Tips Before You Visit Galway, Ireland
Where is Galway, Ireland?
As the name suggests, Galway is located in County Galway which is an area along the West Coast of Ireland. The city is located along the River Corrib which then opens up into Galway Bay. It’s around 129 miles (207 km) away from Dublin (the country’s capital) which is situated on the East Coast.
Thanks to its location, you’ll be within a short drive of Connemara National Park, the Cliffs of Moher, and Clifden. As I mentioned previously, Galway is also located along the Wild Atlantic Way, so you’ll have endless places to visit nearby.
What is the best way to reach Galway?
The best way to reach Galway is by car as it offers you the most flexibility. If you’re coming from Dublin then you’ll need to take the M6 West. Just be mindful that you’ll be driving on the left side of the road (which many people aren’t used to). There are plenty of other routes that connect Galway to other cities as well so you’ll have no problem traveling from Cork, Limerick, and Kilkenny, among others.
When it comes to public transport, there are both trains and buses that run to Galway. These primarily run from Ireland’s other major towns and cities.
How long should I spend in Galway?
There are plenty of fun things to do in Galway so you don’t want to rush your time here. If you’re just planning to stay in the city itself then allow at least 2 days. This will give you plenty of time to explore Galway and its attractions. From traditional pubs to fascinating tours, there’s so much to do here. So, if you’re wondering, “Is Galway worth visiting?” Then you can rest easy knowing that it absolutely is.
However, if you’re planning to explore the nearby area then you’ll want to stay in Galway for at least 5 days. This will give you time to take day trips from the city, visit some other Irish counties, and try out more unique activities.
The Best Galway Tours
If you’re short of time then it may be best to check out the tours that are offered in Galway. Many of them are only 1.5 hours long, and you’ll get to explore the city with a local guide who’ll tell you everything you need to know.
Even if you’re planning to stay in the city for several days it’s worth getting to know Galway from a local’s perspective. You’ll often get to see some hidden gems this way. Your guide can even offer insider tips for your visit.
Below, I’ve included some of the best Galway tours so you know what’s on offer!
This 1.5-hour walking tour will allow you to explore the best of Galway as you’ll be learning from a local guide. You’ll get to visit some of the city’s most popular landmarks including St. Nicholas Church, the Spanish Arch, Quay Street, and the Claddagh. This tour is a fantastic option if you’re looking to learn about Galway’s (and the country’s) culture, heritage, and traditions.
With this hop-on hop-off bus ticket, you’ll be able to travel around Galway for 48 hours. There are 10 tour stops along the route including Eyre Square, the Spanish Arch, Salthill Promenade, and Galway Cathedral. Along the way, you’ll get to listen to the onboard commentary, so you’ll learn plenty about the city and its attractions.
This guided walking tour lasts for 1.5 hours and will take you to some of the city’s most popular spots. This includes the Eyre Square area, the medieval city center, Lynch’s Castle, and Saint Nicholas’s Church. Your guide will tell you all about the local legends, the vibrant arts scene that’s found in this city, and Galway’s history.
Fun Things to Do in Galway, Ireland
You’ll find plenty of fun and unusual things to do in Galway so there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore one of the museums or check out the local food scene, there’s a lot to do so make sure you take your time and don’t rush.
If you have more time in Galway, then allow a couple of days to explore nearby areas. They are plenty of awesome destinations to visit nearby including national parks, magical castles, and iconic tourist attractions like the Cliffs of Moher.
To give you an idea of what to include on your itinerary, here are some fun things to do in Galway!
1. Listen to live music at a traditional Irish pub
One of the best things to do in Galway has to be to visit a traditional Irish pub! They’re the best place to try some of the city’s local dishes, drink a pint of Guinness, and take in the culture. However, many of the bars and pubs in Galway also offer live music throughout the week and during the weekends.
Here are some of the best Irish pubs/bars in Galway for live music:
- An Púcán – With an outdoor beer garden, delicious food, and a stage for live music, this place has so much to offer.
- O’Connor’s Famous Pub – This is actually where Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ was recorded so it’s pretty popular!
- The Kings Head – Known for its hearty dishes, fantastic atmosphere, live music, and friendly staff.
- The Quays – This place was awarded ‘Ireland’s Best Live Entertainment Bar for 2022’.
- Monroe’s Tavern – Hosts a variety of events as well as live music.
2. Walk the Salthill Promenade
The Salthill Promenade is one of the city’s most popular attractions and it’s not hard to see why! It’s a coastal walkway that stretches for around 1.9 miles (3 km), and offers spectacular views as it overlooks Galway Bay. If it’s a clear day, you’ll even get to see the Aran Islands.
The promenade runs from the Claddagh Quay to Blackrock diving tower, so it’s up to you where you start the walk. In total, you’ll want to allow around 45 minutes to walk the whole thing. This will give you plenty of time to admire the views, relax on one of the seafront benches, and take some photographs.
Just mind where you’re walking as joggers and rollerbladers frequent this spot! As the Salthill Promenade is so flat, the walk is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies. That means everyone can truly enjoy this attraction. Even if it’s a wet day, you don’t want to miss out on this walk!
3. Go on a scenic cruise of Lough Corrib
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Galway then head out on a cruise! This 1.5-hour scenic cruise departs from Woodquay and will take you along the Corrib River until you reach Lough Corrib. The latter is the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland, and the second largest in the whole country.
Covering an area of around 68 square miles (176 square km) and boasting a length of about 35 miles, this lake is huge. In fact, it’s home to over 300 islands, with the most famous being Inchagaoill. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, you’ll also get to spot wildlife here if you’re lucky.
On the cruise, there’s a full-service bar so you can grab a drink and relax on the upper deck if you wish. As you head to Lough Corrib, make sure you take in the historic castles and epic landscapes that you’ll see along the way.
4. Learn how to traditional Irish dance
There are plenty of fun activities in Galway, but this one is a must-do! There are plenty of styles and traditions when it comes to Irish dancing, but this 1.5-hour dance experience is going to teach you three specific styles. In fact, it’s a former Riverdancer who will be leading the class so you’ll learn from the best.
After the class is finished, you’ll have learned steps from three types of Irish dancing; Step (Riverdance), Sean Nós (old-style), and Céilí/Set. Not only that, but you’ll get to learn all about the history behind each dance, and where each one fits in within the country’s culture. If you’re still not convinced, then you’ll be left with memories to last a lifetime.
Not to mention the fun you’ll have with your friends or family along the way, and the sense of achievement you’ll have after learning the dance!
5. Visit some of Galway’s museums
While in Galway, you’ll want to visit some of the city’s museums. Whether you’re into jewelry, geology, or history, there’s something for everyone. The great thing about the museums in this city is that most of them are relatively small, so they won’t take too long to wander around.
If you’re short of time in Galway, you’ll be glad to hear this as there’s so much more to see!
Some of the best museums to visit in Galway include:
- Galway City Museum – Free to visit and is the place to go if you’re wanting to learn about the city’s history, culture, and archaeology.
- The Claddagh Ring Museum – Here, you can learn about the legend of the Claddagh Ring and why it’s so important.
- The James Mitchell Geology Museum – It’s currently closed for renovations but hopefully, it will reopen soon!
- Galway Fisheries Watchtower Museum – This is the museum to visit if you want to learn about Galway’s fishing history.
6. Go on a Galway food tour
There’s no denying that Galway has a fantastic foodie scene! There’s a variety of awesome restaurants to choose from (which I’ll discuss later), but sometimes it can be difficult to decide just where to visit. Luckily, there are some awesome food tours in Galway!
If you’re after fun things to do in Galway then check out this 2.5-hour food tour! It’s one of the city’s most popular options, as you’ll get to sample a variety of foods and beverages including cheese, chocolate, and beer. Throughout the tour, you’ll get to learn about where these foods come from and get an insight into some of the city’s best foodie destinations.
You’ll also get to meet artisan producers, visit Galway’s oldest pub, and learn about the local dishes that are found in this city. Even better, you’ll be given a goodie bag to take home with you!
7. Wander around the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is one of the city’s most popular areas and it’s often referred to as the ‘cultural heart of Galway’. Here, you’ll find a variety of historical landmarks, traditional Irish pubs, fantastic restaurants, and plenty of unique stores.
As you wander along the Latin Quarter’s cobblestone streets, you’ll get to take in the vibrant atmosphere that’s found in this part of the city. Whether you’re looking to grab a bite to eat, shop for some unique local gifts, or listen to live music, this is the place to be!
Often referred to as the ‘City of Festivals, Galway hosts a variety of events throughout the year and many of them take place here. This includes the annual Macnas Halloween Parade, The Latin Quarter Gin Fest, and The Galway Comedy Festival.
The Latin Quarter is one of the best places to visit in Galway. Before your trip, you’ll want to see if any events are being held here during your visit.
8. Drive part of the Wild Atlantic Way
Driving the Wild Atlantic Way is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Ireland. It’s a 1600-mile (2600 km) driving route that will take you through nine different Irish counties so there’s a lot to see. To make the route more manageable, it’s been split up into fourteen different stages.
As Galway is located along the Wild Atlantic Way, you can spend a day out of the city driving part of this iconic road trip. Two stages intersect in the city:
- The Connemara Section: Clifden to Galway (109 miles/176 km)
- The Burren and West Clare: Galway to Kilkee (102 miles/164 km)
If you decide to drive parts of these two stages you’ll get to visit national parks, admire breathtaking coastlines, and explore ancient castles. If you’re flying into Galway, you can hire a rental car in the city and drive from there. I recommend reading this Wild Atlantic Way Route Planner, as you will find all the information you need in one detailed guide.
9. Head out on a day cruise to the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher
If you’ve got an extra day or two in Galway then why not visit the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands? This full-day tour will allow you to do just that and includes all the logistics, transport, and entrance fees.
From Galway, you’ll be taken along the Wild Atlantic Way through quaint villages and past historic sites. Once you’ve reached Doolin, you’ll head out on a ferry to Inisheer Island (one of the Aran Islands) where you’ll have two hours of free time. Afterward, you’ll hop on your ferry back to Doolin, then you’ll spend an hour at the Cliffs of Moher.
Combining a visit to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher will allow you to spend more time in Galway. Another great reason to choose this tour is that you’ll get to pass by several scenic spots. This includes Dunguaire Castle, Kinvara Harbour, The Burren, and Corcomroe Abbey.
10. Take a day trip to other destinations
Although there are plenty of fun things to do in Galway itself if you’ve got the time you’ll want to take a day trip or two out of the city. From ancient castles to breathtaking national parks, there are plenty of nearby attractions and famous landmarks for you to visit. As I’ve just mentioned the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, I’m going to leave them out of this section.
Here are some of the best day trips from Galway:
- The Burren (59-minute drive) – This national park covers over 1,800 hectares and is known for its dramatic landscapes.
- Shannon (1 hr 3-minute drive) – This charming town is located along the Shannon River and has plenty to offer!
- Westport (1 hr 16-minute drive) – The perfect place to visit if you’re looking to experience more of Ireland’s charm and beauty.
- Kylemore Abbey (1 hr 17-minute drive) – This historic place is one of the most popular attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way.
- Connemara National Park (1 hr 20-minute drive) – Another fantastic national park home to several great hiking trails and plenty of wildlife.
- Killary Fjord (1 hr 21-minute drive) – This is the only glacial fjord in Ireland and you’ve got a great chance of spotting marine mammals.
- Lough Key Forest Park (1 hr 43-minute drive) – Lough Key is one of the most extensive forest parks in the country.
Best Places to Stay in Galway
As Galway is one of the most popular cities in Ireland you won’t be short of accommodation options. Whether you’re looking for an affordable hostel, a charming B&B, or a luxury 5* hotel, there’s something to suit everyone. Thanks to the city’s location, many of the hotels also offer stunning sea-view rooms.
If you stay in the city center (or just outside), you’ll have easy access to bars, pubs, and restaurants. Not only that, but you’ll be close to some of the city’s most popular attractions.
Below, I’ve included an option for every budget so you’re sure to find something that suits you!
This B&B is just a 5-minute drive from the city center and there’s a bus stop right across the road. Breakfast is included with your room and you’ll benefit from a variety of bars and restaurants that are found nearby.
LUXURY: The g Hotel
This 5* hotel is one of the most luxurious options you’ll find in Galway. Boasting an onsite fitness center, an award-winning spa, and a restaurant, The g Hotel has so much to offer.
The best restaurants in Galway for foodies
As Galway is a popular city, you won’t only find fun things to do in Galway, but you won’t be short of restaurant options also. There’s every kind of cuisine you could imagine including Mexican, Indian, Italian, Chinese, and Thai. Not only that, but you’ll find plenty of fantastic restaurants serving local seafood and traditional Irish dishes.
Some of the best local dishes to try in Galway include beef and Guinness pie, Irish stew, a chicken fillet roll, and Colcannon And Champ. For the seafood lovers out there, make sure you try seafood chowder, mussels, cockles, and Galway’s famous oysters.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Galway:
- McSwiggans Steak + Seafood Restaurant – As the name suggests, this is a great spot for steak and seafood dishes.
- Boojum Galway – This cozy place is known for its fajitas, tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, and nachos.
- Brasserie On The Corner – One of Galway’s most popular restaurants thanks to its delicious dishes and awards!
- Hooked – This quirky seafood restaurant has two locations in Galway, and there’s both a dine-in and take-out menu.
- The Dough Bros – The go-to place in Galway for wood-fired pizza as there are lots of topping options!
Fun Things to Do in Galway Conclusion
There are plenty of fun things to do in Galway, so you won’t be short of places to visit and things to see. Home to traditional Irish pubs, fantastic museums, and plenty of foodie spots, this city truly does have something for every kind of traveler. Not only that but there are lots of awesome tours and activities here!
Galway is also in a great location for exploring the nearby area as it’s situated along the Wild Atlantic Way. You’ll have plenty of day trip opportunities including the famous Cliffs of Moher, Connemara National Park, the Aran Islands, and Kylemore Abbey.
If you’ve got any further questions about fun activities in Galway then just leave a comment below. For those who’ve already been, what is your favorite thing to do?
If you are planning a trip to Ireland, then here are some other guides for you:
- Ireland Bucket List: 30 Places to See
- Top-rated Dublin Tours to Take
- How to hike the Causeway Coast Way
- Best Things to Do in Killarney, Ireland
- Best Things to Do in Kerry, Ireland
- Top-rated Hotels on the Ring of Kerry, Ireland
- Ring of Kerry Driving Route in Ireland
- Dingle Peninsula Drive in Ireland
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