Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland and is often overlooked by travelers, despite its close proximity to beautiful sites like the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara. It also happens to be where a lot of Joe’s relatives are from, so it was nice to spend the first few days of our trip there. Although Galway is a relatively small city, we found that there was so much to do and see.
Here’s a list of 8 reasons you have to visit Galway:
Galway is a very compact city, with most of their main tourist attractions lined on a few streets down the middle of the city. A walk from the tip of Quay Street to just beyond Eyrie Square will basically give you a full tour of the city and shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.
Galway had the best pub food we had in all of Ireland. We were never disappointed in any of the pubs in the center of town. Pub food is generally pretty heavy and filling, so if you go in the later afternoon and have a late lunch/early dinner you can save a pretty penny on the “early bird” specials! We definitely suggest the sandwiches at Taffes on Shop Street or an Irish breakfast at Finnegan’s.
We were both taken aback by how friendly people are in Galway. Everyone in the city from the bus drivers to the bartenders are full of good jokes and well wishes. All of the pubs had a great social atmosphere and every time we went, we left with new friends.
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Whether you want a 15€ bed in a hostel or a 500€ hotel room, Galway has something for you. We stayed at Barnacles hostel on Quay St. and loved it. Family suggested The Victoria Hotel for a more upscale stay.
The city is easily accessible by bus from either Dublin or Shannon Airport. We were able to get on a bus right away after landing in Dublin and arrived in Galway about 3 hours later. It was just as easy to leave for Cork, with buses available almost every hour. Everywhere else in Ireland can also be reached via the Coach Bus Station. It’s also easy to arrange trips to the nearby Cliffs of Moher, The Burren and Connemara.
Galway has a long history tracing back to the vikings and medieval times. All over the city references to the 14 Tribes of Galway, merchant families that ran the government for much of the city’s history, can be found. It’s interesting to see how the past has shaped the Galway of today. Make sure to hit up The Spanish Arch & the neighboring Galway Museum to learn all about the city’s fascinating history.
The pubs are a great place to venture out to after dinner. Typically the pubs have live traditional Irish music on and off through the night– usually around 5:30PM and then again at 9:30PM. You are guaranteed to find a live band playing some traditional Irish music while you enjoy a pint.
Galway is a great place to do some souvenir shopping. They have all of the typical European stores like H&M and Penny’s/Primark but also some boutique stores selling traditional Irish sweaters and celtic jewelry. Be sure to stop in at Thomas Dillon Claddagh Gold, which has a small museum with the history of the Claddagh ring.
Galway is a bustling but cozy city that truly has something for everyone. Hopefully these reasons convinced you that you need to visit Galway! It felt like the real Ireland to us and we couldn’t recommend it more if you are planning a trip to Ireland!