Crooked cobblestones, rainbow-stained buildings, faint smell of sea salt, and unparalleled Irish pride describe the small coastal city of Galway, Ireland in Western Ireland. As the largest city on the western coast of Ireland it is a perfect home base for your Irish adventures to Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, Burren, and the Aran Islands. What makes this the perfect spot though is how you could spend days in this picturesque town and never run out of things to do.
How to get here: From Dublin, take the 2 hour and 20 minute train ride with Irish Rail. You could also rent a car if you plan on visiting other areas around Galway without a tour bus.
What to wear: Because you are on the Atlantic coast, it tends to be very windy and wet. Be sure to check the weather before you go.
Where to stay: We didn’t actually stay overnight, but I would suggest staying somewhere near the main “Shop Street”. This area is saturated with shops, restaurants, and pubs so is a good home base.
What to do
This perfect Galway stroll will take you from the train station through Eyre Square, down “Shop street”, under the Spanish arch, along the River Corrib, across Salmon Weir Bridge, and through the campus of the National University of Ireland.
Stroll around “Shop Street”
I’m typically not much of a shopper, but I could have spent days popping in and out of the shops in Galway. From hand-woven sweaters to vintage jewelry this is the perfect place to find your Irish treasures. Unlike most shopping districts, this area is reasonably priced with unique and local goods and is a “must-do” when coming to Galway.
Walk the river path
Despite the strong wind and cold rain, the walking path along the River Corrib was well worth it. With multiple mini waterfalls, ancient dams, and typical Irish homes with a touch of modern flare this walking path combines all you ever dreamed about Ireland into a 20 minute walking package.
Gawk at Galway Cathedral
The youngest of Europe’s grand stone cathedrals, the Galway Cathedral is well worth a peek inside. Although not very old (dedicated in 1965), the magnificent stained glass, high ceilings, and Roman art inside will take your breath away.
Visit the National University of Ireland
As a Harry Potter lover, I fell in love with this campus. With ivy growing along the sides of the buildings, beautiful gardens, and an arch that leads into a stunning courtyard I was in Potterheaven. If it’s not raining, this would be a perfect spot to have a picnic.
Admire the street art
It was hard for me to turn a corner without taking a quick picture because of how truly unique everything in this city is. Be sure to take a moment and admire your surroundings while strolling along.
Where to eat and drink
We happened to be in Galway during the Galway Food Festival held annually over Easter weekend. With various events throughout the city and an open-air market, this is a must-see if you happen to be in Ireland over Easter weekend.
- Woodberry’s wine – Pop in to see if there is a tasting scheduled while you are visiting and if not ask one of the friendly wine connoisseurs for help picking your perfect pairing.
- Martine’s of Quay Street – We were able to attend a cocktail making class where we learned the proper way of making an Aviator cocktail, a Cosmopolitan, a Mojito, and an old-fashioned. I even got to help burn an orange peel for one of the cocktails!
- The King’s Head – Galway hookers + seafood chowder = perfection. FYI – A Galway hooker is a beer. 🙂
- Coffeewerk + Press – Need a good cup of Joe? Head over to Coffeewerk + Press for the perfect pour.
Galway is the quintessential hipster city of Ireland with classy coffee shops, vibrant street art, and plenty of festivals year round. If you happen to be on the Western coast of Ireland, put Galway at the top of your list for attractions to see. You won’t regret it.
Have you ever been to Galway? Comment below with your recommendations!
– Boots not Roots