First thing first, I’m not a local of Galway. In fact, I visited the city only once. Nevertheless, before my trip to Ireland, I made a list of things I wanted to do and see in Galway. It was just a guideline, a few helpful tips for someone visiting Galway for the first time. It never was or meant to be an inflexible itinerary. Little did I know that my usually helpful list of things to do didn’t even get out of the purse upon my arrival in Galway.
I signed up for a guided tour from Dublin to visit the city, something that I don’t do often. However, this trip turned out to be such a great experience. Our enthusiastic local guide not only recommended the best things to do in Galway, but also filled us in on interesting facts about the city. After this one time in Galway, I felt like a local myself. Without further ado, let me share the 13 best things to do in Galway based on my own and first of all a local guide’s recommendations.
TOP 13 THINGS TO DO IN GALWAY: RECOMMENDATIONS FROM A LOCAL
1. Enjoy traditional Irish music
You probably never heard that City of Galway is the 11th popular city in the world. When you start exploring everything it has to offer, you easily agree with it. There are indeed so many different things to do in Galway that make you want to come back over and over again.
One of the first things on your “to-do” list should be finding places in Galway where you can enjoy traditional Irish tunes. As in majority of other cities and villages in Ireland, local pubs should be your first destinations. When in Galway, visit Tigh Coili, Taaffes, The Crane, Monroes, and The Western Bar to join traditional Irish music sessions and occasional dancing.
2. Explore the Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter is arguably one of the most beautiful parts of Galway. One of the best things to do here is to let go of your expectations and enjoy Galway as it is. Fall in love with its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets and find the best places to eat and shop.
3. Get a pint of beer at a local pub
Definitely, it’s not one of the things to do in Galway for me. But, as the locals admit, this activity gets whole lotta enthusiasts. Getting a pint of beer, preferably Irish Pale Ale or good old Guinness, is one of the most popular things to do in Galway among the locals and visitors alike. The amount of the local pubs (almost 500) certainly confirms this statement.
4. Visit O’Connors Famous Pub
Pub… again. Yes, especially when it comes to O’Connors Famous Pub. But don’t worry, you can forget about beer at least for a while. Instead, join the Fireside Tour known as the shortest walking tour of Ireland. Here you’ll get a chance to learn Ireland’s history and culture through the pub’s collections of historical artifacts.
5. Watch Buskers on Shop Street
Besides traditional Irish music, Galway is known for its buskers. Quite often you can find them on Shop Street, singing, dancing, and entertaining passerby. While other things to do in Galway ask for some effort from you, this activity easily comes to you as you are busy exploring the city.
6. Relax in Eyre Square
Located in the heart of Galway, Eyre Square is a small park with plenty of benches to relax and take a break from other things you want do in the city.
7. Visit Galway Cathedral
Apart from the famous pubs and picturesque streets, Galway impresses with historical and cultural heritage. Galway Cathedral is one of the best places to see this side of the city. Relatively young, the cathedral is one of the biggest and most beautiful buildings in Galway. Moreover, a visit to the Galway Cathedral is one of the best free things to do in the city.
8. See the fastest flowing river in Europe
Galway is not the biggest city in Ireland. Nevertheless, it overcomes this shortcoming with the River Corrib, the fastest flowing river in Europe. Furthermore, the river never ceases to charm all the locals and visitors. Sitting or walking along its banks and admiring the surroundings is one the favorite things to do in Galway on a lazy afternoon.
9. Add the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas to your list of the best things to do in Galway
To keep that cultural ball rolling, the locals recommend adding the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas to your itinerary. Founded in 1320, it’s the largest medieval parish church in the country. Its rich history supported by beautiful monuments and memorials have been a center of attraction for many centuries. Even such a prominent persona as Christopher Columbus visited the church in late 15th century.
10. Do your banking at Lynch’s Castle
Banking is probably not your first priority when visiting Galway. Nevertheless, take time to visit Allied Irish Bank, located in Lynch’s Castle. Lynch family built the castle in 16th century to protect themselves from the raids of the chieftains of the 14 Tribes. Despite major renovations, the building is still recognized as one of the best examples of medieval fortified houses.
11. Admire colorful houses on the bank of the river
While visiting the local pubs is one of the best things to do in the city for some visitors, others find the most beautiful places on the bank of the river. How can’t you do it? Fairy-take houses here also known as the Long Walk add unique look and Scandinavian vibes to the city.
12. Check out Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch was built in 1584 and added to the city’s walls. Its main function was to protect merchant ships at the nearby quay while they unloaded imported goods. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake partially destroyed the structure. Today it’s home to the Galway City Museum and place of gathering of buskers and drummers.
13. Visit Fishery Watchtower Museum
Fishery Watchtower Museum is a free museum educating its visitor about history of the local salmon industry. Fishing is certainly not the most interesting activity to do in the city for all its visitors and even locals. However, the views from this three-story structure make you reconsider you decision of visiting or not visiting the museum.