Things To Do In Galway
Galway, Ireland’s third largest city, is situated on Ireland’s west coast and is home to nearly 80 thousand inhabitants. Situated where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean and nicknamed ‘The City of Tribes’, this ancient city is famous for being a cultural hub. Dubbed the ‘European Capital of Culture’, the city plays host to a number of festivals and celebrations that match its vibrant lifestyle. From traditional Irish music and comedy festivals to Project Baa Baa (formed as a cultural, economic and environmental celebration of sheep in Ireland), Galway is never short of fun and interesting things to do!
The heart of the city centre, the 18th-century Eyre Square, is a popular meeting point packed full of shops and pubs that often offer live traditional Irish music. Speaking of music, the music scene in Galway is amazing! While you’re there, you need to hear the famous folk song written by Steve Earle—‘Galway Girl’. Released in 2000, ‘Galway Girl’ tells the semi-autobiographical story of the songwriter’s reaction to a beautiful black-haired, blue-eyed girl he met in the city.
Nearby the bustling bars and shops, the 12th-century medieval walls—some of which are still standing to this day—play host to pretty stone-walled cafes, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Hailed as one of the best places to visit in Ireland, Galway offers visitors the chance to see and experience numerous activities, shops and bars, sites and festivals. Read some of our suggestions on what to visit below.
Galway Cathedral and the Spanish Arch
The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven & St Nicholas was built in 1958 on the site of the old city prison, and it opened in 1965. Daily masses are held in this beautiful cathedral, occasionally in the traditional Celtic language Gaeilge (also known as Irish Gaelic), and they are open to visitors free of charge. The Spanish Arch, named after frequent visits from Spanish ships coming into Galway to trade, was part of an extension from Martin’s Tower to the bank of the River Corrib. It was used to protect the city’s quays, which once formed the area known as the Fish Market.
Lynch’s Castle and Shop Street
You can’t visit the Emerald Isle without visiting some traditional Irish castles in the meantime. Lynch’s castle, subtly nestled between Shop Street and Abbeygate Street, is a fine example of Galway’s gothic style and medieval past. It was once home to the city’s most powerful family and is the only complete medieval building still standing in Galway.
Adjacent to the castle lies Shop Street, a wide, bustling, pedestrianised alley developed with the sole purpose of retail. Shop ‘til you drop!
Quay Street and Bars
Quay Street in the height of summer has an incredible buzz surrounding it. Filled with tourists and locals alike, visitors must take a wander down here in the evening and soak up the atmosphere. In and around Quay and Galway’s famous Latin Quarter, pubs such as Tig Coili, O’Connell’s, Quays Bar, etc. offer a great variation of live music, traditional Irish food and snacks, and—of course—an ice cold pint of the black stuff. You know what I’m talking about!
At Collins Day Tours, we offer a day tour that covers Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. The breathtaking cliffs are a must see, and the views from its edges are simply unrivalled. On a clear day, you can even spot the ever elusive Aran Islands (which aren’t easily spotted thanks to the infamous Irish cloudy weather)! The tour also includes a stop at the awesome Dunguaire Castle, so you can get your Irish castle fix too!
Another major annual event is the prestigious Galway Races. Held at the Ballybrit Race Track and often a 7-day event, the world-renowned Summer Races normally take place from the end of July into August. Dust off the top hat, chill the champagne and prepare to lose (or win) a few Euros. This is one major event that Galway hosts, and it shouldn’t be missed.
Overall, Galway has a wonderful mix of medieval, modern, tradition and culture that really earns its place on the world’s map. With 2.5 million tourists in 2018, there’s no wondering why Galway is so popular and shouldn’t be shrugged off. If you are thinking of holidaying in Ireland and are wondering when is the best time to visit, the high seasons are from mid-June through August, where the weather is generally better, and the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th.
Fun Galway fact: It is home to the longest place name in Ireland, Muckanaghederdauhaulia, meaning ‘piggery between two briny places’. What’s not to love about this city?