12 Best Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Top Attractions to Visit

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Are you looking to visit Galway soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Galway. These picturesque sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for a memorable vacation experience.

Galway—the gem of the Emerald Isle, where the air is filled with the melodies of fiddles and the streets echo with centuries-old tales. What are the things to do in Galway? Picture yourself strolling along the cobblestone paths of the Latin Quarter, every corner bursting with vibrant colors and the irresistible aroma of freshly baked soda bread. This is a city where tradition and modernity dance a seamless jig, and you’re invited to join in.

From the moment you set foot in Galway, you’ll feel its magnetic pull. Whether it’s the allure of the Aran Islands’ rugged beauty or the mystical landscapes of Connemara National Park, there’s an adventure waiting for you at every turn. And let’s not forget the locals—those warm-hearted souls who make you feel like a long-lost friend, not just a tourist.

So, if you’re yearning for a destination that offers breathtaking scenery, rich cultural experiences, and the kind of hospitality that will warm your soul, look no further. Galway is not just a place on the map; it’s a state of mind, a story waiting to be written, and a canvas begging to be explored. Buckle up—here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Galway (and in the surrounding areas)..

The top places to visit in Galway right now
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Best Places to Visit in Galway

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Galway? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this enchanting vacation spot in Ireland. So keep reading to discover all these unique Galway places to visit.

Are you looking to engage in cultural explorations, from traditional music sessions to art exhibitions? Or would you prefer immersing yourself in outdoor adventures like hiking and water sports? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Galway can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in and around Galway that you should know about.

1. Latin Quarter

Ah, the Latin Quarter—the beating heart of Galway and a must-see for anyone visiting the city. This is where to go in Galway if you’re looking to experience the city’s vibrant culture in one fell swoop. Picture cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings, each one housing a distinctive shop, café, or pub. The air is thick with the aroma of traditional Irish fare and the sound of live music pouring out of every doorway.

As you wander through this bustling neighborhood, you’ll find yourself captivated by street performers showcasing everything from fire juggling to traditional Irish dance. It’s one of those Galway attractions that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re an art aficionado keen to explore the local galleries or a foodie looking to indulge in some authentic Irish cuisine, the Latin Quarter has got you covered.

But the real magic happens as the sun dips below the horizon. The streets come alive with people, both locals and tourists, all eager to enjoy a night out in one of Galway’s most iconic areas. From traditional Irish music sessions to contemporary live bands, the Latin Quarter is the place to be for top-notch entertainment.

So, if you’re wondering what to do in Galway that combines culture, food, and a whole lot of fun, make sure the Latin Quarter is at the top of your list.

Galway's Latin Quarter colorful Streets, friendly vibes, and Irish delights
Galway’s Latin Quarter colorful Streets, friendly vibes, and Irish delights

2. Galway Bay

If you’re searching for the unique things to do in Galway, look no further than a sailing adventure on Galway Bay. Imagine the wind in your hair and the salty sea air filling your lungs as you set sail on the crystal-clear waters. This is not just a boat ride; it’s an experience that captures the essence of Galway’s maritime culture.

Galway Bay offers a variety of sailing options, from leisurely cruises to more adventurous sailing lessons. The bay itself is a natural wonder, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Connemara coastline and the Aran Islands in the distance.

While your boat glides through the water, keep an eye out for local wildlife. From playful dolphins to majestic seabirds, Galway Bay is a haven for marine life. It’s one of those must-see in Galway experiences that allows you to connect with nature while enjoying an exceptional perspective of the city.

As the sun begins to set, the bay transforms into a serene landscape of shimmering colors, making it one of the best places in Galway for a romantic evening. So, if you’re looking for a blend of adventure and tranquility, a sailing trip on Galway Bay is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Galway Bay's tranquil beauty, endless horizons, and coastal serenity
Galway Bay tranquil beauty, endless horizons, and coastal serenity

3. Connemara National Park

Yearning for a slice of Irish wilderness? Connemara National Park is your go-to destination. This sprawling natural wonder is a tapestry of boglands, heaths, and lakes, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the Twelve Bens mountain range. It’s one of those destinations where you can truly disconnect and immerse yourself in nature.

Start your adventure by hiking up Diamond Hill. The panoramic views from the summit are nothing short of breathtaking. You’ll see the Atlantic Ocean kissing the rugged coastline, and if you’re lucky, a rainbow arching over the landscape.

But the park isn’t just about landscapes; it’s a haven for wildlife too. Keep an eye out for red deer, Connemara ponies, and a myriad of bird species. For those interested in botany, the park is a living showcase of rare flora, including the carnivorous sundew plant.

Consider setting up a picnic near one of the serene lakes as the day winds down. It’s the perfect ending to a day filled with the coolest activities in Galway. Is this among the top things to do in Galway, Ireland? You bet!

Connemara National Park, a nature's playground in Ireland with its wild landscapes and rugged beauty
Connemara National Park, a nature’s playground in Ireland with its wild landscapes and rugged beauty

4. Kylemore Abbey

Ah, Kylemore Abbey, a place where history and natural beauty collide in the most poetic way. Nestled amidst the rugged landscapes of Connemara, this neo-Gothic marvel is one of those Galway destinations that you simply can’t skip. It’s not just an abbey; it’s a symbol of enduring love and architectural grandeur.

Built by Mitchell Henry for his beloved wife, the abbey is a testament to romantic devotion. You’ll be captivated by its intricate details, from the stunning chapel to the Victorian walled garden. This is where to visit in Galway if you’re a history enthusiast or a hopeless romantic.

Let’s not just talk about the abbey. The estate is surrounded by lush gardens, tranquil lakes, and walking trails that offer a peaceful retreat from the world. It’s a paradise for nature lovers and those looking for the best things to do in Galway.

As you stroll through the gardens, you might stumble upon the tea house. Why not treat yourself to a traditional Irish scone and a cup of tea? It’s the perfect way to soak in the serenity that Kylemore Abbey has to offer.

If you’re in the mood for a blend of history, romance, and natural beauty, Kylemore Abbey is a must-visit. Trust us; it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left. This was easily one of my favorite stops on my Globus Ireland tour last fall!

Kylemore Abbey majestic castle and tranquil lake, an Irish beauty in Connemara
Kylemore Abbey majestic castle and tranquil lake, an Irish beauty in Connemara

5. Galway Market

Are you a foodie at heart? The Galway Market is your culinary playground. Situated in the heart of the city, this bustling market is one of those Galway places to visit that offers a smorgasbord of local flavors and international delights. From freshly baked bread to artisanal cheeses, the market is a feast for the senses.

The market isn’t just about food, though. You’ll also find a variety of handcrafted goods, vintage clothing, and distinctive trinkets that make for perfect souvenirs. It’s among the cool destinations in Galway for those who love to shop and explore.

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What sets this market apart is its vibrant atmosphere. Local musicians often perform here, adding a layer of cultural richness to your shopping experience.

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It’s one of those Galway things to do that allows you to immerse yourself in the local scene.

Don’t forget to try the famous Galway oysters or indulge in some homemade fudge. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you. And if you’re visiting during the weekend, the market expands to include even more vendors, making it a go-to destination for anyone looking to capture the essence of this charming Irish city.

Galway Market colorful stalls, delicious food and vibrant atmosphere in the city
Galway Market colorful stalls, delicious food and vibrant atmosphere in the city

6. Salthill Promenade

The Salthill Promenade, or simply “the Prom” as locals affectionately call it. This is where to go in Galway if you’re craving a blend of scenic beauty and local culture. Stretching for 2 km along the coast, the Prom offers panoramic views of Galway Bay against the backdrop of the Clare hills. It’s a sight to behold, especially during sunset when the sky is awash with hues of orange and pink.

The Prom is a hub for coolest activities in Galway, from jogging and cycling to simply sitting on one of the many benches and watching the world go by. And let’s not forget the tradition of “kicking the wall,” a local custom that marks the end of your walk. It’s said to bring good luck!

For those who fancy a dip, there are several beaches along the Prom, each offering a different experience. Whether you’re brave enough to join the locals for a winter swim or prefer to soak up the summer sun, these beaches are getaways you won’t want to miss.

In the evenings, the area comes alive with street performers and food vendors, adding a lively vibe to your seaside stroll. It’s a slice of Galway life that’s as authentic as it gets.

Salthill Promenade coastal bliss, ocean views and relaxing strolls in Galway
Salthill Promenade coastal bliss, ocean views and relaxing strolls in Galway

7. Galway’s Street Art Scene

Are you on the hunt for the coolest things to do in Galway? Then you’ve got to check out the city’s burgeoning street art scene. Forget stuffy galleries; the streets of Galway are a canvas, showcasing the city’s creative pulse. From intricate murals to thought-provoking graffiti, the art here is as diverse as the city itself.

The unique places in Galway to witness this urban artistry are around the Spanish Arch and along the River Corrib. Artists use these spaces to express everything from political statements to pure whimsy. And the best part? This art is ever-changing, making each visit a new experience.

But don’t just admire from afar; get involved! There are workshops and street art tours that let you dive deeper into this subculture. You’ll learn about the artists, their inspirations, and maybe even pick up a spray can yourself.

As the sun dips below the horizon, the art takes on a new life, illuminated by the city lights. It’s a place that’s both dynamic and deeply rooted in the local culture. So, if you’re compiling your Galway bucket list, make sure to pencil in some time to explore this vivid street art scene.

Galway's Street Art Scene colorful expressions, urban creativity and vibrant city culture
Galway’s Street Art Scene colorful expressions, urban creativity and vibrant city culture

8. Dunguaire Castle

If you’re crafting that dreamy Irish itinerary, Dunguaire Castle should be on your list of Galway places to visit. Situated in Kinvara, just a short drive from Galway City, this 16th-century tower house is the epitome of medieval grandeur. With its turrets, stone walls, and a backdrop of Galway Bay, it’s a photographer’s paradise.

Now, let’s dive into the castle’s rich history.

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It was named after the legendary King Guaire, known for his generosity. The castle has been a muse for literary giants like W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw, adding a layer of poetic allure to your visit.

What truly sets Dunguaire Castle apart from other castles is its famous Medieval Banquet. Imagine feasting on a sumptuous dinner, complete with traditional Irish music and storytelling. It’s not just a meal; it’s a journey back in time.

The castle is bathed in a golden glow as the evening unfolds, offering a surreal, almost magical experience. It offers a blend of history, culture, and a dash of enchantment. Whether you’re a history buff or a romantic at heart, Dunguaire Castle offers a multifaceted experience that’s hard to match.

Majestic castle by the sea, Dunguaire's historic beauty enchants all
Majestic castle by the sea, Dunguaire’s historic beauty enchants all

9. Aran Islands

The Aran Islands, a trio of rocky terrains off the coast of Galway, are a haven for those seeking a blend of Irish culture and natural beauty. This is one of those unique things to do in Galway that offers an authentic experience, far removed from the touristy hustle and bustle.

Firstly, let’s talk about the islands themselves: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer. Each has its own distinct charm, from ancient forts to stunning cliffside views. You can reach these islands by a quick ferry ride, and once you’re there, it’s like stepping into another world.

What makes the Aran Islands a must-see in Galway? Well, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Gaelic language, which is still spoken here. And don’t forget the hand-knitted Aran sweaters, a cozy and stylish souvenir you won’t find anywhere else.

Curious about the coolest activities in Galway? Try renting a bike to explore the islands at your own pace. Cycle past stone walls, visit age-old ruins, and maybe even catch a traditional Irish music session at a local pub.

The islands of the West Coast of Ireland offer a tranquil escape that’s hard to put into words. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, making it a place in Galway for those looking to disconnect and recharge.

Scenic Aran Islands rugged cliffs, lush fields, and coastal serenity
Scenic Aran Islands rugged cliffs, lush fields, and coastal serenity

10. Lough Corrib

Ah, Lough Corrib, the second-largest lake in Ireland, is a serene escape that beckons nature lovers and peace seekers alike. This is a perfect spot where you can truly disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself.

For starters, the lake is a paradise for anglers. With over 40 different species of fish, including salmon and trout, it’s no wonder that fishing enthusiasts from around the globe flock here.

But fishing is just the tip of the iceberg. Galway destinations often focus on the bustling city life, but Lough Corrib offers a different kind of thrill. Kayaking, canoeing, and even paddleboarding are popular activities here. And if you’re not into water sports, no worries! The surrounding area is perfect for hiking and bird-watching.

Consider taking a boat cruise to explore the lake’s many islands. Some are even home to ancient ruins and historical sites. It offers a mix of adventure and relaxation, making it a perfect spot for a day trip or even a weekend getaway.

Lough Corrib serene lake, surrounded by lush greenery, a tranquil natural wonder
Lough Corrib serene lake, surrounded by lush greenery, a tranquil natural wonder

11. Galway Cathedral

If you’re on the hunt for Galway attractions that blend history, architecture, and spirituality, then look no further than the Galway Cathedral. This isn’t just another church; it’s a testament to Galway’s rich history and diverse cultural influences.

Constructed in the 1960s, you might think it lacks the historical gravitas of older European cathedrals. But don’t be fooled. The architecture is a fascinating blend of Renaissance, Romanesque, and Gothic styles, making it one of the best places to go in Galway for architecture buffs.

Thinking of Galway things to do when you’re inside this magnificent structure? First, take a moment to admire the intricate rose windows and the stunning dome. The interior is just as captivating, with its marble floors and detailed mosaics.

For those interested in the spiritual aspect, the cathedral offers regular services and moments for quiet reflection. It’s where you can find both bustling activity and peaceful solitude.

And let’s not overlook the cathedral’s location on the banks of the River Corrib, offering panoramic views of the city. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or someone seeking a moment of peace, Galway Cathedral is a multifaceted gem that you shouldn’t miss.

Galway Cathedral stunning architecture, a spiritual oasis in the heart of Galway
Galway Cathedral stunning architecture, a spiritual oasis in the heart of Galway

12. Galway City Museum

The Galway City Museum, a treasure trove of history, culture, and folklore. This is one of the essential places to visit that offers a deep dive into the city’s rich past and vibrant present. Situated beside the famous Spanish Arch, the museum is a gateway to understanding Galway in all its complexity.

The museum’s exhibits are as diverse as the city itself. From ancient artifacts to contemporary art, there’s something here for everyone. Wondering about the fun activities in Galway? How about engaging with interactive displays that bring history to life or attending one of the museum’s frequent workshops and talks?

One of the highlights is the ‘Galway GAA: The Three-in-a-Row 1964-66’ exhibit, which celebrates the city’s sporting heritage. For maritime enthusiasts, the ‘Sea Science’ exhibit is a must-see, offering a fascinating look at Ireland’s relationship with the sea.

Those best things to do in Galway often involve immersing yourself in local culture, and this museum is no exception.

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Don’t miss the folklore section, where you can learn about local legends and myths that have been passed down through generations.

So, if you’re keen to get under the skin of this captivating city, the Galway City Museum should be high on your list. It’s not just a museum; it’s a journey through time and culture that will leave you enriched and inspired.

Galway City Museum, a modern cultural hub celebrating Galway's rich heritage
Galway City Museum, a modern cultural hub celebrating Galway’s rich heritage

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Galway

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Galway? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Galway:

What’s the best time to visit Galway?

The best time to visit Galway is during the late spring and summer months, from May to September. This period offers milder weather, longer daylight hours, and a vibrant atmosphere with festivals, outdoor activities, and lush landscapes, making it ideal for exploring the city and its surroundings.

How do I get around Galway?

Getting around Galway is convenient with various options. Walk or cycle to explore the city center. Public buses serve the urban area, while taxis and rideshares are readily available. Renting a car is useful for exploring the surrounding regions, and tour buses offer guided trips to nearby attractions.

Is Galway family-friendly?

Yes, Galway is family-friendly. The city offers a range of activities suitable for all ages, including parks, museums, and interactive attractions. Family-friendly accommodations, dining options, and a welcoming atmosphere make it an excellent destination for a vacation with children.

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The Promenade, coastal walkway offering stunning ocean views and seaside serenity
The Promenade, coastal walkway offering stunning ocean views and seaside serenity

What are the must-try foods in Galway?

In Galway, don’t miss trying traditional Irish dishes like seafood chowder, fresh fish and chips, and hearty Irish stew. Savor local specialties such as Connemara lamb and oysters from Galway Bay. For a sweet treat, indulge in a slice of Irish apple pie or sample delicious artisan cheeses.

Is there a lot to do in Galway?

Absolutely! Galway, often referred to as the “Cultural Heart of Ireland,” is a vibrant city with a rich history, lively arts scene, and a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors. Here are some things you can do and see in Galway:

  1. Galway’s Latin Quarter: Wander the cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter, lined with colorful buildings, boutiques, pubs, and restaurants. It’s a hub for street performers, especially during the summer months.
  2. Eyre Square: A central meeting point in the city, this public park is surrounded by historic buildings and modern shops.
  3. Galway Cathedral: An impressive stone cathedral that combines different architectural styles. It’s one of the largest and most iconic buildings in the city.
  4. Spanish Arch: A remnant of the ancient city walls, located on the banks of the River Corrib.
  5. Galway City Museum: Offers insights into the history and heritage of Galway, with exhibits ranging from prehistoric times to the modern era.
  6. Salthill Promenade: A scenic seaside walk with views of Galway Bay. The nearby Blackrock Diving Tower is a popular spot for brave souls to take a plunge.
  7. Traditional Irish Music: Galway is renowned for its live music scene. Visit some of the city’s traditional pubs to enjoy authentic Irish music sessions.
  8. Aran Islands: Just off the coast, these islands offer a glimpse into traditional Irish culture. They’re also home to ancient stone forts and stunning landscapes.
  9. Connemara National Park: A short drive from Galway, this park boasts beautiful landscapes, including mountains, lakes, and bogs.

What is Galway best known for?

Galway is best known for its vibrant arts scene, rich cultural heritage, and stunning natural landscapes. Often dubbed the “Cultural Heart of Ireland,” the city is famous for its lively festivals, traditional Irish music, and the picturesque Galway Bay. It’s a hub for both history enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Is Galway worth visiting?

Absolutely, Galway is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Ireland. With its unique blend of traditional Irish culture, bustling arts scene, and breathtaking natural beauty, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re into history, music, or outdoor adventures, Galway offers an unforgettable experience that’s well worth the trip.

How many days do you need for Galway?

The number of days you need in Galway, Ireland, depends on what you want to see and do. However, for most visitors, 2 to 3 days is a good amount of time to explore the city and its immediate surroundings. Here’s a suggested itinerary:

Day 1: Explore Galway City

  1. Eyre Square: Start your day at this central square, which is a hub of activity and a great place to get a feel for the city.
  2. Shop Street and Quay Street: Wander these pedestrianized streets, lined with shops, pubs, and restaurants. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, street performers, and traditional Irish music.
  3. Galway Cathedral: Visit this impressive stone cathedral, which is one of the largest and most iconic buildings in the city.
  4. Spanish Arch and Galway City Museum: Learn about the history of Galway at these two adjacent attractions.
  5. Salthill Promenade: Take a leisurely walk along this scenic seaside promenade, and if you’re feeling brave, join the locals in taking a plunge from Blackrock Diving Tower.

Trip to Surrounding Areas (Day 2)

  1. Aran Islands: Take a ferry to one of these three islands off the coast of Galway. Explore ancient stone forts, cliffs, and traditional Irish culture.
  2. Connemara National Park: Experience the rugged beauty of this wild and scenic region, with its mountains, lakes, and boglands.

Day 3: More of Galway and Nearby Attractions

  1. Lynch’s Castle: Visit this medieval townhouse, now a bank, which offers a glimpse into Galway’s history.
  2. Kirwan’s Lane: Explore this restored medieval lane with its boutiques, cafes, and remnants of medieval architecture.
  3. Day trip to the Cliffs of Moher: If you didn’t venture out on Day 2, consider a trip to these stunning sea cliffs, which are one of Ireland’s most visited natural attractions.

If you have more time, you can delve deeper into the Connemara region, visit the Burren, or explore more of County Galway’s charming towns and villages. However, for a brief visit, 2 to 3 days will give you a good taste of what Galway has to offer.

Closing Thoughts on Visiting Galway

So there you have it, a curated list of the best places in Galway that promise an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or someone who simply enjoys the finer things in life, Galway has something for you. This city is not just a destination; it’s an emotion, a vibe that you carry with you long after you’ve left. From its cobblestone streets to its sprawling landscapes, every corner of Galway tells a story. And trust me, you’ll want to listen. So pack your bags, jot down your Galway things to do, and get ready for an adventure that will leave you spellbound.

The top things to do in Galway, Ireland for all types of travelers
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