Galway is a charming harbor city crisscrossed with canals at the mouth of the Corrib River on Ireland’s west coast. Affectionately called the “City of the Tribes” after the several prominent families that controlled trade and politics in the city from the 13th to the 19th centuries, Galway, today, is a cultural hub nestled within medieval city walls. The city is home to many historical attractions such as the 16th-century fortified limestone Lynch’s Castle and the 18th-century Eyre Square, as well as plenty of traditional pubs offering live Irish folk music. Head out of the city and sail to the verdant Aran Islands and or visit the ruggedly spectacular Wild Atlantic Way. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.MV Plassy, Galway, Ireland
The MV Plassy was a cargo vessel in the Irish Merchant Service that operated in the 1950s. Built as a Shakespearian-class naval trawler of the Royal Navy known as HMS Juliet at the beginning of the Second World War, Plassey was sold into merchant service at the end of the war. The steam trawler lost its battle against a massive storm in the 1960s and was wrecked on the beach in remote Inis Oirr. The rusted remains of the wreck are still on the beach today and have become an exploratory landmark and popular tourist attraction.
2.Connemara National Park
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Situated in County Galway, Connemara National Park is a sprawling national park spanning almost 3,000 hectares of rolling grasslands, dense woodlands, rugged mountains, and marshy bogs. The park features several massive mountains that are part of the famous Beanna Beola (Twelve Bens) range, as well as charming little villages and towns. The park boasts a variety of scenic routes and nature trails that begin at the Visitor Center and offer spectacular views of the region and offers excellent bird and wildlife watching. The Visitor Center features exciting exhibitions, a multi-lingual audio-visual show, and a seasonal café and provides a summer program of educational workshops for all ages.
Letterfrack, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-37-61-00-25-28
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3.The Fisheries Watchtower Museum, Galway, Ireland
The Fisheries Watchtower Museum is a historic Victorian tower and ‘draft netting station.’ Built in 1853 in a neo-Romanesque style, the tower is set on the banks of the Corrib in Galway city and was constructed to watch over fish stocks and stop any illegal fishing on the river. Today, the tower houses a museum that documents the history of boating and salmon fishing in the area with exhibits of historical photographs, fishing equipment, and tanks holding young salmon and elvers (eels).
Wolfe Tone Bridge, Galway, County Galway, Ireland, +35-391-56-49-46
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4.Clifden Sky Road, Galway, Ireland
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The Sky Road in Clifden is a panoramic scenic drive along the rugged coastline of Connemara that offers breathtaking views of the offshore islands of Inishturk and Turbot and the Atlantic Ocean. The circular route is seven miles long, with the highest point near the town of Clifden, which is a vibrant town with shops, pubs, restaurants, and cafés. A viewing platform outside of town offers spectacular views over the city and ocean beyond.
Sky Road, Clifden, County Galway, Ireland
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5.Kinvara, Galway, Ireland
Kinvara is a charming fishing village and port nestled at the head of Kinvara Bay and the gateway to the Burren in County Clare. Once a thriving port in the 19th century and a hub for trading turf fuel, Kinvara was guarded by Dunguaire Castle, an enchanting and picture-perfect castle at the end of the bay that was the residence of the High King of Connaught. Today, the village is home to quaint little shops, cafés, and pubs, including the emerald-coated Green’s Bar that was built in 1865 and features hundreds of bottles of whiskey living the walls. Every summer, the town hosts the Cruinniu na mBad festival with boat races, medieval banquets, and other nautical-related events.
Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland
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6.Cong, Galway, Ireland
Cong is a small lakeside village situated on the narrow isthmus between Loughs Corrib and Mask on the border of Galway and Mayo counties and the gateway to northern Connemara. Once a strategic outpost for trade and commerce, the little village is now inhabited by less than 200 residents and is home to an old abbey, a traditional Irish pub, and the luxurious Ashford Castle Estate. The village and its surroundings can be explored on several hiking routes that pass interesting sites and attractions such as Lough Mask, Lough Corrib, and the ruins of the Augustinian abbey, home of the last High King of Ireland.
Cong, County Mayo, Ireland
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The Salthill Promenade is a 1.2-mile walkway running along the northern inner shore of Galway Bay that offers beautiful views of the Aran Islands and the Atlantic Ocean. A favorite with locals and tourists alike, the promenade attracts walkers, joggers, cyclists, and leisure-seekers wanting to enjoy the fresh sea air and soak up the lovely views. Tradition calls for people on the promenade to kick the wall opposite the diving boards at the end of the boardwalk before turning around. The promenade is lined with plenty of cafés, restaurants, and bars for wining and dining, as well as other forms of entertainment such as the Galway Atlantaquaria, a wind-battered diving platform, penny slot machines and some of the best ice cream parlors in the county.
Salthill, County Galway, Ireland
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8.The Legend of the Claddagh Ring Museum
The Legend of the Claddagh Ring Museum is dedicated to the history of the Claddagh Ring, which was made in Galway. Named after an old fishing area in the county, the ring consists of two crowns and a heart and were once worn to indicate marriage, but today are a token of friendship. The iconic symbols of love, loyalty, and friendship are worn by Irish and Irish descendants all over the world and are an ideal Galway souvenir. The museum explores the history of Claddagh and Galway, the lore of the famous ring, and how it became symbolic of Irish Heritage. A gift shop at the museum sells books, souvenirs, and authentic rings, which are handcrafted at the in-house thatched cottage and workshop.
1 Quay Street, Galway, County Galway, H91 CP22, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-56-63-65
9.Kylemore Abbey, Galway, Ireland
Kylemore Abbey is a magnificent Benedictine monastery constructed in the Victorian Gothic style and overlooking a tranquil lake. Built in 1863 as a residence for a wealthy English politician and known initially as the Kylemore Castle, the castle was converted into an abbey in 1920 for Benedictine Nuns, who fled Belgium in the First World War. Kylemore Abbey boasts a superb picturesque lakeside setting surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and dense woodlands. The abbey includes a magnificent neo-gothic church, where the nuns lead a monastic life of dedication to prayer and work. Another feature of the monastery is the Victorian Walled Garden through which a stream runs, separating a Flower Garden and Kitchen Garden. The Visitor’s Center has several exhibits, a restaurant serving traditional Irish dishes, and a craft shop.
Kylemore Abbey Pollacappul, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-39-54-11-46
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10.Dún Aonghasa, Galway, Ireland
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Dún Aonghasa is a 3,100year-old Iron Age fort set on the edge of a seaside cliff overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean. Offering a glimpse into an ancient, mystical world, the fort is thought to have been built around 1100 BCE, with additions being added over centuries, including the layers of thick stone walls it features today. Today, the fort boasts a D-shape formation with concentric walls of defenses, and a field of steep rocks built as a systematic deterrent known as a “cheval de fries.” Nearby is an unrelated Neolithic tomb, a thatched cottage, and a reconstructed poteen distillery that highlights the ancient cultural heritage of the first inhabitants of the area.
Kilmurvy, County Galway, H91 YT20, Ireland, Phone: +35-39-96-10-08
11.Buckfast Plaza, Galway, Ireland
The Buckfast Plaza is a grassy area next to the Spanish Arch in Galway where locals like to gather and enjoy a drink outdoors in the summertime. Named after a sweet, syrupy, caffeine-infused tonic wine that the monks in the south-west of England used to make, the Buckfast Plaza is a great spot to meet the local party crowd and enjoy the eponymous potent social lubricant.
County Galway, H91 YT20, Ireland
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Eyre Square, also known as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, is a large open plaza and Galway’s main public space. The inner-city public park is rectangular and surrounded by three major traffic arteries that flow into Galway city center, and a pedestrian-only zone on the west side. Originally a town green used for markets in front of the city gates, the square features several striking attractions, including the abstract Quincentennial Fountain depicting one of Galway’s traditional ‘hooker’ sailboats. There is also a bronze statue of famous Irish-language writer Pádraic Ó Conaire, and a bust of John F. Kennedy, who played a pivotal role in the freedom of Galway.
Eyre Square, Galway, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-53-64-00
Dunguaire Castle is a beautiful 16th-century castle at the end of Galway Bay that was the residence of the High King of Connaught. The magnificent edifice rests on a grassy knoll with breathtaking views over the bay and is thought to be the most photographed castle in Ireland. The villa features an encircling wall dating back to 1520 and a 75-foot tower and was lovingly restored to its former glory in the 1920s by Oliver St John Gogarty. The castle can be explored on guided tours and hosts medieval-style Dunguaire Castle Banquets in the summer with live entertainment such as poetry readings of Yeats, Gogarty, and Shaw.
Dungory East, Kinvarra, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-361-71-12-00
14.Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Athenry
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Athenry is a medieval town situated 16 miles outside of Galway with an array of attractions. Meaning ‘Town of the Ford of the King,’ Athenry features a medieval town wall, a 13th century Anglo-Norman street-plan, and a monastery and the town is famous for being the place that inspired the song, “The Fields of Athenry.” The city is also home to the only medieval market cross still standing in the country and has a long and rich history dating back to the 2nd century.
Athenry, County Galway, Ireland
15.Galway City Museum, Galway, Ireland
© Galway City Museum
Located behind the famous Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum is dedicated to the history and heritage of Galway City. Boasting spectacular views of the Claddagh, the Corrib River, and Galway Bay, the museum features a variety of permanent and rotating exhibitions that explore Galway’s archaeology, arts and crafts, folk, and natural history. Signature exhibits include a traditional Galway ‘hooker’ sailboat, a medieval stone collection featuring items such as coats of arms, corbels, and plaques from the 16th and 17th centuries. The museum also has a photography gallery displaying photographs of life in the city from the 1950s onwards, and interesting artifacts from Galway’s pubs dating in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Spanish Parade, Galway, County Galway, H91 CX5P, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-53-24-60
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16.Benbaun, Galway, Ireland
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Benbaun is the highest mountain peak in Galway and is famous for being the home of the Connemara pony and a variety of plants that digest insects. Benbaun, meaning ‘white peak,’ is 2,392 feet high and is the tallest mountain of the Twelve Bens range in Galway County. Situated at the center of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the Connemara National Park, the mountain has a rough, boggy base and a windy peak and offers excellent hiking, hill-walking, and bird watching.
Benbaun, Gleninagh, Co. Galway, Ireland
17.Lough Corrib, Galway, Ireland
Located in the west of Ireland, Lough Corrib is the country’s largest lake and is connected to the sea by the Corrib and Galway Rivers. The canal from the lake to the sea is known as the Friar's Cut, which dating back to the 12th century and was the first canal laid in Ireland. The lake is home to more than 1,300 islands and offers a wealth of activities, including beautiful sandy beaches for picnicking and swimming and forested hiking trails. Attractions include Hen’s Castle, which was once the home of pirate queen Grainne O’Malley, which is situated on Caislean-na-Circe island, and Inchagoil Island, which has the remains of people who lived there in the 12th-century. Lough Corrib is a designated Special Area of Conservation.
Lough Corrib, West Ireland
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18.Spiddal Irish Crafts Center and Cafe
© Spiddal Irish Crafts Center and Café
The Spiddal Irish Crafts Center and Café is an Irish handcraft haven that showcases local Irish arts, crafts, and locally-made items. Situated opposite the Spiddal Beach (Trá an Spidéil) with beautiful views over Galway Bay and the Aran Islands, the center features several craft and design studios where local artisans work their trade across various genres, ranging from acrylic painting, basket weaving, pottery, and screen printing to stained glass, weaving and Celtic jewelry. Builín Blasta Café serves a selection of hot drinks, homemade food, and mouthwatering desserts.
Spiddal An Spideal, County Galway, H91 XPA8, Ireland
19.Galway Cathedral, Galway, Ireland
The Galway Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the city. Built in 1958 on the site of Galway’s old city prison, the Galway Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas is constructed from limestone and has a variety of architectural styles ranging from Romanesque and Renaissance to Gothic. Notable elements of the cathedral include a magnificent barrel vault and dome, semi-circular window arches, and a beautiful traceried rose above the leading portal.
Galway, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-56-35-77
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20.The Dough Bros
© The Dough Bros
The Dough Bros is a cozy pizzeria on Upper Abbeygate Street that serves traditional wood-fired pizza and other classic Italian dishes in a warm and welcoming environment. The pizzeria began as a food truck and grew into two popular brick-and-mortar restaurants in Galway. Boasting subway-tiled walls, comfortable seating, and an inviting, family-friendly ambiance, the pizzeria serves Neapolitan-style with house-made sauces and various toppings. The menu also offers vegetarian options and sides such as garlic bread and several homemade dips.
Cathedral Buildings, 1 Middle Street, Galway, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-39-52-38
21.Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Ard Bia at Nimmos
© Ard Bia at Nimmos
Ard Bia at Nimmos is an award-winning restaurant and one of Galway’s best-loved spots that serve a fresh and globally-inspired menu of creative cuisine from around the world. Housed in an 18th-century building next to the Spanish Arch with beautiful views of the Corrib River, the restaurant has homely yet stylish décor, warm wooden furnishings, and colorful elements. It serves a slow-food menu of serves seasonal gourmet fare prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and artisanal produce. A wide range of fine global wines, craft beers, and signature cocktails made with high-end spirits.
Spanish Arch Long Walk, Galway, County Galway, H91 E9XA, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-56-11-14
22.Aniar Restaurant, Galway, Ireland
© Aniar Restaurant
Aniar Restaurant is a Michelin-starred restaurant that focuses on the concept of terroir, serving a menu of dishes inspired by the Galway landscape and prepared with local, wild ingredients. The award-winning eatery showcases the diversity of the region with an imaginative 10-course tasting menu and a weekly five-course lunch featuring products from local producers, farmers, and fishermen. Aniar Restaurant also offers cooking courses headed by owner JP McMahon at the Aniar Cooking School, as well as menu planning and wine-pairings.
53 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, County Galway, H91 XH52, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-53-59-47
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23.Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Loam
Loam is a double Michelin-starred restaurant that serves an ever-evolving, seasonal menu that focuses on provenance. Owned by Cavan born chef Enda McEvoy of Aniar fame, Loam serves creative cuisine inspired by the rugged landscapes of west Ireland prepared with local ingredients and produce from regional farmers, fishermen, and foragers. Ingredients include seaweed picked from nearby shores, wild herbs found on the heaths, fresh fish and seafood from the North Atlantic Ocean around Galway Bay, and the highest quality lamb from the mountains of Connemara. The dining space features contemporary décor with stylish furnishings and table dressings and an open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work.
Geata Na Cathrach Fairgreen Road, Galway, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-56-97-27
© Cava Bodega
Cava Bodega brings the rich tastes and sun-kissed flavors of Spain to the heart of Galway. Owned and run by husband-and-wife team JP McMahon and Drigín Gaffey, Cava Bodega is located next to the Dáil Bar on Middle Street and features two levels of seating for large and small gatherings and a little street-level bar. An open kitchen offers full views of the chefs at work as they prepare an inspired menu of authentic Spanish cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. The exposed stonework and brightly painted walls and artworks create a bright and inviting ambiance, and the bar offers a wide variety of wines from around the world, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails.
1 Middle Street, Galway, County Galway, Ireland, Phone: +35-391-53-98-84
25.Shopping in Galway
Galway offers a fantastic shopping experience for both locals and visitors alike with several shopping centers, many boutique stores, unique gift shops, and a variety of specialist and tourist-orientated shops. The city also has a famous bustling outdoor market that has been held in Church lane by St Nicholas’ Church for centuries, selling fresh produces, handmade goods, and arts and crafts. Most of the shopping areas are in the center of the city, the Westend, and the Latin Quarter.
Galway, County Galway, Ireland
25 Best Things to Do in Galway, Ireland
- MV Plassy, Galway, Ireland, Photo: GigiPeis/stock.adobe.com
- Connemara National Park, Photo: Elena Schweitzer/stock.adobe.com
- The Fisheries Watchtower Museum, Galway, Ireland, Photo: Michaella/stock.adobe.com
- Clifden Sky Road, Galway, Ireland, Photo: The Pink Panda/stock.adobe.com
- Kinvara, Galway, Ireland, Photo: David_Steele/stock.adobe.com
- Cong, Galway, Ireland, Photo: David_Steele/stock.adobe.com
- Salthill Promenade, Photo: Michaella/stock.adobe.com
- The Legend of the Claddagh Ring Museum, Photo: backiris/stock.adobe.com
- Kylemore Abbey, Galway, Ireland, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Dún Aonghasa, Galway, Ireland, Photo: JUAN CARLOS MUNOZ/stock.adobe.com
- Buckfast Plaza, Galway, Ireland, Photo: lisandrotrarbach/stock.adobe.com
- Eyre Square, Photo: Michaella/stock.adobe.com
- Dunguaire Castle, Photo: kwiatek7/stock.adobe.com
- Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Athenry, Photo: Patryk Kosmider/stock.adobe.com
- Galway City Museum, Galway, Ireland, Photo: Galway City Museum
- Benbaun, Galway, Ireland, Photo: Nazanin Es/stock.adobe.com
- Lough Corrib, Galway, Ireland, Photo: Bob/stock.adobe.com
- Spiddal Irish Crafts Center and Cafe, Photo: Spiddal Irish Crafts Center and Café
- Galway Cathedral, Galway, Ireland, Photo: tauav/stock.adobe.com
- The Dough Bros, Photo: The Dough Bros
- Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Ard Bia at Nimmos, Photo: Ard Bia at Nimmos
- Aniar Restaurant, Galway, Ireland, Photo: Aniar Restaurant
- Things to Do in Galway, Ireland: Loam, Photo: Loam
- Cava Bodega, Photo: Cava Bodega
- Shopping in Galway, Photo: Urmas/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: lisandrotrarbach/stock.adobe.com
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