If you are looking for something a little bit different when you visit Ireland, many people and tourist guides will recommend Galway’s hidden gems.
For an area that’s home to just 258,000 residents, Galway has become a popular tourist destination — with 1.7 million people visiting from around the world in 2018.
Tourism, understandably, has become an incredible asset for revenue generation in Galway’s economy.
When visiting any city, it is always fun to seek out the hidden gems. The great music venues, best restaurants, and coolest bars where the locals hang out can be hard to find.
Sometimes the locals try to keep these spots a secret in order to stop them from becoming overcrowded with tourists.
However, we have consulted with our Galway expert to help guide you before your next trip to the city. Whether you are looking for the best pizza in Galway or the best spot for a quiet pint with some good music, then you are in the right place.
Using our secret source, we have profiled five of the top hidden gems that are not-to-be-missed on your next trip to Galway.
5. Ballybrit Racecourse – well-known on the Irish horse racing scene
Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit is well-known on the Irish horse racing scene. The summer race meet is a hugely popular event for people from Galway and all over the country, with many even making the trip from further abroad.
Furthermore, people who can’t make the annual trip home still use online betting sites to have a punt during the summer festival, as the Galway Races in July represents one of the biggest betting markets on the Irish horse racing calendar.
However, what qualifies this venue for the hidden gems list are the hospitality packages that are on offer during the lesser-known race meets during the year.
Most people know about the summer event, but the Autumn race meet is less known and one that the locals love to attend in relative peace and quiet.
Our local Galway source says that the hospitality packages for the Autumn race meet are hard to beat and give great value to punters looking for a great day out without the mayhem that usually accompanies the summertime meeting.
Packages include unrivalled views of the course, a 4-course lunch, access to a private bar and much more. Our source says that if you are looking to experience horse racing in Galway like a true local, then this is the way to do it.
Address: Ballybrit, Galway, H91 V654, Ireland
4. Freddy’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria – Galway’s best pizza and pasta
Based in the heart of the city in the Latin Quarter on Quay Street, Freddy’s Italian Restaurant is Galway’s best pizza and pasta hidden gem.
It is Galway city’s oldest Italian pizzeria, and in the opinion of our secret source, it is the place to go for the best pizza and pasta in Galway city.
Serving the people of Galway since the 1980s, it is run by the same family that opened the original restaurant over 30 years ago.
Dara Coyne, along with his partner Sophie McLoughlin, has taken over the restaurant and has brought it into modern times while still retaining some of the old charms that have made the restaurant a favourite of locals for decades.
However, the real secret about this Italian eatery is that it recently underwent a makeover with a brand-new pizza oven installed.
It is now a sleek and modern restaurant with an open kitchen, so you can see the expert pizza and pasta chefs at work.
The kitchen staff has also changed, with the new head chef Ivan Marchitto bringing a more authentic twist to the pizza and pasta dishes served in the Galway restaurant.
Ivan was born in Naples, the birthplace of pizza, so if you want to get that real authentic Italian taste with locally sourced ingredients, then you need to come to Freddy’s restaurant.
The seafood linguine combines freshly made Italian pasta and Galway seafood to create one of their most popular dishes. They also offer authentic Italian desserts, and our local source recommends the tiramisu if you are looking for something sweet.
Address: 15 Quay St, Galway, Ireland
3. Boychik Donuts − St Nicholas’ Market
Continuing with the theme of something sweet, next on the list are the tasty donuts from Boychik. Located at St Nicholas’ Market, Boychik Donuts has become something of an institution.
The lively market setting is an experience in itself, and you will find Danny serving his tasty treats from 9 am – 3 pm on Saturdays and 12 pm – 3 pm on Sundays.
For those who are fans of this sweet and sugary treat, it’s well worth a visit when you are in the area. They go great with a cup of coffee from one of the many shops or stalls on the market.
You can choose between cinnamon and cocoa toppings, and our source recommends that you order more than one donut as you will keep coming back for more!
Address: 1, 3 Church Ln, Galway, H91 C623, Ireland
2. Sheridan’s Cheese & Wine Bar – one of the best of Galway’s hidden gems
Is there a more perfect pairing than wine and cheese? For those who love this delicious combination, it’s worth taking a trip to the wine bar from Sheridans cheesemongers.
Sheridans Wine Bar offers a high-quality taste experience in a cosy and discreet setting.
Open between Tuesdays and Saturdays at 14-16 Churchyard Street, the bar is located above their popular cheese shop – and directly beside the weekend market where brothers Seamus and Kevin first started selling cheese in the early 90s.
This bar is quite hidden, as the discreet stairs to the left of the main shop entrance give off an almost speakeasy vibe.
As you sneak up the staircase, you are greeted by the friendly bar staff and chatter of some locals who have slipped in for a glass of wine (or two) and a cheese board.
Since they stay open until 11 pm, guests can enjoy the cosy space well into the evening and take in the views of the beautiful city skyline.
Our source recommends asking the knowledgeable staff for a recommendation on the best wine to pair with one of their delicious charcuterie & cheese boards.
Address: 14 Churchyard St, Galway, H91 X2R5, Ireland
1. The Crane Bar – one of the city’s most authentic bars
No matter where you are in the country, a visit to Ireland is not complete without checking out a pub that offers traditional music and proper pints of stout. If you are in Galway, The Crane Bar on Sea Road has to be at the top of your list.
One of the city’s most authentic traditional music pubs, it’s been a favourite of locals and tourists in the know wanting to listen to the best of Irish music for decades.
If you find yourself in the area, be sure to pop in for a visit and listen to music over its two floors. The local secret about this bar, however, is the quality of their stout.
Our local guide suggests that instead of going for the always-popular Guinness, you should try out another lesser-known Irish stout, Beamish. It is highly rated amongst locals of the bar, and it is definitely a hidden gem in the city.
Address: 2 Sea Rd, Galway, H91 YP97, Ireland