Truth be told, Galway City is a jewel in Ireland’s crown which many of us have been trying to keep a secret all to ourselves for years. Standing on the River Corrib between Lough Corrib and Galway Bay, Galway is a very special destination where traditional Irish culture sits beautifully within a modern, vibrant and diverse city.
Read our Ten Reasons to Visit Galway and we reckon you’ll be packing your bags before you get to the end! Although when you do go, you might not want to leave – so don’t say we didn’t warn you!
10. It has some of the best pubs in Ireland
Pubs of Galway would be a full book in itself, but there are a few that you really must visit. O’Connor’s in Salthill is a visual delight – from the motley of pots and pans hanging from the ceiling to the old bloomers by the fireplace. The live music and special atmosphere of O’Connor’s attracts people from all over the world, and you are sure to make a few friends if you call in.
In Galway city, call into the Skeffington (affectionately known as the Skeff) to watch sports, sit by the fireside, or have a drink outside people watching across Eyre Square. If you love horse racing, then you must call into Kennedy’s in Eyre Square.
Have a flutter in the bookies next door, then sit patiently with your pint in this traditional cosy bar and watch your horse win by a nose. You won’t be short of a few places to spend your winnings either, with quality bars such as An Pucan, The Dáil, The Quays and Taffes.
9. The food is out of this world!
Someone wise once said – Eat Breakfast Like a King, Lunch Like a Prince, and Dinner Like a Pauper. In Galway we say, eat like a King all day long! You won’t hear the mantra ‘Eating is Cheating’ in Ireland – our food is too good. Call into Esquires in Eyre Square for great breakfast – or Dela on Lower Dominick Street for amazing pancakes.
Tucked behind the Spanish Arch, Ard Bia at Nimmo’s is a popular lunch haunt where you can expect to wait for a table, but it is definitely worth it for the original, organic cuisine and craft beers. If you want some good old traditional Irish fayre, try the Galleon out in Salthill or The Quay Street Kitchen in the city.
8. There’s Always Street Entertainment
When you’ve had a few lemonades in the Skeff, walk-off Eyre Square down through Wiliamsgate Street, Shop Street and onto the cobbles of Quay Street. On the way, you’re sure to see and hear singers, dancers, traditional groups or mime artists – all helping to give the city it’s characteristic buzz and ambience.
7. The locals are great!
Old and young, big and small, Galway city loves them all. Multi-cultural, diverse and spanning the generations, it is the myriad of wonderful people who give Galway the unique charm and atmosphere which makes those same people want to return time and time again.
6. You’ll have amazing Craic
If you combine numbers 7-10, you have the definition of Craic. Craic is the Irish word for fun, entertainment and the general high experienced from enjoying the company of others. Expect singing. Expect dancing. Expect laughs with friends and complete strangers. Expect the unexpected. Galway is the ultimate craic den.
5. If the city isn’t for you, you’ll love the beaches
Take a walk from Galway City out the coast road towards Salthill, and you will see a beautiful stretch of beach to rival any Mediterranean Riviera. Go for a run along the beach or simply sit and watch the world go by with a big poke (that’s what we call an ice cream in a wafer cone).
4. Galway has one of the biggest horse races in Ireland
At the beginning of August, Galway is home to one of the biggest Irish horse racing meetings of the year. Tens of thousands of people arrive out to the little village of Ballybrit on the outskirts of the city to enjoy the revelry and rush of excitement associated with the ancient Irish love of the Sport of Kings.
Whether you are dressed casually or in all your Ladies’ Day finery, you can expect to experience a thrilling day’s entertainment. And If you don’t believe me, then maybe you’ll believe W.B Yeats in his poem ‘At Galway Races’: ‘There where the course is, Delight makes all of the one mind…’
3. You can shop till you drop!
Big wallet? No problem! Visit the high-end department store Brown Thomas and pick up a bit of Mulberry or Victoria Beckham for the rock star that you are. Living on beans? You know it has to be Penny’s in the Eyre Square Shopping Centre (you’re a rock star too).
Visit Kilkenny or Treasure Chest for beautiful Irish crafts and traditional clothing, or Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold on Quay Street for traditional jewellery. All you bookworms can wriggle your way down to the famous Charlie Byrne’s bookshop – a cavernous wonderland of books old and new.
2. Galway is the cultural heart of Ireland!
Galway county is rich in literature, music and art. Creativity is deep in the bones of Galway natives, and it is not surprising that people are attracted to the city from all over the world to celebrate in the many cultural festivals that Galway hosts throughout the year.
The pinnacle of these is the International Arts Festival – a two-week celebration in July of dancing, street performing, literature, music and art. Expect to see even more artistic indulgence when Galway becomes the European City of Culture in 2020.
1. The Countryside is Beautiful!
And finally, Galway City is just one part of a devastatingly beautiful county. If you can spare a few hours or days (it’s all the same here), hire a car and drive out into the beautiful Wild West of Ireland. Take the road out to Clifden through Oughterard and Maam Cross and look out across the Atlantic Ocean where the next stop west is the USA.