Top 5 best hidden gems in County Galway

From a 16th-century castle ruin to a muse-worthy scenic stretch, here are the best hidden gems in County Galway.

Situated on the west coast of Ireland, Galway, or the ‘City of the Tribes’, is a popular visitor destination known for its rich literature, music, and art sectors.  

Galway is not only the cultural heart of Ireland (named the European Capital of Culture in 2020). The county also boasts various areas of natural beauty, including The Burren and The Aran Islands.

However, it is also home to numerous other sites which many tourists may not be aware of. So for those travelling to Ireland and planning to stop off in Galway, we have compiled a shortlist of some places we believe are worth a visit.

Here is our list of the top five best hidden gems in County Galway that we highly recommend you check out.

5. Menlo Castle – a loved local landmark

Menlo Castle is one of the best hidden gems in County Galway.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

This 16th-century castle ruin tucked away on the banks of the River Corrib bears a dark and tragic history.

The castle was originally home to the Blake family (from 1600 to 1910), the richest family in Galway. It was also once the venue for the popular local ‘Maying in Menlo’ festival.

However, in 1910 the castle was destroyed by a fire that sadly resulted in multiple loss of life, including staff and the family’s daughter. 

Over the years, the natural decay has continued to affect the site. Its ivy-covered walls are the only parts of the formidable structure that remain visible and standing today. 

The landmark is a well-known spot amongst locals. However, visitors to this part of Ireland might not be aware of its existence. So, for that reason, we have included it in our list of the best hidden gems in County Galway.  

Address: Menlo, Co. Galway, Ireland

4. Glengowla Mines and Family Farm Experience – home of Connemara’s sole ‘show mine’

Spend a day at Glengowla Mines and Family Farm.
Credit: Facebook / @GlengowlaMines

This seasonal family-run business in Oughterard has welcomed thousands of people through its doors since first opening as a tourist attraction in 1998.

Alongside offering underground mining tours in an abandoned lead and silver mine, they also do sheepdog herding and turf cutting demonstrations.

Furthermore, the site has also doubled as a set for film and television show projects!

With so much to see and do, including gold panning, farm walks, and a museum, a visit here when in Galway is a must.

Address: Glengowla, Oughterard, Co. Galway, Ireland

3. Poll na bPéist (The Wormhole) – a unique and unusual natural structure

The Wormhole is one of the best hidden gems in County Galway.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Also known as ‘the Wormhole’ or ‘the Serpent’s Lair’, this unique natural rock formation is found on the Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands.

It is said to be named after a reptilian sea monster from Gaelic folklore. The rectangular-shaped pool is perhaps best known for its use during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. 

Located at the bottom of cliffs with underground channels to the sea, this cool yet rather unusual site is certainly one of the best hidden gems in County Galway.

Address: Kilmurvy, Inishmore, Co. Galway, Ireland

2. MV Plassey Shipwreck – a wondrous and wistful wreckage

MV Plassey Shipwreck is a remarkable sight.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

First built as HMS Juliet in 1940, this naval trawler turned cargo vessel was later acquired in 1951 and renamed Plassey. After getting caught in a storm during the 1960s, it was driven ashore upon the rocks of Inis Oírr. Here, the wreckage remains to this day.

The rusted shell of the Plassey continues to be a popular spot for tourists seeking to feast their eyes upon the decades-old wreckage.

Another site with a starring role, the shipwreck also appears in the opening credits sequence of the beloved comedy show, Father Ted!

Address: Inisheer, Co. Galway, Ireland

1. White Strand Beach – a serene and secluded scene

White Strand Beach is one of the best hidden gems in County Galway.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

One of the Renvyle Peninsula’s most scenic beaches, White Strand is a long spectacular stretch of pristine white sand. The beach offers incredible views of the crystal clear ocean and surrounding mountains and islands.

White Strand Beach is not only the perfect spot for a walk along the shoreline. It has also made a name for itself as a popular caravan and camping park.

This beach is said to have provided inspiration for many writers and artists who returned here time and time again. Thus, White Strand Beach is undoubtedly one of the best hidden gems in County Galway.

Address: Tully Beg, Co. Galway, Ireland

And that concludes our list of the top five best hidden gems in County Galway. How many of them have you visited? Let us know down below!

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