Centrally located along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, thousands of visitors flock to Galway each year. To entice you to join them, here are ten reasons to visit Galway.
1 - Galway's vibrant cultural scene:
Galway is known for its lively arts and music scene, with numerous traditional Irish music sessions, theater performances, and art galleries to explore. Galway is a great destination for those interested in experiencing traditional Irish culture and the arts.
Some popular locations to experience traditional Irish music include:
- Taaffes Bar: This is a traditional Irish pub located on Shop Street in the city center. It features live music most nights of the week and is known for its lively atmosphere and great selection of Irish whiskey.
- The Crane Bar: This is a pub and music venue in the West End of the city that is known for its traditional Irish music sessions. It features live music every night of the week, and is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
- The Quays Bar: This is another traditional Irish pub located on Quay Street in the city center. It features live music most nights of the week and has a great selection of Irish whiskey and local craft beers.
- The Róisín Dubh: This is a music venue and bar located on Dominick Street, known for hosting live music performances, both traditional and contemporary, and comedy.
- The An Pucan : This is a traditional Irish pub and music venue located on Forster Street in the city center. It features live music most nights of the week and is known for its lively atmosphere and great selection of Irish whiskey.
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2 - Galway's historic city center:
Galway's medieval streets are lined with colorful buildings and historic landmarks. Some top historical sites in the city center include:
St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church: This is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland and is located on the main street of Galway, Shop Street. It is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture and has been in continuous use for over 700 years.
Galway City Museum: This museum is located in the Spanish Arch and is dedicated to the history of Galway and the surrounding region. It features exhibits on the city's medieval history, as well as more recent events such as the Great Famine and the War of Independence.
The Lynch Memorial Window: This is a stained-glass window located in St. Nicholas' Church that is dedicated to the Lynch family, one of the 14 Tribes of Galway, who were prominent merchants in the city during the medieval period.
The Spanish Arch: This is a medieval arch located on the banks of the River Corrib. It was built as part of the city's city walls in the 16th century and is a great spot to take in views of the river and the city.
The Galway City Walls : The city walls are the best-preserved medieval walls in Ireland. They were built in the 14th century to protect the city from attacks.
The Eyre Square: The Eyre Square is a historic city center park and a popular meeting place for locals and visitors. The park was renamed John F Kennedy Memorial Park in 1965, in honor of the late President of the United States, who visited the city in 1963.
3 - Galway's stunning natural surroundings:
Galway is surrounded by beautiful countryside, including the Connemara region, known for its rugged landscapes, and the Burren, a unique limestone region with rare flora and fauna.
Places to visit in The Burren
The Burren region just a short drive from Galway in County Clare. The area is known for its unique limestone landscapes and rich cultural heritage, making it a great destination for hiking, exploring, and experiencing traditional Irish culture. Some of the best places to visit in the Burren include:
- The Cliffs of Moher: These are among the most famous natural attractions in Ireland, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands.
- Poulnabrone Dolmen: This is an ancient portal tomb dating back to the Neolithic period. It is one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the Burren and is located in a beautiful limestone landscape.
- The Burren National Park: This national park covers an area of around 6,000 hectares and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as numerous historical and archaeological sites. It's a great spot for hiking and exploring the unique limestone landscape.
- Doolin Village : Doolin is a traditional Irish village known for its music, pubs, and restaurants. It's also a great base for exploring the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.
- Aillwee Cave: This is one of the most popular caves in the Burren, featuring a guided tour that takes visitors through a series of underground chambers, including a large cavern with a waterfall.
- The Burren Perfumery: This is a unique perfumery that creates perfumes, soaps, and other toiletries using natural ingredients grown on their farm. Visitors can take a tour of the perfumery and learn about the process of making perfumes. The Burren Perfumery also has a delightful herb garden worth strolling through.
- The Burren Smokehouse: This is a smokehouse that produces a variety of smoked fish and meats using traditional methods. Visitors can take a tour of the smokehouse and sample the products.
Places to visit in Connemara
The Connemara region is known for its rugged landscapes, seascapes, and traditional way of life. Some of the best places to visit in Connemara include:
- Kylemore Abbey: This is a beautiful 19th century castle located in the heart of the Connemara countryside. It's surrounded by beautiful gardens and is open to visitors year-round.
- The Connemara National Park: This national park covers an area of around 2,957 hectares and is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, as well as numerous hiking trails and scenic drives.
- Roundstone: This is a small coastal village known for its traditional Irish music, art and culture. It's a great spot for visiting traditional pubs, galleries, and craft shops.
- Clifden: This is the largest town in the region and offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and accommodations. Clifden is also known for its annual festival of traditional Irish music and culture.
- The Sky Road: This is a scenic drive that offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Twelve Bens mountain range, and the surrounding countryside.
- The Connemara Marble Factory: This is a factory that produces a variety of decorative and functional items made from Connemara marble, a rare type of marble found only in the region. Visitors can take a tour of the factory and see how the marble is quarried and crafted.
- The Connemara Sheep and Wool Centre: This is a center that provides information about the history and culture of sheep farming in the region. Visitors can learn about the different breeds of sheep, wool production and traditional crafts associated with wool.
4 - Galway's food and drink scene:
Galway is famous for its seafood, particularly oysters, and also offers a wide variety of traditional Irish pubs, cafes and restaurants. Some of the top-rated restaurants in Galway include:
This Michelin-starred restaurant is known for its innovative use of local, seasonal ingredients and its modern Irish cuisine.
This popular spot is known for its creative, globally-inspired menu and its warm, welcoming atmosphere.
This Italian restaurant is known for its authentic, homemade pasta dishes and its cozy, rustic atmosphere.
This tapas bar and restaurant is known for its delicious Spanish-inspired small plates and its lively atmosphere.
This Michelin-starred restaurant is known for its contemporary Irish cuisine and its commitment to using locally-sourced ingredients.
This casual spot is known for its delicious wood-fired pizza and its friendly, laid-back atmosphere.
This cafe is known for its delicious sweet and savory tarts and its cozy, inviting atmosphere.
This seafood restaurant is known for its delicious fresh fish dishes and its beautiful waterfront location.
5 - Galway's Festivals:
Galway is home to several festivals and there are a variety of festivals taking place in Galway each year for visitors to enjoy. Here are a few favorites:
Galway International Arts Festival
The Galway International Arts Festival is an annual arts festival that takes place in Galway, Ireland. It features a variety of performances and events, including theater, music, dance, visual arts, and street performances. The festival typically takes place in July and draws in thousands of visitors from all over the world. It is one of the largest and most prominent arts festivals in Ireland and is known for showcasing both established and emerging artists.
Galway International Oyster Festival
The Galway International Oyster Festival is an annual event that takes place typically in September. The festival celebrates the start of the oyster season and features a variety of events such as oyster-opening competitions, live music, seafood markets, and culinary demonstrations. The festival is considered one of the oldest and most famous oyster festivals in the world, and it has been held in Galway since 1954. It is a major tourist attraction, drawing thousands of visitors to the city each year for a weekend of oysters, food, drink, and entertainment.
The Galway Races is a horse racing event that takes place during the month of July. The festival features a variety of horse races, including flat races and steeplechases, as well as live music, food, and other entertainment. The festival is one of the most popular and well-attended horse racing events in Ireland and is known for its lively atmosphere and social atmosphere. It has a history of over 150 years, it is a week-long event, and it attracts thousands of visitors from around the world, many of whom come to enjoy the racing and the associated social events and activities.
6 - The Cliffs of Moher:
Just a short drive from Galway, the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland and are visited by over a million people each year. They are also a designated UNESCO Geopark and an important wildlife area, home to many bird species and the unique flora. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience offers an interactive center, a guided walking tour, and an audio-visual presentation of the cliffs' history, geology and wildlife.
Rising to a height of 702 feet (214 meters) at their highest point and stretch for about 5 miles (8 km) along the Atlantic coast. They offer spectacular views of the ocean, the surrounding countryside, and the nearby Aran Islands. Visitors can walk along the cliffs and enjoy the views from several different lookout points, including O'Brien's Tower, which offers a panoramic view of the cliffs and the surrounding area.
7 - The Aran Islands:
The Aran Islands offer a unique glimpse into traditional Irish life and culture and are easily accessible from Galway by ferry.
Inis Mór, is the largest of the three Aran Islands located off the west coast of Ireland, in County Galway. The island is known for its rugged, wild beauty and its rich cultural heritage. It is home to a number of ancient ruins, including Dún Aengus, a pre-historic fort that dates back to the Bronze Age and is situated on the edge of a 300-foot (91-meter) cliff. The island is also known for its traditional Irish language, music, and culture, and it is home to a number of small villages and communities.
8 - Galway's coastal walks:
Galway is surrounded by beautiful coastline and offers plenty of scenic walking routes, including the promenade at Salthill and the promenade along the River Corrib.
9 - Galway's shopping:
Galway city center is home to a wide variety of independent shops and boutiques, as well as larger retailers.
Some of the best shopping areas in Galway include:
Shop Street - This pedestrianized street is located in the city center and is known for its variety of shops, including traditional Irish craft shops, souvenir shops, and clothing stores.
The Latin Quarter - This historic area is known for its narrow streets and traditional Irish architecture. It is home to a variety of independent shops and boutiques, selling everything from clothing and jewelry to books and art.
10 - Galway's Fantastic Nightlife:
Galway is known for its lively nightlife scene, and there are many popular nightspots in the city. Some of the best nightspots in Galway include:
The Quays Bar - This traditional Irish pub is known for its lively atmosphere, live music, and extensive selection of beers and whiskeys.
The Front Door - This trendy bar is known for its unique cocktails and its lively atmosphere.
The Skeff Late Bar - This popular spot is known for its lively atmosphere, live music, and extensive selection of beers and cocktails.
Taaffes Bar - This traditional Irish pub is known for its cozy atmosphere, live music, and extensive selection of beers and whiskeys.
The King's Head - This historic pub is known for its traditional Irish atmosphere, live music, and extensive selection of beers and whiskeys.
The Róisín Dubh - This popular music venue is known for its live music, comedy, and theater performances.
The Crane Bar - This popular spot is known for its live traditional Irish music and its cozy, intimate atmosphere.
The Cellar Bar - This trendy bar is known for its extensive selection of craft beers and its lively atmosphere.