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Galway City Tourism And Travel Guide
5.9° C / 42.7° F
May to September
3 to 5 Days
Ireland West Airport (89 kms)
Iarnroad Eireann Ceannt Station
Galway is a small city located along the coast of western Ireland; an artsy, bohemian town commonly referred to as ‘The City of Tribes’ and one that is often considered to be one of Ireland’s most interesting cities. Galway originated as a fishing village in the region where the River Corrib meets Galway Bay and was called ‘The Claddagh’. It eventually became a walled city in the year 1232 after the territory was captured by the Anglo-Normans. Some sections of the original town walls can still be seen today near the iconic Spanish Arch.
It has become a popular seaside destination over time, and along with its bustling cosmopolitan city centre, old cobbled streets and vibrant shops, Galway makes up one of the best tourism stops in Ireland to holiday in. Often considered to be the most important centre for tourism in West Ireland, Galway should definitely feature among the top destinations to visit on your Irish itinerary. Check out our travel guide for more details on Galway and its exciting features.
How to Reach
Galway Airport shut down in 2012. Since then, travellers mainly reach Galway by flying into any one of the airports located in Dublin, Knock, Shannon, or Cork and then catch a bus, train or taxi to Galway. The Ireland West Airport of Knock serves over 23 destinations across the world and is one of the most frequently used airports to reach Galway. There are daily buses that run from this airport to Galway. Shannon Airport and Dublin Airport also have daily buses running every hour and every half hour respectively from the airports to Galway.
The Iarnroad Eireann Ceannt Station of Galway has six trains that run daily from Heuston Station in Dublin, except for Sundays with four trains. Operated by Irish Rail, the train between Dublin and Galway is the only intercity train that operates to Galway, with commuter services operated between Athenry to Galway and Limerick to Galway.
If you decide to hit the road to reach Galway, the motorway that goes directly from Dublin to Galway is the most commonly used route; start with the M4/N4 west and then follow the M6/N6 all the way to Galway. It’s a great drive if you have your own car or decide to hire one from the many car rentals around the country. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, the CityLink buses provide direct services to Galway from Dublin and Shannon, whereas Bus Eireann runs buses from various destinations across the country.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
July and August are the warmest months of the year and feature heavily on tourists’ itineraries when planning a trip to Galway. The average temperatures range between 11⁰-18⁰C and there is plenty of daylight hours each day to enjoy the outdoors. The warm sunny weather draws even the locals outside, and tourists flock in large numbers to the town’s top attractions. However, due to peak season, it is advisable to make advanced bookings in hotels and be prepared to pay jacked up rates in these establishments.
Spring (April – May) & Autumn (September – October):
The milder seasons of the year, spring and autumn are known for great weather conditions and lesser number of tourists. This means cheaper hotel rates and tourist spots that remain uncrowded. March, however, does see a large influx of visitors because of St. Patrick’s Day that is celebrated in this month. It is the single biggest festival celebrated in Ireland and both locals and tourists alike celebrate it enthusiastically. Temperatures hover around 6⁰C-11⁰C during springtime and are in the range of 9⁰C-14⁰C during autumn.
Winter (November – February):
If you plan a trip to Galway during the winters, expect plenty of rain and very short daylight hours. Needless to say, this isn’t the best time to visit the town, and most days remain cold and gloomy with temperatures in the range of 4⁰C-9⁰C. However, even during peak wintertime the weather rarely reaches freezing levels. The lack of tourists brings down the rates in hotels considerably. The only upside to the winter season is the Christmas and New Year’s festivities, with holiday sales being the top attraction in town.
Things to Do
Stroll Through Salthill Promenade:
The 3-km long promenade located in the coastal village of Salthill is one of Galway’s most visited spots. Perfect for seaside strolls and frequented by both locals and tourists alike, the walkway features plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants along the way to keep one engaged for long. One of the most popular things to do here is to grab some delicious fish and chips from a nearby café and simply lounge on the beach.
Plan a Day Trip to Remember:
There are many opportunities for day trips from Galway. The Aran Islands are located just a short ferry ride away from the city and feature historical ancient monuments. The Dun Aonghasa here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back to the early 12th century. Then there is the Connemara National Park, which not only is home to a diverse range of wildlife but also allows visitors to catch a glimpse into the country’s prehistoric period through the numerous ancient megalithic and Neolithic burial mounds and tombs. The Cliffs of Moher are situated around 76 km away from Galway, with views of the surrounding sights from here that are absolutely spectacular.
Explore Medieval Galway:
Visiting Galway even today offers a glimpse into its medieval period. While it has undergone massive redevelopments, Galway’s historical past can still be witnessed within the old city walls, which have now been incorporated into a shopping centre at Eyre Square. The 14th century St. Nicholas Collegiate Church is also one of the most important buildings still standing today in Galway. A trip to Galway is incomplete without a visit to the Spanish Arch; a 16th century structure that was part of the city’s original defence walls. The region is now also home to the Galway City Museum.
Where to Shop
Shopping in Galway encompasses a unique retail experience that caters to a wide range of tastes. High street shopping in terms of fashion and big brands can be checked out at Anthony Ryans, which also has a new homestore with all kinds of domestic items. The Aran Sweater Market is the country’s leading supply chain for authentic Aran Knitwear; a place you have to stop by to purchase some amazing woollens.
Some of the most interesting shops in Galway can be found in the smaller districts in the city centre. The Latin Quarter, The Westend and the bustling outdoor market stalls of Galway are the best places to take a portion of the city back home with you. Apart from these, stores like the Alan Gaillard Stoneware Pottery, Avoca Handcrafts, the jewellery store Blacoe, and the Ceardlan Spiddal Craft Village are brilliant places to buy souvenirs and gifts for people back home.
Where to Eat
Galway’s restaurant scene is just as exciting as its tourist attractions are. With plenty of both high-end and budget options to choose from, you will surely be spoilt for choice. Biteclub is one such spot where you can find a scrumptious pocket-friendly menu serving Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and Mexican dishes. Aniar is a pricey restaurant that will prove to be the very opposite – fancy but just as delicious European and contemporary cuisine that is inspired by the landscape of Galway and using local wild ingredients.
One of the best-loved restaurants in Galway is ‘Ard Bia at Nimmos’ serving seasonal gourmet food, which also had a rave review in The New York Times. Cava Bordega is known for its Spanish delicacies and special Spanish wine pairings. For a taste of Asian cuisine, visit Papa Rich Street Food Kitchen, and for all those looking for a great vegetarian, healthy and gluten-free option, the Quay Street Kitchen is the place to go.