The picturesque town on the country’s west coast isn’t a city to rush through; rather, one to embrace the tranquility of. From strolling the winding streets to the ocean, window shopping along the way, here’s how we suggest you soak up the history of this old-world town in one eventful day.
7 a.m.: In a quiet city like Galway, it’s best to start the day early, with a walk around town. It’s an opportunity to take in the sights before other tourists have started to hit the pavement. Walk along the River Corrib for picturesque scenery, taking in the historical marvels like the Spanish Arch—an extension of the former city walls, built in 1584—and Galway Bay. On any given morning you can find local fisherman harvesting oysters at the end of Nimmo’s Pier, and swans gliding through the harbor. It’s a peaceful way to start any day, especially when in Ireland.
9 a.m.: Grab a quick bite at The Oven Door where pastries like scones, breads, and tarts are made onsite. Situated in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter, it’s a quick walk from the waterfront and in the center of all of the action. Consider packing a scone or two for the road as you’ll need something to snack on before heading off on an early afternoon drive.
10 a.m.: About a 40 minute ride from central Galway, Dunguaire Castle offers tourists an opportunity to tour a fully-intact 16th-century tower. While only open from April to September, the grounds are free to tour year round and are worth the visit, even in the winter months. And while there’s no shortage of castles, especially in this part of Ireland, the 500-year-old fort offers a glimpse into the region’s medieval history.
12 p.m.: Just a few minutes drive from Dunguaire Castle you’ll find the cozy town of Kinvarra. Take a peaceful walk around The Quay for beautiful views of Galway Bay as Dunguaire sits peacefully in the background. Then, head down Main Street to check out the small boutiques for some souvenir shopping.
2:30 p.m.: On your drive back to Galway you’ll find Moran’s Oyster Cottage on the banks of the Kilkolgan River. While Galway is known for its spectacular seafood, Moran’s stands out above the rest. With some of the best oysters in all of Ireland, it’s the perfect place to share lunch and a few pints with friends. Grab a seat at one of the picnic tables that overlook the river to people watch as you enjoy a hearty lunch.
5:00 p.m.: Back in Galway, it’s time to check out the city’s Latin Quarter. The bustling streets lined with shops, restaurants and pubs, is the heart of this quaint Irish town. The town retains its old-world charm due to the medieval architecture that’s still so prevalent in this area, and it’s a great place to people watch. Buskers perform for locals and tourists alike as shoppers make their way from boutique to boutique, picking out gifts to bring home. If there’s any place you should consider picking up a souvenir or two, this is the place.
7 p.m.: While not a luxury dining experience, Hooked is one of the best spots in town for fresh seafood. This family-run eatery in Galway’s West End offers an extensive menu comprised of local seafood and traditional Irish dishes. While in Galway you have to get fish and chips at least once, and Hooked’s are (arguably) the best in town. Or to sample a little of everything, try the seafood platter of bay prawns, smoked salmon, ceviche, pickled herring, oysters, salad and brown bread.
As you head back to the Latin Quarter for a beer or two, I’d suggest taking the scenic route down the banks of the River Corrib. You’ll need some time to walk off your dinner as portions could almost be split between two.
9 p.m.: Cap off the night with a pint and some live music at Tig Coili. While there’s no shortage of fine pubs in Galway, this quintessential Irish pub is one of few that offer live music on a nightly basis. With 14 different sessions of traditional Irish music per week, visitors have plenty of opportunities to catch a tune. Tig Coili is also located in the center of Galway’s Latin Quarter so you’re within steps of a handful of other bars, in case you’re looking to sample a few different pubs.
Where to Stay
While luxury accommodations are limited in the city center of Galway, there are a few beautiful hotels in the surrounding area that won’t disappoint.
The 138-acre estate sits on the outskirts of Galway on the grounds of a championship golf course. Built in 1740, the hotel reflects an old-world charm with a number of luxury suites to suit any traveler. In addition to golf, guests have the option to partake in activities including, fishing, falconry or cycling.
Located about a 45-minute drive from Galway you’ll find the luxurious Ashford Castle. The 13th-century estate looks as if it were plucked from a fairy tale with beautifully manicured gardens and artfully designed rooms. Regularly voted as one of the best hotels in Ireland and the United Kingdom, Ashford Castle offers its guests a host of amenities to make them as comfortable as possible. From falconry and equestrian activities to an award-winning spa, Ashford Castle proves that it is well worth the drive.