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22 Admirable Things To Do In Galway Ireland in 2024

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Galway’s excellent location on the west coast of Ireland is one of the main reasons for the city’s popularity with visitors. With easy access to Ireland’s best beaches and natural attractions, the list of things to do in Galway is endless.

I managed to narrow down 22 of the best tourist attractions in and around the Irish city. From historic landmarks in the heart of the city to spectacular natural attractions outside the city, this list covers everything interesting in Galway.


Whether you want to explore Irish culture and legends or spend your trip exploring Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes, Galway has it all. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the city for a few days or a few weeks, because you definitely won’t get bored here!

Best of Galway, Ireland Quick & Complete Guide

Best Things to Do In Galway, Ireland

Things to do in Galway Best Things to Do in Galway

Magnificent beaches, charming Irish castles and picturesque old town buildings are some of the things that will fascinate you in Galway. I’ve covered the city’s most famous landmarks and attractions, as well as all the great sights that are just a short drive from the port city.

1. Walking Tour of Galway Old Town

Things to do in Galway Walking Tour of Galway Old Town

A walking tour of Galway Old Town is the best way to get to know the Irish city. Explore the medieval buildings, check out the colorful storefronts on the cobblestone streets, and try to spot as many statues as you can along the way.

Guided walking tours of medieval Galway are great for first-time visitors as you can learn so much about the city’s rich history. Local guides will tell you the stories and legends of Galway and take you to the best places in the city.

A self-guided tour is also a good way to explore the city. You can reach all the important points and when you read the local history you will feel like you are being guided by a professional. The Latin Quarter, Lynch Castle, Eyre Square, Quay Street, Shop Street and Galway Cathedral are places not to be missed in Galway Old Town.

Practical information: Galway walking tours last between 1 and 3 hours.

2. Excursion To Aran Islands 

Best things to do in Galway Ireland Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are a group of three limestone islands off the west coast of Ireland. They are easily accessible via ferries from Galway County and even scenic helicopter flights from Connemore International Airport.

Traveling to the Aran Islands won’t be a walk in the park if you rely on buses for transportation. In this case, I recommend organizing a guided tour. We went to the Aran Islands by plane, it is the fastest and easiest. However, you can also take the ferry.

Inishmore is the largest of the three islands and therefore home to the oldest ruins and most beautiful views. On this island overlooking the Atlantic Ocean lies Dun Aengus, a prehistoric ruin that served as one of the filming locations for Inisherin’s Banshees.

Practical Information: A ferry from Galway City to Inishmore takes approximately 90 minutes. One-way tickets for adults are €35.

3. Tour Galway Cathedral 

Things to do in Galway Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral is one of the city’s most magnificent buildings and a worthwhile stop on any city tour. It is located on Nuns Island in the Corrib River, just northwest of Galway’s historic centre. The large building dominates the northern part of the river island. As it should be, because this is one of the most important landmarks of the entire city.

The inside of the cathedral is much more magnificent than the outside. With stunning stained glass windows, ornate ceilings and magnificent paintings and sculptures on the walls, it’s easy to see why this is the most important religious building in the Irish city. There’s even a mosaic of John F. Kennedy, who visited Galway briefly about five months before his assassination.

Practical Information: Galway Cathedral is open daily from 8:30 AM until 7-9 PM depending on the day. Entrance to the church is free. 

4. See The Lynch Memorial Window

Things to do in Galway Lynch Memorial Window

Legend has it that James Lynch Fitz Stephen, mayor of Galway in the late 15th century, hanged his son from a window of his house. Apparently the son had killed a Spanish soldier, and when the mayor found out about it, he hung him from the window.

There is little to no evidence to support this story, but it is one of Galway’s best known stories. A reminder of history is the Lynch Memorial Window, which was discovered in a house on Lombard Street where the murder took place.

The stones were displayed at the Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin in the mid-19th century and were later moved to their present location on the boundary wall of St Nicholas Collegiate Church.

Practical Information: The Lynch Memorial Window is a free attraction to visit at any time. 

5. Day Trip to Connemara National Park

Fun things to do in Galway Ireland Connemara National Park

Covering an area of 7,000 hectares, Connemara National Park is the best destination for all outdoor enthusiasts in Galway. With hiking trails, panoramic views, mountains and wildlife, this is by far the best place for nature walks near Galway. And if you have a car in Ireland, it will take you less than 90 minutes to reach the national park.

Connemara is a popular birdwatching location, particularly because of its puffin population. Their breeding season runs from March to August and offers the best chances of seeing the enchanting creatures.

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara National Park Galway Ireland

The national park offers some incredible hikes and you can choose from a variety of trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to extremely challenging. Kylemore Abbey is one of the most beautiful historic buildings in the national park and offers free tours of the Victorian gardens.

Practical Information: Connemara National Park is approximately an hour and a half from Galway by car, but nearly 4 hours away by public transport. 

6. See The Ruins of Merlin Castle 

Cool things to do in Galway Ireland Merlins Castle

On the eastern edge of Galway city are the ruins of Merlin Castle. The tower is located in a large park that offers numerous scenic hiking trails. And although the castle tower is the centerpiece of the park, the experience of finding it while strolling the park paths is just as wonderful.

Come here to discover the natural beauty of Ireland’s landscapes and hike through the vast forests close to the city. Merlin’s Castle itself isn’t a surprising attraction, but the sight of the historic landmark is rewarding after a few hours of hiking along forest trails.

Practical Information: Merlin Castle is accessible in approximately 40 minutes by bus from Galway city centre.

7. An Evening At The Pub

Best things to do in Galway Ireland A Night at the Pub

Spend an evening listening to traditional Irish music and a pint or two of Guinness. It’s practically a rite of passage in Galway and a great way to end a day of exploring the city’s history and natural beauty.

Pub culture is very popular in Ireland, so you can still take part in the city’s traditional activities. Home to some of Galway’s best and oldest pubs, Quay Street is a great destination for a fun evening.

Practical Information: Many pubs in Galway are open until 2 AM. 

8. Sunset Walk Down Salthill Promenade 

Things to do in Galway Salthill Promenade

The Salthill Promenade is a coastal footpath in Galway Bay. With enchanting views of the sea on one side and Galway on the other, it is one of the city’s most romantic destinations. And since there are plenty of opportunities for side trips, there’s no shortage of entertainment along the way.

Funfair and Leisureland are both opposite Palmers Beach on the Salthill Promenade. Leisureland has a mini golf course and an indoor pool, but Funfair offers theme park rides. A ride on the Ferris wheel with panoramic views is the perfect change from strolling the Salthill Promenade.

Practical Information: It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk the entire Salthill Promenade, from Claddagh Quay to the Blackrock diving tower.

9. Walk Under The Spanish Arch

Best things to do in Galway Ireland Spanish Arch

The Spanish Arch is a historic landmark in the city and is located next to the Galway City Museum. The arch was added to the 16th century city walls in the 18th century and is one of only two remaining arches on Galway’s front wall.

Although the Spanish Arch remains an important historical landmark in the city, there’s not much to do here other than walk under the arch and perhaps explore the waterfront. The Galway City Museum was housed in part of the Arch for a time, but was moved to a separate building in 2006.

Practical Information: The Spanish Arch is accessible by public transport at any time of the day, free of charge. 

10. Explore Saint Nicholas Collegiate Church

Things to do in Galway St. Nicholas Collegiate Church

St. Nicholas Collegiate Church is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland still in use. The church is famous for a local legend that says Christopher Columbus prayed there during his visit to Galway in the 15th century.

Anyone can visit this church for a small entrance fee. Step inside and admire the stunning stained glass windows and beautiful artwork. Additionally, the church hosts a farmers market every Saturday, which is a great opportunity to buy local souvenirs to take home.

Practical Information: Saint Nicholas’ Collegiate Church is open from 10 AM until 4 PM. The entrance fee is €5 or €4. 

11. Visit Galway City Museum 

Things to do in Galway Galway City Museum

The Galway City Museum is the best place in the city to learn more about the history and tradition of this Irish city. The museum’s exhibits tell the story of Galway from prehistory to modern times, with a special exhibition on the city’s history during the First World War.

Another part of the museum’s collection is dedicated to Pádraic Ó Conaire. The Irish writer was born in Galway and his novel Deoraíocht is considered the first piece of modern fiction in Irish.

Visit this museum to learn about the city’s important events, famous people, and the lives of locals throughout time. What’s most impressive is that the museum doesn’t charge an entry fee. However, visitors are asked to leave a small donation (no more than 5 euros) if they enjoy the exhibition.

Practical Information: Galway City Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday to Thursday. It’s free to enter. 

12. Cross The Mutton Island Causeway

Things to do in Galway Ireland Mutton Island Causeway

The Mutton Island Causeway connects mainland Galway with Mutton Island in the Atlantic Ocean. You can’t actually reach Mutton Island as there is a locked gate at the end of the causeway, but the views along the way are definitely worth the walk. Especially when the weather is nice.

Mutton Island is home to Galway’s sewage treatment plant and is therefore not open to the public. But the dam is still very popular for hiking, biking and even marriage proposals and dates!

Practical Information: Walking the Mutton Island Causeway can be done at any time, free of charge. 

13. Stroll Down Quay Street

Things to do in Galway Quay Street

Quay Street stretches through the Latin Quarter in Galway’s historic center and is one of the city’s most important streets. Lined on both sides with restaurants and pubs, it’s the best place in Galway for shopping, drinking and people watching.

Any walking tour of Galway Old Town will take you through Quay St., but it’s a place you should visit more than once. Come here in the evening to spend a relaxing evening in an Irish pub, or in the afternoon to watch the street performers and discover the street art on the medieval buildings.

Quay Street becomes High Street, which then becomes Shop Street, which then becomes William Street and leads to Eyre Square. A walk along the entire length of this cobbled street is a must and one of the highlights of a trip to Galway.

Practical Information: It is accessible at any time free of charge. 

14. Excursion to Cliffs of Moher

Best things to do in Galway Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous natural monuments on the west coast of Ireland. Together with the Burren, the two landmarks form the UNESCO World Geopark Burren & Cliffs of Moher, which covers an area of more than 530 square kilometers.

Come here and enjoy some of Ireland’s most breathtaking scenery. On a clear day you can enjoy the views of the Aran Islands in the distance. Hiking routes in the area allow you to experience the Cliffs of Moher from different perspectives, but the viewpoint near O’Brien’s Tower is one of the best.

I recommend combining this visit with the Aran Islands trip as the ferry at Doolin Pier is just 15 minutes drive from the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This highly rated trip from Galway takes you to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren, a stunning destination in Ireland.

Practical Information: Cliffs of Moher are 90 minutes by car or two and a half hours by bus from Galway. 

15. Attend Galway Races

Things to do in Galway Races

The Galway Races are the most popular summer events across County Galway. Ballybrit Racecourse in Galway hosts Ireland’s longest-running horse racing festival on the last Monday in July.

This is an iconic event in the city, attracting as many outsiders as Galway locals. Wednesday and Thursday are particularly busy days on the route; Wednesday for the Galway Plate and Thursday because it is ladies day.

Practical Information: The Races are accessible in 45 minutes by public transport from the city centre. 

16. Christmas at Eyre Square

Things to do in Galway Christmas in Eyre Square

If you visit Galway in winter you can experience the Galway Christmas Market. The main event area is located in Eyre Square in the city center, transforming the Irish city into a winter wonderland.

From William Street to Quay Street, everywhere is decorated and seems even more magical than usual. Christmas is truly a special time in Galway and visiting the city during the festive period offers a unique perspective on local traditions that will make you want to to come here next December.

Practical Information: Eyre Square is at the center of Galway’s old town, accessible by walking paths and public transport. 

17. Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip

Best things to do in Galway Ireland Wild Atlantic Way Road Trip

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the longest coastal road trips in the world. Stretching from the Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale in County Cork, this epic route follows the entire west coast of Ireland. If you’re staying in the country for a while and Galway is just one of the destinations you’ll visit, exploring even part of this route is an epic experience.

Towering cliffs, incredible beaches and lighthouses are some of the main attractions of the best Irish road trip. Galway is midway and offers easy access to some of the main attractions along the Cliff Coast.

Practical Information: Wild Atlantic Way is a road trip route 1600 miles (2600 km) long. It’s divided into 14 stages, and stages 8 and 9 can be done from Galway. Compare car rental prices here.

18. History Lesson at Dunguaire Castle

Best things to do in Galway Ireland Dunguaire Castle

Situated on the rocky shores of Galway Bay, Dunguaire Castle is a historic building in Kinvarra. The O’Hynes clan ordered the castle to be built in the 16th century, which included a defensive wall and a tower.

The tower and walls have since been rebuilt and opened to the public. Dunguaire Castle is open for tours in summer and it is also possible to attend a banquet at the castle. It’s a fantastic way to experience this historic Irish landmark with its picturesque surroundings.

Practical Information: Dunguaire Castle is accessible by bus (60 minutes) and boat (30 minutes) from Galway. Tickets start at 6€ for adults. 

19. Sail on Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib is the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland. The south shore of the lake is very close to Galway and is easily accessible via footpaths from the city. In summer it is also possible to book a river cruise from Galway to the lake.

But the upper parts of the lake are even more fun, which is why I recommend real tours of Lough Corrib. See castles on the northern shore of the lake, take a boat to an island with a temple, and visit one of the equestrian centers for horseback riding on the shore.

Practical Information: Public transport from Galway to Lough Corrib is limited. Driving is the best and quickest mode of travel. 

20. Swim at Dog’s Bay

Things to do in Galway Dog's Bay

Dog’s Bay is one of Ireland’s best beaches and is just an hour and a half from Galway. The horseshoe-shaped beach is known for its pristine white sand and calm seas. It is suitable for swimming and is a popular place for water fun in summer. Since there are no big waves here, Dog’s Bay is perfect for children and beginners.

The beach is easily accessible by car and tours from Galway due to limited public transport access, so it is rarely very crowded. And the smaller beaches in the area are accessible via hiking trails, where you can have a whole piece of paradise all to yourself.

Practical Information: Dog’s Bay is a 90-minute drive from Galway. The closest bus stop is at Ballinafad, a 20-minute drive from Dog’s Bay. 

21. Tour Glengowla Mines

Things to do in Galway Ireland Glengowla Mines

Just 30 minutes northwest of Galway you will find the Glengowla Mines. The abandoned silver and lead mines are located on a farm and are open to the public for tours during the summer months. There is also a small museum with mining tools on site.

This is one of the most interesting excursions from Galway. As well as tours of abandoned mines, visitors to the family farm can also see demonstrations of traditional Irish peat mining and sheep farming.

Practical Information: Glengowla Mines are accessible by car and bus from Galway. 

22. Marvel at Menlo Castle

Things to do in Galway Menlo Castle

Menlo Castle is a 10-minute drive from Galway city center and is one of the best historical monuments nearby. The castle ruins on the river bank are covered with ivy and lie in an untouched natural setting. If you ever want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Menlo Castle is a great destination for a break.

Pack a picnic basket and spend a relaxing afternoon in the countryside. Enjoy the sound of the river and the chirping of birds as you admire the 16th-century castle and its ivy-covered walls.

Insider Tip: Feel free to jump the fence to get closer to the castle if you want, everyone does it. 

Practical Information: Menlo Castle is accessible by car and bus from Galway City.

 

Tips and Information For Visiting Galway

Things to do in Galway Tips and Information

Best Time To Visit

Any time of year is a good time to come to Galway. Summer is the best season for Galway’s warm weather and racing, but winter is even more magical thanks to Galway’s Christmas market and enchanting snowy landscapes.

Spring and fall are equally good for mild (but humid) weather and fewer tourists. Early autumn is a good time for warm weather, racing in Galway and beautiful autumn scenery.

Getting There

Currently the best option is to fly to Dublin and then take a bus to Galway. There are four main airports in Ireland and Dublin has the most international connections, so you’ll probably end up there. A bus will take you from Dublin Airport to Galway in around two and a half hours.

Trains only run from Dublin and are only an option if you plan to stay in the capital for a day or two. In addition, Shannon Airport, northwest of Limerick, is closer to Galway, but is only served by Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

Getting Around 

The best way to get around Ireland is by car. Here you can compare the prices for care rentals. Ireland has a good rail network, but it is not very suitable for exploring Galway and the surrounding area. It’s not a big city and much of it is within walking distance. Buses take you to attractions outside the city center.

However, if you want to take day trips and explore more of the west coast of Ireland, renting a car is your best bet. Of course, organized tours to nearby attractions are always an option, but by car it is better to explore the area at your own pace and have maximum freedom.

How Much Time Do You Need

The time it takes to get to Galway really depends on what you want to do. If you want to see the city’s sights and take a day trip or two, three days is enough.

On the other hand, if you want to explore the west coast of Ireland further and perhaps even try to follow the Wild Atlantic Way road trip route, you can stay in Ireland for two weeks or longer. Five to seven days is the ideal time to see the best of Galway and discover the best attractions on Ireland’s west coast.

Where To Stay In Galway

Best Places to stay in Galway Ireland

Stay in Galway city center to be within easy walking distance of the city’s best attractions. For a longer stay in the city and access to other areas of County Galway, consider staying on the shores of Lough Corrib or even closer to Connemara National Park.

Some of the best hotels in Galway for all budgets are: 

  • Woodquay Hostel is a budget hostel close to the old town of Galway. 
  • The Hardiman is a polished 4-star hotel set in a 19th-century building on Eyre Square. 
  • Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate is a high-end hotel in an 18th-century abbey, closer to Lough Corrib than the Galway city center. We stayed at this hotel and it was simply divine.

That’s it. All the information you need to organize a trip to Galway in Ireland. This is truly a magical destination that is suitable for both a solo holiday and a longer trip to Ireland.

Plan more of your Irish vacation with these detailed travel guides

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Is Galway Worth Visiting in Ireland? 

Yes, Galway in Ireland is worth a visit. The medieval town offers historic monuments, a rich history and some of the most beautiful scenery on the west coast of Ireland.

What is Galway in Ireland Famous For? 

Galway is famous for its vibrant nightlife, outstanding culture and stunning scenery. With easy access to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands, Galway is the gateway to some of Ireland’s most beautiful natural areas.

How Many Days in Galway is Enough? 

Three days should be enough for Galway. That’s enough time to see all of the city’s main attractions and take a quick day trip to nearby attractions.

Why is Galway City so Popular? 

The city of Galway is famous for its unique culture and excellent location on the west coast of Ireland. Some of the country’s most famous attractions are easiest to reach from Galway.

About author

Articles

Daniyal is an accomplished travel blogger boasting two years of extensive experience. Proficient in captivating narratives, Daniyal unveils the allure of undiscovered destinations and divulges insights into everything regarding traveling. Beyond the prose, he serves as the editorial architect, seamlessly incorporating editing finesse, SEO mastery, and strategic content deployment to ensure a sophisticated and enriching online travel experience.
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