Galway is a city in the West of Ireland that lies on the River Corrib where it meets the Atlantic Ocean — and it’s one of my favourite places in the world.
Known as a cultural hub for musicians and artists, Galway has a bohemian feel that often inspires creatives, with its colourful buildings and cobbled backstreets that you could easily roam for hours.
My husband and I went there on our way over to the States to elope at the backend of 2020, and we always said we would go back. Galway often gets overlooked by Dublin (which is also great), but It has its own unique, charming vibe that just can’t be missed.
So, is Galway worth visiting? It’s a resounding yes from me. Let me break down the reasons why.
Getting to Galway from the UK
First things first, Galway isn’t too difficult to get to from the UK. Every major airport usually flies to one of the following:
- Shannon Airport, which is a one-hour drive to Galway
- Knock Airport, which is also a one-hour drive to Galway
If all else fails, you can hop on a plane to Dublin and do the two-hour 30-minute drive to Galway. Other options include getting on the train or catching a bus.
Whichever city you fly into (and from), the good news is that you won’t be up in the air for much longer than an hour before touching back down. It’s as quick as that!
Finding Accommodation in Galway
There are plenty of accommodation options in Galway, which also makes it an ideal place to stay. From quaint airbnbs to swanky hostels in Galway, there is something to suit every personal taste.
Rentals are a popular option for long-term accommodation. Either way, I’d recommend staying as close to the city centre as possible, as that’s where the magic is.
Or, you could stay on the outskirts in walking distance, in somewhere like Salthill or Ballybane. Salthill, for example, is a 30-minute walk from The Latin Quarter with beautiful scenery all around and the sea air on your face.
What to Do in Galway
You could quite happily spend a day walking around Galway getting lost amongst the cobbled streets. That said, make sure you check out the below along the way.
1. Latin Quarter
The Latin Quarter of Galway goesfrom the Spanish Arch to O’Brien’s Bridge to St Nicholas’ Church to Middle Street. This area is packed with shops, bars, restaurants and pubs — and is always bustling.
2. Spanish Arch
Yes, the Spanish Arch is within the Latin Quarter but it’s still worth mentioning as its own separate attraction. It’s a historical gem where you can see remnants of 16th-century defences.
3. Quay Street
Quay Street is in the heart of Galway and is the city’s most famous pedestrianised street. It’s filled with pubs playing traditional music, colourful storefronts and plenty of restaurants with good grub.
4. Galway Cathedral
The Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, commonly known as Galway Cathedral, is one of the largest and most impressive buildings in the city. There is no admission charge, but a donation of €3 from visitors is appreciated for maintenance.
5. Riverside Walk
You have to cross River Corrib on a bridge to get to Galway Cathedral anyway, so you may as well do the riverside walk before or after your visit. It’s fully paved with lovely views.
6. Eyre Square
Eyre Square is a city public park in the centre of Galway. It joins the nearby shopping area of William Street and Shop Street, and has an array of cool bars, restaurants and shops.
7. Salthill Promenade
Take the nice scenic walk along the bay from the city centre and you will end up in Salthill. This is a small but cute village that has a Promenade lined with cafes and shops.
Day Trips from Galway
If you’ve already explored what the city has to offer and want to expand your horizons, there are several day trips from Galway you can take.
1. Connemara National Park
An hour and 25 minutes drive, Connemara National Park is well worth the trip thanks to its stunning scenery, lakes and mountains. If you’re a keen hiker, there are several walking trails that vary in length and intensity.
Clifden is an adorable little village located on the Owenglin River where it flows into Clifden Bay. It is often referred to as “the Capital of Connemara,” nestled between the Twelve Bens mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.
From Galway, the journey would take you about one hour and 15 minutes in the car.
3. Cliffs of Moher
Just over an hour’s drive north of the city, these impressive sea cliffs reach a maximum height of 214 metres and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland.
You can walk the designated pathways and enjoy the spectacular views of the rugged West Clare coat, Atlantic Ocean and Aran Islands.
How Long to Spend in Galway
It’s totally up to you how long you want to spend exploring this gorgeous Irish city. I’d recommend at least a couple of nights if you’re short on time, or up to a week if you’re not in a rush.
Staying in Galway for at least a week would give you time to do all the amazing day trips I mentioned, and then still be able to have a good look around at everything the city has to offer.
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Is Galway Worth Visiting? Final Thoughts
Galway is a hip alternative to Dublin that isn’t too far away to get to for a short trip. But, is Galway worth visiting? One word: absolutely.
There is just something so special about this Irish city, that leaves the best taste in your mouth, and makes you want more. Brb while I book my next flight.