Traditional music and the pubs it’s played in lie at the heart of the lively city on the west side of Ireland, Galway. Pubs in Galway are a gathering place to meet friends, listen to trad (traditional Irish music), and enjoy good Craic (fun!). In the past few months of traveling solo, at times I’ve felt awkward walking into a bar by myself. But flying solo in a Galway pub isn’t awkward at all. By the time the bartender is finished pouring my first pint, I’m usually chatting away with a local while toe-tapping to the musicians playing in the corner.
Things I love about the traditional Irish pubs in Galway:
- Traditional music played at many of them (usually starts around 9:30-10:00 pm)
- No TV in site and some don’t even have WiFi available (aka talk to people)
- A Guinness is €4.60 in every pub
- You’ll likely find someone drinking coffee or tea just as much as a Guinness
- The cozy little nooks and crannies perfect for reading a book on a rainy day
- They’re filled with locals and tourists alike, intermingling, chatting and enjoying the craic!
Galway has no shortage of excellent pubs and I did my very best to get a good sample of them during my most recent visit. This list comprises my favorite pubs in Galway and serves as a great jumping off point for your visit to Galway City.
O’Connell’s is located in Eyre Square, a half block up from the bus station. Walking in you are greeted warmly by the bartenders ready to serve whatever you’re thirsty for. They have a wide selection of beers, whiskeys, and gins to choose from and plenty of bar space.
In fact, it’s much larger than it appears upon first entrance. Passing through the door at the back you’ll discover another room ready to serve. There is also huge beer garden outside with picnic tables, two bars, and a vintage “Gin Lane” featuring old-school storefronts for Guinness, Schweppes, and FAO Schwarz – to name a few. It’s perfect for a sunny day. OConnells also features the nooks and crannies of a traditional pub, with a side of WiFi – although they’ll likely take the piss out of ya for asking for the password.
Why? The Irish like to talk to each other. So get your nose out of your phone and enjoy the Craic.
Address: 8 Eyre Square, Galway, Ireland
Tig Coili was my first introduction to the Galway trad scene during my first visit in 2015 and it still holds a special place in my heart. It was the first place I visited when I returned to Galway in 2018 and I was immediately welcomed by the trad, a pint, and fun conversations with locals. It’s located in an excellent location on Shop Street and you really can’t miss its bright red front.
On the weekends, there is music to be heard at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, but it’s often going all day! You’ll know it by the piles of people spilling out of the front door. But don’t worry, they’ll make room for you!
Address: Mainguard St., Latin Quarter, Galway, Ireland
You can’t miss the bright blue and yellow pub, Tig Neachtain, located at the corner of Cross Street and Quays in the heart of the Galway City. Tigh Neachtain is a lovely old (120 years in fact!) Irish pub with the nicest bartenders, a wide selection of whiskey and delicious food menu! Lunch is served from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm and dinner from 5:00 pm onwards. They also have the cozy little rooms that I love and are an excellent place to enjoy a pint and a good book on a rainy day. If you’re lucky enough to get a sunny Galway day, take your pint out to one of the tables on the street for excellent people watching and to listen to the buskers on the street.
Address: 17 Cross Street, Galway, Ireland
Occupying the majority of a corner on the west side of the river is can’t miss Monroe’s. Admittedly, this is quite large and a bit less cozy than the other pubs. But Monroe’s serves food, will have a football match playing, and has free live music nightly. I happened to visit on a Tuesday night and not only was there live music, but they also had Irish dancers performing!
In addition to their free music nightly, they’re also a music venue. For a fee you can see various acts in their live venue just next door. Check their website for more details on who might be performing while you’re in town.
Address: 14 Dominick Street Upper, Galway, Ireland
A local told me this was his favorite pub, so I knew I had to check it out! It’s just two blocks away from Monroe’s and they have live trad 7 nights per week! Music is played on the second floor and starts around 10:00 pm. Make sure to get there early to get yourself a pint and enjoy chatting with friends downstairs for a bit. The doors to the music upstairs don’t open until just before the music starts and people will wait in line! So, if you want a seat, it’s best to get there early, especially on a Friday or Saturday.
The Crane only accepts cash, but there is an ATM next to Monroe’s.
Address: 2 Sea Road, Galway, Ireland
Located in Salt Hill, this pub has music playing every night of the week, starting at 10:00 pm. Doors don’t open until 7:30. So perhaps after a lovely evening walk down Salthill prom pop in here on your way back to the city center. You’ve likely seen O’Connors without even knowing it. How? Well, have you watched Ed Sheeran’s music video for Galway Girl. It features O’Connors and the fiddle he played in the video is located behind the bar!
O’Connors is special for many reasons. It’s been owned by the same family for 4 generations and you’ll find a roaring fire welcoming you. From your warm spot by the fire, you can check out the interesting decor hanging from the ceiling. And check out the sawdust on the ground. It truly feels like you’re stepping into someone’s living room who has excellent music choice.
I should say, that they play more sing-along American hits and not as much trad or even Irish pub songs. The night I was there they only played four Irish songs in two hours. That being said, it’s still a great time and frequented mostly by locals!
Address: Salthill House, Upper Salthill Road, Galway, Ireland
A Galway Pub Crawl
Accidentally, I’ve listed these pubs in a great pub crawl order. What a happy accident that is!
You could start your crawl at O’Connell’s in Eyre Square, make your way down Shop and Quays street, stopping at Tig Coili for music and Tig Neachtain for more drink and food. Then cross the river to Monroe’s and the Crane for a bit of music. Perhaps hop on a bus, or walk about 20 minutes, and finish the night at O’Connor’s. That sounds like an epic way to experience these excellent pubs in Galway if you’re short on time!
There are so many pubs in Galway and the next time I visit, I’m sure I’ll add a few more to this list. Do you have any hidden gems in Galway I should know about?