The 16 Best Things to Do in Galway, Ireland

Galway's Latin Quarter

Saying Galway is my favorite place might be the biggest understatement I’ve ever made. Ever since I first stepped foot on the cobblestones of Quay Street, I’ve felt at home in Galway. I’ve returned to this bustling Irish city about five times now, and each visit gets better and better. I love visiting my favorite pubs, listening to the buskers, finding new cafes, and even exploring further from Galway city center into the surrounding landscape in Galway County. This Galway travel guide contains all your favorite things to do in Galway and the best tips for visiting this vibrant city. 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a tiny bit of income if you decide to make a purchase or booking.


Ireland travel resources

Where is Galway, Ireland 

The city of Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland at the mouth of Galway Bay along the Atlantic Ocean. The River Corrib separates the West End and the medieval city center. The heart of Galway is around Eyre Square, and the Quays is one of the main streets in the city. 

Galway is a great place to include on your Wild Atlantic Way road trip!

How to Get to Galway

Galway is easily accessible by public transport or as part of a more extensive Irish road trip. If you’re choosing public transportation, I recommend purchasing your ticket in advance online. Not only will it save you a few euros, but you will get priority over someone trying to purchase a ticket from the bus driver. This is incredibly helpful during the busy tourist season. 

Getting to Galway by Air

The Shannon Airport is the closest airport to Galway. Upon arrival at Shannon airport, purchase a bus ticket with Bus Éireann. It takes about two hours to arrive at Galway Bus Station, across the street from Eyre Square. 

Suppose you’re arriving at Dublin Airport and heading straight for Galway (something I routinely do). In that case, multiple bus companies like CityLink, Aircoach, and Bus Éirrean provide daily service from Dublin airport to Galway. The journey by bus will take approximately 3.5 hours. Once you collect your bags, follow the signs for public transportation across the road and find the bus company you purchased a ticket with online. If you haven’t yet purchased your ticket, you can buy one from the bus driver.

Book your flight to Galway here.

Getting to Galway by Bus

Bus travel is very straightforward in Ireland. I’ve traveled throughout the country extensively by bus and find it an enjoyable way to see Ireland’s natural beauty, get some rest, and even connect with friends back home using the WiFi bus. 

From Dublin: As mentioned above, The CityLink bus service has a direct service from Dublin. If you’re spending a few days in Dublin, you can take the bus from Dublin city center or the airport. The journey time is approximately 3.5 hours, depending on traffic. It’s a beautiful drive through the Irish countryside. You can check the timetables here.

From Cork: You can get from Cork to Galway with Expressway along Route 51 and CityLink along Route 251. These do include a stop in Limerick that may require a bus transfer. The journey time is approximately 4.5 hours. I’ve done this route and found it quite enjoyable.

Bus Éireann offers services to and from Galway to smaller cities, such as Doolin, Dingle, Clifden, and Ennis.

Check bus routes and purchase your ticket here!

Getting to Galway by Train

Ireland is also well-served by an extensive rail network. IrishRail can get you just about anywhere you need to go in Ireland! I took the train back to Dublin from Cork to Cobh and Westport. It’s pretty neat, actually. If you book online and choose your seat, the seat on the train has a display above your seat with your name on it! I kind of geeked out about that.

Trains can be more expensive than the bus, especially if you wait until the last minute, so if you’re visiting during high tourist season, make sure that you book well in advance.

From Dublin: There are multiple daily departures from Dublin Heuston to Galway. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours.

From Cork: There isn’t a direct train from Cork to Galway; you’ll need to transfer in Limerick, similar to the bus. This may extend your journey time to 5 to 6 hours.

Book your train ticket here!

Getting to Galway by Car

Galway is a must-stop on your Wild Atlantic Way road trip. Most accommodations offer parking, but be sure to double-check when booking. 

From Dublin: The drive from Dublin to Galway takes around 2.5 hours, depending on traffic.

From Cork: The direct drive from Cork to Galway takes about 3 hours. However, there are many beautiful places to see between Cork and Galway, like Killarney, Doolin, and Kinvara. So you can depart from one of those towns to Galway.

Get your rental car here!

Tig Neachtain's Pub in Galway's Latin Quarter

How to Get Around Galway

Once you’re in Galway, walking is the easiest way to get around! Driving in the city is complex, and traffic can be intense. If you’ve got a rental car, I recommend parking it for the duration of your time in Galway and walking or taking the bus instead!

Quays, where you’ll find many of the top things to do in Galway, is a pedestrian-only street. 

If you’re staying outside the city center, don’t worry; Bus Éirrean serves multiple places in Galway, like Salthill.

While Uber is available in Dublin, it’s not available in Galway. Download the FreeNow taxi app to use for a ride home if you need it.

Blackrock Diving Tower and Bathing Area

The Best Time of Year to Visit Galway

I’ve visited Galway in every season except summer. I’ve gone in May, March, October, and December. My favorite time of the year out of those was in October because the weather was stunning. December was still fun, although it was freezing! The best time of year to visit Galway is the time of year that you can go, to be honest. There really isn’t a bad time of year as long as you’re prepared for the weather and crowd levels. There is something fun to do all year long in Galway.

Summer (June – August): Summer is the most popular time of the year to visit Galway. The temperatures range from 15°C to 20°C (59°F to 68°F), and the days are longer, allowing you to explore more of this beautiful place. The summer months also bring large crowds, so anticipate higher prices for accommodation and busy streets.

Things to do in the Summer in Galway: Take a day trip from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher or the Aran Islands! Or get all dressed up for the Galway Races. If you’re a movie buff, check out the Galway Film Fleadh (Festival) in July. 

Fall (September – November): Fall is a beautiful time of the year to visit Galway as the temperatures range from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), making the air beautifully crisp for hikes in Connemara or sitting by the fire in the pub. The crowds from summer will have all gone home so that the accommodation prices will decrease.

​Things to do in Galway in the Fall: Check out the Galway Oyster Festival or head into Connemara National Park for a hike!

Winter (December to February): Winter is a cold time to visit Galway, with temperatures ranging from 5°C to 10°C (41°F to 50°F). Although it’s pretty chilly, if you dress appropriately, you can still enjoy a walk along Salthill Prom. But there really is nothing better than a bit of whiskey in front of the fireplace at the pub (O’Connor’s) while traditional Irish music is played.

Things to do in Galway in the Winter: Grab a book from Charlie Byrnes bookstore and cozy up in one of Galway’s pubs or cafes!

Spring (March to May): Flowers bloom in Galway as Spring arrives with slightly warmer temperatures ranging from 8°C to 15°C (46°F to 59°F). As with any time of year, it will likely be a bit wet, but it’s an enjoyable time to visit.

Things to do in Galway in the Spring: If you visit in the Spring, check out the Galway Food Festival that occurs throughout May. 

What to Pack for Galway

Check out my complete Ireland packing list for any time of year for more details on what to wear in Galway. Here are ten essentials to pack for Galway:

1. Weather & Activity Appropriate Clothing: Galway is a reasonably casual town. You’ll see a mix of people in hiking attire, while others are more fashion-forward. In the evenings, people tend to dress a bit nicer for dinner, and the pub; however, a nice pair of jeans is acceptable. Pack your favorite activewear if you plan to go hiking or ride a bike around the Aran Islands. Of course, remember things like undies, good pairs of socks, and bras. When you’re packing your clothing, think in terms of layering. Irish weather is notoriously fickle, so you may need to adjust as the day progresses. 

2. Rain Gear: Pack a lightweight rain jacket and a travel umbrella that easily packs into a small backpack. Consider rain pants if you’re planning lots of outdoor activities!

3. Comfortable Walking Shoes: Galway is filled with cobblestone streets, so ensure you have comfortable and sturdy walking shoes. A pair of white sneakers and Blundstones would be the ideal pair of shoes to bring. 

4. Lightweight Day Bag: You’ll likely be gone from your room all day, so whichever bag you choose, whether it’s a backpack or crossbody bag, make sure it is big enough to fit your camera, water bottle, rain jacket, and portable charger. Side note I recently got the Nordace backpack and love it!

5. Camera: Galway is filled with historical sites and spectacular scenery you’ll want to capture. Whether you use your smartphone or a fancier camera, ensure you have everything you need to document your Galway adventure.

6. Adapters & Chargers: Ensure you have the necessary adapters for Irish electrical outlets and chargers for your devices. I love this universal travel adapter. Remember, a portable charger to take while you’re out exploring. I’ve been using this portable charger for years, and it still powers my devices at least three times from one charge!

7. Reusable Water Bottle: You can drink the tap water in Galway, which tastes pretty good too! Carry a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day as needed. I love my Hydro Flask.

8. Travel-Sized Toiletries: The key to packing in carry-on only is using travel-sized toiletries. Remember essentials like sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and any personal care items you may need during your trip.

9. Travel Insurance & Important Documents: Keep your travel insurance details, passport, and any necessary documents in a secure, waterproof pouch. I get my travel insurance through World Nomads or SafetyWing.

10. Galway Google Map: I’ve created a Google Map with all my favorite places in Galway for you! You can get it here. Once you have access, make sure that you download the map of Galway offline so you can use it even when you don’t have service.

Remember to tailor this list based on your specific needs, preferences, and the season of your visit. Galway’s unique blend of urban and natural experiences calls for versatile packing!

Solo Female Travel in Galway

Since Galway gives me all the feels, I visit as often as possible. It’s the city I’ve been to the most on my international travels, and it is always the answer to “Where are you going next?”. The beauty of Galway, besides the music, people, and scenery, is it’s a safe place to travel solo, so before we get to all of the fun things to do in Galway, first let’s talk about traveling solo there as a female.

On the whole, Ireland is regarded as one of the safest solo female travel destinations. Galway is no exception. I frequent the many Galway pubs, stay out well past dark, accept drinks from strangers, and basically ignore all of the standard solo female travel safety rules – except for trusting my gut. Not once did I feel like I was in danger.

Does that mean that bad things can’t happen in Galway? Of course not. Bad things can and do happen everywhere. When walking alone, I rarely look over my shoulder and find that if an Irish lad gets a bit too friendly, a strong No will suffice. I’ve found that the people in Galway are more likely to invite you in for a chat once they realize you’re alone than to take advantage of your solo-ness (a word I just invented).

I have yet to experience a place to avoid in Galway. But as always, get a feel for the city before walking alone at night. Make your own judgments based on your experiences there.

Two Key Words to Know Before You Visit Galway

  • Craic is a term used to describe having a good time. Let’s say you had a fantastic night out with friends (basically a guarantee in Galway) you’d say “Last night was good craic”. Admittedly, I’ve never been brave enough to use it, but you’ll hear the Galweans use it frequently. This will save you the confused expression I had on my face during my first 24 hours in Galway.
  • Quays is pronounced Keys. Quays is the main pedestrian street in Galway, also known as Shop Street. Plus, there is a pub of the same name. Again, save yourself making others confused by your pronunciation of this word. It’s pronounced Keys, like car keys.
The Long Walk at Sunset

How Many Days Should You Spend in Galway

Many people spend about two days in Galway before exploring other beautiful places in Ireland. While everything listed below could easily be accomplished in that time frame, I highly suggest extending your stay and really soaking up the lively atmosphere of Galway. 

Galway also makes an excellent base to explore Ireland’s west side. You could easily take a day trip from here to the famous Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, Connemara, Cong, Kylemore Abbey, and the Burren.

Plenty of tour companies run daily trips to these destinations (sometimes multiple stops in one day). 

Of course, if you have a car, you can easily DIY these day trips!

Galway City Guide

The Best Things to Do in Galway, Ireland

Explore the City’s Medieval Remains

First, a little background on Galway. The city has been around for centuries and has seen its fair share of struggle and triumph. During medieval times, Galway was a walled city governed by 14 merchant families, also known as the Tribes of Galway, which is how Galway got its nickname: “The City of Tribes.” As you explore Galway, you’ll discover remnants of this time period.

Two of the most obvious relics are the Spanish Arch and Lynch’s Castle. The Spanish Arch is one of the few remaining defensive wall segments surrounding medieval Galway. It was created to allow passage from the Long Walk promenade to the town center. There is no relation to Spain with this arch – it’s what it’s called these days.

Lynch was one of fourteen families of Galway, and their castle still stands on Shop Street, although it’s now a bank. One story I enjoy about the Lynch family is that the Father, James Lynch Fitzstephen, was the mayor in the 1400s who carried out sentences for criminals.

Well, Lynch’s son murdered a sailor who hit on his girlfriend, and not one to shirk his duties, the Judge hung his own son from a window that still stands today, aptly named Lynch’s window. This window is located on Market Street next to St. Nicholas’ Church.

Walk Along the River Corrib and Explore Galway’s Canals

Sunny days in Galway are the best for walking along the banks of the River Corrib. There’s not much “to see” per se, but it’s a lovely walk. If you start at the Long Walk, pass under the Spanish Arch, and head toward Galway Cathedral, it’s about half a mile. From Galway Cathedral, you could wander around Nun’s Island, exploring the canals and checking out the beautiful homes on your way toward exploring Galway’s West End.

Canals of Galway at sunset

Take a Galway Walking Tour

One of my favorite things to do in any city is take a free walking tour. As a solo female traveler, these free walking tours are a great way to orient myself to the city while getting handy information.

This Galway walking tour will take you to Galway’s medieval walls, Lynch’s castle and window, Eyre Square, and more!

Check Out Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral was built in 1958 from the remaining stones of the prison that once stood on the same grounds. This makes it the last stone cathedral built in Europe. The artwork inside boasts a large crucifix mosaic and three large rose-stained glass windows. John F. Kennedy visited the church just before his assassination, and they added mosaic artwork to pay respect to him and his support for the cathedral. Can you find it?

It is free to enter, but there is a suggested donation of €2. Don’t plan to visit when a service occurs unless you are participating and not looking for the mosaic of JFK!

galway cathedral

Explore Galway’s West End

Across the river from the Latin Quarter, you will find Galway’s West End. The West End is home to a few of my favorite places in Galway. 

Nova, an awesome gay bar where, on a Wednesday in May 2015, I danced the night away with locals in celebration of Ireland’s vote to support gay marriage. 

The Secret Garden Tea Shop, which I’ll share more about if you keep scrolling, and the delicious restaurant Kai Cafe are also located here.

The West End has a more local vibe than the Latin Quarter and is worth a stroll through!

Galway's West End

Go On a Pub Crawl

Pub culture is alive and well in Galway! The best thing about the pubs in Galway is that even though each has its distinct vibe, it still feels like stepping into a long-lost relative’s home and being welcomed by a pint and a smile. While I have a post dedicated to the best pubs in Galway, I’ll share my top three favorites with you!

  1. Tig Coili: I was shocked when I first walked through the red door of Tig Coili and into the crowd of people singing along to the musicians playing at the front of the room. Nowhere in the States have I encountered such a lively atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon. It may be crowded, but people are more than willing to make way for you to get a drink at the bar. Once you’ve got what you’re thirsty for, quickly make new friends in this popular spot for locals and tourists!
  2. The Crane Bar: When a local recommends anything to you, listen. This is how I found myself at the Crane one night in Galway. Each night, live music upstairs starts at 9:30 (ish). I learned it’s best not to be a stickler about time in Ireland. But don’t worry; there will be music, and you will find yourself listening to some of the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard.
  3. O’Connor’s: Located in Salthill Galway is O’Connor’s. And if you know who Ed Sheeran is, then you know that O’Connor’s was featured in his Galway Girl music video. But I didn’t go because of that; I went because it was down the street from my hostel and needed a drink. This pub is fantastic! It’s been owned by the same family for decades, and there is a roaring fire! The music is a bit more American sing-along rock – think Sweet Caroline, but who doesn’t love a little Sweet Caroline every now and then?
Best Pub in Galway: O’Connor’s

People Watch in Cafes

The cafes in Galway are another excellent option for a drink, a treat, people-watching, and WiFi. There are quite a few cafes in Galway, and I did my best to try them all. Here are my top three favorite cafes to visit in Galway:

  1. The Secret Garden Tea Shop: I love The Secret Garden Tea Shop! It’s located on the west end of Galway, so it’s less trafficked by tourists. The interior is incredibly warm, with low tables and pillows to sit on or large armchairs that remind me of my Grandparents’ home, perfect for reading a book. You’ll likely do this here, as there is no WiFi. So leave the laptop at home, bring cash as it’s cash only, order their delicious Matcha Latte, and cozy up for a few hours with that book you’ve wanted to finish!
  2. Coffewerk + Press: Part coffee shop, part gift shop, part hipster haven, Coffeewerk + Press is a must when in Galway. They don’t have Matcha but make a mean hot chocolate. Enjoy it upstairs, where you can try to snag the window seat that looks out over Shop Street. The upstairs room has several unique coffee table-style books. This is where I discovered the She Explores book, filled with inspiring stories of solo female travel!
  3. Little Lane Coffee Company: Located just off of bustling Shop Street is Little Lane Coffee Company, which receives daily deliveries of freshly baked treats to accompany your comforting Chai Tea Latte (no Matcha here either). With solid WiFi and a gracious owner, I highly suggest spending a few hours relaxing in this cafe.
The coveted window seat at Coffeewerk + Press in Galway

Listen to Trad & The Buskers

Galway is the heart of Trad (traditional Irish music), and it’s played in just about every pub and on the streets of Galway. The pubs are a fun place to listen to music with a pint in hand. 

But heading out on the street is a musical delight as well. Listening to the Buskers (street musicians) is one of the best free things to do in Galway, although you should tip them. The buskers are exceptionally talented musicians, artists, and street performers. I often just sat on the ground across from them, listening to their music. You may even see Irish dancers!

Shop for Food & Crafts at Galway Market

If you happen to be in Galway on a weekend, visit the market on Church Street, just between the back to Tigh Coli and St. Nicholas’ Church. Saturdays are for the Farmers’ Market; you’ll find everything you need to have a picnic or create a healthy hostel dinner. Be sure to stop by the stall with the barrels of olives and sauces to pick up their pesto garlic hummus – it’s fantastic! 

Sundays are for crafts and a great spot to purchase a souvenir or two. Local artisans set up shops to sell photography, jewelry, hand-painted items, and other crafts. 

Each day, there are food trucks as well! It’s not to be missed!

Food Stalls at Galway Market
Food Stalls at Galway Market

Walk Along Salthill Prom

Join the locals for a walk, jog, or bike ride along Salthill Promenade. From the City Center to Blackrock Diving Pier, it’s about a 3-mile walk (6 miles round trip) and perfect for a sunny day.

Along the way, you’ll see the homes of the Long Walk from across the River Corrib, pass the large green fields of South Park, a famine memorial, and eventually come to Blackrock Diving Tower. You don’t have to go all the way, but it’s well worth a bit of a journey on a clear day as across Galway Bay, you’ll be able to spy the Aran Islands (a perfect day trip from Galway, by the way!)

There are also benches along the way and a few cafes and pubs you can pop into. But you should do your best to make it to Blackrock Pier (you can always take the bus back; there’s a stop right next to the tower).

As you reach Blackrock Pier, there is a small sign that people kick when they’ve made it. It’s called kicking the wall. Sit and watch; you’ll see the majority of people do this. So join in and kick the wall before heading back to town.

Salthill prom at sunset

Jump Off Blackrock Diving Tower

Back in the day, like the 1880s, there used to be a simple diving board attached to the edge of a rock. Today, there is a three-tiered diving tower with stairs leading into the water on the first level, a diving board on the second, and two platforms on the top. Apparently in the summer and when it’s high tide, the pier is packed with people jumping in. I was just amazed to see so many people swimming on an October afternoon.

Sure, it was sunny, but it’s still the Atlantic Ocean – that water is cold! But, as I sat there taking photos and watching the sunset, people kept coming and jumping into the water. Retreating from the water covered in goosebumps told me it was incredibly refreshing and made them feel better. I can’t knock that, but it’s not something I need to discover for myself!

 Also, if you missed that, it’s an epic place for sunset.

Sunset from blackrock diving pier galway

Learn about Galway’s History at the Galway Museum

I don’t normally visit museums, because they usually cost money and I forget what I learned relatively quickly. They’re also usually super crowded, which is just not my scene. But it was a pretty standard rainy afternoon in Galway, and as I Googled “things to do in Galway in the rain,” Galway City Museum appeared for the perfect FREE price! So, I took a break from pubs to learn more about the history of this city I love.

Some items you'll find in Galway Museum

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a free museum, but it’s well done. Each of its three floors has a specific focus. The first floor describes the early years of the tribes that settled in Galway. It pays homage to the city’s fishing past with a full-sized hooker hanging in the stairwell as you head to the second floor. There, I learned that Galway had a successful soccer team for several years!

It also details the Easter Rising, the wars, and local heroes. The top floor was unexpected; it’s like a mini marine life knowledge center, which makes sense considering the location of Galway and its fishing history! It’s definitely worth a visit on a rainy day when you can’t drink one more Guinness.

photo of an old city rule and sailing superstitions

People Watch in Eyre Square

It’s hard to miss Eyre Square (aka JFK Memorial Park, as he gave a speech here during his visit…and they seriously love him) as it’s located right next to the bus station, the shopping center, and popular pubs. It’s a lovely park that is excellent for catching some rays on a sunny day. You could take your food from the market here for a picnic and some people-watching.

Another medieval relic is located here, a door to one of the tribe’s homes. You’ll find 14 flags on the door, each representing one of the original Galway families. 

Eyre Square

Pick up a Book at Charlie Byrne Bookstore

Don’t you just love the smell and feel of an actual book? I travel with my Kindle because I don’t have enough space to carry the books I want to read. But walking into Charlie Byrne’s bookshop made me want to buy a bigger backpack and fill it with books! It’s huge and has about five rooms filled from the floor to the ceiling with new and used books on any subject you can dream up!

Entrance to Charlie Byrne Bookstore

Paying great homage to Ireland’s literary history, they have many books on Irish history and sections dedicated to Irish authors. Of course, they also have new Best Sellers. If you need more than five rooms of books for yourself, the hallway outside of the shop is lined with used books for 2-3 euros. This shop is definitely worth a wander on a rainy day.

One of the 5 rooms filled with books at Charlie Byrne Bookstore

Learn About the History of the Claddagh Ring from Thomas Dillon’s Claddagh Gold

Pay a visit to the oldest makers of the traditional Claddagh ring. They’ve been in business for over 200 years and still make the famous Claddagh ring. Traditionally, it’s used as an engagement ring, but I bought one for myself because why not? The silver rings, without any stones, are not too expensive. But they also create more elaborate, engagement-style Claddagh rings.

 The coolest part about these rings is that the inside is stamped with TD Original. This way, you know it’s legit! The back room has a small history of Thomas Dillon and how the ring came to be – as well as a ring the size of a pinhead.

Thomas Dillon's store front and me happily wearing my Claddagh
Thomas Dillon’s store front and me happily wearing my Claddagh

Take in a Festival or a Horse Race

Galway is a city of festivals. They celebrate their music, food, pride, and horses! It seems as if there is a festival going on year-round! And I seem to always just miss them by a few days. I need to get better at planning! The Galway Races and Oyster Festival are high on my list. What festival would you attend?

Take a Day Trip from Galway

Galway’s location makes it an excellent base for exploring beyond the city into Ireland’s west coast. Here are just three of the epic day trips from Galway.

Aran Islands: Catch a ferry from Galway to the Aran Islands for a day steeped in Gaelic charm and Irish culture. The islands—Inis Mór (Inishmore), Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), and Inis Oírr (Inisheer)—are renowned for their rugged beauty, ancient ruins, and for being a place where you can still hear the Irish language. Inishmore is the most popular day trip destination to explore sites like the Iron Age Fort and Dún Aonghasa. Inisheer is the second most visited of the three Aran Islands and the smallest. Here, you can see the Plassey Shipwreck! 

Book your Aran Islands day trip here.

Connemara: Connemara is one of the most beautiful places in Ireland, with misty mountains and serene lakes. If you’ve got a car, you can drive the Sky Road in Clifden or take a guided tour to places like Kylemore Abbey and go hiking in Connemara National Park. 

Book your Connemara day trip here.

Clifden Castle in Clifden Ireland

Cliffs of Moher: Perhaps the most popular day trip from Galway is to the Cliffs of Moher, sheer cliffs that rise 214 meters (700 feet) above the sea! There are multiple ways to visit the Cliffs of Moher. You can DIY it using public transportation, book a guided tour that stops in places like the Burren National Park, or add it to your Irish road trip.

Book your Cliffs of Moher day trip here.

plan a trip to Ireland in the Fall

Where to Eat in Galway

Galway is a foodie hot spot. Everything from traditional to pub food to international can be devoured here. Shop Street has many traditional cuisine offerings, but if you wander along the side streets and over to the West End, you’ll find tapas, Italian, Pizza, Sushi, and Mexican – to name a few.

Here are just some of the best restaurants in Galway:

Best Breakfast: Ard Bia at Nimmo’s is my absolute favorite place for breakfast in Galway. They have a beautiful seasonal menu, and its location right on the banks of the river is idyllic. 

Best Pizza: Dough Bros has made a name for itself as not just the best pizza in Galway but one of the best pizzas in Ireland!

Best Tapas: The Universal is a hip tapas spot in the west end. They make unique cocktails and have a variety of small plates to choose from.

Fish & Chips: For a budget-friendly option, check out McDonagh’s Fish & Chips. Located in Galway’s city center, McDonagh’s is a solid option for fish and chips that won’t break the bank.

Best Burger: Handsome Burger, also in the West End, has been voted Ireland’s best burger, and I’d have to agree! I’ve eaten there twice, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the burger each time!

You could even take one of these popular Galway food tours to learn more about the culinary scene here. 

Where to Stay in Galway

Galway is a small city with plenty of accommodation options for any budget. I do a deep dive into where to stay in Galway in another post, but as an overview, I suggest staying as close to Shop Street as possible to be close to all of Galway’s attractions. 

​To keep it simple and decrease planning overwhelm, here are the top 5 places to stay in Galway:

Nest Boutique Hostel in Galway

Wow, that was quite a lot, but you now have all of the information you need to plan an epic Galway itinerary. I genuinely hope you fall in love with Galway just as much as I did. It’s a magical place filled with warm people and many fun things to do. You will definitely have a great time in Galway if you follow the tips in this post! If you have any questions, comment below, and I’ll get back to you!

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15 thoughts on “The 16 Best Things to Do in Galway, Ireland

    • justchasingsunsets says:

      It’s a great place to base yourself and a smaller city in Ireland compared to Dublin which adds a bit to its charm.

  1. Marie says:

    Thanks for such an amazing list of things to do in Galway – I think I want to do them all! I would particularly like to explore the canal and get lost in Charlie Byrne’s Bookstore. I love the fact that most of your things to do are free – that means I could stay longer!

  2. Jyoti says:

    Hi Katie, loved your post! I had no idea there is so much to see in Galway. I would love to see the festivals, food market, the bookstore and so much more that you’ve described!

  3. Dagney says:

    I went through Galway on a tour several years ago, and I’m really sad I didn’t get to spend more time there. We were only there for a few hours as a stopover to our next destination, but I really liked it and wanted to stay longer. This has definitely encouraged me to check out again – hopefully soon! Plus, Charlie Byrne’s bookshop looks absolutely brilliant!

    • justchasingsunsets says:

      I hope you get the chance to go back and experience it a bit longer. It’s a really great little city. Where else did your tour stop?

  4. Caroline says:

    Won’t lie- Galway girl by Ed Sheeran was playing in my head while I read this post! Haven’t been there yet (only seen Dublin) but it looks stunning! Can’t believe people were still going for a swim in October – I imagine it would have been a bit nippy?! Also, the market off of Church st sounds right up my alley, would be keen to check it out one day 🙂

    • justchasingsunsets says:

      I couldn’t believe it either. They were coming out covered in goosebumps! But they said it was refreshing…I decided to take their word for it!

  5. Tinyboots says:

    Hiii Katie 🙂

    So glad you always feel comfortable in Galway. I actually have a post all about solo travel in Galway for women. I received some comments from women who had travelled here alone so if you would like me to include a comment from you (as well as a link to your Instagram) please get in touch and I’ll be happy to add your comment in!

    This is the post if you’d like to see it –

    Slán agat.
    Sarah | Tinyboots

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