When in Ireland you absolutely have to visit Galway! The city is filled with Irish charm, great people and even greater pubs. Whatsmore, walk five minutes away from the lively city centre and you can enjoy the picturesque countryside. In other words, there’s plenty of things to do in Galway Ireland, the very best of which are listed below!
*Updated June 2021
Drink on Quay Street –
The charming cobbled Quay Street is the bustling heart of Galway’s famous Latin quarter! Plus, Its colourful houses have to be one of the prettiest things to see in Galway. They’re draped with flags and bunting which brightens even the rainiest Irish day. In this way, I’d always suggest starting any visit to Galway with a stroll along this popular street.
If this isn’t enough, Quay Street is also home to most of Galway’s famous Nightlife! My favourite is undoubtedly Quays Bar which has been open for over 400 years and hosts amazing live music events!
Galway Ireland things to do: Eat Your Heart Out –
The restaurants in Galway are superb! Therefore, the next of my top things to do in Galway is to try and sample as much food as possible… Located so close to the sea, it’s no surprise that the town is renowned for its seafood. You’ll find restaurants serving fish and chips throughout the city! The best I had was from The Front Door.
This said, my favourite restaurant in Galway is one specialising in Mexican/Italian: High Cafe. Located on Quay Street, the restaurant is hard to spot because it’s not on street level (hence the name). You have to climb a hidden flight of stairs to reach the restaurant but it’s more than worth the extra effort!
SIDE NOTE: planning a trip to Ireland? Then check out my 5 Day Ireland Itinerary
Visit the Harbour and Long Walk –
One of the most scenic parts of Galway is its harbour. Here you can catch a glimpse of the famous Galway Hookers… Clear your mind as these are simply old fishing boats!
From the harbour, you can then walk back into town via the ‘Long walk’ – a section of the bay adorned by more colourful houses. By doing so you’ll also pass another of the popular things to do in Galway city, the Spanish Arch, which was built in 1584!
Walk to Salthill –
If you ask locals what to do in Galway, many will suggest heading to Salthill. It takes about 20-minutes to walk from the city centre to Salthill, however, you’ll be rewarded with picturesque coastal views and beaches that are popular with locals and tourists alike. In the summer months, some brave souls even dive into the Atlantic from a custom-built diving tower.
In addition, the 2km long Salthill promenade is lined with bars, seafood restaurants and cafes, which all make for rewarding places to visit after a long walk!
Murphy’s Ice Cream –
Moving back to food briefly, Galway is home to Murphy’s Ice Cream Shop which is said to serve the best Ice Cream in Ireland, a statement I definitely agree with! Even If you travel to Galway in the cooler months I’d recommend getting a cone… Or two. 😉
Tour Galway Cathedral –
Perhaps the most dominating building in Galway is its stunning Cathedral, which you may automatically think is centuries-old… Surprisingly, however, Galway Catherdral is in fact Ireland’s newest large stone church, with construction being completed in 1965.
This said, going inside the cathedral is still a must; due to features like its huge octagonal dome, impressive wall paintings, and charming rose-coloured windows.
Top things to do in Galway: Visit Dunguaire Castle –
Just half an hour’s drive away from Galway City centre, Dunguaire Castle is one attraction that really is as old as it looks. Built by the O’Hynes clan in 1520, the ancient tower house sits on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay.
This stunning backdrop means it’s rumoured to be the most photographed castle in Ireland! Plus, for added excitement, in the summer it hosts castle banquets, where guests pay to enjoy a medieval-style feast and live entertainment.
Take one of the many day trips from Galway –
Leading on from the above, the very best thing about Galway is that it’s so close to many of Ireland’s most famous attractions. For example, the Cliffs of Moher are only about an hour and a half’s drive away from the city, and the Arran islands are easily reached by ferry from Galway bay! Further still, the Burren (a unique landscape dominated by limestone rocks) is also just on the doorstep.
There’s really an endless amount of Galway Tours that you could take! If you want more information on Day Trips from Galway check out this post.
Above I’ve given 8 of the top things to do in Galway Ireland! Each of which I did myself when visiting the city. In truth, I fell in love with the Galway’s charm and connection with the rustic Irish landscape. Thus I hope by doing some of the things on my list you’ll leave the city feeling the same way!
Also looking for things to do in Dublin? Then check out my post on Irelands Capital.
Thanks for sharing. I am planning Ireland trip and probably will add it to my list.
Hope you love Ireland as much as I did!
I would for sure visit Burren and those islands you mentioned. Looks like a really great place to explore.
It’s wonderful! The Burren is so unique, never seen anything else quite like it…
I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ireland bit have only visited small parts of it. I’ve heard great thighs about Galway and now I’ve read this. It’s certainly creeping it’s way up my destination list for quick trips from mainland UK. Thanks for sharing.
I too will definitely need to go back to explore more of its adorable villages! Least it’s not far at all from the UK 🙂
This is great and timely! My husband and I hope to visit Ireland next June so I am gathering up intel to ensure we have a great trip. I have pinned your post to my Ireland board as well. Galway sounds charming with lots to do. We hope to rent a car so we will add it to our list of must-see destinations! Thanks!
Thanks for sharing!
Renting a car is definitely the best way to go, simply driving along through the gorgeous scenery is a day well spent, hope you enjoy your trip!
The second I saw this post, that Galway Girl song popped into my head, so it’s nice to see one of your photos mention the music video haha. I didn’t realize it was that close to the Cliffs of Moher. Is it very touristy? It seems like it would be a good base to tour that area.
I did watch the music video while there to try and spot some sites haha. I found it to be a great base to explore the area from! It was busy but didn’t feel touristy to me 🙂
As much as Galway seems like an amazing location, its the Cliffs of Moher that really insipre me to visit. The nature and landscape of Ireland always looks amazing no matter the weather! Your 5 day itinerary looks great too!
You had me sold at pubs!! I’ve wanted to visit Ireland for sooo long, and Galway has always been on the list! Even after living the UK my whole life I can’t believe I’ve not made it over, but this absolutely makes me want to visit even more – those coastline views are insane! Thanks so much for sharing your tips 🙂
Don’t worry you’re not alone I’ve lived in the UK forever too and only just made the trip! The pubs of Ireland are certainly a good selling point 😉
Had it not been for Ed Sheeran or you, I would not have added this place to my radar! Looks beautiful and charming!
Haha yes I do wonder how many more tourists they get now because of the song!
This must have been epic 🙂 I have been to Ireland so many times but havent made it to Galway yet. I am going to pin you tips. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing! Hopefully if you return to Ireland again you’ll get to visit 🙂
I have not made it to Ireland yet (except a brief layover) and I remember being mesmerized by the landscapes as we were landing. I really do hope to visit the country and Galway will certainly be on my list. Love the harbor photo and of course the best ice cream in the world 🙂 Thanks for sharing.