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  • Harish Mirapala

What to visit in Galway

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

Galway is worth – visiting, a charming city located in the west of Ireland that is known for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and lively culture. It is a city that is famous for its traditional Irish music, art scene, and friendly locals. There are plenty of things to see and do in Galway, so in this blog, we'll take you through some of the top attractions and hidden gems that you should visit during your trip to this vibrant city.




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What is Galway popular for?


EYRE SQUARE

Eyre Square is located in the heart of Galway city and it is one of the most popular landmarks in the city. Originally named as John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, the square was renamed in 2001 after John Eyre, a Galway merchant who presented the land to the city in the 18th century. One of the most notable features of the square is the Browne doorway. This doorway was once the entrance to a grand townhouse owned by the Browne family, a prominent Galway family. The doorway is now a standalone structure that has become an iconic symbol of the city.



GALWAY CATHEDRAL

The cathedral was built in the mid-20th century, between 1958 and 1965, and it is the newest of Europe's great stone cathedrals. The building was designed by the Irish architect John J. Robinson, and it features a blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles. The cathedral's impressive exterior features a number of beautiful carvings, including a statue of St. Patrick at the front entrance. Inside, the cathedral is just as impressive. The high ceilings and stained-glass windows create a sense of grandeur and beauty. The cathedral's most striking feature is its dome, which is made from reinforced concrete and covered in copper. The dome measures 44 meters in height and is one of the largest domes of its kind in Europe.

The cathedral's interior is also filled with beautiful works of art, including the Stations of the Cross, which were designed by the Irish artist Patrick Pollen. The cathedral also features a beautiful rose window and a number of intricate carvings and sculptures.




SPANISH ARCH

The Spanish Arch is one of the most iconic landmarks in Galway city and a popular tourist attraction. The arch is located on the banks of the River Corrib, near the Claddagh district, and it is believed to date back to the 16th century. The arch was originally built as a fortification to protect the city's quayside, and it was part of the city's walls. The arch is actually made up of two arches that form a gateway, and it was named the Spanish Arch because it was believed to have been built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Today, the arch is a popular spot for visitors to take photos and enjoy the views of the river and the surrounding area. The arch is also home to the Galway City Museum, which is located in a building next to the arch.



GALWAY CITY MUSEUM

The museum's collections cover a wide range of topics, from the city's medieval history to its modern-day arts and culture scene. The museum's exhibits are arranged thematically, with displays on archaeology, art, fishing, and the city's role in the Spanish Armada. One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of artifacts from the medieval period. Visitors can see a range of items that were used in everyday life during this time, including pottery, tools, and weapons. The museum also has a collection of paintings and sculptures by local artists, as well as a range of temporary exhibits that showcase the work of contemporary artists.



CLADDAGH

The Claddagh is a historic district in Galway city that is known for its strong community spirit and traditional Irish culture. The district is located on the western edge of the city, just a short walk from the city center and the Spanish Arch.

The Claddagh also has a strong cultural heritage that is centered around the Claddagh Ring. The Claddagh Ring is a traditional Irish ring that features two hands holding a heart, topped by a crown. The ring is a symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship, and it is widely recognized as a symbol of Irish heritage. Visitors to the Claddagh can explore the area's historic streets, which are lined with traditional Irish homes and buildings. The area is also home to a number of shops and boutiques where visitors can purchase Claddagh Rings, as well as other traditional Irish crafts and souvenirs.



St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church

St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church is a historic church located in the heart of Galway city. The church is the largest medieval parish church in Ireland that is still in use today, and it is an important landmark in the city's history and culture. The church is named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, and it has long been associated with the city's maritime history. The church is also known for its historic connections to Christopher Columbus, who is said to have prayed in the church before setting sail on his journey to the New World.

Visitors to St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church can explore the church's interior, which is filled with historic artifacts and architectural details. The church features a number of interesting tombs and memorials, including the tomb of Richard Martin, a famous 18th-century politician and animal rights activist who is known as the "father of animal welfare."





GALWAY MARKET

Galway Market is a popular attraction located in the heart of Galway city. The market is held every Saturday and Sunday in the historic St. Nicholas' Church, which dates back to the 14th century. The market offers a wide range of products, including fresh produce, artisanal foods, crafts, and souvenirs. Visitors can sample locally made cheese, bread, and other delicacies, or browse the stalls selling handmade jewelry, clothing, and other unique items.

One of the highlights of Galway Market is the lively atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy live music and street performers as they browse the stalls, and the market is a great place to people-watch and soak up the local culture.

Galway Market is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing the vibrant culture and community of Galway city. The market's unique atmosphere, wide range of products, and historic setting make it a memorable and enjoyable destination for visitors of all ages

WHAT ELSE TO VISIT


ARAN ISLAND

The Aran Islands are a group of three small islands located off the west coast of Ireland, near Galway Bay. The islands are a popular destination for tourists who are interested in exploring the rugged beauty and traditional culture of Ireland. The three islands that make up the Aran Islands are Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer. Each island has its own unique character and attractions, but all three are known for their stunning landscapes, rich history, and traditional Irish way of life.

Inishmore is the largest of the three islands and is home to the famous prehistoric fort of Dun Aengus. This ancient stone fort is perched on the edge of a 100-meter-high cliff and offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Inishmore is also home to a number of traditional Irish cottages and farms, where visitors can learn about the island's history and way of life.

Inishmaan is the middle island and is known for its beautiful beaches and rugged landscapes. The island is also home to a number of historic sites, including the ruins of a 16th-century church and a 9th-century stone fort.

Inisheer is the smallest of the three islands and is known for its traditional Irish music and dance. The island is home to a number of pubs and restaurants where visitors can enjoy live music and authentic Irish cuisine.




Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled

Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden is a historic estate located in the heart of Connemara, about an hour's drive from Galway city. The estate is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and Victorian-era architecture, and it is a popular destination for tourists who are interested in exploring the culture and history of Ireland. The Kylemore Abbey itself was built in the late 19th century by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy businessman and politician. The abbey was originally built as a private residence for Henry and his family, but it was later sold to Benedictine nuns who established a school on the grounds. Today, the abbey is still home to a community of Benedictine nuns, and visitors can explore the abbey's interior and learn about its rich history.

One of the highlights of a visit to Kylemore Abbey is the Victorian Walled Garden. This stunning garden was originally built in the 19th century and has since been restored to its original splendor. The garden features a number of different areas, including a formal flower garden, a vegetable garden, a fruit garden, and a greenhouse.



Lough Corrib

Lough Corrib is a large lake located in western Ireland, near Galway city. The lake is the second largest in Ireland, covering an area of over 170 square kilometers, and it is known for its natural beauty, rich history, and abundance of fish. The lake is a popular destination for anglers, who come to fish for trout, salmon, and other species. In fact, Lough Corrib is considered one of the best places in Ireland for fly fishing. Visitors can hire a boat and guide or bring their own equipment to fish on the lake.

In addition to fishing, Lough Corrib is also a popular destination for boating and water sports. The lake's calm waters and stunning scenery make it a great place for a leisurely boat ride or a day of kayaking or canoeing.

One of the highlights of a visit to Lough Corrib is exploring the lake's many islands. The lake is home to over 365 islands, each with its own unique history and character. Visitors can take a boat tour of the lake and stop at some of the islands to explore their natural beauty and historic sites.




How to travel there?

Galway is served by the nearby Shannon Airport, which is approximately an hour's drive from the city. There are also direct flights from Dublin Airport to Galway Airport. and it is well-connected by train to major cities in Ireland, including Dublin, Cork, and Limerick. The train station is located in the city center, making it a convenient option for travelers. There are regular bus services that connect Galway to other major cities in Ireland, including Dublin, Cork, and Limerick. The bus station is located in the city center, making it a convenient option for travelers. Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland and is easily accessible by car via the major motorways and highways. Visitors can rent a car from the airport or in the city center.

Once in Galway, visitors can get around the city on foot, by bike, or by public transportation. The city is relatively small and easy to navigate, with many attractions within walking distance of each other.



What is the best time of the year to visit Galway?

The summer months are the most popular time to visit Galway, with warm weather and plenty of outdoor events and festivals, including the Galway International Arts Festival and the Galway Races. However, this is also the busiest time of year, and accommodations can be more expensive. Fall can be a great time to visit Galway, with mild weather and fewer crowds than the summer months. The Galway Oyster Festival, held in September, is a highlight of the season. Winters in Galway are chilly and rainy, but the city is still a popular destination for holiday shopping and festivities. The Galway Christmas Market and the New Year's Eve Festival are popular events.

Spring is a great time to visit Galway, with milder weather and blooming flowers throughout the city. The St. Patrick's Day Festival, held in March, is a highlight of the season

Is Galway an expensive city?

Accommodation:


The cost of accommodation in Galway can vary greatly depending on the type of lodging you choose. Hostels and budget hotels start at around €15-20 per night per person, while mid-range hotels and bed and breakfasts can range from €60-100 per night. Luxury hotels and resorts can cost €150-300 or more per night.

Food and drinks:


Galway has a wide range of dining options, from affordable pub fare to high-end restaurants. You can expect to pay around €10-20 for a pub meal or street food, €20-40 for a mid-range restaurant meal, and €50 or more for a high-end dining experience. Drinks at pubs and bars range from €4-6 for a beer or cider, and €8-12 for a cocktail.

Transportation:


Walking is the best way to explore Galway city center, as many attractions are within walking distance of each other. If you need to travel further afield, buses and trains are available, with fares starting at around €2-3. Taxis and private transfers are also available, with prices starting at around €10-20 for short distances.

Activities:


Many of the attractions in Galway are free, including St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church, the Spanish Arch, and the Galway City Museum. However, some activities and tours may have an admission fee. Prices for these vary depending on the activity and can range from €5-20 per person.

Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around €50-70 per day, while mid-range travelers can expect to spend around €100-150 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend €200 or more per day. Keep in mind that these are estimates and costs can vary widely depending on your travel style and preferences.

What are the most popular restaurants in Galway?

Kai

This award-winning restaurant features a daily changing menu of locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. Their brunch and lunch menus are especially popular.

Ard Bia at Nimmos

This cozy restaurant is located in a historic building near the Spanish Arch and features a menu of modern Irish cuisine.

McDonagh's

This popular seafood spot has been serving up fresh fish and chips since 1902. It's a great spot for a quick and affordable meal.

Aniar

This Michelin-starred restaurant focuses on seasonal and local ingredients and offers a tasting menu with wine pairings.

The Quay Street Kitchen

This casual eatery offers a range of dishes, from hearty breakfasts to wood-fired pizzas and burgers.


What festivals does Galway have?


Galway international arts festival

The Galway International Arts Festival is an annual arts festival that takes place in July in Galway City. The festival is one of the largest multi-disciplinary arts festivals in Ireland and features a range of events, including theater, dance, music, visual art exhibitions, and street performances. The festival attracts both Irish and international artists, and has become known for showcasing innovative and experimental works. Some of the past highlights of the festival have included performances by world-renowned musicians such as Sinead O'Connor, David Gray, and The National, as well as theater productions by companies such as Druid Theatre and Rough Magic Theatre Company.

In addition to performances, the festival also features a range of talks, workshops, and panel discussions, providing opportunities for artists and audiences to engage with each other and explore new ideas.


St.Patrick Festival

The St. Patrick's Day Festival in Galway is a celebration of Ireland's patron saint and takes place annually on March 17th. The festival is a highlight of the spring season in Galway, and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The festival features a range of events, including a parade, live music performances, street performers, and traditional Irish dancing. The parade is the centerpiece of the festival and features colorful floats, costumes, and marching bands winding their way through the streets of Galway.

In addition to the parade, the festival also includes a range of family-friendly activities, including face painting, balloon artists, and storytelling. There are also plenty of food and drink vendors offering traditional Irish fare such as corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, and of course, plenty of pints of Guinness.


OYSTER FESTIVAL

The Galway Oyster Festival is an annual event that takes place in September and celebrates Galway's rich tradition of oyster harvesting. The festival is a highlight of the fall season in Galway and attracts visitors from all over the world.

The festival features a range of events, including oyster shucking competitions, cooking demonstrations, live music performances, and of course, plenty of oysters to eat. There are also wine and craft beer tastings, and a black-tie gala dinner, which is a highlight of the festival.

In addition to the food and drink, the Galway Oyster Festival also features a range of family-friendly activities, including face painting, balloon artists, and storytelling. There are also plenty of opportunities to learn more about Galway's oyster harvesting history and to meet the local fishermen who supply the festival with fresh oysters.


Overall, Galway is a vibrant and exciting city that is full of culture, history, and natural beauty. Whether you are interested in exploring the city’s rich history, taking in the stunning coastal scenery, or simply relaxing and enjoying the local culture, there is something for everyone in Galway. Please don't forgot to read out our earlier blogs "Best of St.Patrick's day" and "What to visit in Dublin" .

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