On Ireland’s west coast lies the college town of Galway. I love this city. It’s small but packed with a lot to do – from its historic center, old churches, river walk, town markets, to its incredible pub culture (it is a college town after all!). From here you can take day trips to the Aran islands, Cliffs of Moher, and the castles up north. The town has delicious seafood restaurants and a great aquarium. To me, Galway has everything you could ever want in an Irish city, and no matter where I go in the country, this place remains my favorite.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Galway
1. Wander the Salthill Promenade
2. Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher
3. Enter the Galway Cathedral
4. The Aran Islands
5. Tour the Kilmacduagh Monastery
Other Things to See and Do
(Click the title to expand the text)
1. Enjoy the Glengowla Mines Experience
If you want a good understanding of what life was like for a 19th-century citizen of Galway, consider a visit to the Glengowla Mines Experience. This museum was built on the site of a silver and lead mine. Visitors can go on a mine tour, watch a sheepdog herding demonstration, and kids can pan for gold. Make sure to not though that the site is closed during winter months. It’s open daily from 10am-6pm, and admission is 10 EUR.
2. Visit the Burren Nature Sanctuary
The Burren Nature Sanctuary is located in Kinvara, in Galway County. It is an interpretative center and contains both an indoor and outdoor play area for children as well as a horticultural museum. It’s a nice place to go as a family. It’s open daily in the summer and Friday-Sunday the rest of the year from 10am-6pm. Admission is 5 EUR.
3. Tour the Sheep and Wool Centre
This is a museum in the Connemara area outside of Galway City. The center is dedicated to textiles and shows the process of wool production, from the sheep to the finished garment. On top of this, it discusses the historical importance of sheep and wool in Connemara.
4. Head to Pure Skill Galway
The perfect rainy day activity is Pure Skill Galway, an indoor sports center. Here, you can try activities like hurling, cricket, and rugby, or just catch up on your sports from home–basketball, baseball (they have a batting cage), and soccer. It’s open daily from at least 12pm-5pm with variations on the hours depending on the day of the week and the season. Prices vary depending on which package you get.
5. St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church
If you’re looking for a more traditional church in Galway, pay a visit to St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church. It’s the largest medieval parish church in Ireland, founded in 1320.
6. Visit the Galway Atlantaquaria
This is the National Aquarium of Ireland in Salthill, just west of Galway. The various tanks give visitors an idea of the sea life that lies in the Atlantic just off the coast. The aquarium also contains a massive fin whale skeleton. Admission is 12 EUR. It’s open daily from at least 10am-5pm, except in the winter when it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
7. Get your history fix
The Galway City Museum is a free local museum which offers a good overview of the social history of the area. Exhibits focus on prehistoric and medieval Galway, as well as more modern cultural and material history.
8. See Prehistoric Newgrange
This grassy knoll might look unimpressive, but below the surface, it houses a Stone Age passage tomb. Dating back to 3200 BC, this unusual construction is older than the pyramids.
9. Go horseback riding
Cooper’s Hills Livery offers horseback rides along the coast, complete with a pre-ride session on the care of horses and a short lesson on currying after the ride.