Galway is one of Ireland’s most popular spots. Like most places in Ireland it lives up to the hype.
Galway is worth a visit. You can walk along the water in the morning, explore the Cliffs of Moher by day, and end the night drinking Guinness and listening to music at an Irish pub. It’s everything Ireland should be.
Galway is also a very livable city. It’s popular with expats and locals alike. There’s a reason so many starry-eyed foreigners want to move to Galway.
Galway is great. Here are the things you must see when visiting Galway, Ireland.
Visit The Cliffs of Moher
There are dozens of bus tours that take you from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. You can also rent a car.
The Cliffs of Moher are spectacular. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon or other natural landscapes. You’ve seen them in a thousand photos, and now they’re right in front of you.
If you’re visiting Galway, you must visit the Cliffs of Moher.
Take a Ferry to The Aran Islands
The Aran Islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Galway. You can take a 30 minute ferry to any of the three main islands.
I loved visiting the Aran Islands. It’s like stepping into another world. The islands are home to centuries-old fishing villages. They’re also home to native Gaelic speakers.
I visited Inisheer and rented a bike, cycling around the island to see all its main sights (like the MV Plassy shipwreck and the distinctive stone walls) before rushing back to catch my ferry. It was an amazing travel experience. Alternatively, there’s a pub on the island where you can grab a pint and look at the sea.
You can find tours that take you to the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands in one day. That’s what I did. It’s worth it.
Walk Along the Salthill Promenade
Salthill is a beach community a few minutes outside of the city center.
There’s a proper beach, and many of the best hotels (and even a top-rated hostel) are located in this area. It’s also got a bit of a Coney Island, New Jersey Boardwalk, or Santa Cruz vibe, with seaside attractions and arcade games.
Visit The Long Walk
If you’ve ever listened to Galway Girl, then you already know about The Long Walk.
The Long Walk is where the guy who wrote Galway Girl took a stroll while thinking about the blue-eyed, dark-haired girls from Galway (which is apparently what happened when Spanish sailors mixed with local Irish people when Galway was a major port in the 1700s).
The Long Walk isn’t overly special. It’s a collection of houses along the River Corrib and the waterfront of Galway, right next to the City Center.
Check out the Spanish Arch as you walk towards the Long Walk. It’s a centuries-old gateway. You also get a great view on the other side of the river.
Listen to Traditional Music in an Irish Pub
Every tourist to Ireland wants to listen to traditional music. People in Ireland love music, and it’s rare to find a pub in Galway that doesn’t have some type of music playing.
I can’t recommend any specific pubs in Galway, because many of them are similar. You’ll find good music, Irish beer, and traditional dishes at any pub in the city center of Galway.
Be sure to cross the river away from downtown. The west side of the River Corrib seemed to have the best pubs.
Fun Fact: Speaking of traditional Irish music (lol), I visited Galway the night Ed Sheeran filmed his Galway Girl music video. The town was buzzing with pre-teen girls waiting for a glimpse. If you watch the music video closely, you might see me in the background of some of the street shots. Walking home from the bar in the middle of the night, some of the streets were closed so Ed could film. You can see people roped off in the background of some shots. One of those people could be me.
End the Night at a Rowdy Pub or Club
Galway is where Irish people go for bachelor and bachelorette parties (stags, hen parties, stag-dos, or whatever those people call them).
The clubs in Galway are lively any night of the week. On a random spring weekday, we were able to get into plenty of trouble at multiple Irish clubs. If you ever want to hear a pub (or street) filled with people screaming along to Irish music, then the clubs in Galway are the place to be.
Like all good party towns, Galway has plenty of late night dining options. Demolish a couple slices of pizza or a kebab, then get back to your hostel or hotel to end your perfect day in Galway.
Other Things to Do in And Around Galway, Ireland
I squeezed all of the above into two eventful days in Galway, Ireland. If you’re visiting for longer, then consider visiting the following must see thins to do in and around Galway:
Connemara National Park: Ireland is flatter than I realized. Connemara National Park is surprisingly rugged. It’s like the Cliffs of Moher on land.
The Fisheries Watchtower Museum: Learn more about Galway’s history as a fishing and trading town.
Roisin Dubh: I never made it here on my trip, but Roisin Dubh (which means black rose) is a legendary local music and comedy venue. They get some surprisingly big names here. Check the schedule.
Galway, Ireland was my favorite stop in Ireland. Sure, it may be a little tacky and touristy at times, but Galway is absolutely worth a visit. Check out any of the must see things to do the next time you’re in Galway.