Galway

What To Do In Galway | Enjoy This City in Depth

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No visit to mystical Ireland is complete without bohemian Galway. Whether you’re planning a brief weekend getaway or a longer stay, you’ll be glad to have a list of what to do in Galway. Located on the northwestern coast, it has a population of 80 thousand inhabitants. This makes it a very quiet place compared to the capital. But then, what is there to do in Galway if it is so small?

Well, do not be fooled by appearances! Despite its size, this city is home to places with history and culture that will surprise you. Don’t trust our word for it? Have a look for yourself.

What To Do In Galway | Enjoy This City in Depth

What to do in Galway

So, we picked your interest, didn’t we? Good! Time to start our Galway tour. A simple walk through the city center is a tour of the architecture of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. As if that were not enough, the city has one of the highest levels of economic development in the European Union. Sounds good? Well, take note of the places that you cannot miss!

Top Spots Not to Miss in Galway

Woman with camera

Among the cities of Ireland, Galway stands out for its small size and a legacy of 800 years of history. This makes it ideal for exploring its streets on foot, from its main square to the castles on the outskirts. Also, the center of the city is the scene of intense student and economic activity.

In the center, you can find a wide variety of pubs, bars, cafes, and other entertainment centers. Besides, it has jaw-dropping surroundings: green plains that give the emerald island its name. So, obviously, you can do a lot of outdoor activities or simply discover the landscape armed with your camera.

Here, the GrowPro Experience team offers you a short guide on the essential places to see in Galway. In them, you will be able to discover the traditions, stories, and secrets of this city. Join us to get to know them!

Eyre Square | Heart of social life in Galway

Flags of the Tribes in Galway

Let’s start our walk in the heart of public life in Galway, Eyre Square. This is the main square and a preferred meeting point for both locals and travelers. This is because of its large green area and comfortable benches. Not to mention the peaceful, friendly environment that always welcomes any passersby.

But this isn’t only about sitting around watching time go by. During a visit, you can admire avant-garde sculptures or attend one of the frequent public music events.

Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde Statue | Homage to literary colossi in Galway

Oscar wilde statue in Galway

Leaving the square and heading southwest, you will find William Street. This pedestrian street is animated by bars, restaurants, and street artists. Also, during your stroll, you’ll find the peculiar sculpture of Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde.

This work recreates the literary dialogues that the contemporaries, Estonian Eduard Vilde, and the great Oscar Wilde enjoyed. The original is located in Vilde’s homeland, Estonia. But, the artist, Tiiu Kirispuu, gifted a replica to Galway when Estonia joined the European Union.

Just like in medieval times, the street is also frequented by street musicians and actors. They present acts, entertainment, and fun to passers-by at no cost. Don’t miss out on a walk through this attractive place to see in Galway!

Lynch’s Memorial Window | The creepiest building in Galway

lynch memorial in Galway

About 400 meters from Eyre Square, walking down William Street, you will find the Lynch’s Memorial Window. These ruins are among the must-see sites in Galway if you’re into dark legends. According to locals, the story begins at the end of the 15th century. Then the judge and mayor of the city, James Lynch FitzStephen, faced the most difficult case of his life. The execution of his son for the murder of a Spanish sailor.

To make matters worse, the young man had killed the victim right in his parent’s home. All because of an alleged affair with his fiancée. Ever upright and protective of justice Lynch decided to hang his child from the window of his mansion. Now, only the façade remains, with a shocking skull sculpted on the stone and a plaque retelling the events.

Spanish Arch | A window to Spanish relations in Galway

´Spanish Arch in Galway

For centuries, Galway has been a major port of arrival for ships carrying goods from around the world. This part of its history is reflected by the famous Spanish Arch. A stone structure that was part of the old defense wall of Galway. It is easily reached by walking in the direction of the Corrib river.

Our unfortunate Spanish sailor from the previous history was perhaps one of the thousands of compatriots who, during the sixteenth century, arrived in Galway to trade with the Irish.

Galway City Museum

Galway City Museum

Quite near the arch, you will find the Galway City Museum. This is a modern building where you can see interactive exhibits. You’ll have access to an overview of the culture, archeology, traditions, and history of Galway.

In its rooms, you can see the remains of buildings and weapons dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. The period of the port’s commercial boom. There is also a photo gallery documenting the transformations of the city since 1950.

Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven | A magnificent temple to see in Galway

Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven

Crossing the Father Griffin Bridge and going East, you’ll find yourself on the island of Nun. And, there, one of the greatest attractions to see in Galway: the great Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas. This Catholic church was built in the 1960s and is one of the last stone-built temples in Europe. The large multi-colored stained glass windows and their tall naves stand out, stand out within its walls.

It receives parishioners of all communions and tourists from all over the world, although it asks the latter for the cooperation of 2 euros. The amount collected is destined for the maintenance of the building.

National University of Ireland

National University of Ireland

If you go north and cross the River Corrib, you will arrive at the National University of Ireland. This is one of the most prestigious institutions in Ireland and Europe. It’s a bastion of the intense academic life of the city. And it is also located in the center of it because it offers wide access to all its attractions and services.

Among its study programs, English and modern languages ​​stand out, along with those of innovation in biotechnology. However, its academic offer includes close to 200 undergraduate and graduate courses with a high academic level.

This university is without a doubt one of the places to see in Galway, even if you’re not a student. Maybe it captures you and you decide to enroll! To learn more about what this institution offers to foreign students, visit its international office page.

Barrio Latino | Enjoy a pint in the unmissable pubs

Mojitos Galway

After a day exploring Galway, nothing like a break, a good chat, and a delicious beer. To do this, we recommend you return to the center and enter the wonderful Latin Quarter or Barrio Latino.
At night, the colorful facades of their houses and businesses are illuminated with led lights to bring in the party.

The atmosphere is animated by the throng of students, tourists, and even businessmen who come to have fun. Among its streets, you should not miss Quay Street. It is the most popular for its great diversity of pubs, cafes, and restaurants.

Dunguaire Castle | High towers and summer feasts in Galway

Dunguaire Castle in Galway

Although Galway is quite charming by itself, you cannot miss a day exploring the surroundings. Let’s start with Dunguaire Castle, about a 30-minute drive from the center on the N67 road.
This is a fortress-type stone construction, with a 23-meter tower. It was erected in 1520 to be the residence of the Martyn family. This dynasty of merchants inhabited the place for the next four centuries.

In the 1920s, the castle was bought and restored by surgeon Oliver St John Gogarty. The man turned it into a meeting place for some of the most prominent Irish writers of the 20th century. So, you will be sharing space (though, sadly, not at the same time) with characters like W.B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. If you visit in summer, you can attend the Dunguaire Castle Banquet, a medieval-style feast with abundant food, drink, music, and live poetry.

Aran Islands | The oldest ruins in Galway

Aran Islands

To the west of Galway, you’ll find the last remnants of land before entering the Atlantic Ocean: the three Aran Islands. They are bastions of Irish culture and the oldest civilizations that inhabited the Emerald Isle.

There are ferry trips from the city to the islands. Inis Mór (the largest), Inis Meain (the oldest), and Inis Oírr/Inisheer (the most) await you. Here, the population is scarce and very attached to its culture. Therefore it maintains the habit of speaking mainly Irish.

On the western coast of Inis Mór, you can discover the Dún Eochla, Dún Aonghasa, and Black Fort fortresses. All three were set in stone by some of the oldest peoples on record in Ireland, roughly 3,000 years ago.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Of course, we would be remiss not to mention the Cliffs of Moher. They are an hour and a half drive away from Galway. The towering black stone walls that give the park its name are among the most popular for hikers and climbers.

The area is ideal for hiking, among the rugged terrain. Also, you can enter caves with large stalactites or admire the colonies of birds that nest on the cliffs.

Connemara National Park

Connemara

If you’re in Ireland to bask in vast landscapes and a mystical environment, Connemara is your place. A wide National Park that retains the country’s ancient look and holds wildlife in its natural environment. Enjoy the vastness of the place, take photos, hike, have a picnic. You can even spend the day doing cartwheels if that’s your thing. In this wide, open space, the sky’s the limit.

Wild Atlantic Way

Wild Atlantic Way

Of all the things that make Galway lucky, the fact that it is roughly halfway of the Wild Atlantic Way is high on the list. So, all you have to do is either follow this trail either north or south. There, you’ll find tons of photogenic spots at your disposal. Rock formations, glaciated landscapes, and even charming towns, all just following the path.

Wonder how to get there? It’s easy! If you’re in Connemara Park, you’re already there. Yes! The National Park is one of the attractions of the Way.

Rinville Park

National park

Maybe wide-open parks are not quite your thing. You wanted to get closer to the animals, find a defined hiking trail, who knows? Anyway, if that’s the case, then try Rinville Park. It is smaller but no less charming. Built around a medieval castle, no less, it has open farmlands.

You’ll be able to get closer to the animals that live here. Also, there are hiking trails that will take you through some of its wonders.

Salthill Promenade

Salthill Promenade

Sure, all that green is lovely, but, isn’t Galway a coastal city? Yes! Then, where are the beaches? You may be asking. But worry no more, because Salthill Promenade is everything you’ve been wishing for. Over a mile of a wooden track by the sea, you can enjoy a calm environment and amenities in the surroundings. This is definitely one of the spots that make Galway so bohemian.

Stay in Galway with GrowPro

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What did you think of our tour of the best to see in Galway and its surroundings? If you fell in love, why not go and stay for a while? We can hook you up with a working and studying experience tailored to your needs. Besides, we can take care of the dull paperwork for you. How does that sound?

We’ll welcome you to the country upon arrival, invite you to our events where you can meet other travelers like you. And, more importantly, we’ll contact you with a Student Advisor. This is someone who has gone through the same experience as you. All your questions will be answered and your concerns will be addressed. Sound good? Of course it does! Forget your excuses and make this dream come true!

About the author

Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!