Best Things To Do In Galway, Ireland

Discover the highlights of Galway, Ireland with the comprehensive Rough Guide to Things to do in Galway Ireland.

Best Things To Do In Galway City And Beyond

17 things to do in Galway on your next visit

Galway is a city bursting with life, energy, and a unique cultural blend that reflects Ireland’s rich history. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-time visitor, Galway will charm you with its buzzing streets, vibrant festivals, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. There’s always something happening here, and you’ll feel it in the air as soon as you arrive.

From exploring the narrow winding streets of the medieval town to strolling along the sweeping bays and scenic harbours, Galway is a feast for the senses. Taking a visit to this magnificent city guarantees a memorable experience that will stay with you forever. 

To help you make the most of your time in the City of the Tribes, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to do that you simply can’t miss.

When is the Best time to visit Galway

Located on the western coast of Ireland, Galway is a place of unspeakable beauty that captivates the hearts and minds of all those who visit. With its rich culture, storied history and undeniable charm, there is something new and exciting to discover in Galway at any time of the year.

However, if you’re looking to make the most of your visit and experience all that Galway has to offer, there are certain months that are simply ideal. For instance, the winter months of February and November offer a special kind of magic and romance that is perfect for someone looking for an idyllic escape.

Likewise, the spring month of May is the perfect time for anyone interested in exploring nature, when Galway comes into full bloom, showcasing a riot of colours that will sweep you off your feet. On the other hand, if you’re looking to attend any of the lively festivals the city has to offer, then July and September are your best bets.

No matter what time of the year you decide to visit Galway, you will undoubtedly be swept up in the enchanting atmosphere of this magnificent city, and create memories to last a lifetime.

The Sky Road

The Sky Road

The Sky Road is an absolute must-visit destination when you are exploring Ireland. This iconic and picturesque drive is considered one of the most breathtaking routes in the country. The Sky Road is a 16km loop that winds around the stunning Connemara coastline, offering visitors the chance to witness some of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll find anywhere in Ireland. 

You will be amazed by the stunning views of the Atlantic and the surrounding coastline that stretch out before you, as well as the breathtaking panoramic views of Clifden Bay and its collection of beautiful and rugged islands that you can enjoy along the way.

Be sure to pack your camera to capture the incredible scenic beauty of the Sky Road. Visitors can also stop off at a range of small towns and villages along the way for a taste of authentic Irish hospitality. This is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to the west coast of Ireland.

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden

Kylemore Abbey

Things to do in Galway

“Experience the breathtaking beauty and rich history of Kylemore Abbey, nestled in majestic Connemara in the west of Ireland. A true paradise that has captured the hearts of visitors from around the world, with its iconic reflection of a baronial castle on a serene Connemara lake. 

Follow in the footsteps of the Benedictine nuns and explore the restored Head Gardener’s house, take a stroll through the stunning walled garden, and admire the impressive Neo-Gothic church.

Step back in time as you learn about Kylemore’s history, from its engineering marvels to its past as a girls boarding school. Enjoy a taste of tradition at Mitchell’s Café or the Tea House, where you can savor homemade food made from the recipes of the Benedictine nuns.

Discover unique products at the crafts shop such as handmade pottery and chocolates. Be enchanted by the giant’s wishing stone, and delight in the company of Connemara ponies and pet pigs. Let the beauty of Kylemore Abbey inspire you to create unforgettable memories and renew your spirit.”

Connemara National Park

Connemara-National-Park-County-Galway

Take a trip to County Galway and delve deep into the natural beauty of Connemara National Park. Boasting over 3,000 hectares of magnificent mountains, lush greenery, and captivating woodland, it is truly a sight to behold.

Experience the majesty of Connemara National Park and witness the awe-inspiring rugged beauty. Take in breathtaking sights of the towering peaks of Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack, and Muckanaght, a part of the renowned Twelve Bens.

Embark on a serene walk or challenge yourself with a grueling mountain hike. The spectacular views from the top of Diamond Hill include astounding views of Inishbofin, Inishturk, and Inishshark, and the memorable Kylemore Abbey. Roam one of the four picturesque routes where you can encounter Connemara ponies, red deer, and birds such as skylarks, stonechats, and peregrine falcons.

Discover ruined houses, old sheep pens, an ice house, and Tobar Mweelin, a well that previously supplied water to Kylemore Castle. Afterwards, visit the Visitor Centre. Here, explore exhibitions, watch an audio-visual show, and grab a bite at the seasonal tea room.

Let the breathtaking natural landscapes of Connemara National Park take you on a journey to be remembered forever. Open your heart and soul to Mother Nature and discover a paradise that truly embodies raw beauty. You will find yourself mesmerized by the towering peaks of Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack, and Muckanaght, a part of the renowned Twelve Bens. 

Discover a sense of peace and tranquility by taking a serene walk or challenge yourself with a grueling mountain hike. Take it all in from the top of Diamond Hill, where the magnificent view captures the distant islands of Inishbofin, Inishturk, and Inishshark, as well as the memorable Kylemore Abbey. 

Immerse yourself in four picturesque routes where you can encounter Connemara ponies, red deer, and birds such as skylarks, stonechats, and peregrine falcons. Discover the ruins of old houses, sheep pens, and see Tobar Mweelin, a well that formerly supplied water to Kylemore Castle. 

Enhance your experience by visiting the Visitor Centre where you can watch audio-visual shows, explore exhibitions, and enjoy seasonal refreshments. Let the natural beauty of Connemara National Park inspire you.

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Salthill Beaches

Salthill Beaches - County Galway

Salthill Beach is located approximately 2km from Galway City and is made up of several small beaches which are separated by rocky outcrops. It is a popular beach for walking, swimming and relaxing.

The beauty of Salthill Beach, located just a stone’s throw away from the vibrant Galway City. Surrounded by a Special Area of Conservation, this beach boasts unique features, including sandy and pebbled beaches separated by rocky outcrops.

Salthill Beach offers something for everyone, from leisurely walks to refreshing swims. Take in the stunning scenery and unwind in this picturesque location.

For your peace of mind, lifeguards are stationed at the beach during the summer months, ensuring a safe and fun experience for all. So make sure to visit this hidden gem and soak up the natural beauty it has to offer.

The Aran Islands

If you’re looking for a destination that will give you a glimpse of a world that’s like no other, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to explore the rugged beauty of the Aran Islands on Galway Bay. Here, you’ll be surrounded by stunning limestone walls, golden beaches, and jagged sea cliffs that offer breathtaking views at every turn. 

More than just an unforgettable experience, Aran is truly a magical place that will capture your heart and make you want to keep returning for more. Three islands in particular stand out: Inis Mór (Inishmore), Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), and Inis Oírr (Inisheer). 

Each offers its own unique attractions and there’s no better way to experience them than by visiting Aran and seeing them for yourself. So, why not pack your bags and come discover the wonders of the Aran Islands?

The Aran Islands

How to get to the Aran Islands

Take a ferry from Rossaveal in Galway to Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, or Inis Oírr with Aran Island Ferries. It takes 40 minutes, and they run all year round. If you’re coming from Galway City by car or coach, you should plan an hour for travel, plus 30 minutes to check-in for the ferry. Watch out for timetable changes due to weather.

You can take the Saoirse na Farraige from Galway City straight to Inis Mór in 90 minutes. Book a return trip and enjoy the Cliffs of Moher from the water.

Another option is to take a ferry from Doolin in Clare with Doolin Ferry. You could stop at the Cliffs of Moher on the way.

To see the views from the air, you can fly with Aer Arann from Connemara Airport in Inverin, which is 40 minutes from Galway City. You can choose which island to visit when you book.

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Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral

The Galway Cathedral is a majestic masterpiece of art and architecture. A true inspiration to all who visit it. It is a symbol of how magnificent creations can be achieved by combining different influences. 

Built in the late 1950s, it is the youngest of the great stone cathedrals of Europe. Designed by J.J. Robinson, its eclectic style is a unique blend of Renaissance, Romanesque, and Gothic influences. 

The interior boasts an impressive collection of art, including a stunning statue of the Virgin by Imogen Stuart, a large Crucifixion mosaic by Patrick Pollen, and rose windows by George Campbell. 

The Cathedral is a testament to man’s desire to create beautiful things, even in modern times, using timeless techniques. Its walls are a reminder that it’s never too late to build something remarkable.

Inishbofin Island

Inishbofin Island

Inishbofin, located in County Galway, offers a unique opportunity to experience the rugged beauty of Ireland’s West Coast. As you wander along the cliffs, you will feel the rush of fresh salty air against your skin, invigorating your senses. 

The sheep paths that lead to picturesque white, sandy beaches are waiting to be explored. The crystal clear waters invite you to take a dip or hop onto a kayak to explore caves, sea arches, and create your unique adventure. Hike to the 17th-century fort, and you will be rewarded with stunning views of the island and the surrounding Atlantic Ocean. 

After a day of exploring the island and its hidden treasures, you can relax in a cosy cottage with a crackling fire. Savor the finest local cuisine, including fresh seafood, local cheeses, and vegetables grown right on the island. Inishbofin is the perfect place to escape, unwind, and connect with the beauty of nature.

Galway City Museum

Galway-City-Museum

Galway City Museum is an exceptional place nestled in a stunning location by the river Corrib, offering breathtaking sea views. This museum offers an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history, archaeology and culture of Galway. 

Stepping through the historic Spanish Arch, visitors are greeted by two iconic symbols of Galway – the original statue of writer Pádraic Ó Conaire and the majestic Máirtín Oliver, a traditional Galway Hooker sailing vessel. 

Galway City Museum boasts three levels of galleries showcasing inspiring exhibitions that invite visitors to explore Galway’s cultural landscape and its deep-rooted connection with the sea. Through its collection of over 1,000 objects, the museum endeavors to preserve Galway’s rich heritage and the spirit of its people for generations to come. 

Galway City Museum is a treasure trove of inspiration and knowledge, and its doors are always open to history enthusiasts, students and tourists alike.

Derrigimlagh

Derrigimlagh

In the southern region of Clifden, lies an extraordinary pathway known as the Wild Atlantic Way. This route takes tourists through the distinct moorlands of Derrigimlagh, an area that gained historical significance as the venue for two iconic events that shaped modern history. 

Remarkably, it is difficult to fathom, that a hundred years ago, Derrigimlagh was the site of two groundbreaking developments. One of these events was initiated by renowned radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi in 1907. 

Marconi established a radio station at the heart of this moor; from this station, news from London and Dublin was transmitted across the Atlantic, paving the way for global communication. A few years later, on 15 June 1919, aviators John Alcock and Whitten Brown made landfall in Derrigimlagh, having successfully accomplished the first-ever non-stop transatlantic flight. 

A thought-provoking monument, shaped like an aeroplane’s nose, serves as a reminder of this aircraft feat and its significance in the history of aviation.

Clifden

Clifden

Clifden is an enchanting and vibrant town located along the scenic coast in the Connemara region of Galway. We highly recommend a visit to this remarkable market town in County Galway. 

A significant highlight of Clifden is the opportunity to view the ruins of Clifden Castle, an exceptional example of Gothic Revival-style architecture that dates back to the 18th century. 

Another exciting activity is a journey to the Mannin Bay Blueway, which offers kayak and snorkel trails. Adventurers can observe coralline seaweed and the skeletal remains of barnacles and mollusks on the sand. 

Take a refreshing breath of fresh air with a guided scenic walk or challenging hike into the Connemara hills. Nestled between the Twelve Bens Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, Clifden is regarded as the unofficial capital of the region. 

This village is an excellent base from which to explore the region, with a plethora of high-quality restaurants and pubs to unwind in after a day of exploration.

Aasleagh Falls

Aasleagh Falls

Located just north of the Galway/Mayo border, this picturesque group of waterfalls on the River Erriff offers an excellent option for riverside walks and picnics, as well as canyoning. The Aasleagh Falls Bridge is a must-visit spot for breathtaking views of the waterfalls while enjoying the serenity of the surroundings. 

For the more daring visitor, climbing the falls themselves may be an option, while others can watch salmon fishermen hoping for a catch. Indeed, the River Erriff and its waterfalls are an attractive destination, providing an enjoyable and calm retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Omey Island

Omey Island

The magnificence of this extensive beach is truly captivating. It serves as the gateway to Omey Island, which reveals itself during low tide. Whether on foot or by vehicle, the island offers a splendid array of early Christian ruins that are engrossing in every manner. This alluring haven is almost concealed from the mainland, but it furnishes an unforgettable experience that is sure to leave an indelible impression. 

With careful forethought and vigilant awareness of the tides, you can safely explore the wonders of Omey Island. Take full advantage of this unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich historical and natural splendor of Ireland’s western shore. The journey to Omey Island will awaken your spirit and inspire your soul beyond expectation!

Killary Fjord

Killary Fjord

The remarkable origins of the 16-kilometre fjord are truly awe-inspiring. About 20,000 years ago, a massive natural fault line that extends all the way from Scotland set into motion the westward movement of mile-deep ice, which eventually created this breathtaking natural wonder. But that’s just the beginning of the story. 

As you travel along the southern shore of the fjord, you’re not just taking in stunning scenery – you’re also walking along an old famine relief road that was built with incredible skill and ingenuity. The road was constructed by cutting a terrace into the ground and meticulously laying stone upon stone. 

With each step you take, you’re stepping into a piece of history and bearing witness to the incredible achievements of those who came before us. It’s truly an unforgettable experience.

Killary Harbour

Killary Harbour

There’s a breathtaking place you cannot miss in Ireland: Killary Harbour. Nestled between Galway and Mayo and right in the heart of Connemara, Killary Harbour is a stunning fjord over 16km long. It is one of the three glacial fjords that exist in Ireland, and with its history, it will fill you with wonder.

The stunning area boasts of high mountains, including Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest at 814 meters, as well as the Maumturk Mountains and unparalleled Twelve Bens. Take a stroll along the historical Green Road, a rough road that spans approximately 9km and was built during the 19th-century famine relief program.

While there, feast your eyes on mussel rafts peeking out of the water, a common sight east of the fjord. And as you leave, don’t forget to visit the hamlet of Rossroe near the mouth of the fjord, where you’ll see the plaque and building of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the famous philosopher, formerly used as a quiet place to write after World War II.

The Quiet Man Bridge

The Quiet Man Bridge

For those who love a good adventure, the Quiet Man Bridge is a must-see landmark located in Connemara, Ireland. This bridge gained worldwide renown for its appearance in “The Quiet Man,” starring legendary actors John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. 

This movie tells an inspiring story of love, family, and the journey back to one’s roots. Each year, people from all over the world come to this location simply to marvel at the stunning views around them and bask in the history of this landmark.

Remember, taking small pieces of the bridge is not recommended, but what you can take away is the inspiration from this film and the reminder to cherish love, family, and home. “The Quiet Man” remains a timeless masterpiece and an ode to Ireland’s breathtaking landscape and culture. Let us all go on our own journey of discovery and find our own exciting paths to love and happiness.

Things to do in Galway

Dungarie Castle

Dungarie Castle

Visiting historic castles in Ireland is an unforgettable experience. The charm that surrounds these majestic structures is enchanting, and they offer a glimpse into Ireland’s rich historical past. Dunguaire Castle, situated on the coast of Galway Bay, near Kinvara in County Galway, is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque castles in Ireland.

The castle, initially built by the prominent Hynes Clan in 1520, was later bought and restored by Oliver St. John Gogarty, a renowned surgeon and writer, who made it a meeting place for literary legends such as George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, J.M Synge, and W.B. Yeats.

Now, under the care of Shannon Development, Dunguaire Castle enjoys its status as a popular tourist attraction, hosting medieval-themed banquets every mid-April to mid-October. Guests are treated to a delightful four-course meal while being entertained with songs, stories, and poems from esteemed poets.

Finally, those with a penchant for the supernatural will be pleased to know that Dunguaire Castle is said to offer answers to questions posed at the front gate before the end of the day. A visit to the castle also offers a crafts and visitor shop, making it the complete package.

Dunguaire Castle is located near the little village of Kinvara, about 300 meters away on the coast road in the direction of Galway city.

Glengowla Mines

Things to do in Galway

The Glengowla Mines and Family Farm Experience in Oughterard, County Galway offers an exceptional opportunity for a wholesome family day out. 

The underground tour of Connemara’s only “show mine,” aided by Glengowla Mines and Family Farm Experience’s knowledgeable tour guides, enables visitors to explore caverns of marble studded with lead and silver and learn about the working conditions of the miners during the 1800s. 

Gold panning sessions and sheep herding demonstrations are also available to visitors, with a fully covered viewing area for those interested in observing. 

The farm walk allows visitors to gain a deeper appreciation of the local flora and fauna, while the ancient and traditional Irish activity of turf cutting can be enjoyed by advanced booking. We advise visitors to bring their own picnic and extend this delightful experience, which appeals to a wide range of interests and ages.

Things to Do in Galway with Kids

Galway is an incredible family-friendly destination that offers a plethora of exciting and awe-inspiring activities. From the majestic Wild Atlantic Way to kayaking in Killary Harbour, the experiences that await your family are simply unforgettable. 

The National Aquarium is a great place to take the kids for a fun and educational outing, and they can even hang out with Larry the llama at Turoe Pet Farm. For the adrenaline junkies in the family, Pallas Karting in Tynagh is the perfect spot to test your lap time and indulge in some friendly competition. 

You and your loved ones will have an exciting and unforgettable vacation in Galway, full of adventure, laughter, and memorable experiences.

Slieve Aughty Centre

“Discover a whole new world of adventure and exhilaration with horse riding lessons at the remarkable Slieve Aughty Centre. Explore family-friendly lessons or gallop through breathtaking scenic forestry in the magical west of Ireland. 

You’ll be in the capable hands of a team of exceptional riding experts, with years of experience under their belt. With over 30 horses and ponies available for riders of all ages and levels, there has never been a better time to learn a new skill. And for the little ones, a captivating walk through an enchanted forest is just a short 10-minute stroll from the centre. 

When the day is done, indulge in a delicious meal at the onsite organic café. Embrace new horizons and create memories that will last a lifetime – only at Slieve Aughty.”

Wildlands

The Wildlands beckons you to embark on an adventure of a lifetime! A thrilling experience awaits you amidst the vast 20 acres of woodlands, just beside the Wild Atlantic Way. With an array of indoor and outdoor activities, you’ll be captivated regardless of the weather. 

Take a step forward and challenge yourself with the zipline and trek experience. Kids can also enjoy the Junior treks, and everyone can gaze in awe at the breathtaking views while strolling across the treetops. 

Can you picture yourself ziplining across the woods, with a magnificent view of the lake? The Wildlands provide countless activities to do with loved ones, from kayaking or a calming forest stroll. Come find your perfect adventure in the Wildlands today, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

National Aquarium

Explore the fascinating underwater world at The National Aquarium on a rainy day with your children in Galway. Brace yourself to be mesmerized by common and exotic sea creatures in their natural habitat. 

You’ll be amazed by the deep-water exhibit, which provides a floor-to-ceiling view of the largest predators of the aquarium – species of the most common sharks found in Irish waters.
Take a dive into Ireland’s native sea creatures and be guided through jellyfish, whales, and dolphins for an experience of a lifetime. 

Open your eyes to the breathtaking beauty of the aquatic world and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones. The National Aquarium is the perfect place to inspire your little ones’ curiosity about the wonders of nature.

Linnala Ice Cream

Delicious flavours of homemade Irish ice cream at Linnalla, a family-owned ice cream farm that overlooks the breathtaking Galway Bay. Immerse yourself in the unique history of the farm, the Burren, and its surrounding areas on a tour with owners Brid and Roger and their friendly farmyard animals. 

The tour is perfect for both adults and children, and guarantees to add some excitement to your day. Afterwards, indulge in a refreshing scoop of ice cream and enjoy a cold glass of milk at Linnalla’s welcoming café. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience the heartwarming atmosphere of Linnalla and create unforgettable memories with your family and friends.

Brigit’s Garden & Café

“Discover the enchantment of Brigit’s Garden & Café, a mesmerizing eleven-acre haven located just a half-hour drive from your hotel. This magical place is known as the ‘sanctuary in the West of Ireland’, and it’s where you can explore the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology. 

Immerse yourself in the four Celtic gardens, each boasting unique themes like Imbolc Spring Garden, Lughnasa Autumn Garden, and Samhain Winter Garden. 

Brigit’s Garden features an Earth Quest trail with twelve science-based challenges, a playground that connects children with nature, and a fairy fort that will surely ignite their imagination. 

When hunger strikes, the lovely café sourced with produce from the gardens awaits, creating a truly authentic experience. Come and delight in a place that celebrates nature, myth, and legend. 

The entry fee for a family of four is only €24, making it an affordable and unforgettable adventure that you wouldn’t want to miss!”

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Discover Irish Isle offers a range of resources to help visitors plan a trip to Ireland. Our blog post highlights the best things to do in the area and provides insider tips to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience. 

We encourage you to explore our social media channels as well, where you can find additional information and travel inspiration. Trust our team of experts to guide you through the planning process and provide you with the tools you need to fully immerse yourself in the culture and attractions of Ireland.

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