10 things you absolutely have to do when you visit Galway

10 things you absolutely have to do when you visit Galway

WHETHER YOU'RE coming from abroad or planning a Staycation, Galway is one of the best places in Ireland to spend a few days exploring.

The city is teeming with culture, entertainment, fantastic food and drink, history and, obviously, the craic.

Sure, for now things are a bit different-- to say the least-- but it won't last forever, and Galway will be back with a bang.

So when things are back to normal, here are 10 things you absolutely have to do when you visit Galway.


Take in the culture with traditional Irish music in Galway's many old bars

A traditional Irish music session in full swing (PIC: Tourism Ireland)

Galway is packed with dozens of fantastic bars-- from modern nightclubs to spacious, comfortable beer gardens, multiple-storied mazes and small, cozy pubs with an open fire.

And if you're looking for a traditional pub to soak up the culture with some Irish music, there's plenty of options: many pubs in Galway have a trad band at least once a week, but the most famous by far is Tigh Chóilí, so revered for its Irish music that British royals William and Kate visited for a reel back in 2020.


Take the leap from Salthill's Blackrock Diving Tower

This might be 'weather permitting', but people can be seen leaping from Salthill's famous Blackrock tower no matter the season, as long as the waters are calm. Salthill beach and promenade is only a 20 minute walk from Galway city, and there are some spectacular sights to be seen on that walk alone-- a jump from the diving tower is a must for the more adventurous among us.


Indulge in Galway's world-famous fish and chips

Ireland's best-rated fish and chip shops have been revealed.

Galway is renowned for its fresh fish and chips, possibly some of the best in the world (not that we're biased or anything). There are dozens of seafood restaurants and chippers to be found in Galway's colourful, narrow streets-- but the most famous and favoured is definitely McDonagh's  on Quay Street. Enjoy the food and the scenery-- it's a fantastic place to people-watch as throngs of tourists and locals meander through the cobbled grounds of the Latin Quarter.


Have the dance of your life at the Róisín Dubh's Silent Disco

An absolute staple for anyone who has ever spent time in Galway, the Róisín Dubh's weekly Silent Disco draw huge crowds-- and for good reason.

You haven't lived until you've taken off you headphones in a packed dancefloor to hear half the crowd singing one song terribly, and the other half singing a different song- also terribly.

The Silent Disco is €5 entry and includes a shot of Jaegermeister, and in the summer months the entire street outside the bar is closed off to take the Silent Disco outside. Beautiful carnage-- just take a look.


Take a trip to the wilderness of Connemara

Derryclare Lough, along the Wild Atlantic Way, Connemara, Galway, Ireland.

Truly, Connemara could have an entire article to itself (watch this space!)but we couldn't do a Galway city article without mentioning this spectacular place.

You don't need to book a specific tour to see the majesty of Connemara-- the normal Bus Eireann or Citylink bus from the city to Clifden showcases some of Connemara's most famous scenery, such as the 12 Bens mountains and the Derryclare Lough.

Explore the town of Clifden, the magic Omey Island, Connemara's National Park and Kylemore Abbey, take a boat trip along the Killary Fjord, visit the locations where the Bull McCabe fought for his land in The Field-- and that's not even the half of it.


Explore NUI Galway's beautiful campus

(Getty Images)

NUI Galway's Quadrangle looks beautiful year-round, but if you're lucky enough to visit in the autumn you're in for a treat.

The Boston ivy crawling up the stone walls of the iconic building turns a fiery, deep red, and makes for some gorgeous photographs-- which is why it's a favourite for graduating students and wedding photographers. It's located close to Galway's famous, beautiful Cathedral-- which brings us to our next part.

The NUIG Quadrangle with its famous red Boston ivy (NUIG / Facebook)


Visit the awe-inspiring Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral in First sunlights and Corrib river covered by ice at cold winter morning

This awe-inspiring Cathedral can be seen from almost everywhere in Galway thanks to its enormous height-- but rather than feel imposing among the city's other, smaller buildings, it's one of the most beautiful spots in the city and well worth a look, whether for a church service or a general exploration.


Check out the buskers on Galway's Shop Street

Galway is well-known for its creative, musical spirit, and this can be seen everywhere in the city-- particularly Galway's Shop Street.

No matter the time, day or even weather, you're guaranteed to meet at least one person giving it socks to a crowd which has gathered around them.

Full traditional bands, alternative music, lone singers, drummers, magicians, puppeteers and more can be found from the walk from Shop Street to Spanish Arch, and if you stopped to watch them all the day would disappear quickly. (Worth it.)


Enjoy a picnic in the sun at Spanish Arch

The Spanish Arch area of Galway city (Getty)

The second the sun comes out in Galway, the Spanish Arch becomes the go-to spot for locals and tourists alike. There's nothing like whiling away the day on the warm stones of Sparch, eating and drinking to your heart's content while people play music-- either on speakers or on instruments. Take the chance to check out the famous colourful houses of the Long Walk, too, as seen in Ed Sheeran's Galway Girl music video.

View of houses in Galway as featured in Ed Sheeran's 'Galway Girl' video


Get into the festive spirit with Galway's Christmas Market

Credit: Galway tourism

There's always something to do in Galway, no matter what time of the year you visit-- and if you're planning a Winter trip, you're in for a treat.

Galway's Christmas Market easily rivals the more famous ones found in Germany and Poland, and for good reason. Set in the central Eyre Square, the city centre is transformed into a winter wonderland, with dozens of stalls selling homemade trinkets, clothes, savoury food and baked goods, and the air simmers with the smells of warm pastry and sugar-- and, of course, mulled wine.

The massive beer tent is an essential visit, and the massive Ferris wheel is a definite favourite for all who visit.