A Travellers Guide: Galway, by a Galway Girl

I’ve lived in Galway throughout the entirety of my life, so to say I know the place like the back of my hand would be an understatement. When you live somewhere long enough, you forget about the beauty it holds and the majestic culture it carries. I never truly appreciate this little town until I hear the passing tourists remark on how incredible Galway really is.

Galway 2020 is in the horizon, in which we will celebrate being the cultural capital of Europe. While there are workings in progress for the year that’s to come, I’ve come up with some of my favourite things to do in Galway on an average day. We don’t always get the weather we wish for, which can certainly dampen our day and eliminate our motivation. Here are some thrilling tips and places to visit to get you off your feet when travelling Galway (or perhaps you already live here and are looking for something to do!)

Transport

Before I begin, if you can, I recommend getting your hands on a car rental, or familiarising yourself with transport from one location to another, as some are a little out of reach. A popular car rental which can be picked up from Galway City Centre is Europcar. Day rentals usually cost about €40, depending on which car you choose! If you aren’t a licensed driver, there are dozens of city buses which escape into the country every hour or two. These buses can be found in the city centre, in the Galway Bus Station.

Now, where to go..

Spiddal

Spiddal is my top go to spot on both sunny and rainy days. Located on the west side of Galway, on the shore of Galway bay, Spiddal has lots to offer which will entice both visitors and locals. Visit Standún, the local gift shop, with both fashionable items and Irish gifts to offer, (bodhráns, wool, paddy caps & more). Something I love to visit in Spiddal is it’s artistic Craft and Design Village. This village is built on a complex of craft shops with craftwork such as basket weaving, stained glass making, and my favourite, card making. If you’re interested in art and design, this store often holds evening classes in card making! Just seconds across the road from the crafts village is a beautiful promenade overlooking the Aran Islands, and Galway bay. It’s definitely worth having a walk along, on a clear sunny day.

Salthill

Speaking of walking, something which is common amongst those living in Galway is the scenic walk along Salthills’ promenade, which stretches over 2km. Galway locals will always find a way to walk this promenade during both rain, hail and snow. If you’re feeling brave enough, take a dip into the sea at Blackrock diving tower. If you’re travelling to Galway during the Summer months, be sure to jump off the tower and have a swim with the locals. It’s usually bustling with characters when the sun is out and shining! One of my favourite things to do on a sunny day in Salthill is cut my promenade walk short and detour through lower Salthill and stop for an ice cream in Centra. They’ve tasteful toppings and flavours to top it all off! Bask in the evening sun overlooking the sea, ice cream in hand, melting everywhere in the wind. It’s a moment you’ll carry with you forever! If you’re an Ed Sheeran fan, stop off at O’Connors pub in lower Salthill for a pint. It’s where the infamous Galway Girl was filmed!

Inverin

If you’re lucky enough to rent a car out during the dry months, I recommend taking a spin out west to Inverin, only a few miles out past Spiddal. One of my fondest memories as a child was visiting the beautiful beaches in Inverin during the Summer time, stuffing my face with Tayto Crisp sandwiches and Ribena. Make sure to pre pack a picnic and lots of warm blankets, and journey out to Galway’s west end for an outdoor feast in the cold. If you’re feeling peckish on the journey back, make a pit stop at Paraicíns, a local restaurant looking over the sea in Furbo, located just after Spiddal! They serve fresh fish and chips amongst some beautiful fresh made club sandwiches.

Barna

Barna is known for its eccentric beauty which overlooks Galway bay. Like Spiddal and Inverin, Barna is located on the western side of the city, so you’ll be guaranteed to catch a glimpse of the views of Galway bay. Take a walk down Barna pier, and if it’s cold, sit inside O’Grady’s restaurant overlooking the bay. On a clear day you will see County Clare in the distance. If you’re local enough, or have been lucky enough to travel with animals, visit Silverstrand beach and Rusheen Bay and watch young professionals windsurfing in the distance. If you are sporty, rent out a kayak in Rusheen and go for a paddle in the beautiful lake.

Shopstreet (Williams’ Street)

Shopstreet, or infamously known as Williams’ Street, is the heart of Galway city, located in between Eyre Square and The Spanish Arch. Shopstreet is Galway’s main shopping district. If you find yourself caught in a rain shower, locate yourself amidst the town and take a gander through shopstreet. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet some entertaining faces busking along the street. Shopstreet can get very rowdy at times, especially during the busy months, so if this is the case, escape to one of the local café’s for a pastry and coffee. Grab an Ice Cream from Gino’s Gelato & walk down to Quay Street to admire the various cuisines. Galway is known for its admirable taste in food, so be sure to grab a bite in some of the popular locations! If you’re young and fresh, you may want to devour a Handsome Burger or A Dough Bro’s Pizza. Both known for their unique taste, they’re ideal if you’re looking for something quick and unique. If you’re looking for somewhere with live entertainment, visit Quay Street and follow the music!

These are just a handful of hotspots I visit regularly, as Galway is quite small and minute. If you’re looking to broaden your expectations, I’d recommend taking a tour to the Cliffs Of Moher or Clifden, located an hour away from Galway. If you’re looking to visit Galway for its renowned locations, definitely give some, if not all, of these locations a visit. Live the way the Galweigan’s do. Avoid tourist traps such as The Galway Cathedral, unless you’re interested in visiting Mass. Visit the National University of Galway at the weekend, to avoid the thousands of students expected to surround the area. Make sure to stop off at a local pub for a pint of Guinness. Some hotspot recommendations are Taffes, The Quays, and Tígh Neachtains, all located in the city centre. If you’re looking for places to eat, you can find some of my favourite recommendations under my Food blog category. If you’re unfamiliar with Galway and new to the city, be sure to get in touch, as this little county has so much to offer!