Flowing in from the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland’s west coast, Galway Bay laps the shores of some of the country’s most picturesque stretches of coastline. With the three windswept Aran Islands at its periphery, the bay meets land at the artsy city of Galway and numerous fishing villages, coastal cliffs, and beaches.
Day tours of Galway Bay depart from Dublin and Galway City, and typically provide round-trip transport. Most excursions stop at key attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way, such as the Irish-speaking seaside village of Spiddal (An Spidéal), the 16th-century Dunguaire Castle, and the Cliffs of Moher. Multi-day voyages often combine a visit to Galway Bay with a trip to the Aran Islands, other parts of Ireland (e.g. County Limerick), or Northern Ireland.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Waters in the bay can be choppy, and ferries may be canceled during inclement weather.
- Running along the northern inner shore of Galway Bay, the Salthill Promenade is accessible to wheelchairs and offers spectacular views of the glistening water.
How to Get There
There are numerous access points for Galway Bay, with the easiest to reach being Galway City. Galway-bound trains leave regularly from Heuston Station in Dublin; buses also connect Galway to the capital.
When to Get There
The bay, especially the parts in and around Galway City, is busiest and most vibrant in summer. Get there early in the day to experience the bay at its most peaceful. Sunrise and sunset are particularly pretty.
Spotting Galway Hookers
Gaze out across the bay and you may spot a Galway hooker, a traditional boat native to the area. Identifiable by their black bases and dark red sails, Galway hookers were designed to withstand the bay’s often rough seas. During the Cruinniú na mBád festival in August, these distinctive local boats can be seen sailing a route between Connemara and Kinvara.