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Things to do in Galway

Things to do in  Galway

Welcome to Galway

From the open wilderness of the Aran Islands to the hustle and bustle of Galway itself, County Galway offers plenty of opportunity for adventure. Using Galway City as a base, travelers can enjoy guided tours to top natural attractions including the Cliffs of Moher, Inishbofin island, and Killary fjord, where the rolling green hills and rugged coastline of the Emerald Isle awaits. Take the Wild Atlantic Way route on a tour along the western coast of Ireland to fishing villages such as Roundstone, paddle over the waves on a pre-planned sea-kayaking adventure, or travel by horseback as you follow a guide into the rugged wilderness of the Connemara National Park. If time is on your side, take a four- or seven-day cycling trip deep into the countryside, where life ticks by at a relaxing pace and rural Ireland reveals its beauty. Within Galway City itself, take a hop-on hop-off bus tour to places of interest such as Claddagh, Galway Cathedral, Galway City Museum, the Salthill promenade, and the Spanish Arch; and enjoy the freedom to explore at your own pace. Spin through the streets on a guided bike trip, or let your taste buds lead the way and discover the flavors the locals love on a food tour.

Top 10 attractions in Galway

#1

The Burren

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One of Ireland’s most unique and photogenic landscapes, stretching over 160 square km, the Burren, derived from the Gaelic word Boireann meaning ‘rocky place’, is one of the most visited attractions in the Shannon region. Aptly named, the karst topography is characterized by its unusual limestone formations, naturally sculpted through acidic erosion over thousands of years. The natural landscape is an otherworldly terrain - a giant jigsaw of rocks, made up of grikes (fissures) and clints (isolated rocks jutting from the surface), with pockets of lush greenery poking between the expanses of bare rock. Located at 300 meters above sea level, the Burren lies close to the Atlantic Coastline and the towering Cliffs of Moher, offering incredible views both underfoot and out to sea. It’s not only the rocks that draw thousands of hikers and naturalists to the area, either – the contrasting green spaces are inhabited by around 700 different species of plants and ferns.More
#2

Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden

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Tucked in the shadows of the mighty Seven Pins Mountain range, Kylemore Abbey cuts a striking figure against its majestic backdrop. A Benedictine monastery founded in 1853, the Abbey took seven years to build and remains in use today as an all girls’ school governed by Benedictine Nuns - the only Benedictine Community in Ireland - as well as opening its grounds to tourists. With its idyllic surroundings encircled by woodlands and postcard-worthy façade fronted by a glistening lake that perfectly reflects the grand building, Kylemore Abbey has fast become one of County Galway’s most popular iconic sights. While parts of the 1000-acre estate remain closed to the public, visitors can tour many of the most impressive sights, including the magnificent Gothic Chapel and the Abbey’s beautifully restored main hall. The 6-acre walled Victorian Gardens are another highlight, where pretty walkways, 19th-century flowerbeds and a series of greenhouses.More
#3

Aran Islands

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Renowned for their stark beauty and enduring Irish traditions, the enigmatic Aran Islands have long drawn fascination from their mainland neighbors, inspiring generations of Irish artists and writers with their idealistic way of life. A visit to the Aran Islands - three small, sparsely populated isles, overlooked by the immense Cliffs of Moher - is like stepping back in time. Here, Gaelic-speaking communities populate traditional farmhouses, local ladies make a living knitting traditional Aran sweaters, sold throughout Ireland, and cars are overlooked in favor of rickety pony traps and trusty bicycles. Reachable by ferry or plane from Rosaveel, Galway or Doolin, and easily navigated on foot or bike, the islands harbor a number of attractions, including the remains of one of the world’s smallest churches and a 16th-century castle once used by Oliver Cromwell’s troops.More
#4

Galway Bay

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Off the west coast of Ireland and beside Galway City, Galway Bay is a beautiful bay that has inspired many Irish legends and songs. You may have heard it sung in Arthur Colahan's Galway Bay or John Lennon’s Luck of the Irish. Yet the Atlantic coast of Ireland is a scenic, natural beauty that deserves to be seen with your own eyes. It’s also a magnet of authentic Irish and Celtic culture and has been called “the most Irish place in Ireland.” Galway Bay is known for a few things in particular, including its morning dew and unique sailing culture, including a boat type called the Galway Hooker. As Galway was the center of maritime activity in western Ireland at the time, the Hooker boats were prominent in the mid-19th century. Many beaches dot the coastline that are accessible for swimming. Deep sea fishing, boating, and visiting the nearby Aran Islands are other popular activities on the bay.More
#5

Dunguaire Castle

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Celebrated as one of the most picturesque of Ireland’s many castles, the majestic Dunguaire Castle is perched atop a grassy promontory off the coast off Kinvarra in Western Ireland. A four-story medieval fortress, built by the O’Hynes clan back in 1520, the castle’s spectacular setting – jutting out from the bay and encircled with water – has made it one of Ireland’s most photographed castles, despite having little history to boast of. In fact, the castle never saw battle and had a somewhat meager legacy until it was bought by 20th century writer, Oliver St. John Gogarty, and became an important meeting spot for Irish literati like W. B. Yates, George Bernard Shaw and Sean O’Casey. A popular day trip from Galway or Ballyvaughan (around a 30 minute drive away each), Dunguaire Castle is most famous for its atmospheric medieval banquets, organized by the same team behind those held at the equally popular Bunratty Castle.More
#6

Cong

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Set between the lakes of Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, the idyllic village of Cong is known for its pretty, thatched-roof cottages and its starring role in the Oscar-winning movie, The Quiet Man, where it was upstaged only by the lead actor — John Wayne. Covering 350 acres, Ashford Castle and its grounds are also a popular visit while in Cong. The old country estate of the Guinness family, today it’s one of Ireland’s finest 5-star hotels that’s hosted everyone from Brad Pitt to Princess Grace of Monaco. Surrounded by forests, streams, and lakes, Cong sits on the border of County Galway and County Mayo. While in the village, a popular attraction is the ruins of Cong Abbey. Dating back to the 13th century, the abbey is the burial site of the last High King of Ireland, Rory O’Connor, and a National Monument of Ireland that’s said to feature some of the country’s finest medieval ecclesiastic architecture.More
#7

Lough Corrib

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Covering 69 square miles, Lough Corrib is the biggest lake in Ireland and a famous fishing spot that’s well-known for its wild brown trout and salmon. Practically cutting off western Galway from the rest of the country, the lake has inspired artists and writers for centuries, and in 1867, Oscar Wilde’s father, the historian William Wilde, wrote a book about Lough Corrib. Straddling counties Galway and Mayo, Lough Corrib is a Special Area of Conservation. Since surveys began in 2007, objects that have been discovered in its waters include dugout canoes from the Bronze and Iron Age, a 40th-foot longboat that’s 4,500 years old, and a 10th century ship that was found carrying 3 Viking battleaxes. 365 islands dot the lake, the most famous of which is Inchagoill Island. Known for its secluded beaches and woodland, from Inchagoill you can look out to the Connemara mountains and visit the island’s ancient remains, which include the ruins of a 5th century monastery.More
#8

The Spanish Arch

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Standing on the left bank of the River Corrib, Galway’s famous Spanish Arch is the sole remainder of the city’s 16th century bastion, designed to protect the town’s quays and merchant ships from looting. The arch itself, built as an access point to the town, was known as the ‘Ceann an Bhalla’, or the ‘Head of the wall’, later taking its name from the Spanish ships that it docked beneath it. Despite being partially destroyed in the 1755 tsunami, the Spanish Arch still stands today - an important landmark, directly opposite the Claddagh shore.More
#10

Galway Cathedral

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A spectacular feat of Hiberno-Romanesque architecture, Galway Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, has a regal presence, perched on the banks of the River Corrib. The masterful building - the largest in the city and the last stone church to be built in Ireland - was constructed in 1965, revivifying the plot where one of the county’s most notorious jails once stood. Designed by J.J. Robinson and overseen by Bishop Michael Browne, the cathedral was built with locally sourced materials and workers, as well as featuring native Irish decorations and carving designs, bringing a uniquely all-Irish quality to the finished product. The cathedral’s copper domed roof, visible for miles around, has become one of Galway’s most beloved landmarks, but it’s the resplendent interiors that visitors find most impressive.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Galway

How to Spend 3 Days in Galway

Cliffs of Moher Tours from Galway

Cliffs of Moher Tours from Galway

How to Spend 1 Day in Galway

How to Spend 1 Day in Galway

Top activities in Galway

Cliffs of Moher Cruise from Doolin

Cliffs of Moher Cruise from Doolin

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US$18.73
Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Cliffs of Moher Cruise

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Galway to Cong Full Day Tour

Galway to Cong Full Day Tour

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US$78.01
Private Cliffs of Moher Day Tour

Private Cliffs of Moher Day Tour

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Minibus hire galway Ireland

Minibus hire galway Ireland

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US$669.27
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Cliffs of Moher Express Private Luxury Tour

Cliffs of Moher Express Private Luxury Tour

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Galway City Walking Tour

Galway City Walking Tour

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Micil Distillery Experience

Micil Distillery Experience

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Shannon - Galway | Best Value Airport Transfer, Private Car & Chauffeur Service

Special Offer

Shannon - Galway | Best Value Airport Transfer, Private Car & Chauffeur Service

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US$177.76  US$9.53 savings
Chauffeur Tours from Galway

Chauffeur Tours from Galway

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Galway Food Tours

Galway Food Tours

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US$90.05
Inis Oirr And Cliffs of Moher Cruise

Inis Oirr And Cliffs of Moher Cruise

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US$36.51

Recent reviews from experiences in Galway

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Excellent adventure on the Irish coast
themighty0ne, Sep 2019
From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
We then took the ferry down the coast to see the Cliffs of Moher by sea before returning to Doolin to board the coach and walk along the cliffs.
star-5
Amazing Excursion -
ocmom1310, Jul 2019
From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
We did not have enough time to see the castle or the seal colony - 2 things I really wanted to see,, but the experience was great.
star-5
I prefer to drive and tour in our car...
Iain B, Oct 2013
Connemara Day Trip from Galway: Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errily Friary
I prefer to drive and tour in our car, however, this was definitely the best way to see Connemara from Galway.
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We booked this day tour in order to...
Roger G, Oct 2017
Connemara Day Trip from Galway: Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errily Friary
We had two hours there, and in that time we had to see the lovely Abbey gardens and head gardener's cottage, which involved waiting for a shuttle to and from, tour the Abbey house itself, visit the great gift shop, and oh yes, eat lunch.
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We combined this with the Aron...
Kevin Q, Jun 2017
Cliffs of Moher, Burren and Wild Atlantic Way day tour from Galway city
The advantage of combining with the island tour is that you get to see the cliffs from the boat prior to being driven up to the top.
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If you want to see Connemara, DO...
Sarah B, Oct 2017
Connemara Day Trip from Galway: Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errily Friary
If you want to see Connemara, DO THIS TOUR.
star-5
This tour was amazing! If you go to...
AJ B, Jul 2017
From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
He spoke with such enthusiasm and heart that you couldnt help but fall in love with Galway.
star-5
The trip was just perfect! It was...
annapia.ahola, Oct 2017
From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
I rented a bike and headed off to see the Plassey shipwreck.
star-5
Our guide Phil was amazing...
dizneefreak, Sep 2017
From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
Phil made the decision to take the coast route on the way back instead of the way up, which really paid off as the views along the coast were awesome, and better to see in the afternoon.
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My wife and I went on three day...
pjswainiac88, Apr 2015
Connemara Day Trip from Galway: Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errily Friary
Make sure that you actually want to see and pay 7 extra euros per adult Kylemore Abbey for two reasons: 1 It is incredibly beautiful and very interesting 2 because it is 2 hours almost not enough time!
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A great value for all that you are...
sarahperz, May 2017
From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
A great value for all that you are able to see and do in a relatively short amount of time.

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