Three days in Galway allow you to explore the culture-filled city, as well as the wind-whipped surrounding countryside—home to some of Ireland’s most spectacular natural beauty spots, including the Cliffs of Moher and Connemara’s hills, bogs, and rocky peaks
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
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....
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....
Dunguaire Castle’s Medieval Banquet offers an evening of music and storytelling along with traditional food and wine. Once the home of noble medieval lords, the 500-year-old castle sits on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay. Today, the picturesque fortress’s medieval-themed banquet hall is the place to go for a fun night of revelry....
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....
One of Ireland’s premier seaside resorts, on the cusp of Galway Bay, Salthill has been drawing in tourists since the early 20th century and remains a hugely popular vacation spot during the summer months. Sandy beaches, surrounded by windswept rocky coastline, are the main attraction at Salthill, but its not just swimming and sunbathing that’s on offer - jet skiing, boating, sail-boarding and sea angling are all popular activities; there’s a dedicated high board diving area; and snorkeling and scuba diving sites abound along the coastline....
Overlooking the famous Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum has been devoted to preserving the history and heritage of Galway since it opened its doors in 1976. The award-winning building is worth a visit for the views from the roof deck alone – spanning the Claddagh, the River Corrib and Galway Bay, as well as the iconic Arch – but those looking to understand the city’s unique cultural roots will find plenty of intrigue inside. Three floors of exhibitions focus on contemporary Galway and the importance of the Arts, medieval Galway, and the Claddagh village, featuring among them a collection of local artworks, historic photographs (including one of President John F Kennedy's 1963 visit), artifacts dating from Prehistoric and Medieval times and personal items chronicling the history of the people of Galway....
Designated as the National Aquarium of Ireland and the largest aquarium in the country, Galway Atlantaquaria is one of western Ireland’s most popular attractions. An incredible 170 saltwater and freshwater species inhabit the aquarium’s tanks, imaginatively designed to mimic their natural environments and showcasing Ireland’s incredible diversity of marine ecosystems. Seahorses, stingrays, eels, lobster and even sharks are among the highlights, as well as the world’s only White Skate on public display, lovingly nicknamed ‘Valentine’. It’s not only the colorful sea creatures that draw in the crowds - the aquarium’s unique displays and hands-on approach has proven a hit with all ages. Visitors can help out at feeding time, delve into the waters inside a model submarine and visit the aquarium’s popular ‘touch tanks’ for the chance to hold starfish and spider crabs....
A long-standing cultural institution, the Galway Arts Centre is one of the city’s principal art establishments, dedicated to nurturing and furthering local talent, and encouraging awareness and support of the arts in Galway. Housed in an 1840’s stone-brick townhouse on Dominick Street – built for the Pearse family and famously home to WB Yeat's patron Lady Augusta Gregory – the Arts Centre first opened its doors in 1988 and has since showcased a range of national and international contemporary artworks throughout its 3,000 sq ft exhibition area....
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....
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....
Top activities in Galway
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Top activities in Galway include:
Discover the top things to do in Galway.
- From Galway: Aran Islands & Cliffs of Moher including Cliffs of Moher cruise.
- Connemara Day Trip from Galway: Kylemore Abbey and Ross Errily Friary
- Shore Excursion: Cliffs of Moher, Aran Islands, and The Burren Tour from Galway
- From Galway: Guided tour of Cliffs of Moher and The Burren.
- Cliffs of Moher Cruise from Doolin
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Things to do near Galway
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