Live music, history and more will keep you busy in Galway

Quick notes

  • Galway is a small city with a vibrant energy and interesting history

  • Listen to live music and explore the medieval ruins of the city, and then take day tours through the county and more

With no shortage of live music and pubs, a bay immortalized in song, and medieval ruins throughout the city, Galway offers much to see and experience, despite its relatively small size (it has a population of about 80,000). Plus, it’s an excellent base for exploring other sights throughout County Galway and the rest of the country. 

Galway is located on the west coast of the Emerald Isle near Galway Bay. The Dublin to Galway train can get you there in less than three hours. Travelers can also fly into Shannon or Knock, the closest international airports to the city. Galway weather is generally mild and wet year-round.

Experience traditional Irish music and the city’s pub culture

Live music is all over Galway, starting with buskers on the street. But you won’t have to go far to find a pub that features live, traditional Irish music. 

Tig Coili  and Taaffes are two well-known and popular spots. Also, The Crane Bar features traditional music nightly at its downstairs bar, and upstairs it features various genres of music. So head to one of these pubs or to any one you hear live music coming from (there will be a lot!). Then, order a pint of Guinness and try to see if you can resist tapping your feet.

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On the subject of beer, while it may be obligatory to have at least one Guinness in Ireland, try craft beers from area breweries Galway Hooker Brewery or Galway Bay Brewery. Fans of craft beer can also take craft beer tours to taste and learn about craft beer throughout the country.

Various food tours of Galway are also available, so you can taste all the cuisine the area has to offer. Or explore the food scene on your own. Head to Loam or Aniar, two restaurants with Michelin stars. McDonagh’s is a staple for fish and chips. If you’re in town on the weekend, head to the Galway Market for a diverse food spread, from cheese and charcuterie to sushi.

Get Taken Back to the Middle Ages and Learn Some History 

Galway’s town walls were first constructed around 1270, but it had been a fishing village even earlier, so there’s a lot of history in the city. You can learn all about it at the Galway City Museum, which documents the city’s history starting from prehistoric times. Before or after your visit to the museum, see the nearby Spanish Arch, a ruin left from walls built in the 1500s. It was an extension of the original walls of the town and stands along the Corrib River. 

Galway is a small city, but with its quaint streets and vibrant energy, you might not want to leave.

Another ruin is the Hall of the Red Earl, which was uncovered in the 1990s during a building project in the city. The rulers of Galway constructed it in the 13th century. The remaining foundations are on display, along with artifacts that were found at the archaeological site.

Also, head to Lynch’s Castle. This fortified home of a wealthy family from the 1500s is now a bank inside, but the outside still shows off coats of arms and gargoyles. Inside, the ground floor has an exhibit about the history and architecture. St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church was built in the 1300s and is still in use today. 

Once you’re worn out with history, relax in Eyre Square, the city’s main square. The park’s name is technically John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, dedicated after the U.S. president visited Galway in 1963. Or, enjoy water views with a two-mile walk along the Salthill Promenade, which starts on the edge of the city. It’s a tradition to kick the wall when you reach the end: It’s good luck!

Galway is a small city, but with its quaint streets and vibrant energy, you might not want to leave. However, it’s also an excellent base for day trips to see other must-see places in County Galway, like the mountains and bogs of Connemara National Park Day, the Aran Islands, or Kylemore Abbey. Day trips can even take you beyond County Galway to see the iconic Cliffs of Moher.

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