Nestled along the rugged west coast of Ireland, Galway is known for its vibrant culture, rich history, and warm hospitality making it a must-visit destination for any traveler. We had the pleasure of spending a day exploring Galway and fell in love with this charming city! So, if you’re a time-crunched traveler like us, then you’ve come to the right place because, in this blog, we'll guide you through how to make the most of your limited time in Galway by sharing the best activities, sights, and culinary delights this charming city has to offer. From strolling along the bustling streets of the Latin Quarter and savoring traditional Irish dishes to touring grand cathedrals and having a “craic” at the local pubs, you're sure to have an unforgettable day of adventure! So, grab your walking shoes and your appetite, and let's dive into the heart of Galway!
Be sure to watch our “How To Spend One Day in Galway” video for a closer look at our experience! ⬇️
⬇️ Best Galway Tours & Experiences ⬇️
⬇️ Where to stay in Galway ⬇️
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9:30am: Breakfast & Coffee… Or tea!
Esquires - The Organic Coffee Co (11 Eyre Square)
Coffeewerk + Press (4 Quay Street)
Brazco Coffee Academy (6 St. Francis Street)
Pascal Coffee House (William St - attached to Eyre Square Centre)
Grind Coffee & Food Hub (13 Merchants Road)
10:45am: Explore Eyre Square & Latin Quarter
Eyre Square: Surrounded by shops, cafes, and historic landmarks, Eyre Square offers a perfect starting point for exploring the city and immersing oneself in the lively atmosphere of Galway. The origin of the square comes from medieval open space in front of a town gate, known as the Green. The plot of land that became Eyre Square was officially presented to the city in 1710 by Mayor Edward Eyre, from whom it took its name. In 1965, the square was officially renamed "John F. Kennedy Memorial Park" in honor of U.S. President John F. Kennedy who had visited Galway City and made a speech in the square on 29 June 1963; despite the renaming, the square is still widely known as Eyre Square.
The Statue of Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde: This unique monument was unveiled in 1997 and depicts the renowned Irish playwright and poet Oscar Wilde (left) alongside the Estonian writer Eduard Vilde (right). The statue serves as a reminder of the profound impact these writers had on their respective cultures and the global literary landscape. It also underscores the idea that literature transcends boundaries and fosters a sense of unity among people of different nations.
Eyre Square Shopping Centre: As a whole, there’s nothing too special about this shopping mall, but if you have the time, it’s worth making a quick pit stop to see a portion of the original Medieval city wall along with two of the original towers (Penrice's Tower and the Shoemaker's Tower) that are still standing inside the mall!
Lynch’s Castle (now houses the AIB bank): Originally constructed in the 16th century (although parts of the limestone building may date back to the 14th century) by the Lynch family, one of the prominent merchant clans of Galway, the castle served as both a family residence and a symbol of their wealth and prestige. The castle's most distinctive feature is its ornate sandstone carving, showcasing intricate details and sculptures that depict various scenes, including biblical and mythological themes. The Lynch family crest can also be seen on the building's facade. Today, Lynch's Castle stands as a well-preserved historical site and is used as a branch of the Allied Irish Banks (AIB) making it the oldest building still in commercial use in Ireland.
Saint Nicholas' Collegiate Church: Founded in 1320, this Gothic-style church that is dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children (the model for Santa Claus) is not only the largest medieval parish church still in use in Ireland but also one of the finest examples of its kind. Throughout the centuries, it has witnessed numerous architectural additions and renovations, blending various architectural styles and preserving a fascinating chronicle of the city's history. It’s said that Christopher Columbus prayed here in 1477 before sailing away on one of his attempts to reach the New World. Today, Saint Nicholas' Collegiate Church stands as a testament to Galway's enduring heritage and continues to serve as a place of worship, a center for community gatherings, and a captivating historical site for visitors to explore.
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop: Established in 1989 by the eponymous Charlie Byrne, this charming literary haven has become an integral part of the city's cultural fabric. The maze-like bookshop is a haven for book lovers and is known for its cozy atmosphere, welcoming staff, and extensive collection of books (over 100,000!) that span a wide range of genres and interests. Whether you're in search of a rare, vintage find or the latest bestseller, Charlie Byrne's has something to offer every type of reader.
Thomas Dillon's Claddagh Ring - Gold Jewellers: The Claddagh Ring is a symbol of love, friendship, and loyalty that has its origins right here in Galway, Ireland. This iconic Irish ring features a distinctive design consisting of two hands clasping a heart, topped with a crown. The hands represent friendship, the heart symbolizes love, and the crown signifies loyalty, making it a cherished token of affection and commitment. Thomas Dillon's Claddagh Ring has been making Original Claddagh Rings since 1750. The history of the Claddagh Ring can be traced back to the 17th century in the Claddagh fishing village, which was located just outside the city of Galway. The design is often associated with Richard Joyce, a young fisherman from the village who was captured by pirates and sold into slavery in the Mediterranean. During his captivity, he learned the craft of metalwork and fashioned the first Claddagh Ring as a token of his enduring love for a sweetheart back in Ireland. After his release, Richard Joyce returned to Galway, and the ring he created gained popularity as a symbol of enduring love and fidelity. It became a cherished tradition for couples to exchange Claddagh Rings as engagement or wedding rings. Today, the Claddagh Ring remains an enduring symbol of Irish heritage and a beloved souvenir for visitors to Galway, reflecting the values of love, friendship, and loyalty that continue to define this charming coastal town.
Kirwan’s Lane: Believed to be one of only 5 remaining medieval lanes in the City, of which there were originally 14, this narrow, cobbled street is Galway's best example of its old medieval lanes which date back as far as the 16th century!
McDonagh’s (22 Quay Street - Fish & Chips)
The Quay Street Kitchen (1 Quay Street - Traditional Irish)
The Quays Bar and Restaurant (Quay Lane - Irish Pub Grub)
The Dough Bros (1 Middle Street - Pizza)
Tummy Time (20 Abbeygate Street Lower - Pizza/Pasta)
3:30pm: Explore the harbor & beyond:
Spanish Arch: Built in 1584 as an extension to the 12th-century Norman-built town wall, this iconic structure is part of the city's medieval walls and is a prominent symbol of Galway's enduring connection with the sea. The arch's purpose was not only defensive but also served as a gateway for ships to unload their cargo at the bustling Claddagh Quay. Over the centuries, it has become a cherished landmark, and today, the Spanish Arch is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to enjoy picturesque views of the River Corrib and the surrounding area. It stands as a living reminder of Galway's maritime heritage, blending history with contemporary charm in the heart of this vibrant Irish city.
The Long Walk: This iconic stretch of colorful, 18th-century houses with brightly painted facades is a beloved part of the city's landscape, and it offers a charming view of Galway Bay and the Claddagh neighborhood. The history of The Long Walk dates back to the 18th century when the city of Galway experienced significant expansion and development. The row of houses along The Long Walk was originally built to house wealthy merchants and fishermen, reflecting the city's strong maritime heritage. Over the years, these historic buildings have witnessed the changing fortunes of Galway, from a bustling trading port to a vibrant cultural and tourism hub. Today, The Long Walk is not only a beautiful and photogenic spot but also a symbol of Galway's rich history and its enduring connection to the sea. Visitors can take leisurely strolls along the promenade, enjoying the view of the river, the nearby Spanish Arch, and take in the energy of the city.
Riverside Walk: With a history dating back centuries, this scenic route allows visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and rich heritage of the area. The Riverside Walk boasts well-maintained paths, lush greenery, and charming views of the river. As you explore the Riverside Walk, you can appreciate the blend of natural beauty and historical significance, making it an ideal place to connect with the past and relish the tranquility of the present while experiencing the heart of Galway.
Salmon Weir Bridge: Built in 1818, the Salmon Weir Bridge was originally built as a means to monitor and collect tolls from salmon fishermen during the fishery season. Over the years, the bridge has become not only an important transportation route but also a beloved spot for both locals and tourists to admire the scenic river views and watch the river's salmon run. Today, the Salmon Weir Bridge stands as a testament to Galway's rich history and serves as a delightful and functional piece of the city's infrastructure. It offers a unique vantage point to appreciate the natural beauty and cultural heritage of this vibrant Irish city.
Salmon Weir Pedestrian & Cycle Bridge: Not to be confused with the previously mentioned Salmon Weir Bridge, the Salmon Weir Pedestrian & Cycle Bridge is a beautiful, brand new, €10 million pedestrian bridge that offers beautiful views of the River Corrib and the Galway Cathedral making it a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Galway Cathedral: Having been built between 1958 and 1965, The Galway Cathedral is a fairly new construction considering the fact that many of the buildings in the city date back hundreds if not thousands of years. Nonetheless, the Galway Cathedral is an impressive piece of architecture that is worth a visit! It was designed by architect John J. Robinson and replaced the former St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church as the principal place of worship for the Galway diocese. The cathedral's design is notable for its impressive stained glass windows, intricate mosaics, and a 145-foot high dome that dominates the Galway skyline. The Galway Cathedral is not only a place of worship but also a popular tourist attraction and a cultural symbol of the city.
7:00pm: Dinner, Drinks, Live Music, & Nightlife!
There is no shortage of Pubs in Galway which can make it a bit intimidating when choosing which one(s) to go to. That’s why we recommend doing your research ahead of time to find the right one(s) for you! To do that, we recommend checking our THIS WEBSITE. Here’s a list of some of the favorites in the city…
Taaffes Bar (19 Shop Street)
The Quays Bar & Restaurant (Quay Lane)
O'Connell's Bar (8 Eyre Square)
Tig Cóilí (Mainguard Street)
The Front Door Pub (8 Cross Street Upper)
An Púcán (11 Forster Street)
Tigh Neachtain (17 Cross Street Upper)
Garavan's Bar (46 William Street)
The Kings Head Bistro (15 High Street)
The Dáil Bar (42-44 Middle Street)
We hope that this guide has helped you make the most of your time in Galway, and if it has, we hope you’ll consider following us on Instagram and subscribing to our YouTube Channel for more travel content!