The 10 Best Things To Do In Galway 

If you are lucky enough to head to the Emerald Isle, Galway has to be the number one stop on your list. Not only is the city of Galway arguably the most exciting and culture-filled town in the entire country, but the entire county is known for its incredible nature, green pastures, live music, friendly people, and stunning landscapes. 

After you spend at least a week in the city of Galway – we recommend much, much more – you need to take the time to explore the surrounding countryside, coastline, and small towns. Going a little bit off the beaten path and seeing rural and seaside life on the West Coast of Ireland is the best way that you can meet the locals, find out how Irish people really live, and take a glimpse into the infamous Irish culture. 

Need to make a bucket list things-to-do while visiting County Galway? Once you leave Dublin and drive or take a bus through County Meath, County Westmeath, County Roscommon, and finally make it to County Galway – a “harrowing” journey across the country that takes a mere 2.5 hours – you can then begin to plan your day trips around the most beautiful area of Ireland. At least we think so, anyways. 

Take a walk on the Wild Atlantic Way

Skellig Michael Wild Atlantic Way – By Jerzy Strzelecki – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15821956

The Wild Atlantic Way is one of the MANY long-distance trails in the country of Ireland. Although there are others spread around the countryside and mountaintops, like The Kerry Way, The Dingle Way, and the Western Way, The Wild Atlantic Way is the best choice for those who want to do a half-day or full-day hike with incredible views of both the sea and the hillsides. We recommend walking one of the sections around Clifden, Killary Harbour, and Connemara. 

Visit Connemara

Twelve Bens Connemara – By Joebater at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2176204

Connemara is one of the best parts of the Irish countryside that every tourist needs to see. Not only do the lives of those who live out here bring you back a good 50 years – with farming being a main profession and Irish being the main language – you will appreciate the natural beauty and lifestyle of the slower-paced Irish farmers. Fancy a short walk? Try the guided Diamond Hill hike for an easy jaunt to one of Connemara’s most-climbed hills. Want something a little more challenging? Take advantage of a rare sunny day and complete the 12 Bens – a 7-10 hour hike that traverses 12 of the Bens (mountain peaks) in the Glencoaghan Horseshoe and Connemara mountain range. 

Aran Islands

View over Inishmore Aran Islands – By Tuoermin – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31081836

Arguably the best day trip that you can take from Galway city – or anywhere in County Galway – going to the Aran Islands is an absolute must for your upcoming vacation. With three tiny islands that are accessible by ferry from Rossaveal in Connemara, just a short drive away from the center of Galway city. The ferry either goes to Inis Oirr, Inis Mor, or Inis Meain – the biggest and most=visited island is Inis Mor, with a population of about 850 people. We recommend renting a bicycle and cycling around the 12-square-mile island to check out all of the local sights and coastline. 

Insider tip: You can also take the ferry from Doolin, but this will involve you heading to County Clare for your day/overnight trip to the islands. 

Sky Road

Clifden Castle Sky Road – By Raúl Corral – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15471199

After you finish taking a hike on the Wild Atlantic Way, you can continue driving around this beautiful coastal route. As you drive past the smaller towns of Connemara, you will soon come across the bustling seaside town of Clifden. Once you stop for a pint and a look around at the various shops, continue on towards the infamous Sky Road. This loop around one of the peninsulas near Clifden boasts extensive views over tiny islands, jagged coastline, and tiny houses and cottages scattered around. 

Insider Tip: Rent a bicycle at one of the many rental shops – around 12 euros for the entire day – and cycle the Sky Road route to get the full experience, take detours as you wish, and go at your own pace. 

Wander down Quay Street

Galway Street – By Jerzy Strzelecki – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15871775

If you want to head back to the electric Heart of the West – you guessed it, Galway city – we recommend spending an entire afternoon and night doing a pub crawl and shopping along Quay Street. The best music, drinks, and good vibes are perfectly positioned right in a row on this cobblestone, pedestrian-only street, making it easy for you to simply walk between the best bars and pubs in a matter of minutes. 

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey – By Dolly442 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35140297

For those who want to head to Connemara National Park, but don’t enjoy the thought of spending hours on a hiking trail, consider visiting Kylemore Abbey and The Victorian Walled Nunnery. Positioned picturesquely on the Kylemore Loch, this is a great day trip from Galway city. You can spend at least a few hours on a rainy day exploring the inside of the abbey and having a nice cuppa in the tea room. If the weather allows, walking around the extensive grounds is a nice way to get a feel for nature in Connemara. If you are hungry after your half-day excursion, stop in Letterfrack on your way back at Weldon’s for a pint and seafood chowder. 

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher – By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19782818

Although not in County Galway, the Cliffs of Moher are extremely accessible for those staying in Galway city or the south of County Galway. One of the most famous landmarks and sights in the entire country, people travel far and wide to see the jaw-dropping cliffs, birds circling the area, and bright blue water. On a good day, you can look out over the cliffs in County Clare to see the three Aran Islands! 

To make a full day out of this excursion, we recommend stopping in Doolin before or after your Cliffs of Moher trek – for some exercise, consider starting your hike in Doolin, hiking to the visitor center at the mid-way point of the Cliffs, and return via the same route. You can then enjoy live music in one of the local pubs in Doolin. 

For another option, you can start your trek at the Visitor Center and explore both sides of the Cliffs, walking south towards Hags Head or walking north towards Doolin. We recommend using the public bus system for one way of the journey – completing the full route from Doolin to Hags Head is a long (6 hour) but rewarding walk that will be the highlight of your trip. 

Insider tip: Extend your day trip by driving to nearby Lahinch to go surfing, check out the local cafes, or sit outside at one of the beer gardens. 

Salthill Promenade

Salthill and Galway Bay, Galway, Co. Galway, Ireland – By Robert Linsdell from St. Andrews, Canada – Salthill and Galway Bay, Galway (506275), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68849467

Right on the eastern side of Galway city, the Salthill Promenade really comes to life during the warm, summer months in Ireland. During hot days, it is nearly impossible to get a spot on the packed beach – but with the number of rainy days in County Galway, we don’t blame the locals fighting for every ray of sun they possibly can. On the Salthill Promenade – called “the prom” by Galwegians – you can find ice cream shops selling “99ers” (an ice cream cone for, you guessed it, 99 cents), seaside pubs, local bars, coffee shops, and much more.

Local Info: If you decide to “walk the prom” for some exercise, make sure you kick the wall at the end before you turn around for good luck. Confused? Ask any local and they can tell you the story.

Kinvara

Dunloe Castle – By CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=212097

A short drive from Galway city, Kinvara is one of the first towns as you make your way to County Clare that really makes it feel like you are heading out towards the country. Just around 30-40 minutes from the city center, Kinvara is a tiny seaside town that features a picturesque castle, hotels, pubs, an outdoor park, and cafes that make the perfect lazy-day few-hour excursion. 

Roundstone Village

Roundstone – By Alan Morrison, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12414274

Roundstone is a picturesque seaside village that is just 48 miles west of Galway city. Located in Connemara, Roundstone is one of the first towns that you will see after crossing into the Connemara area – and one of the towns with the most character. With the natural beauty of the coastline, the “gateway” to Connemara National Park, local artists and musicians, and fishermen out on the pier almost every morning, heading here for a half-day trip is great during sunny days when you want to escape the madness of Salthill.