Galway is lively little town on the Irish west coast, located at the mouth of the River Corrib and Galway Bay. It used to be a walled medieval city and it’s steeped in history. Additionally, it has a vibrant nightlife, it’s compact and easily walkable, and the surroundings are gorgeous. and it is a city where you should stay at least a week – it’s a great base to explore the rest of the west coast as well.
Top 12 places to visit in Galway
1 The Claddagh
The Claddagh area is situated on the southwest bank of the River Corrib’s mouth. It consists of a stony beach and has been a place where people have fished and gathered seafood for thousands of years. The area is most famous for its ‘Claddagh Rings’, traditional jewellery that is now worn by people around the world.
2 Galway Cathedral
By far the largest building in the city, Galway Cathedral is as striking on the inside as it is on the outside. It is free to visit and the interior is absolutely impressive.
3 Galway Museum
The excellent Galway Museum is located behind the Spanish Arch and houses exhibitions on the history of Galway and Claddagh Village. It also hosts a wide variety of temporary guest exhibitions from other galleries and museums.
4 Eyre Square
Eyre Square lies in the center of the city and is a popular hang-out place. This green space has pathways, sculptures and flags representing the fourteen merchant families that ruled the city in the Middle Ages.
5 Spanish Arch
The Spanish Arch stands on the northeast bank of the River Corrib and is a remainder of a 16th-century fortress. That fortress was added to the city walls to protect against looting. The name ‘Spanish Arch’ refers to the former merchant trade with Spain.
6 Kirwan’s Lane
This is one of the most beautiful medieval lanes in the so-called Latin Quarter (Old City Center) in Galway. It is named after one of Galway’s original fourteen families, has been beautifully restored and is now home to many cafés, craft shops, bars and restaurants.
7 St Nicholas Church
The St Nicholas Collegiate Church is one of the oldest parish churches in Ireland. Having been a place of worship since as early as the 14th century, it still lies in the middle of the city’s activities. A weekly farmer’s market is held around its gates, and the church also hosts concerts throughout the year.
8 Shop Street
Shop Street is a pedestrian – you guessed it – shopping street in the heart of Galway, in the middle of the Latin Quarter. It is lined with stores, restaurants, dozens of pubs, nightclubs, hostels, souvenir shops and so on.
9 The Bridge Mills
This is an impressive building on the banks of the River Corrib. More than 400 years old, now it’s a hub of culture, crafts and art. Inside you can buy clothing, handicrafts, gifts and works of art.
10 Nora Barnacle’s House
Nora Barnacle was the wife of write James Joyce and this is where she grew up. The house is a private museum, nicely restored and open to the public in summer.
11 Salmon Weir
The Salmon Weir is located just east of Galway Cathedral and spans the River Corrib. The weir’s purpose is to control water levels of the fast-flowing river. In season – between March and August – you can see huge shoals of salmon and trout rushing up the weir to spawn upstream.
12 Hall of the Red Earl
Before the fourteen families took over, the de Burgo family ruled Galway in the 13th century. Richard, also known as the Red Earl, had a large building constructed to use as his seat of power. This was where locals would come to beg for favors or mercy. When the family lost its power, the hall fell into ruin. Now you can see the foundations, artefacts and interesting displays. The Hall of the Red Earl is located on Druid Lane and is free to visit.