Things to do in Galway; Explore Museums, Cathedrals and Stunning Natural Irish Beauty

Updated On: September 12, 2023

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Galway is located on the west coast of Ireland. The vibrant city is known for its festival culture, medieval streets, historic sites, rich music scene, and stunning natural beauty. There is a lot that you can pack into your trip Galway, keep reading to find out more. 

In this article, we will cover a wide range of things to do in Galway, from visiting museums and Cathedrals to exploring idyllic islands and the Wild Atlantic Way. The beauty of Galway will leave you star-struck and you’ll soon be itching to get back and see more. 

Best Things to Do in Galway

We think that our list encapsulates the very best things to do in Galway, but the only way to find out if its true is to experience them yourself. Use this list as inspiration and book your upcoming trip to Galway, you won’t regret it!

Galway City Museum

This modern and spacious Galway City Museum is home to a variety of permanent and touring exhibitions covering Galway’s archaeology, history, and sea science. It’s also located next to the famous Spanish Arch, a 16th-century bastion, which was part of the city’s defensive walls.

Some highlights of the museum include the Prehistoric Galway, the Medieval Galway, Galway Within The Walls and The Claddagh Ring, which explores the origins and history of this iconic piece of jewellery. 

Aside from these exhibitions, the museum also hosts educational workshops, lectures, and special events throughout the year. It’s a wonderful place for both adults and children to learn about the rich cultural heritage of Ireland.

Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral was the last large church in Ireland to be made from stone. It boasts beautiful architecture and is a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture, history, or religion. It’s an active place of worship, so visitors are asked to be respectful, particularly during services.

Things to do in Galway - Galway Cathedral
Things to do in Galway – Galway Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral, you’ll find an impressive octagonal dome that reaches a height of 145 feet, a beautiful wooden pulpit carved from Irish oak, and striking stained glass windows. The floor is also covered with Connemara marble and the artwork includes a statue of the Virgin Mary by Imogen Stuart, a Crucifixion mural by Sister Concepta Lynch, and a Madonna by Oisín Kelly.

Salthill Promenade

Salthill Promenade is one of the most popular attractions in Galway. This seaside promenade stretches for about 2 km along the northern shore of Galway Bay offering picturesque views of Galway Bay, the nearby Aran Islands, and the hills of Clare. 

If you’re with the family, stopping by Leisureland is worth the visit, it features a swimming pool, gym, and amusement park rides. The promenade is also lined with cafes, ice cream parlours, and restaurants, making it a great place to have a meal or a snack while taking in the views. 

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Things to do in Galway

Blackrock Diving Tower is also a popular spot for swimming and diving and if you’re feeling brave, you can hold your breath and join the locals who jump off the platform into the sea below!

Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay. These islands, named Inishmore (Inis Mór), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin), and Inisheer (Inis Oírr), are famous for their geographical beauty, historical monuments, and their preservation of a slower and older way of life.

The Aran Islands are part of the Gaeltacht, which means that Irish (Gaeilge) is the primary language spoken by the islanders. This makes the islands a stronghold of traditional Irish culture. The islands are also known for producing Aran sweaters, which are handmade with intricate patterns.

Things to do in Galway - Aran Islands
Things to do in Galway – Aran Islands

Ferries to the Aran Islands depart from Rossaveel in Co. Galway and Doolin in Co. Clare. Small flights also operate out of Connemara’s regional airport. On the islands, you can rent a bike, walk, or tour the island with a pony and trap. Visiting the Aran Islands can feel like stepping back in time, and they are a must-visit for anyone seeking a unique combination of natural beauty and traditional Irish culture.

Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park is a stunning natural reserve. It covers an area of approximately 2,000 hectares and is renowned for its rugged landscapes, scenic beauty, and diverse wildlife. The park is situated in the Connemara region, which is characterized by its vast expanses of bogland, heath, mountains, and coastline.

Things to do in Galway – Connemara

One of the most prominent features of Connemara National Park is the Twelve Bens mountain range, also known as the Twelve Pins. These majestic peaks dominate the park’s landscape, providing a dramatic backdrop for hikers and climbers. Diamond Hill, the highest peak in the park, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the Connemara coastline and the Atlantic Ocean.

The National Park aims to preserve and protect the unique ecosystems and cultural heritage of the area. It offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of western Ireland through its network of well-maintained trails and visitor facilities.

Explore the Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way is a scenic coastal driving route that stretches along the western seaboard of Ireland. It is one of the world’s longest-defined coastal touring routes, spanning approximately 2,500 kilometres from County Donegal in the north to County Cork in the south. 

Things to do in Galway - Wild Atlantic Way
Things to do in Galway – Wild Atlantic Way

The route showcases the breathtaking beauty, rugged landscapes, and cultural richness of Ireland’s Atlantic coastline. Visitors can experience the raw power of the Atlantic Ocean, explore hidden gems,  indulge in outdoor activities such as surfing and hiking, and discover the warm hospitality and traditional Irish music scene that permeates the coastal communities. 

The route is well-signposted, and numerous visitor centres, accommodations, and attractions are scattered along the way to enhance the traveller’s experience.

Attend a Galway Festival

Galway is known as the city of festivals with many events throughout the year, including the Galway International Arts Festival, the Galway Races (a famous horse racing festival), and the Galway Oyster Festival. 

These festivals are typically full of vibrant and lively energy and they welcome visitors from all over the world to immerse themselves in local Irish traditions and culture. 

Explore More of Ireland

Check out these articles to explore more of Ireland, in them you’ll find out about places you never knew even existed!  Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in  Fermanagh | Things to do in Armagh | Things to do in County Down | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Northern Ireland for Couples | Things to do in Donegal | Things to do in Sligo  | Things to do in Leitrim  | Things to do in Louth  | Things to do in Cavan | Things to do in Longford | Things to do in Meath | Things to do in Westmeath | Things to do in Dublin.

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