Galway

Galway, or Gaillimh in Irish, with a population of over 70,000, is Ireland's fifth largest city and a major hub for visits to West Ireland. It has long been known as "The City of the Tribes" and this title could not be more appropriate these days, given the multicultural vibrancy of present-day Galway.

Understand

Galway's Quay St

City of the Tribes

Galway, known as the City of the Tribes, is an important tourist centre and a gateway to the scenic areas of the county. Beginning in the 15th century, Galway was ruled by the leading fourteen merchant families, which were known as "tribes". The names of these mostly Anglo-Norman families were Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'arcy, Deane, Font, ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris, and Skerritt. Only two of the families were Celts.

The families built many castles throughout County Galway. Many streets and landmarks bear the names of these early "tribes".

Galway is a bustling town with fantastic nightlife. It's short on common tourist attractions such as museums, but the charming pedestrianised streets and numerous pubs and cafes are sure to keep you occupied.

Get in

Location of Galway within Ireland

By bus or train

National bus and rail both arrive at the same station, just east of Eyre Square on Station Road. CityLink and GoBus buses arrive and depart from the Galway Coach Station, one block north of the CIE bus/rail terminus.

By plane

By car

Get around

Central Galway is easily accessible on foot, and Salthill (a popular tourist area) is a lovely 20-30 minute walk from the centre of town. The Promenade (Prom), stretching from The Claddagh to Blackrock is a very popular walk with locals and visitors alike.

Bus Éireann and CityDirect run local bus networks.

GalwayTransport.info is a public-transport-information source for Galway City and surrounding areas. It has a summary map of city bus routes, a detailed map of each individual route, and links to timetable information. It also has maps of the taxi ranks in the city, industrial estates in the area, and detailed directions for reaching a number of popular places using public transport.

Taxis are convenient, although they can be a bit expensive. There are taxi ranks in Eyre Square and Bridge Street.

Avoid taking a car when going to or anywhere near the town centre as parking can be expensive, and the city can have very heavy traffic levels at times. A very popular car park close to the centre is that at the Dyke Road, just off the Headford Rd. Just a 5 min walk to Eyre Sq.

See

Jumping into the ocean in Salthill

Galway is a perfect base for seeing West Ireland, but it is also worth a visit in itself. Although it has only a few typical sightseeing spots what makes it a wonderful place to stay is the atmosphere, the culture, the people, and the events.

Do

Learn

National University of Ireland, Galway

Buy

The main shopping area runs south from Eyre Square towards the Corrib. This pedestrian zone includes Williams St, Shop St, High St, Mainguard St and Quay St. Along it you can find all kinds of high street and artisan shops, pubs and restaurants. The historical buildings and busy atmosphere also make this area one of the attractions of Galway.

Middle Street, which runs parallel to Shop Street, is a particularly good street for finding a range of inspiring and creative local enterprises, including the Irish-speaking theatre "An Taibhdhearc," the Cocoon designer studio, Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, and Kenny's gallery among others.

Eat

Galway is a very popular destination with tourists and the range of restaurants extends from traditional, to ethnic to the usual fast food outlets.

For those on a tight budget, check out the supermarket in Eyre Square Centre (closes at 17:00) or the Tesco on Headford Rd (open 24 hrs). On Saturdays (08:00-18:00) and Sundays (14:00-18:00), you can head to the outdoor Galway Market in Church lane beside St. Nicholas Church where you can find locally-grown produce, cheese, bread and affordable prepared foods like curries and crepes.

Drink

King's Head Pub

The Galway City Pub Guide is a good resource for checking out pubs and clubs in Galway. The guide includes reviews, photos and videos, as well as a list of the top ten pubs in Galway. You can add your comments about the pubs you visit. Technically drinking in public is not allowed in Galway but enforcement of this rule is not feasible during summer months and well behaved groups are usually left alone. Don't mingle too near to obviously drunk people though as the authorities will likely confiscate all visible alcohol.

Sleep

Galway is a very popular destination with tourists. There is a large selection of accommodation, ranging from budget two star to luxury five star hotels.

Hostels

Bed and breakfasts

Even by Irish standards, Galway has a ridiculous abundance of B&Bs. Two particular clusters can be found on College Rd, within easy walking distance of the centre and the train/bus stations, and in Salthill, where you'll probably want your own car.

Hotels in Galway

Self Catering / Vacation Rentals

Stay safe

Galway is safe town by any standards. It's a small town compared to Dublin, and it luckily doesn't have to deal with most of the problems big cities have.

With that said, it is a party town and the weekends can get pretty crazy. Keep your wits about you, and stay in groups if you don't know the area. Despite Galway's reputation as a safe place, like everywhere Galway has a troublesome element so do bear that in mind.

Like most towns in Ireland, there are some run down areas. For its size, Galway does not have many but there are still some suburbs that are better avoided by anyone unfamiliar. These areas are all off the beaten track of the tourist areas.

The River Corrib runs through Galway. It is a very powerful river, especially after a few days of rain, and drowning deaths do occur. Use caution when walking on the river banks and walkways, especially after a night of drinking.

Nimmo's Hostel, has had a reputation for being unsafe, but its door is locked, and can only be entered using a regularly updated code. Despite its former reputation, it is a safe, if 'colourful' place to stay.

Stay away from the public toilet areas in Eyre Square late at night, it attracts a lot of drunks.

Go next

Galway is the ideal base for trips throughout western Ireland. Hiring a car is a good way to see attractions in the surrounding area. Alternately, day tours of The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, and of Connemara are available at the tourist office. The day tours offered by the Galway Tour Company are particularly popular and well-reviewed.

If you wish to hear Irish being spoken as a first language, visit towns like Carna, An Spidéal, Carraroe, Barna, etc., all west of Galway City in the Connemara area. English is also spoken in these towns if you are not confident enough to speak Irish just yet, but as a visitor you can appreciate hearing the Irish language being spoken in one of the few areas where it is a thriving first spoken language and has priority over English

Several outlets around town and at the tourist office sell ferry tickets to the Aran Islands.

For hitch hikers hoping to see the rest of Connacht, the best place to catch rides is near the Galway Shopping Centre, north of the city centre. There are several roundabouts nearby, so it should be easy to pick the road heading in the same direction as you are. Word of mouth may be useful for catching a lift to Dublin and other destinations. Ask around in your hotel or hostel.


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