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Guide to Galway City
Galway‘s popularity as a visitor destination continues to soar – thanks to its laid back bohemian vibe, lively nightlife, colourful festivals and wildly picturesque setting.
The capital of the West prides itself on being a thriving creative centre for culture including the Irish language, traditional music, poetry and performing arts. Galway City is also a gateway destination to explore Connemara and the Aran Islands.
The city hosts one of the most vibrant Saint Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland every 17th March while the 10 day Galway Arts Festival held every July is recognized as one of the best in the world. Other highlights of the annual festival calendar include the famous Galway Races in July and the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival at the end of September. ‘The Trad on the Prom’ is a spectacular live show resembling Riverdance, which runs through the summer months in the Salthill Hotel.
Galway also has a great tradition of top quality B&B guesthouses. Local B&B hosts pride themselves on providing authentic Irish hospitality to their guests and ensuring they experience a memorable stay.
Eyre Square is a lively social space in the centre of Galway and a good place to start any visit. The large brightly coloured flags represent the fourteen ancient tribes (families) of Galway. Most of Galway’s main department stores and boutiques are concentrated around Shop Street. Quay Street remains the heart and soul of Galway with its eclectic mix of traditional music pubs, gift shops, regular street performers, buskers, cafés and quirky restaurants. Many pubs and cafés on Quay Street leave chairs and tables outside for customers which provide a wonderful place for people watching. Tigh Coili’s and the Crane Bar are notable pubs for traditional music while Fat Freddie’s restaurant is a great place to relax for an hour.
The historic Spanish Arch and Galway Museum are just a few minutes walk away on the quays. Cross the Wolfe Tone bridge and you are in the Claddagh. This part of Galway was once traditional fishing village and still has its own king! The Claddagh Ring is also connected to the area. Walkers can follow the path to the seafront which connects up with Salthill Promenade. This is a very popular weekend stroll with Galwegians and offers stunning views across Galway Bay and back towards the Spanish Arch.
Another delightful option for a shorter stroll is the Bank Walk along the River Corrib with wonderful views looking across to Galway Cathedral. Its distinctive patina green copper dome is one of Galway’s most iconic landmarks while the campus of the National University of Ireland is also worth a passing visit.
If you’re stay in Galway includes a Saturday morning, then make your way to the open air market in front of Saint Nicholas Church. You will hear a variety of languages being spoken, including Irish, while stalls sell a mix of foods, juices and crafts. The falafel vendor often attracts a queue of people and you will know why, if you decide to order one.
A few years back, Galway was voted as one of the most romantic cities in the world to visit and continues to live up to this reputation, with a great selection of intimate restaurants to wine and dine the night away. It’s no surprise that many people who visit Galway for the first time, long to return again and again to ‘The City of the Tribes’.