20 Best Things To Do In Galway {Ireland} In 2024

Cazzy Magennis
Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
January 4, 2024
Galway is a fantastic, bustling, Irish city with so much to experience. Check out our guide to the best things to do in Galway, Ireland for inspiration...
Galway, Ireland

Some of the best Irish songs or songs about Ireland reference Galway and it’s no surprise why.

When you think of Galway you often think of natural beauty, irish music, bars and much more.

You’ll be pleased to know it delivers on all those areas and more. 

In fact, Ireland tourism statistics show that Galway is one of the countries most popular destinations to visit.

So if you’re wondering what to do in Galway, then sit back and check out my guide to the best things to do in Galway! 

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1. Walk along the beautiful Promenade at Salt Hill


Just a few minutes drive outside Galway city centre you have the beautiful seaside resort of “Salt Hill”.

This is located on the sea with stunning blue and clear water that you can swim in, beaches to relax, bars to drink, fish and chip shops and even an amusement park.

It’s the perfect location if you’re looking for things to do in Galway with kids! 

A promenade stretches the whole way into Galway City and it takes about 30 minutes to walk.

It’s a beautiful walk and when the sun is shining it feels like you’re on the French Riviera! 

Dive at Salthill: Brad loves diving and there are a couple of places to jump from at the Salthill Promenade. I recommend doing it when the weather is warm. 

The sea was full of people when we visited. 

2. Night out in Galway

drinks in galway

You cannot go to Galway and not venture into Galway city for a night out.

Galway is a backpackers dream, filled with bars, clubs and hostels.

A perfect spot if you want to meet fellow travellers on your Ireland adventure. 

You’ll see drink promotions around the place which is a rarity in Ireland (Cheap drink, that is!) but because Galway is a student city, you can find 2-4-1 cocktail deals around the city.

So, if you’re looking for fun things to do in Galway at night, you’ve found it!

The area also has cinemas and bowling alleys etc if you’re looking for a non-alcoholic related activity!

Read Also: The Best Things To Do In Northern Ireland

3. Dine at the Latin Quarter

Latin Quarter, Ireland

The Latin Quarter in Galway city is probably one of my favourite areas.

Picture a street packed with quirky irish bars, amazing restaurants and all the street performers you can think of. 

We had fire artists, a guy singing Ed Sheran (classic Galway!) and Irish traditional bands all performing in the area.

It was amazing and the atmosphere was everything I wanted it to be! 

Definitely one of the fun things to do in Galway, oh and I think it’s a perfect date night location if you require one. 

4. Soak up the sun at Eyre Square

Eyre Square, Ireland

When the sun is shining in Galway this is a very popular spot to relax on the grass, have a picnic or even a few beers.

Eyre Square has some great pubs and bars around it to with awesome beer gardens so it’s worth visiting.

Read Also: The Best Things To Do In Ireland

5. Explore the Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park

The Connemara National Park is beautiful!

And we were so lucky that the sun was shining when we visited (perhaps even too warm!) 

There is a great visitor centre and its free to enter the park.

There are a variety of walking routes available depending on how much time you have to spare and your fitness level.

We did the quickest walk and it was beautiful then had a picnic in the beautiful picnic area of the park. 

One of the great places to visit in Galway for sure!

national park

6. Discover the 1897 Happening

1897 Happening, Ireland

So, with this one, I’m not giving anything away...don’t google, just put it in your maps and head there! I did laugh when Brad insisted I check it out...you’ll see. 

Perhaps one of the more weird and wonderful places to visit in Galway.

Don’t make this a spot to visit if it’s completely out of your driving route.

Just drop by if it fits within your itinerary. 

7. Awe at Ballynahinch Castle

Ballynahinch Castle, Ireland

Super beautiful and super fancy is how I would describe Ballynahinch Castle.

They actually had a private event on when we visited, so we couldn’t get too close.

But it’s beautiful and it’s in such a dreamy setting surrounded by greens and a beautiful lake. I would happily stay here in the future! 

Ps, fantastic wedding venue.

Read Also: The 35 Best Castles In Ireland That You Need To Visit

8. Visit Roundstone


Roundstone is a typical and cute, quaint Irish town in Galway.

It’s colorful, got some nice coffee shops and I think it’s worth visiting if you want to experience some local life on your Galway adventures. 

9. Marvel at Dog’s Bay

dogs bay

Dog’s bay is considered to be the most beautiful beach in Ireland, and you can see why.

When we visited it was actually a little cloudy, but even so you could still see the amazing shades of blue in the water.

I know when the sun hits that it looks like something from the Philippines! 

It’s absolutely breathtaking and I didn’t think beaches like this actually existed in Ireland.

It’s definitely one of the best Galway attractions there is. 

You come to this beach to swim and relax, because it’s a bay the water is calm, as is the area. Truly stunning!

10. Explore Abbeyglen Castle

Another day, another beautiful castle in Ireland.

This one is very grand and picturesque, and it’s another castle you can stay in, but it’ll cost you a pretty penny.

Again I think this is an amazing wedding destination, because it’s soooo beautiful!

You can explore the areas and the grounds. 

Read Also: The Best Wild Camping Spots In Ireland

11. Visit the beautiful Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey, Ireland

Kylemore Abbey is definitely one of the best things to see in Galway. 

It’s beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

The abbey sits on a lake and the whole area has lots of explore.

Acres and Acres of gardens, an old gothic style church and much more. 

The entrance fee is a little steep, so if you don’t want to pay to explore the other areas, you can just take pictures of the Abbey from beside the lake. 

Such a beautiful place to spend a day.

12. Day trip to Aran Islands

Aran Islands, Ireland

Just like you can get a day trip to the Aran islands from Clare, you can also get a day trip from Galway.

It’s further away, but it’s still totally possible! 

The Aran islands are made up of 3 Islands and the smallest Innis Or is famous for it’s natural beauty, and the largest Innishmore is famous for its ancient rocks and features. 

When you arrive on the island you can easily rent bikes for the day to explore. You can DIY and get there yourself, but I think the tour is more organised and convenient for this type of activity. 

This is a good tour here that includes the Cliffs Of Moher too! 

Read Also: The Best Things To Do In Kerry

13. Try your hand at surfing

Surfing, Galway, Ireland

I know you might not think Ireland and surfing go hand in hand, but Ireland’s west coast is actually home to some amazing waves. 

Yes, the water is freezing, so you’ll need to wear a wetsuit, but if you want to learn to surf or catch some great waves, then Galway is a great place to do so. 

Surf beaches can be found in these spots. 

It’s typically around 20 euro for a surf lesson in Ireland. 

14. Visit the Galway Cathedral

Galway Cathedral, Ireland

This is one of the top tourist attractions Galway has to offer and Bradley and I didn’t visit.

Basically we came to Galway when the weather was amazing, so we just wanted to have some drinks and experience the atmosphere rather than do a lot of sightseeing. 

But, that being said, when I googled this place, I kind of wish I went to see it.

It’s quite beautiful and a great place to visit in Galway city. 

15. Check out Dunguaire castle

Dunguaire Castle, Ireland

Built in 1520, this picturesque castles sits in Donegal Bay and it’s a great place to visit.

You can take guided tours inside which you can book online here.

This will allow you to go back in time and learn all about the history of the castle and it’s restoration of today. 

Read Also: Best castles in Ireland

16. Trace the Origin of the Claddagh Ring

Claddagh Ring, Galway, Ireland

You may have heard of the iconic Claddagh Ring, an Irish symbol of love worn by millions around the world, from those single to married. This traditional ring has a unique history steeped in heartbreak, pirates and slavery.

But who was the first to design this ring? While many claim to be the first creator of the Claddagh Ring, the original design was made by Thomas Dillons in 1750.

Go to Thomas Dillons Claddagh Gold Jewellers on Quay Street to learn more about it and maybe even buy your own ring.

Oh, they’re also the only producer who can get the ‘Original’ stamp from the Irish Assay Office. I’d say that’s how you know they are the real deal!

Opening Times: Mon-Sat, 10am - 5pm

17. Tour the St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church

St Nichola's Collegiate Church, Ireland

Since it was first erected in 1320, Saint Nicholas' Collegiate Church has been an icon of Galway. It’s also the largest medieval parish church in Ireland, and still hosts services that you can attend.

I’d recommend touring the church for a little glimpse into its history. You will see architecture from the 14th century and iconoclasm of Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers.

If you prefer, you can visit during a service and experience worship in this gorgeous medieval building. The liturgy might even transport you to St Nicholas as it was hundreds of years ago.

Did you know that Christopher Columbus once stepped into this church back in 1477? Rumor has it that he even prayed here during the visit.

Opening Times: Mon-Sa - 9am-7pm

18. Explore the Galway City Museum

Galway City Museum, Ireland

If you like museums, the Galway City Museum is a place to get to know the city’s archaeology, art, and folk history. You will find it by the Corrin River, where it was recently built in 2007.

Some of the highlights here include an authentic Galway boat and an antique silverware from the early 18th century. There is also the brilliant Medieval Stone Collection. You can see remnants of plaques, coats of arms, and fireplaces from the 16th century.

For a more contemporary exhibition, I recommend exploring the photo gallery which documents Galway’s transformation from 1950 to the present day. It’s a truly fascinating history!

Price: Free
Opening Times: Tue - Sat, Open on four time slots (10am, 11:30am, 2pm, 3:30pm)

19. See the Impressive Spanish Arch

Spanish Arch, Ireland

Just outside the Galway City Museum, you can find the impressive Spanish Arch. It was built in 1584 and is one of the last remains of the famous Front Wall.

It was used to house troops who worked the rooftop cannons, which was a way to defend the quays in Galway.

While the arch itself isn’t a mind-blowing structure by any means, the history is really quite interesting.

It even survived the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755 and still stands tall today.

I’d say it is a pleasant area to walk around on a hot, sunny day, and the river view is not half bad either...

20. Discover the Hidden Charms of Menlo Castle

Menlo Castle, Ireland

Maybe you’re looking for hidden gems that plenty of tourists miss when visiting Galway. In that case, I think Menlo Castle has to be the winner.

It’s only 10 minutes away from the city, but you’ll feel transported to the 16th century. Sat on the banks of the River Corrib, this was home to the Blakes, Galway’s richest family in 1592.

The ruins now are completely overgrown by ivy and the sight is something quite magnificent.

I love how the ivy-covered structure looks by the river. You can walk or jog along the grounds, which is actually popular among locals during the summer.

Planning what to do in Galway (Ireland): All common questions answered

roadtrip galway

When is the best time to visit Galway?

The best time to visit Galway in order to take advantage of the weather is the months of June, July, August and September.

If you go out of season in the winter time prices will be cheaper, however remember a lot of stuff closes for the winter season in Ireland. 

Read Also: A Guide To Getting Around Ireland: Everything Explained!

How long do you need in Galway?

In order to explore Galway properly and spend some time at the amazing beaches here, I recommend you stay around 3-4 days.

You can go quicker or slower, but I think that’s enough time to see all the best places to see in Galway.

Where to stay in Galway?

On our Ireland roadtrip we decided to hire a vehicle from Spaceships Rentals and it was amazing!

You can check out our full review here. 

Because we had our own campervan, we spent the majority of our nights wild camping, then in the great campsites Ireland has to offer. 

Read: Best Campervan rentals in Ireland for all budgets!

But, if you need hostels or hotels in Galway, I suggest you use the following websites for the best deals on the web.

Can you book tours in Galway?

Yes you can! If you’d like the ease of having someone else arrange your Galway itinerary for you, or you don’t have access to a car, then booking onto a tour is a great idea. 

Whenever we book tours, we always use these 2 sites:

  • GetYourGuide - Our top choice for tours in Ireland 
  • Viator - On occasion can have a different variety of tours 

Useful tools for planning your visit to Galway

If you’re in search for cheap flights to and from Ireland then I suggest you start your search with Skyscanner.

Don’t leave on your trip without travel insurance. We recommend booking with World Nomads for an affordable choice. 

If you want excellent motorhomes and campervans then head to Spaceships Rentals and if you need a car you can start with RentalCars.com.

Or check out our guide on the best Irish car rental firms.

Other useful posts for planning your trip to Ireland

If you need some more inspiration for your trip to Ireland you can check out these other useful guides we’ve produced. 

So there you have it! My guide to the best things to do in Galway. You’ll probably find you become attached to the charm of Galway and want to return as soon as possible. I know it had that effect on me. If you’ve got any other great places to visit in Galway you think I should add to this list, then simply comment below. 

Happy travels! 

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Some images courtesy of Deposit Photos.
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