Hostelworld Guide for Galway

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Considered by many to be the Cultural Capital of Ireland, Galway is the place to visit to experience Irish culture at its best. The city is on the verge of the 'Gaeltacht' region, where Irish is the language of choice amongst locals, and here you'll find the Ireland you know from the postcards. Then in its pubs you can listen to traditional Irish musicians playing their 'bodhrans' and other traditional Irish instruments. It is Ireland's most vibrant city, and this is only added to by the constant flow of festivals taking place throughout the year.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Getting There

By plane: Galway Airport is 6km east of the city. As only one bus goes from the airport to the city centre 1.45pm (Monday to Saturday only), the easiest way to the city centre is by taxi. The journey should cost no more than €15.

By train: Galway has good and regular rail connections with the rest of Ireland. The train station is located just off Eyre Square in the heart of the city centre.

By bus: The city also has good bus connections with the rest of the country. The main bus depot is beside the train station.

Getting Around

On foot: As the city centre is small and all the main sights are within walking distance of each other, walking is the perfect way to see the city. The longest walk is to Salthill which takes 30 minutes.

By bus: The only time you may need to use buses is to get to Salthill or Spiddal in Connemara. Buses leave from either Eyre Square or the main bus depot.

By taxi: Taxis can be waved down around the city centre although chances are you won't need to use them during your stay.

 Galway facts

Name: In Irish, Galway is known as 'Gaillimh'.

Location: Galway is located in the county of the same name on Ireland's west coast.

Population: In excess of 72,000 people call Galway home.

Area: The city of Galway covers an area of around 20 square kilometres.

As Galway is located on the west of Ireland it experiences a lot of rain. The coldest months are December, January and February with an average temperature of 6°C. It does get warmer from April onwards, with the warmest month normally being July where it can climb to above 20°C. Temperatures then begin to drop again in October.


 Good to know...

Language: English, Irish
Currency: Euro
Electricity: 220 Volts AC/50Hz, 3-pin plug
Area Code: +353 (Ireland), 091 (Galway)
Emergency Codes: Ambulance 112/999, Fire 112/999, Police 112/999
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time
Central Post Office: 3 Eglinton Street
Main Tourist Office: Galway Tourism Information Office, Forster Street


USA: +353 (0)1 668 8777
Canada: +353 (0)1 234 4000
Australia: +353 (0)1 664 5300
South Africa: +353 (0)1 661 5553
UK: +353 (0)1 205 3700
Germany: +353 (0)1 269 3011
Spain: +353 (0)1 269 1640
Italy: +353 (0)1 660 1744
New Zealand: +353 (0) 660 4233**
France: +353 (0)1 277 5000

*All embassies are in Dublin
**Number is for General Consulate

Hostelworld Guide for Galway

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

Fat Freddy's, The Halls, Quay Street While it began its life as a pizzeria, over the years Fat Freddy's has expanded its menu and now has pasta and Mexican dishes to offer. Despite the international menu the restaurant itself still has a rustic Irish feel to it, thanks to its white washed walls. Open daily from 12pm till late

 The home of fish and chips

Mc Donagh's, 22 Quay Street You haven't been to Galway if you haven't been to Mc Donagh's, a family restaurant that has been providing fish and chips to Galway for four generations. With all sorts of seafood on offer you'll be spoiled for choice. It is famed for its affordable cod and chips, which have always been a local favourite. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 5pm-11pm.

Mocha Beans, 2 Cross Street Something of a chain in Galway (this is one of six cafés), Mocha Beans is perfect for a quick breakfast or lunch. Not content with having sandwiches on the menu, they kindly offer 'bagelwiches' too. Open Mon-Sat 6am-8pm, Sun 11am-6pm.

Couch Potatas, 40 Upper Abbeygate Street Two words for you...baked potato. That's all they sell and all they need to sell. There are numerous toppings and you'll never feel hungry after attempting to eat one of these potatoes. Good prices also, with set meals at wallet-friendly prices. Open Mon-Sun 12pm-10pm

The Cellar Bar, Eglinton Street When looking for something quick this is a good option. It serves typical pub food but, being Galway, some seafood is also on offer. Those nursing hangovers may wish to opt for an all-day breakfast. Incidentally, it's also one of Galway's best bars. Open Mon-Fri 10.30am-11.30pm, Sat-Sun 11.30am-2am

The Kings Head, 15 High Street One of the city's best known pubs, it is famous for its live music as bands grace the stage here nightly. There's always a good atmosphere and if you don't find a good vantage point for the band, you can watch them being televised on screens around the pub. The pub itself is said to have been given as a reward to an Irishman who was the executioner of King Charles I. Open Mon-Wed 11am-11.30pm, Thur-Sun 11am-2am.

The Bentley, 11 Prospect Hill The Bentley is a lively late bar with live music and is also home to a nightclub of the same name. You can begin your night here before moving into the club later. Open Sun-Wed 10.30am-11.30pm, Thur-Sat 10.30am-2am.

 Gay / Lesbian Galway

Until recently there hasn't been much of a gay scene in Ireland except in Dublin. However, Galway now sports various gay friendly venues, as well as two exclusively gay bars. These are Wildes (Henry Street) and Stage Door (Wood Quay). Both spots can get quite busy, especially at the weekend.

Halo Nightclub, 36 Upper Abbeygate Street Featuring 4 bars on 2 levels and 2 dancefloors, Halo is known as one of the city's best clubs and won 'best late night venue in Ireland' in its first year. The interior is pretty trendy by Galway standards and it's a good idea to get there early as it can fill up quickly. Open Fri 11pm-2.30am, Sat 10.30pm-2.30am

McSwiggans, 3 Eyre Street Like many bars in Galway, this place has a nice old Irish charm to it, like its 'hidden-away' alcoves that make you feel like you are the only person in the place. If you are looking to spend some time having a nice pint and a rest, this is the place for you. It also serves food all week at reasonable prices. Open Sun-Wed 10.30am-12am, Thur-Sat 10.30am-1am

Taaffes, 19-20 Shop Street If you're looking for traditional Irish music this is the place for you. Music generally starts at 5.30pm or 9.30pm, but chances are if you call in at any time some form of a session will be taking place. It is also reputed that the best pint in Galway is served here. Open Sun-Wed 11am-11.30pm, Thur-Sat 11am-2am

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

The Spanish Arch, bottom of Quay Street One of the symbols of Galway City this was once part of the city walls. It was built in 1594 in order to protect the harbour at a time when trade with Spain was vital to the city's survival. These days it's the perfect place to sit down and enjoy some lunch alfresco on one of the stone seats located near the arch.

The Aran Islands, Galway Bay From ancient ruins to sheer cliffs, the three small islands pack in a lot of things to see and do. Take a trip to Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr and you'll experience a slice of West-coast life at its most picturesque. Traditional Irish music can be heard across the islands. Ferries depart from Ros a' Mhíl, outside Galway city centre.

Lynch's Window, Market Street (side of St. Nicholas' Church) As legend has it, this window marks the spot where the Mayor of Galway hung his son in the early 16th century. He did so after his son murdered a visiting Spaniard and it is said that this was done to show that the enforcement of the law was more important than that of the bonds of family.

 Ireland's numero uno

Cliffs of Moher, Co.Clare Just 90 minutes from Galway and officially Ireland's number one tourist attraction, the Cliffs of Moher in neighbouring County Clare are breathtaking upon first sight. Stretching 8km, at their highest point they are 214 meters above the Atlantic Ocean. There is also an abundance of wildlife to be seen here. Visit for info on day-tours from Galway.

Galway Cathedral, University Street This is one of the largest and most dominating buildings in Galway. Construction of the Cathedral began in 1958 and was completed in 1965. It is located on the site of the former city jail and features a dome at a height of 145ft. Open Sun-Mon 8.30am-6.30pm

February - Galway Astronomy Festival For those interested in the stars, this festival has exhibitions and speakers from around the world.

March - St. Patrick's Day Parade The parade on St. Patrick's Day has taken place for more than 100 years and is always worth seeing if in Galway City at this time.

April - Cúirt International Festival of Literature This is Ireland's Premier Literary Festival and features a wide range of Irish and international writers.

May - The Galway Early Music Festival This annual festival takes place during mid May and is designed to promote medieval, renaissance and baroque music.

July - Galway Film Fleadh Running for over 20 years, the Galway Film Fleadh is a popular 6-day event. A wide variety of films are screened during the festival which attracts plenty of famous faces.

July - Galway Arts Festival This festival was founded in 1978 and brings theatre and performance companies from around the world to Galway. There are performances throughout the city during the festival.

July/August - Galway Race Week Soak up the atmosphere at the biggest horse racing event on Galway's calender.

September - Galway International Oyster Festival A world-renowned festival combining oysters and Guinness, this 4-day event is the the biggest festival in Galway. One of the highlights is the festival opening in Eyre Square.

October - Galway Races October Bank Holiday Weekend Meeting If you missed the horse racing in July and August, then this is your second chance to experience its electric atmosphere. The racing takes place in the last week of October.

Hostelworld Guide for Galway

 Neighbourhood Watch

 Retail Therapy

The Claddagh Located on the west side of Galway Harbour, the traditional thatched cottages that once existed here are long since gone. While they have been replaced with more modern houses, the area still has its local charm and fame. Visit the area to take a walk along the pier where you will normally find some locals fishing, or to simply relax in the park that sits just off the pier.

 Postcard Ireland

Spiddal Located just half an hour outside Galway by bus, this small seaside village is in the heart of Connemara and is where you can witness the Ireland portrayed in postcards and movies - picture stone walls and green fields. It is also one of the few places where Irish is the first language. To get to Spiddal take bus #424 from the bus depot.

Eyre Square Effectively the centre of Galway City, Eyre Square is your starting point if you want to go anywhere in the city. There are pubs all around the square and the train station is right beside it. The park in the centre is dedicated to President John F Kennedy who was made a 'Free Man of the City' shortly before his death.

Salthill This pleasant neighbourhood on Galway Bay has a beautiful promenade and beach, which is particularily nice during the summer months for walks - on a clear day you can see County Clare across the bay. For those interested in marine life the National Aquarium of Ireland is located here.

Latin Quarter The Latin Quarter area of Galway consists of Quay Street and the streets surrounding that, which contain many bars, restaurants and theatres. It is the perfect place to go if you are looking to eat, drink or just simply waste some time by marvelling at the street performers that line these streets.

Shop Street As the name suggests, this street is lined with shop after shop and the chain is only interrupted by the occasional pub. It is the main street of the city and actually continues on into two further streets, which contain more shops, bars and restaurants. If you are going shopping then this is where you should begin.

Galway Market, Church Lane by St Nicholas' Church This market outside St Nicholas' Church sells a lot of different things. The locals use it mainly to buy fresh fruit and vegetables but there are different knick knacks that can be of interest. Open Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 12pm-6pm.

Eyre Square Centre, Eyre Square and Shop Street This shopping centre, located just off Eyre Square and Shop Street, is packed full of shops and you're almost certain to find what you are looking for under its roof. A unique thing about this centre is that parts of the old Galway City Walls have been built into the centre and is visible as you walk around. Open daily from 9am-6pm.

Bridge Mills, Bridge Street This is a great shop to get some antique silver jewellery and local crafts. Along with the shop there is a restaurant for those feeling a bit peckish. The building itself is impressive and worth a look just to see the old mill.

 Home of the Ring

Thomas Dillon, 1 Quay Street This is one of the oldest jewellers in Ireland, having been established in 1750. They are the original manufacturers of the famous Claddagh rings and this is shown by the fact that they are the only jewellers allowed to stamp 'Original' on their rings. There is also a small museum located in the shop for those interested in the history of the Claddagh Ring. Open Mon-Sun 10am-7pm.

 Budgets Tips

 A Day in Galway...

Stroll to Salthill If you want to get away from the crowds in the city centre, simply venture south west and you'll find yourself on the Salthill Promenade with a beautiful beach before you. The promenade is popular with locals who come to stroll along Galway Bay all year round.

 The Salmon of Knowledge

Visit the Salmon Weir Bridge, beside the Cathedral Here you can often see shoals of salmon in the clear waters of the river waiting to make their long and arduous journey through the upstream current. It is also interesting to watch the fly fishers attempt to catch them as there is a true art to this endeavour. The season for the fishers is normally between February and September so be sure to look out for them.

Visit Galway City Museum This free museum near the Spanish Arch is spread across the three floors of the building with each floor telling the story of a different period in Galwegian history. Within the building is a perfect example of a 'Galway Hooker' boat. Open Tues-Sat 10am-5pm; closed Mondays and Sundays.

Pop into Lynch's Castle on Shop Street Recognised as one of the best examples of a town castle to be in existance in Ireland today, the building is now a bank, but you are still allowed to enter for free and see the fine interior which has been preserved since the renovations in the 19th century.

Wander into St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church on Lombard Street One of the oldest parish churches in Ireland, legend has it that this is where Christopher Columbus heard mass before setting off for the Americas. Aside from this, the church built in 1320, contains relics and carvings from the Middle Ages.

Start off your day in Eyre Square, which is undeniably the centre of Galway City. It is worth walking about and exploring this area.

Next head across the River Corrib and over the bridge at University Street, where you will find Galway City Cathedral standing before you with its commanding presence.

For lunch it is a good idea to head back towards Eyre Square stopping in a pub along the way for a nice lunch and a relaxing pint if you feel like one.

To walk off that lunch, the perfect thing to do is to take a nice stroll out to the Salthill area of the city and visit the aquarium located here aswell.

On the return walk, take a stroll through the famed Claddagh area of Galway. Have a look at the harbour pier and the numerous swans found here.

Cross the harbour to see the Spanish Arch and maybe take a picture or two. You can also take the weight off your feet and have a sit down here.

From here head on up Quay Street (below) and have dinner in one of the many restaurants located on the street, like the famous Mc Donagh's restaurant.


After you have had your dinner, continue on up the street and visit The Kings Head pub on Shop Street for some traditional Irish atmosphere.

If you feel like dancing the night away head on up to Halo Nightclub or Central Park Nightclub, both located on Upper Abbeygate St and party into the wee hours.

Hostelworld Guide for Galway