Have you been dying to visit Galway ever since getting Ed Sheeran’s single Galway Girl stuck in your head for the first time? Join the club! This harbour city on the west coast of Ireland is vibrant, energetic and filled with exciting places to visit. No wonder it’s been named European Capital of Culture 2020.
Located in County Galway about three hours by car from Dublin, at the point where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean, Galway (aka Gaillimh) is a small and incredibly picturesque city with a mild climate and a beautiful setting. Explore the medieval walls, meander through Eyre Square Centre and drink lots of Guinness on a pub crawl around the city centre to see for yourself why locals are so proud to call Galway home.
To get a sense of Galway's history as a fishing village and then a defensive port under Anglo-Norman rule in the 13th century, visit the Galway City Museum and the Galway Fisheries Watchtower Museum (both have free entry). You should also spend some time marvelling at the medieval Spanish Arch, which was built in 1584 as part of a bastion to protect merchant ships from looting.
Much of life in Galway is centred around Eyre Square, a big open space in the heart of the city that's close to tonnes of hotels, restaurants and shops at the Eyre Square Centre and along William Street and Shop Street. It's also right next to Galway rail station. Eyre Square was once home to a bustling marketplace and these days it's still a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike.
A quarter of Galway's population is made up of students, so you can expect a lively cultural and nightlife scene here. Go to the seaside suburb of Salthill to find the fanciest night clubs, and stay in the city centre to try out some of the most popular traditional pubs like the King's Head and Tig Coili.
If you want to venture further outside of the city centre, we highly recommend a trip to the Cliffs of Moher, which is an hour and a half away by car or two and a half hours by train. This jaw-dropping natural wonder consists of 14 kilometres of rugged sea cliffs along the deep blue Atlantic, with a perfect westward view of the sunset. You also might recognise them from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince...