Galway is a lively centre on the West Coast – a mix of cool culture, adrenaline adventure, seaside destination and a buzzing food and social scene.
If the Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival is on your bucket list, September 2024 is the time to visit and experience the extraordinary richness and diversity of Galway’s culture and its people.
Discover Galway City and Beyond!
Once ringed by city walls Galway has a compact centre and is a lovely place to spend an afternoon exploring. Investigate the medieval streets with it’s iconic landmarks, or investigate the Latin Quarter with its craft, book and vintage shops and lively nightlife or the amazing West end with it’s mouth watering food scene.
So let us show you around… Here are our top tips for things to see, places to explore and unmissable Galway experiences to tick off your bucket list. And if that isn’t enough to get you excited delve into the wealth of Galway experiences available on the Wild Atlantic Way
Galway City Museum
Situated on the other side of the Claddagh Basin from the Festival Marquee, behind the famous Spanish Arch, Galway City Museum houses exhibitions which explore aspects of the history and heritage of Galway City.
Explore the themes of archaeology, history and sea science with a particular focus on Galway. Ongoing exhibitions include Routes to the Past (Prehistoric Galway); Galway Within the Walls (Medieval Galway); Pádraic Ó Conaire: the Man and the Statue, The Galway Hooker and SeaScience. New exhibitions currently running on the first floor include, Revolution in Galway 1913-1923, Galway & the Great War and GAA: The Three-in-a-Row 1964-66.
Visitors can interact with medieval Galway in the 3D display of the 1651 Pictorial Map on the ground floor.
The Museum is also home to two iconic symbols of the city – the statue of Padraic Ó Conaire and a traditional sailing vessel or Galway Hooker, named ‘Máirtín Oliver’, which was made especially for the
The building itself affords spectacular views of the Claddagh, the Spanish Arch, River Corrib and Galway Bay.
It is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am until 5pm and admission is FREE.
Hall of the Red Earl
The Hall of the Red Earl, a fascinating medieval archaeological site in the heart of Galway is now one of the city’s top visitor attractions. The site which is invigilated by Dúchas na Gaillime – Galway Civic Trust dates to the 13th century as is linked to the founding of Galway by the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family at this time. The hall was Galway’s first municipal building and was used to collect taxes, dispense justice and to host banquets. In essence it acted as a tax office, courthouse and town hall rolled into one! It took its name from Richard de Burgo, the Earl of Ulster, who was the grandson of the town’s founding father.
Over the intervening centuries it was covered over and built upon. The remains of the building were, however, unearthed by Office of Public Works (OPW) archaeologists in 1997, when plans to extend the adjacent offices onto this site were proposed. The site was easily identifiable from the famous c. 1651 Pictorial Map of Galway city.
A major excavation took place on site with over 11,000 artefacts being uncovered. The discovery of the Red Earl’s Hall led to the proposed extension to the Revenue Commissioners offices being completely redesigned to allow for the preservation of the archaeological site. Added to this, the Hall was housed within glass panelling and a viewing gangway complete with flood-lighting was erected around it. Interpretive panels now explain the significance of the site and artefact replicas are prominently displayed.
Since moving to its new office adjacent to the site in 2009, Dúchas na Gaillimhe – Galway Civic Trust has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to The Hall of Red Earl where friendly guides are on hand to inform and direct visitors. Recently, the Hall had the distinction of being listed as the top attraction in Galway City by Lonely Planet guidebook. This hugely important site stands as testament to the medieval origins our modern, vibrant city and is a must-visit for anyone wishing to learn more about the story of Galway.
The Hall of the Red Earl is open all year Monday – Friday 9.30 to 16.45 & Saturday 10.00 to 13.00 (May – September). Admission is free.
Rinville Park is located just five minutes from the picturesque village of Oranmore, in County Galway. It is a wonderful amenity, created around an ancient castle, a stately home and a fine estate demesne, which dates from the 16th century.
With an extensive network of walks through woodlands, open farmland and by the sea, Rinville Park offers a recreational facility of outstanding quality and beauty. There is access to Rinville Point and Saleen Point, where views of Galway Bay, Galway City and the Burren of County Clare can be enjoyed. Look out for ravens, grey herons and otters among the fascinating fauna which can be observed in Rinville Park. While the flora includes cultivated and wild flowers, shrubs and trees. The Park has picnic areas and a children’s playground, and is open year round. Admission is free
Galway Bay Boat Tours
The world-famous Galway Hookers (a traditional handcrafted sailboat) grace the Oyster Festival with a sail past on the Friday evening. You too can experience this piece of unique maritime history by taking the ‘Maritime Boat Tour’ around Galway Bay. For those seeking more speed, the tour can also be taken as a thrilling power boat excursion.
Kylemore Abbey & Walled Gardens
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden is the ideal destination for a day out in majestic Connemara at any time of year. Located just over an hour’s drive from Galway City, a visit to Kylemore will rank as an unforgettable memory.
The Victorian Walled Garden at Kylemore was created along with the Abbey in the late 1860’s one of the last great gardens of the period.
The Walled Garden’s location deep in the Kylemore woods and overlooking Connemara National Park is a stunning one and the Garden has a unique beauty at all times of the year. As Kylemore is a Heritage garden all seed varieties used date back to the 1800’s thus helping to the preserve the precious Victorian plant varieties which have a charm unique to their era. The Garden’s continuing development is overseen with great passion by the Head gardener, Anja Gohlke and her dedicated team. You can find out more about the Walled Garden and follow Anja via her monthly Garden Diary at www.kylemoreabbey.com
Just outside the walls of the Garden is the Garden Tea House, the perfect destination for a light lunch or a delicious afternoon tea. Home baking is our speciality and you can also enjoy delicious herbal teas freshly made with herbs from the Walled Garden.
Connemara National Park
Situated in the West of Ireland in County Galway, Connemara National Park covers some 2,957 hectares of scenic mountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. Some of the park’s mountains, namely Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range.
A number of walking trails beginning at the Visitor Centre offer walkers a variety of scenic routes and nature trails through the park. Stunning vistas from the 400-metre high Diamond Hill include the distant islands of Inishbofin, Inishturk and Inishshark, and the turreted Kylemore Abbey. The park is also home to Connemara ponies, red deer and an enormous variety of bird-life, including skylarks, stonechats and peregrine falcons.
The Visitor Centre features include exhibitions, the ‘Man and the landscape’ multi-lingual audio visual show and tea room (seasonal). Entrance to the Visitor Centre is free of charge. A summer programme of guided walks and special events for younger visitors are also available at the Visitor Centre. Connemara is one of six such national parks in Ireland.