Perched on the edge of Europe Galway City is a vibrant cultural hub that is simply bursting with energy. Here’s our locals guide on what to do with just 48 hours in Galway City.
It’s not just a city to see, but a city to experience! I have spent a lifetime exploring Galway and it still turns up surprises. If you have just a couple of days use these few tips to squeeze the most out of your whirlwind visit to the jewel of Ireland’s west coast.
Explore Galway's Medieval Centre
Most of Galway’s medieval walls have long disappeared, but the mesh of narrow streets have survived making Galway city centre perfect to explore by foot. The best way to get a feel for the city is to take a stroll among the locals on the main thoroughfare from Eyre Square, down Shop Street and all the way down to the Spanish Arch.
St.Nicholas Church is one of Galway’s oldest churches with early sections dating back to 1320. Local legend has it that Christopher
Columbus worshipped here when he visited the city in 1477. For centuries the collegiate church was at the centre of civic affairs in the Anglo-Norman city. It was here that the elections for Mayor of Galway were held in medieval times. Only male members of the 14 merchant families or ‘Tribes’ of Galway could vote or stand for election. You may notice that many of the statues inside are headless and handless. They were vandalized by Cromwell’s soldiers when the church was used as a stables after the siege of Galway in 1652.
Every Saturday farmers, foodies and artisans set up stall outside St. Nicholas church for the Galway Market. It’s the perfect opportunity to mix with the locals and sample some of their favourite weekend treats (the doughnuts are to die for!). You have to check this out if your 48 hours in Galway falls on a weekend!
Galway's Latin Quarter
Just around the corner is Quay Street and ‘the Latin Quarter’. There is a wonderful festival atmosphere here on summer evenings when the crows spill out of the pubs and on to the streets. Drop in to Thomas Dillon Jewellers to learn all about the story of the world famous Claddagh Ring. Tucked away in Druid’s lane, the Hall of the Red Earl is another gem that will delight any history buffs. The hall dates to the 1200s and acted as a tax office, courts, and town hall all wrapped in one. Though clearly visible on medieval maps of the city the ruins were only rediscovered in ****.
Finally you will arrive at the fast-flowing River Corrib. There you will see the Spanish Arch, built to protect merchant ships docked in the city’s quays. Beyond the arch is Galway City Museum and the Long Walk. During summer
Kick the Wall on the Salthill Prom
Wherever your night in Galway brought you, start your day the right way with a hearty full Irish breakfast. The Kitchen (behind the Spanish Arch) has one of the best in the city in their bright and spacious location. Upstairs in McCambridges, on Shop Street, is another local favourite. This is an absolute must if you only have 48 hours in Galway!
A stroll on the Salthill prom is the perfect antidote to a night enjoying Galway’s nightlife. About 45 minutes by foot from the city centre, you can take the 401 bus from Eyre Square or stop over on the Hop-on Hop-off tour. The ‘prom’ walk, along the seafront, is hugely popular among locals who have a time-honoured tradition of kicking the wall near the Blackrock diving boards. If you’re feeling adventurous then pack your swimming togs, check the time for high tide, and take the dive at Blackrock. Then make your way to Salthill village and cool down with an ice cream or warm up with a hot coffee and cake. For kids check out the Galway Atlantaquarium which showcases marine life in the waters surrounding Galway City.
Quick trip to the Cliffs of Moher
Or, if you want to squeeze every last drop out of your 48 hours, why not try the half-day Cliffs of Moher Express tour. With a more palatable departure time at 12 noon you can enjoy a lie-in and still seize the day. With you’ll feel on top of the world again.