3 Ways to Spend an Afternoon in Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

After we (sort of) saw Dunguaire Castle, it was only another thirty-minute drive to get to Galway, so we decided to head north for the rest of the afternoon. Besides hearing from a few other travelers that they had enjoyed visiting Galway, I really didn’t know anything about where we were headed. I had assumed Galway would be a small, quiet fishing village along the bay, much like the other places we’d seen in Ireland so far, but in reality it was much, much bigger than that.

We realized when we arrived that Galway is a city, not a village. The traffic jams, the crowds of people, and all the noise were a bit of a shock to us after being in our Doolin-bubble for the previous day and a half. The whole town was hoppin’, even though it was just a regular Tuesday afternoon! While it wasn’t what we were expecting, and truth be told, I think we might have enjoyed staying in Doolin and visiting the Aran Islands more, we still found a lot to like about our afternoon in Galway. If, like us, you’ve only got an afternoon to spend in Galway, here are a few things we recommend you do!

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

Take a Walk Along the River Corrib

Galway is a large sea port on the shores of Galway Bay, but there’s a lot more to the city than that – among other things, it’s a college town, a major cultural hub, and a prime spot for listening to traditional Irish music. We could have spent time checking all of this out, but for the sake of our sanity (we were spending our time in Ireland to escape the city, after all), we stuck to the less populated areas.

We parked the car and then started walking along the River Corrib that flows into Galway Bay. Other than the swans and a few people tinkering on their boats, we pretty much had this path to ourselves. Once we got closer to the bay, we wandered along the docks in the harbor admiring all of the boats – even the old, crumbling ones that people had discarded along the banks were beautiful. (We’d love to one day own our own, the kind you can live in!)

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

Relax on Galway’s Beaches

My favorite spot in Galway was the quiet beaches we found along the bay. Maybe in another season these beaches are the kind you swim in or spend an afternoon reading a book under a giant umbrella, but in April on a windy, 50°F sort of day, they were practically deserted. The low tide allowed us plenty of room to walk around, picking up neat rocks and seashells as we went.

A good portion of the beach was covered in large mounds of seaweed, turning our walk into a bit of an obstacle course as we tried to avoid stepping on it. This seaweed was unlike any I was used to seeing when we lived in Florida – attached to the ends of the seaweed were these little orange pods that I discovered will squirt you in the face with (what I hope was) water if you squeeze them too hard!

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

Grab a Bite to Eat

Just like the day before when we were in the Burren, we were so distracted by exploring a new place that we didn’t realize it was hours past lunchtime until we heard our tummies growling. Luckily, Galway is a great place to be if you’re hungry. Dozens of colorful, quirky restaurants line the streets in the city’s center – the hardest part is choosing only one. We ultimately chose a place called Fat Freddy’s because I saw quesadillas on the menu. (I can’t help myself – nothing calls to me quite like Mexican food.) Our food was good, but I’m still kind of bummed that we missed Galway’s annual food festival by only two days. That would have been some good eating, I’m sure!

Two hours was long enough for us to get our fill of Galway and we decided to head back to Doolin after lunch to see if we could find something less city-ish to do for the rest of the day. Were we in Ireland with different intentions, I wouldn’t have minded staying in Galway and exploring the city more, but this trip was about spending our time amid Ireland’s natural beauty, not the man-made kind, so back to County Clare we went!

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3 Ways To Spend An Afternoon In Galway, Ireland

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  • Imee
    April 22, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    Galway is such a unique place to visit, the best place to unwind, with its beautiful and impressive beauty of its scenic and magnificent views. It was also known for its creativity in festivals , with an excellent culinary scene, showcasing Irish traditional foods. Galway is a city that is full of life and good vibe. Visiting the city is a worthwhile experience , a nice place to spend a long time, the city is simply superb…

  • Sara Louise
    May 30, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    I spent a lot of summer days as a child on Galway’s beaches eating ham sandwiches with sand in them, oh the memories! ;)

  • Mandy Southgate
    May 21, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    So that’s what Galway looks like in the sunshine. I was there one bitterly cold January day in 1996. We stood on the beach and I have never been as cold as I was that day. I had to put my tongue in front of my teeth because they were aching so much. It actually looks so lovely, I might be tempted to visit there again one day – in summer!!

  • Emmymom
    May 19, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Oh no, yes let’s hope the flower juice was just water, I am guessing it is :)

  • Jo
    May 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Hey at least you got some more great photos!

  • rorybore
    May 14, 2014 at 3:07 AM

    I love colourful buildings and that does look like the weirdest seaweed. For some reason it kind of reminds me of Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, with the water, boats and painted houses.

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 14, 2014 at 2:29 PM

      I just googled Peggy’s Cove – what a gorgeous place! It looks even prettier than Galway! {That lighthouse is really cool!} But I see what you’re saying, they do look kind of similar!

  • Anna R
    May 13, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    I didn’t make it to Galway during my trip to Ireland, but it seems like a cool place. Love all the boat pictures.

  • Quyen Nguyen
    May 12, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I agree with you that Galway is a great city, but the countryside of Ireland is just so much more appealing to me! I did enjoy the Galway City Museum and the most amazing cakes at Cupan Tae!

  • Stacie Stamper
    May 12, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    I love how colorful everything is. Mike would have totally had to squish the seaweed pod, too! – kids at heart, you two! And you would really want to live on a boat?

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

      Haha! We’re just too curious, I guess! :) And yes I would love to live on a boat – not a boat that’s out to sea, but one that’s docked somewhere. I think that would be incredible!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This
    May 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Galway was my favourite city in Ireland. I thought it had a real charm. I liked getting away from the cities as well. Ireland is the best in the country side xx

  • Keith Wynn
    May 12, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    These pictures remind me why Ireland is so high on my Bucket List. I hope to see Ireland sometimes in 2015 since I’ll be living in Europe by later this year!

  • Katrin
    May 12, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I love all the colorful little restaurants there. I have heard so many good things about Galway. I really need to plan an Ireland trip soon!

    • Sarah Shumate
      May 14, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      The colorful shops and restaurants reminded me of the ones we’d seen a few months ago in Austria. Europe is so much more colorful than America!

      • Katrin
        May 14, 2014 at 3:53 PM

        So true! There are so many colorful houses in Europe and you don’t really see that many in America. Wonder why that is.

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    May 12, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    It looks like such a nice seaside town! They are my favourites.

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    May 12, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    We didn’t explore a lot of Galway when we went due to the rain. If it were a misty rain, that would have been one thing, but it was a fairly heavy rain. Plus, it was busy and like you, we didn’t really want the city. The drive there was the best part about it though. Stopping to visit ruins along the way and seeing other areas of the Burren.