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!
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!)
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!
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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