For those that want a more countryside rural experience while in Ireland, Galway Bay is the perfect destination. Located on the western side of the country there are plenty of places to go and things to do during your visit. Situated on the river Corrib, you can head down to the harbor which had given Galway its popularity and see some traditional ancient seafaring including Galway Hookers (sailing boats) and Claddagh wedding rings.
For those who are fans of walking, there are a number of things to do in Galway Ireland. Downtown is always bustling with live music, poets, and artists painting beautiful landscapes. The city was destroyed in 1473, but rebuilt soon after and with trade from Western Europe you will see a bit of a Spanish influence. This doesn’t take away from historical sites and medieval buildings, but the charming city is now an eclectic site with boutiques and friendly pubs where ever local will share stories.
Here is a top 8 list of things to do in Galway Bay. Some are day trips while others are sites you can visit in 1 to 2 hours. We didn’t include everything, but these will keep you busy while you enjoy Western Ireland.
1. Dunguaire Castle
Built in 1520, Dunguaire Castle is one of the more popular tourist attractions in Galway. As you visit this medieval monument, you will learn the history of Galway and how the lifestyle was back in the day. If you plan on staying through the night, Dunguaire Castle does have an amazing banquet for you to attend. A butler will welcome you in where you can go enjoy some mead and get a brief history lesson of the Castle (if you didn’t already). From there you are taken into the Banquet Hall for a good meal while listening to live artists.
2. Corrib Princess
If you’d like to get a full view into the history of Galway, the Corrib Princess tour is the perfect thing to do. Enjoy a cruise through the River Corrib with stunning views of rolling hills, natural amenities, and historical sites. The journey starts in Woodquay and into Lough Corrib (largest lake in the Republic of Ireland). You’ll even see ruins of historic castles and get a good cultural lesson on what it was like to live in medieval times.
3. Connemara National Park
Enjoy over 2,000 acres of beautiful scenic view of grasslands, mountains, bog, and ruin while enjoying your stay in Galway. This national park was created in part of the Kylemore Abbey Estate, but is now fully owned by the state.
There are various walking trails that begin at Galway Visitor Centre that will take you through nature trails and scenic routes. We recommend going to Diamond Hill to get views of islands in the far distant (Inishbofin, Inishturk and Inishshark). While hiking you will also see wildlife, historic ruins, ancient walls, and Tobar Mweelin (a popular well that was used for Kylemore Castle).
Connemara National Park should be an all day adventure so take your time and enjoy everything Western Ireland has to offer.
4. Aran Islands
As you keeping finding things to do in Galway Bay, a fantastic day of touring may lead you to the Aran Islands. You can either travel by ferry from Doolin or fly by plane to one of the three islands that make up Aran. Considered the last outpost of Irish culture, these untouched lands bring in tourists from all over the world.
As you visit each island, you will be inspired by the character each one has. There are some great biking trails if the mood strikes you, but either way you will see ancient monuments, churches, and forts on all 3 islands. Inis Oírr, Inis Meain and Inis Mór also boast some great flora and fauna as you outlook the Atlantic ocean.
5. Kylemore Abbey
Enjoy a fun tour through one of Ireland’s most majestic castles. Located on a lake shore, Kylemore Abbey will give you a tranquil vacation day while you enjoy some historical sites. There is a great walking path around the area, but be sure you see the Abbey, Gothic Churn and the largest walled garden in the country. You can get a guided tour three times a day in the Abbey and a different tours of the walled garden all throughout the summer.
6. Eyre Square
If you are staying in Galway Bay, make sure head to their public square when you get a chance. This park within the city centre offers a relaxing time while close to some shopping, restaurants, and pubs. The most popular features are the Browne doorway, fourteen flags, and Quincentennial Fountain
6. Galway Cathedral
As you continue your quest for things to do in Galway, their Cathedral definitely makes our list. With an impressive amount of artwork, statues, and religious structures, Galway Cathedral has some great historical significance to the city. While you tour this structure enjoy the Chapel of the Resurrection, statue of the Virgin, Rose Windows, Crucifixion mosaic, and more. In fact the Cathedral was built on a former jail so it has a little mystery to it.
It’s open year round so you can visit Galway Cathedral whenever you plan on visiting Ireland.
Galway City Museum
Voted the 11th most popular free tourist attraction, Galway City Museum hosts three floors of exhibitions that take you back in history. This hotspot brings in roughly 200,000 visits a year and has been giving Full Accreditation status from Heritage Council’s Museum.
Some of the exhibitions you will be able to tour include:
– Routes to the Past (Pre Historical Times)
– Galway Within the Walls (Medieval Times)
– The Galway Hooker and SeaScience
– Revolution in Galway 1913 – 1923
– Galway and the Great War
You can interact with most of the exhibitions and they even have a 3D display.
Other interesting things to see are the Galway Civic Sword, Great Mace, statue of Padraic O Conaire, and original Galway Hooker.
Luxury Hotels to Stay in Galway
We recommend these great hotels in Galway Bay. There are quite a few to choose from, but these have some luxury accommodations and amenities to put them over the top.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel : 5 star hotel situated on a 138 acre scenic estate.
Galway Bay Hotel: 4 star Luxury Hotel with stunning beachfront views. Only 5 minutes from downtown.
Park House Hotel All 84 bedrooms are luxurious and spacious, offering first-class amenities and facilities.
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