In this guide I provide the perfect itinerary if you have one day in Galway. I describe activities to enjoy, places to eat and where to stay.
Galway is a harbour city in the West of Ireland, located where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic Ocean.
A great Galway one day itinerary would involve taking a free walking tour of the historical city centre, exploring Galway City Museum, walking the promenade to Salthill and listening to local Irish music in one of Galway’s many pubs.
Do you ever visit a place and instantly fall in love? Do you ever arrive somewhere that just feels like a great place to be?
Galway is one of those places for me. As soon as we pulled into the campsite I just knew we were in for a great weekend.
I wasn’t disappointed!
We had two nights and one day to spend in Galway. If you want to see all the sights but are tight for time, here is the best Galway one day itinerary.
- 1 About Galway
- 2 What to do with one day in Galway
- 3 Where to eat in Galway
- 4 Where to stay in Galway
- 5 Things to do on a day trip from Galway
As a trading post on the west coast of Ireland, Galway has a rich and fascinating history. The river Corrib flows through the city until it meets the Atlantic.
Galway originally developed from a small fishing village called the Claddagh. The first walled city was constructed in 1124. Later that century powers were granted to fourteen merchant families who have become known as the fourteen tribes of Galway.
Due to its location, Galway became a bustling sea port which prospered for centuries, until the arrival of Cromwell. The city then entered a long period of decline as other ports on the east coast began to thrive. Today though, Galway is once again enjoying prosperous times as one of Ireland’s largest cities.
If you’re spending time exploring Ireland you might also like this post on the Beara Peninsula
What to do with one day in Galway
1. Free Walking Tour
Nothing tends to start early in Ireland and Galway is no exception. The best way to start one day in Galway is with a free walking tour at 11:00. There are several companies offering walking tours in Galway, but we chose Tribes Tours of Galway and can definitely recommend them.
Our guide was of course very charming and gave a good introduction to Irish history and culture, as well as about Galway itself. The walking tour starts in Eyre Square and covers the old city wall, two Tribe Castles, St Nicholas’ Church and finishes at the Spanish Arch.
The tour lasts around 90 minutes and like all free walking tours, one gives an appropriate tip at the end. Tours run at 11:00 and 14:00 everyday.
2. Enjoy a local lunch
After the tour you’ll just about be ready for a spot of lunch, so I recommend trying McDonagh’s which is located at the bottom of bar street. McDonagh’s is famous for fish and chips and has a wide selection of fish to chose from. Keep with tradition and complete your order with sides of tartar sauce and mushy peas!
3. Explore some more of the sights
After lunch I suggest exploring more of the sights that you only touched on during the walking tour, such as St Nicholas’s church, Eyre Square, the market (located next to the church) and some of the local shops.
Galway is famous for Claddagh rings so you’ll find plenty of jewellery shops, as well as sweater shops with wool from the nearby Aran Islands. Be sure to learn how to correctly wear your Claddagh ring though!
4. Visit the museum
The Galway City Museum is a really interesting visit for both adults and kids. Entrance is free but there is an option to give a donation. The museum has several sections.
It covers the history of Galway and Claddagh, the Irish Revolution and has an interactive section on sea science. You can easily spend a couple of hours here taking in all the information. Like most museums, it is closed on Mondays.
5. Walk the promenade
After all that learning it’s time to get some fresh sea air! From the museum you can walk around the bay and along to the promenade in Salthill. This should take you around 30 minutes. For more of a walk there are extensions along Nimmo’s Pier and to Mutton Island.
6. Hang out in Salthill
Salthill is a great little suburb of the city and a nice place to spend some time. After a well deserved ice cream, lap up the sunshine on one of the beaches or spend time visiting the Aquarium and funfair.
Salthill is on the bus route that returns back to the city centre or there is the option to jump on the hop on, hop off tourist train. The train costs €10 euros for adults and runs from the Aquarium to the Spanish Arch.
7. Dance the night away in one of Galway’s pubs
No visit to Galway would be complete without seeing some live music, and there are plenty of bars to choose from. For live bands and a quirky multilevel building visit the Quays pub. For Irish classics that you can sing along to visit Taaffe’s bar. Finally, for some amazing traditional Irish jamming head over to Crane Bar. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Many street performers and buskers line the streets for your entertainment as you stagger from pub to pub. After a night out on bar street, you’ll be guaranteed to be singing Galway Girl all the way home.
Did you know? Ireland ranks 4th place in the world for highest per-capita beer consumption. Discover more interesting facts about Ireland in this post!
That completes this Galway in one day itinerary. Nursing a slightly sore head the next day, there are also many great options to explore in the surroundings areas (Keep reading below)
Where to eat in Galway
In between stuffing yourself with fish and chips and ice cream you might also want to dine at one of Galway’s many restaurants. The Quayside Kitchen comes highly recommended but you’ll want to get there early as they don’t take reservations for the evenings.
Ard Bia near the Spanish Arch has a delicious, if a little expensive menu to enjoy. Finally for something slightly different but yummy try the Claddagh Restaurant, where they put a Sri Lankan twist on some Irish classics.
Where to stay in Galway
We were on a camping trip so stayed at O’Halorans Caravan Park, just a few kilometres from the city centre. It costs €12.50 per person per night and has free showers. There is a bus stop just outside the Caravan site. Buses provide access to the city every 30 minutes for around €3.
If camping is not for you there are plenty of other options in and around the city. Click here to search for a hotel.
Things to do on a day trip from Galway
After you have finished your time in Galway, it’s time to venture beyond the city to see some more incredible sights.
1. Explore Burren National Park
Burren National Park offers a unique landscape to marvel at. There are several well marked trails to guide hikers around the area, all providing great views of the limestone pavement formations. The park is free to explore.
2. Take a boat trip to the Aran Island of Inismore
Ferries depart from Rossavell port several times a day and a return ticket costs €25. Booking in advance online saves 10%. The best way to see the island is to rent a bike and cycle from one side to the other.
3. Visit Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey is a grand Benedictine monastery located one hour away from Galway City. Entrance costs €18 and includes entrance to the walled Victorian gardens.
4. Hike to the top of Diamond Peak
Connemara National Park is another national park that is completely free to visit. Take time to enjoy the visitor centre to learn all about bogs in Ireland. Yes I know what you’re thinking, bogs, really? Yes really, it’s actually quite interesting I promise. Then hike to the top of Diamond Peak to enjoy fabulous views over the ocean and all the inlets.
Disclaimer: It was pouring with rain the day we visited here so we didn’t hike Diamond Peak, but I’ve seen pictures and they look amazing. Just another excuse to come back to Ireland!
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