Named European Capital of Culture for 2020, Galway city has all the buzz of Dublin plus an abundance of charm and authenticity. With rustic pubs, incredible food, an unrivalled busking scene, friendly locals and accessible scenic coastal routes, Galway is arguably Ireland’s most charming city and deserves a top spot on your bucket list.
Where to stay
Hotel Meyrick, Eyre Square
Idyllically located in the heart of Eyre Square, Hotel Meyrick’s grey stone clad walls and tail-coated concierge scream grandeur and elegance without disturbing the city’s charming, eclectic theme. Stepping into the warm glow of the lobby, you’ll be greeted by a roaring fire and welcoming staff whilst you take in the intriguing surroundings of old and new decor. Edgy, modern furniture is placed in contrast to old-style paintings and wall hangings, giving you plenty to look at while making your way to the reception area, placed at the right of the lobby.
The Meyrick’s 97 bedrooms have several variations – ranging from standard doubles and twins to executive rooms, and both junior and executive suites. Check in to the luxurious Presidential Suite for incredible views of the bustling Eyre Square and throw yourself on to the magnificent canopied bed after taking a bubble bath in the elegant marble bathroom.If you feel like a little extra pampering, the fifth-floor spa offers a wide range of indulgent treatments, as well as a hot tub and jacuzzi overlooking the city skyline, leaving you feeling like royalty. Fill up on a breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs poached to perfection in the Oyster Grill, whilst watching the world go by through the large Victorian windows, echoing tones of old-school elegance.
If you feel like a little extra pampering, the fifth-floor spa offers a wide range of indulgent treatments, as well as a hot tub and jacuzzi overlooking the city skyline, leaving you feeling like royalty. Fill up on a breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs poached to perfection in the Oyster Grill, whilst watching the world go by through the large Victorian windows, echoing tones of old-school elegance.
Where to eat
Splashing out on locally-sourced seafood is a must in any Irish town and Galway is no exception. Located in the cultural quarter surrounded by pubs and bars, Oscar’s Seafood Bistro offers a menu of unique, seasonal seafood dishes, such as oatmeal-coated fish cakes and monkfish served with mussels, in a relaxed, easy-going setting. For a more decadent feel, try The Seafood Bar at Kirwan’s and enjoy their Galway Bay Rock Oysters and intimate, warm atmosphere.
If seafood isn’t really your thing, head to one of the local pubs such as McGettigan’s or Tigh Fox for traditional Irish pub food and you won’t be disappointed. For a mid-shopping refuel, pop into the GBC (Galway Bakery Company), who offer simple yet wholesome classic carvery-style dinners and warming apple sponge served with custard.
Where to drink
Deceptively quiet from the outside, you could quite easily stroll past this unassuming drinking spot and think nothing of it. But take a step inside and you’ll be transported in to what feels like a secret world of roaring locals, endless history and beautifully talented musicians.
Located on the corner of Cross Street and Quay Street since 1894, Tigh Neachtain’s intriguing history is, quite literally, written on the walls, with vintage theatre posters and photographs filling every orifice. Settle down with a drink in one of the intimate cubby-hole seating areas and it’s only a matter of time before an unassuming local casually breaks into gaelic song for all to enjoy. The only problem with Tigh Neachtain? You’ll never want to leave.
Located in the heart of Shop Street and with traditional Irish music sessions twice a day, every day, Taaffes is Galway’s go-to bar for live music. Head out early to grab a seat by the open fire and enjoy the harmonic sound of the six o’clock trad-band’s fiddle and accordion playing to get your night started. The friendly bar staff will keep the drinks flowing as the crowds roll in until the space is eventually swarmed by a mix of locals and tourists for the 9pm music session. The feel-good atmosphere is infectious, with the roaring laughter and sing-a-longs keeping the party going until the early hours.
What to see & do
Roam down the storybook cobbled streets where you’ll be met with incredible buskers on every corner. Take a stroll to Salt Hill Promenade to feel the full buzz of the sea-front.
For breathtaking scenery of Galway Bay, wander down to The Long Walk – most picturesque at dusk. If you’re wanting to explore the surrounding areas, Galway City places you just a stone’s throw away from natural beaches and peaceful Irish countryside. Take the Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive and embark on a discovery of hidden, remote places of exceptional natural beauty.
One stop you shouldn’t miss is Kilkieran, a village about an hour out of the city, where you’ll truly discover the joyous, fun-filled culture of the West Coast. Stop off in Taigh Chadhain (otherwise known as Coyne’s Bar & Bistro) for delicious Irish pub food served by the friendliest of locals, traditional Irish music and unbeatable sea views overlooking the pier.