Galway is a city worth exploring. You’ll need at least a couple of days to fully appreciate the city centre – and that’s without factoring in excursions to the countryside. Cobblestone streets are lined with cafés and pubs, and live music is pervasive. Indeed, the more time you have to explore this city, the more you’ll appreciate its bohemian atmosphere.
For a proper tour of the city, consider boarding the Corrib Princess for a cruise on the River Corrib. This 90-minute tour can accommodate up to 150 passengers and introduces them to ruins on the periphery of Galway as well as the local plant and animal life. Refreshments are served on board.
Once you’ve taken in the lay of the land, you’ll be ready for tour of the city itself. Whether it’s a walk on the promenade or a visit to a local art gallery, you’ll find that many of Galway’s best attractions are free to the public:
The Galway Cathedral is the city’s postcard-worthy landmark. It’s a relative recent architectural (dating to 1965). However, it is a fine example the passion that this city has for fine arts and architecture. It takes its cues from several different epochs. The dome is done in Renaissance style and stands more than 44 metres high.
Lynch’s castle was built in the 14th century, after which time it went through a series of dramatic rebuilds and expansions. There was a time when the Lynch family was preeminent in Galway, and their legacy persists to this day. The structure itself is forbiddingly Gothic, guarded by ominous gargoyles.
Nora Barnacle House
Nora Barnacle was the wife of author James Joyce, and this was her house before she married him. Today, it’s a shrine to her life and their relationship. Exhibits feature photographs of the couple and letters that they wrote to one another.
Hall of the Red Earl
One of the most beautiful things of the Hall of the Red Earl is that it was lost for the better part of a millennium. Its foundations were unearthed during a construction project at the Custom House in the 1900s. Richard the Red Earl once held court here and entertained visiting guests.
Galway Irish Crystal Heritage Centre
Galway has a worldwide reputation for crystal, and it has for many years. For an up-close look at how the crystal is cut, visit this heritage centre on Dublin Road.
St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church
Galway’s position on the west coast of Ireland made it an important place for Atlantic-bound sailors to weigh anchor. With that in mind, this 14th-century church (which is near the Nora Barnacle house) is named after St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. If you’re not convinced of the church’s clout on the high seas, consider the fact that Christopher Columbus said a prayer here before shipping off in 1477.
National Aquarium of Galway
It makes since that a city with a church worthy of Christopher Columbus’ patronage would also have the country’s largest aquarium. Kids will enjoy the splash pool and its resident sea bass. However the biggest (literally) is the skeleton that beached itself in Kerry a couple of decades ago. The bones alone weigh a whopping five metric tonnes.
Spanish Arch and Medieval Walls
The Spanish Arch is actually a vestige of the medieval walls that once encircled Galway. Historians have differing ideas regarding the original role of the arch. However, most speculate that it was used to regulate the flow of Spanish wine imports – thus the name.