Top 8 things to do in Galway this Summer
From buzzing streets and vibrant festivals to sweeping bays and unforgettable landscapes, Galway is brimming with Irish culture, old and new.
Escape to the City of the Tribes to see for yourself how Galway makes the most of its charms.
1 – Experience one of Galway’s many festivals
Visit Galway during Festival season and you’ll come to understand why visitors love this amazing county so much. Every summer, this western gem comes alive with festivals that draw the very best of local and international talent. Be wowed with the quality of the Galway International Arts Festival (July), see something unique at the Galway Film Fleadh (July), and find out why the Galway International Oyster Festival (September) has been called one of the greatest events on earth. Either way, prepare to party.
2 – Connemara National Park
You’ll be spoiled for scenic choice at Connemara National Park, which stretches across 2,957 hectares – roughly the size of 2,400 football pitches. It takes in four of the famous Twelve Bens mountains, huge expanses of bogs, grasslands and woodlands, and it’s a birdwatcher’s delight. Three different unmissable trails offer something for every level, or during the summer you can take advantage of guided walks.
3 – Visit the Aran Islands
Step back in time with a trip to the Aran Islands, to an Ireland you probably thought existed only in books. Jump into the Bronze Age with a visit to Dún Aonghasa on Inis Mór, keep an eye out for the enormous basking sharks on the water’s surface near all three islands, and don’t be afraid to take home an iconic souvenir – an Aran jumper.
You’ll get away with speaking English on these Gaeltacht islands, but there’s never been a better time to try out your cúpla focail. Rossaveal is the main ferry port in Galway for the islands, with sailings twice daily to each island year-round, and more frequent departures in the summer months. Check out the sailing times here.
4 – Visit Kylemore Abbey
You’ll know you’re in for something special as you approach Kylemore Abbey and see the iconic baronial castle reflected in a Connemara Lake. Enjoy the perfect family day out at the former monastery, delving into its history of tragedy and romance, before exploring the extensive woodland and lakeshore walks, and the beautiful Victorian walled garden. Stop in for a homemade scone before you leave at Mitchell’s Café or the Garden Tea House.
5 – Take a stroll along Salthill
You can’t beat a stroll along Salthill Promenade, ice-cream in hand, on a sunny day. You might only be a five-minute drive away, but you’ll feel a world apart from Galway City. Sheltered among beachy coves along this Blue Flag-designated shoreline, you can sunbathe, explore amongst the rocks or dive in and join the swimmers in lapping up those Atlantic waves.
6 – Check out a Market
The laid-back, happy-go-lucky vibes of Galway are best felt at its weekend market. Here, there’s loads of chat, loads of colourful stalls and plenty of incredible flavours, all in the shadow of St Nicholas’ Medieval Church. As well as local cheeses and charcuterie, international influences come through with curries, sushi and Mediterranean favourites. Pack a basket and pick up your picnic supplies.
7 – The Galway Races
The Galway Races at Galway Racecourse is the quintessential Galway experience, but it’s about far more than just horse-racing. Taking over the city at the end of July each year, it’s a major cultural festival as well. You won’t be short on options for great music, culinary delights and cutting-edge fashion so dig out your best hat and prepare for a weekend of fun. Plus, the g Hotel really puts on a show during the racing festival with many different events running throughout the week.
8 – Enjoy a Traditional Trad Music Session
Galway has to be one of the best places on the island to visit for traditional music. This is a city that lives and breathes music, from the buzzing street buskers to the endless trad sessions all over town. Step inside a traditional music pub, and you’re guaranteed an unforgettable night. Check out great trad sessions in pubs such as Taaffes, The Crane Bar, Tigh Cóilí and An Púcán.