Music runs deep in Irish culture, and there are few better places to get an authentic taste of the tradition than in a pub. Some of Galway's pubs have live Irish music multiple evenings each week, including Tigh Coili, Taaffes (both with traditional music sessions daily at 17.30 and 21.30) and The Crane. Many more pubs have regular performances.
Some of Ireland’s most famous traditional musicians have made their names on the stages of Galway.
Ireland’s beaches are among the country’s greatest secrets, and nowhere has better beaches than Galway. Salthill (see below) is just a short walk from the city centre and is home to three separate beaches, while a journey outside of town gives you access to glorious stretches of sand when you can enjoy the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean at your pleasure.
Silverstrand Beach, just 3 km from Salthill, is safe, shallow and sandy, while Carraroe Beach is famous for its fine coral – ideal for snorkeling or diving. If you want to explore further afield, Dogs Bay and Gurteen Bay are two of the most beautiful beaches in County Galway.
If the idea of sharing your beach with other people does not appeal, you can hop on a boat to…
The Aran Islands
On the very edge of Western Europe, just off the coast of Galway, the Aran Islands are a bastion of traditional Irish culture. Largely due to their isolation, the islands are ‘Gaeltachts’ (Irish-speaking areas) – but don’t worry as most people will gladly speak English with you.
The islands are best explored on foot or bike and offer the kind of unique landscapes that Ireland is famous for. As well as ancient forts, towering cliffs and unique local flora and fauna, there are untouched sandy beaches where you can enjoy unbelievably clear water. And if all of that fresh air gets too much for you, duck into a traditional pub and enjoy a pint of Guinness.
Arriving in the Aran Islands requires a short journey outside of Galway city, followed by a ferry ride, but some transport providers will pick you up in the city centre.
Take a walk along the promenade in Salthill
Enjoy the sunset over Galway Bay, watch the salmon fishermen from the perfect vantage point of the Salmon Weir Bridge, or simply soak up the atmosphere of Salthill. Salthill, in the west of the city centre, is the mid-point in the Wild Atlantic Way and home to a famous diving tower from which people spring each Christmas Day for charity. There are three different beaches to enjoy, offering sand or pebbles.
During his brief visit to Galway, John F. Kennedy looked out from his car and saw the wild Atlantic Ocean and said of the idea of swimming there “Only a Spartan would do it!”
The Sky Road at Clifden
80 km west of Galway (that’s 90 minutes on the bus or by car), the Sky Road at Clifden is one of Europe’s most spectacular stretches of road. Against the backdrop of the Twelve Ben Mountains and windswept Atlantic coastline, this circular route is 11km long and takes you west from the charming town of Clifden, through the rocky landscape of Connemara.
There are numerous beaches to stop at en route, which are popular with holidaying families and local fishermen.
Many people choose to drive along the road but it is also possible to hire a bicycle locally.