Galway one day itinerary

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.

Enjoy sunset on the shore during a Galwayone day itinerary

About 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 it’s 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.

Enjoy reflections during one day in Galway

If you’re spending time exploring Ireland you might also like this post on the Beara Peninsula

What to do in one day in Galway

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 people 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.

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!

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!

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 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.

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.

Are you planning an Ireland Road Trip? Take at look at this epic 28 Ireland Road Trip Itinerary!

Walking to Salthill

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.

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.

That completes Galway in one day. Nursing a slightly sore head the next day there are also many great options to explore in the surroundings areas (See 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.

Booking.com

Things to do outside the city

After you have finished your time in Galway, it’s time to venture beyond the city to see some more incredible sights.

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.

Limestone formations in Burren National Park

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.

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.

Kylemore Abbey

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!

I put together our Ireland itinerary through combining suggestions from Irish friends, fellow travellers and with the use of Ireland Lonely Planet.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps cover the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!

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If you have a couple of nights to spend in the captivating city of Galway, here is your perfect Galway one day itinerary.

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Galway one day itinerary
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If you have a couple of nights to spend in the captivating city of Galway, here is your perfect Galway one day itinerary.
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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Great summary of what to do in the Galway area. I visited the Burren when we visited Ireland last summer, such a unique landscape. I wish I had read this post before going as I would have made a point to stop at the Kylemore Abbey too, that looks gorgeous.

  2. I have not heard about Galway before. Where is it? Salthill and promenode looks interesting.

    1. It’s a great little city on the west coast of Ireland 🙂

  3. This sounds like an amazing trip! Thanks for the info!

  4. This is such a great one day Galway itinerary! It looks like such a nice place to explore and I would definitely want to make the time to visit Kylemore Abbey as it looks beautiful.

  5. What an excellent right up and I love the food you mentioned here. If we happen to go, I would like to try this.

  6. Perfect timing, I am thinking about going to Ireland this fall and Galway was on my list to travel to. I have pinned for future reference. After reading your post, it certainly looks like there is a lot to see and do for just a day trip, thank you for all the recommendations you have provided.

  7. I have been hoping to visit Galway since I saw Ed Sheeran’s video Galway Girl. The whole place looks so pretty and photogenic. And I am really in love with the architecture of the space.

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