Why Galway is One of the Best Cities I have ever visited
Galway Ireland, what can I say? It’s one of the best cities I have ever been to. It has History, Culture, night life, shopping, and is a starting point for a few tours to the surrounding area. It has an interesting history; it embraces it, and thrives on it. Galway is both medieval and modern at the same time. It has something for every kind of traveler, including accommodations. Whether it is a hotel, bed and breakfast, inns, or hostels the city has something to suit your taste.
Where to Stay
Finding a place to stay when traveling is always one of the most important steps and Galway offers something for everyone. You have your choice of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels. Having been back to the city both times I have been back to Ireland I can recommend at least two of these from personal experience. Back in 2009 when I first found myself in Galway, it was the last week of July during race week. This being said it was incredibly busy and it was really difficult finding a room. We did manage to get one at the Menlo Park Hotel, which is 4-star accommodations and was really worth the extra price. The room was fantastic, the staff was incredible, and the breakfast was amazing. It was a bit of a travel from the Dock and the Historic 15th century section of the city but a fantastic place to stay. If you are more of a hotel person when you travel I recommend staying here. But if you are more budget cautious when you travel, there are plenty of hostels all within walking distance of all the action. I would recommend staying at Kinlay House Hostel. It is one of the better hostels that I have stayed in. I stayed here the second time I traveled down there in 2013 when I was on spring break from University and I look forward to staying there the next time I am in Galway. The staff was fantastic, it was very clean, full of life, and the breakfast was one of the best. I in fact recommend staying in Hostels. Below there is a link to an excellent site for booking hostels, bed and Breakfasts, and even some hotels. I always check there first.
Some Recommendations and Highlights
Now that you have your place to stay all picked out and ready to go we can get on to the fun stuff, which makes up so much of what I love about the city and can’t wait to share with you all. The history is what brings a place alive for me and being able to walk on the same roads that were there in the 15th century and go in and out of buildings that have stood the test of time really was a fantastic treat for myself. The area down by the Docks and Spanish Arch are beautiful, and the original architecture is amazing. St. Nicholas was a beautiful church, and as an archaeology student at the time I could really see the changes that the building has under gone. The Information was fresh in my mind, having just come from my field school on Achill Island in County Mayo. Between the shops, the restaurants, the pubs, and the street performers it was amazing. The streets that are closed off from vehicle traffic are the original streets. It was an amazing feeling to be able to walk on them. Galway was built in 1124, and control of the city has changed hands several times since it was built. It has been a center for trade. In the late 1400's the city was controlled by 12 merchant families.
The Spanish Arch is a misnomer, because it is not connected to any Spanish presence in the city itself. The Arch was constructed in 1584, and was built as an extension to the city wall, in order to protect the Quay. This section of the wall was damaged and part of it destroyed in 1755 from a tsunami. Until 2006 the Galway Museum was housed here, until it was moved to a building directly behind it.
The St. Nicholas Collegiate Church was founded in 1320 and was dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, who is the patron saint of seafarers. This Church is now a part of the church of Ireland. Another Historical place in the city, that I enjoyed very much, was the Kings Head Pub. The building, archaeologists will tell you, has been there since about the 13th century. It has been a number of things, including a spirits and grocer. But it draws its name from the beheading of Kings Charles I. As the property in the back, had belonged to Richard Gunning, who was said to have bragged that he was the executioner that beheaded the king and the property as given to him, as payment for spilling royal blood. There is lots of really cool historical details that are original to the building, outside and in. The food and pub atmosphere are nothing short of spectacular and there is a live band. I highly recommend this place if you find yourself in the area.
Day Tours of the Surrounding Area
But there is more to do in Galway then just the city, but the surrounding country side which is a must see as well. From Galway you can take several day tours to the Aran Islands, Connemara and Kylemore Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. I highly recommend taking these tours, especially if have only a couple of days in the area. They are a great way to see a lot in a short period of time, not to mention that the guides tend to give you a bit of history and stories that can make everything come alive. They really are and excellent experience. We did the Aran Islands tour and the Connemara and Kylemore Abbey tour while we were there and both were truly amazing.
The Aran Islands- a day spent immersed in the past. The primary Language on the Islands is still Irish, and their schools are taught in them, as our guide told us. There is a lot to see once you get there for several options to get around the Islands once you get there. You can of course go the self guided route and walk or rent a cycle to get around, you can also take a horse drawn cart tour or a van. The last two options get you a guide and work as a hop on and hop off at the various different stops. The first two options of course can be fun for the adventurous. I did a combination of walking around on my own and tours that I picked up along the way and it worked well for me. There are neolithic historic sites, beaches, epic scenery and modern Irish culture. I got some truly amazing pictures that came out like post card pictures. I have done this particular tour twice in rain and shine and I loved both times. If you find yourself in Galway I truly suggest making your way to the Aran Islands and while your there get yourself a sweater that is made right there. I love mine; it is both warm and cozy, not to mention a practical souvenir to take home if you need the excuse. There's several tour companies that you can take. We used Lally Tours, and I fully enjoyed it. And the driver and tour guide on the bus, on the way to the ferry, were very knowledgeable and engaging. I enjoyed learning about the area from them. I can recommend them personally. But I have looked into the other tour companies, and have heard really good things.
Connemara and Kylemore Abbey- A day in the country side. Once again I used Lally Tours for this trip...they really are a fantastic company and the drivers/guides are truly amazing. This tour winds through Connemara stopping at various stops to and from Kylemore Abbey. The Village where the John Wayne movie The Quiet Man was filmed. I loved this as it is one of mine and my dad's favorite movies. In the same village there is also a ruined abbey and quite a few churches to explore. Once at Kylemore Abbey you have a couple of hours to spend. It was built as a private home and then became an Abbey. There is a chapel and Mosulem for the husband and wife that had it built. There is also a historic walled garden that is really amazing. There is so much I can say about the Abbey, which is an article in itself. I would highly recommend this tour. Connemara and Kylemore Abbey really are stunning and epic in many ways.
These Tours can be booked online and if your staying at a Hostel you can also book at the tour desk. A helpful tip...if you don't mind staying in a hostel the tour buses pick up right outside the Kinlay House and several other hostels.
So....Why is Galway the Best City I have Visited
Galway is truly a walk able city and in fact I recommend it as it truly helps to get to know the city on a personal level. There's so many reason to fall in love with this city. The people are friendly, the Architecture is fantastic and it is very much a gem. It will truly remain one of my all time favorite places. A place to return to time and time again. I myself can not wait to go back. I am sure that there are places and sites that I did not include, but I am more then happy to answer questions, just ask.
- Lally ToursTours from Galway | Cliffs of Moher | Aran Islands
Day Tours to Cliffs of Moher, Connemara and the Aran Islands are our specialty. Now ofering Tours from Galway and Dublin. FREE ADMISSION to Cliffs!
- Hostels Worldwide - Online Hostel Bookings, Ratings and Reviews
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Excellent Hotel! I loved it, and would stay there again. Full Irish breakfast included with the rm. Great Staff. Rm, was the perfect size. Loved it.
Excellent Shopping and Night Life. Fantastic! and Full of History.
The Spanish Arch! Its Amazing. And Part of the old walls of the medieval city.
excellent Pub, Good food.
One of the Oldest Pubs in Galway! Good food and atmosphere. Lots of Fun.
This is the tour office for Lally Tours. www.lallytours.com/