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The 20 best things to do in Galway – A guide to County Galway

When visiting any location you want to make the most of your time doing the best things the place has to offer, and Galway is no exception. At Connolly Cove we are experts at all things travel on the island of Ireland and around the world.

Having lived in Galway I can confidently say that this list encompasses the best things to do in Galway all year round. For a seasonal guide of the best festivals and events in Galway we also have you covered!

Things to do in Galway #1. Visit the Aran Islands

One of the most underrated things to do in Galway is to visit the many islands in the county. The Aran islands are a brilliant day trip and are just a ferry cruise away. Enjoy the journey across the waters by looking at Irelands rugged West Coast; you may even spot seals or a friendly dolphin on the way!

The Aran Islands are comprised of 3 individual islands, from largest to smallest they are: Inishmore (Árainn / Inis Mór), Inishmaan (Inis Meáin), and Inisheer (Inis Oírr).

Why not purchase a Aran sweater from the original source. The world famous sweaters made from sheep’s wool are comfy and water proof – essential for Irish weather! Originally worn by Aran fishermen and farmers to keep dry while braving the elements, they are highly functional yet fashionable; a timeless classic and staple of many wardrobes.

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The Island is part of the Gaeltacht, that is the regions of Ireland where Irish is the primary language. Fear not however, locals are also fluent in English. The Gaeltacht regions are some of the best places to experience traditional Irish culture, from trad sessions, GAA clubs and beautiful scenery.

Like the Burren in Co. Clare, the Aran islands has a diverse range of flora and fauna, and a long growing season due to its temperate climate. Due to its unique climate, the islands have a range of arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants, with the limestone landscape further supporting the wide range of floral growth.

Did you know? The annual Red Bull cliff-diving world championships are held on Inis Mór every year!

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Things to do in Galway #2. Wild Atlantic Way Tour

The Wild Atlantic Way stretches along the Western coast of Ireland, beginning in the North in Co. Donegal and continuing down along the coastal counties (including Galway), ending in Cork.

These counties have been exposed to the harsh erosion of the Atlantic Ocean and so the rugged coast has been shaped by ferocious waves creating many beautiful geographical landmarks in the process.

If you are looking for a road trip during your stay in Ireland, then the Wild Atlantic Way is the perfect adventure. You’ll take in amazing landscapes intertwining with the Atlantic ocean, with coastal tourist towns scattered along your journey, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see Ireland as it really is, and was, as we seek to preserve our landscape and tradition.

The Wild Atlantic Way makes up one of three touring regions in the Republic of Ireland, the other two are Ireland’s Ancient East and the Hidden Heartlands.

Touring the Wild Atlantic way is one of the most exciting things to do in Galway and Ireland as a whole.

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Things to do in Galway #3. Visit Connemara

There is plenty to do in Connemara, from visiting the picturesque town of Clifden nestled between the 12 Bens mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean to exploring the countryside. A tourist friendly town with many restaurants, pubs and places to stay, Clifden is worth a visit if you are in Connemara.

If you fancy a challenge why not climb the Twelve Bens?

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Connemara National Park is the main attraction in Connemara and has a rich history.

Things to do in Galway #4. Salthill

Enjoy the view from Galway Bay, or take the plunge off the Black Rock Diving Tower! Salthill is only 2.6km from Eyre Square the city centre, yet you’ll feel the noise of the city disappear as you enjoy watching the waves wash along the shore.

With so many great pubs and restaurants along the promenade, you can easily spend the day at Salthill. During the summer the beach can be busy during the day, but it is also a popular spot for morning walks and sea swimming all year round!

One of the most relaxing things to do in Galway is to spend some time at Salthill

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Things to do in Galway #5. Kylemore Abbey

Situated in Connemara, Kylemore Abbey was built in 1868 as a romantic gesture by Mitchell Henry, a wealthy doctor from London who purchased the land for his wife Magaret after travelling there in the 1840s during their Honeymoon.

Taking a total of 100 men and 4 years to build, Dr. Henry definitely raised the bar for romantic gestures over 150 years ago!

The building was sold to another wealthy family before being purchased by Belgian nuns whose original abbey was destroyed during WWII. They converted it into an abbey and remained a Catholic school for girls for 90 years as an international boarding school and day school for locals.

The Kylemore Abbey estate includes large walled Victorian Gardens. Since the 1970s they have been open for public tours and nature walks for the flower garden and kitchen garden.

With multiple tours and history talks daily, wholesome Irish food and a gift shop alongside breath-taking views of Connemara, Kylemore Abbey is an achievement of brilliant architecture that not only incorporates but compliments the landscape around it.

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Things to do in Galway #6. Killary Fjord 

Why not take a boat tour of Killary Fjord, Ireland’s only glacial Fjord. Fjords are formed when glaciers extend below the current sea level. The result is a narrow inlet of water that is lower than sea level bordered by steep cliffs.

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Take a tour and admire the spectacular views of Connemara while listening to the natural and social history of the Fjord and the ancient mythology of the waters. The 90 minute tour culminates at the mouth of the Fjord, where Killary harbour meets the Atlantic ocean. This is one of the best things to do in Galway for keen explorers!

Things to do in Galway #7. The Claddagh

Known for its colourful houses, the Claddagh is a notable area found where the River Corrib meets Galway Bay. Originally a fishing village, the Claddagh or ‘an Cladach’ in Irish means ‘the shore’

Originally residents sailed on the famous Galway Hooker boats. A walk along the Claddagh is one of the most common things to do in Galway on any visitors bucket list!

The Claddagh, Galway city
Panorama of the Claddagh in Galway city, Ireland.

The Claddagh is also the homeplace of the Claddagh ring a famous piece of Irish jewellery. The ring is thought to have been created by Richard Joyce a member of one of Galway’s 14 tribes. Joyce left Galway in 1675 serving as indentured servant in the West Indies. His ship was captured by pirates, and he was sold to slavery to a goldsmith in Algeria. There Joyce learned his trade and when he was released and returned to Galway, he brought with him the first Claddagh ring, which he would give to his future wife.

In the past Claddagh rings were use as engagement rings as well as coming of age gifts, traditionally when a daughter turned 18. The Claddagh ring is an abstract design made up of 3 elements; two clasped hands holding onto a heart with a crown on top.

The hands symbolise friendship, the heart love and the crown loyalty; the perfect romantic gift for a partner. Traditionally the way the ring is worn can have different meanings.

If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart pointing towards the finger tips, the person is single. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart pointing towards the chest, the wearers heart belongs to someone else..

If the ring is worn on the left hand pointing out towards the finger tips, the wearer is engaged. Finally if the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart pointing towards them, they are married.

This post first appeared on Travel Blog, Culture And Travel Vlogs From ConnollyCove, please read the originial post: here

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The 20 best things to do in Galway – A guide to County Galway


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