Want to Head to Galway Ireland? Read On! • Tour Travel Hotels
If Ireland is on your list, you might have wondered: is Galway worth a visit? My answer to that question, before setting foot in the largest city on the west coast of Ireland, was a resounding ‘yes’ – well, until I set foot there.
Frankly, I found Galway to be an unsightly, messy mess of a city, and unmatched on the beautiful part of the planet it is built on. As I walked through the city center I wondered if I would have been less disappointed if the city was in a less incredible natural environment.
However, I am getting ahead of myself – and I am drawing hard conclusions without showing you my evidence. Hope you will keep reading so that you can get all of what I have to say.
Why I visited Galway
Before discussing whether I think Galway is worth visiting or not, I thought I should give you the background to my trip. I came here while driving the west coast of Ireland several years ago. The day before, I had been around the Dingle Peninsula (and I couldn’t, through the teeth of my skin, get a ticket on a boat to Skellig Michael Island. Star wars Fame), and was delighted to spend a night in a town before continuing my journey north along the aptly named Wild Atlantic Way.
Sadly, I found the creature comforts I was looking for in making an effort to come to Galway in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong – this is a modern and developed city. Besides having a festive college atmosphere, amenities ranging from supermarkets to electric car chargers are in abundance. However, several key factors have kept me from loving or even truly loving the city.
How Galway disappointed me
Don’t be fooled by the main image I have chosen to represent this article: Galway is not an attractive city. This is true not only in absolute terms, but especially when compared to other places in Ireland, from cities like Dublin and Belfast, to the beautiful coast itself.
There are not a lot of interesting attractions
Another reason I’m not sure Galway is worth a visit? There just isn’t much to do there. Galway Cathedral, for example, isn’t really a cathedral at all, and really (certainly from the outside) presents itself as an ugly library. Eyre Square, meanwhile, is muddy and not particularly relaxing.
The atmosphere is wacky
Now I’ll be honest: I visited Galway in the middle of the summer, so it’s possible that the students at the National University of Ireland have mostly left, which means that the fun for which the city is was known was necessarily absent. Still, I didn’t find anything particularly pleasant about the Galway vibe.
(And hotels too)
I would be lying if I said that the reason why I doubt Galway is worth visiting is unique to this city. Indeed, hotels are lacking throughout Ireland. Even where there is a lot, the quality is low and the prices are high. Still, if I had had elegant or even comfortable sleep in Galway, I might be able to look back more favorably on my time in the city.
Ireland is full of top destinations
Ultimately, Galway has some fierce competition on the Emerald Isle – why would you spend even one night in a mediocre and ugly city, when some of the world’s most magnificent scenery can be found an hour away? Ditto for the superb urban experiences offered further east.
Galway’s good qualities
Galway is full of restaurants offering food from all over the world and plenty of places to meet the basic needs of your life. Although hotels are lacking (to say the least), you can find a clean and safe place to sleep, although you will probably pay more than you should. Galway, as I’ve noted several times throughout this piece, is located in the middle of one of the best road trip routes in Europe.
Again, however, as I have also pointed out on several occasions, the only context in which I can say that Galway is worth a visit is … well, in the context of a bigger road trip in Ireland. I could never imagine coming here for the purpose of being in Galway, unless of course I have a business obligation or the local tourist board pays me to visit. (By the way my friends: I’m totally open to the belief that everything I’ve written here is wrong!)
Other Galway FAQs
How many days do you need in Galway?
In my opinion, Galways is not even worth a full day and night of your time. On the contrary, I think it’s best (if you have to) stop here for lunch while driving north or south along the Wild Atlantic Way, or as a diversion after being blown away by the beauty. from the Cliffs of Moher.
What should I see in Galway?
Rather than trying to visit Galway which is largely devoid of attractions, I would recommend placing your sights outside of the city. In addition to the aforementioned Cliffs of Moher, other destinations along the Wild Atlantic Way (namely, the Dingle Peninsula further south of town and the Cliffs) are worth your time.
How to spend a day in Galway?
The best way to spend a day in Galway is to spend as little time as possible in the city. For example, you can depart from Dingle one morning and after visiting the Cliffs of Moher stop in Galway for a late lunch or early dinner before continuing north along the coast to where you choose to sleep. Or, you could sleep in Galway and just leave as early as possible the next morning.
The bottom line
Is Galway worth a visit? It really depends on the context of your question and the contours you expect from your trip. If you’re planning on driving the Wild Atlantic Way anyway and just want to stop here for a lunch break or even for the night, there isn’t much harm in spending some time in the center of the Ireland. Where is. If, on the other hand, you are planning a long weekend in Galway from elsewhere in Ireland or Europe, I absolutely do not recommend it. There are dozens of places in Ireland that are better worth your time – in fact, pretty much everywhere else in the country, as far as I’m concerned.