Galway is for foodies, artists, and lovers of music, literature, and whiskey; it’s for those who adore a stunningly gorgeous stroll along the water. The city is full of charm and makes for a great romantic getaway or girls’ weekend. You can eat and drink well in one of Ireland’s top foodie destinations. We spent 48 fantastic hours in Galway putting as many experiences as we could to the test. Below are eight great to-do’s we found to put on your Galway travel itinerary.
8 Ways to Spend 48 Fantastic Hours in Galway Ireland:
1. Make Time for Tea
Why not start with tea time when you arrive in town? Most hotel check-ins are at about three or four in the afternoon, the same time afternoon tea is typically served. Find a hotel that serves tea to begin your getaway on an indulgent, relaxing note. While booking our stay in Galway, I noticed that a few hotels offer afternoon tea. There’s The G Hotel which looks perfect for a girls weekend getaway. Glenlo Abbey Hotel has a tea time that looks quite elegant. We chose to stay at The Galmont and enjoyed our indulgent afternoon tea at their Cooper Bar and Lounge.
It was Chris’s first time indulging in Afternoon Tea, so he felt a bit self-conscious at first. All was well once we started enjoying the tea, the sparkling wine, and the treats. Since we can only manage one Afternoon Tea on a weekend (How on earth could Queen Victoria have this as part of a daily ritual?), we can only speak to the one we enjoyed at The Galmont. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed all of the delightful little treats, the attentive service, and the classy atmosphere.
Not a fan of tea? Afternoon Tea is really all about enjoying the fancy treats. You could stick to the bubbles of the sparkling wine, or request a different beverage.
Head down to the Latin Quarter and stop into a pub or two along Galway’s Whiskey Trail. If you can, walk down to it. One thing we appreciated about The Galmont’s location is that we were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go in Galway with ease. A post Afternoon Tea walk is always a good idea.
Sonny Molloy’s has the perfect sort of classy atmosphere for enjoying a whiskey flight. They also offer flights of gin, if whiskey isn’t for you. When we went, our timing was a bit off. A football (soccer) game was playing and we grabbed a corner table that happened to be under the television. It was some pre-whiskey poor decision-making on our part. We decided to get a couple of Old Fashioneds and be on our way. They made them great. We’ll have to return so we can do the whiskey tasting. After all, they have their own Sonny Molloy’s Redbreast whiskeys to try and I quite enjoy a Redbreast 12-year-old whiskey neat.
The King’s Head is full of history. The building itself is 800 years old and has links to the 14 Galway Tribes. They have their own King’s Head Blood Red Ale on tap brewed by Galway Hooker brewers. It’s one of those cozy, touristy pubs that feels like a must.
Our timing was perfect when we walked into An Pucan’s for a nightcap. The place was lively. Live music was playing and we found fun whiskey cocktails to try for our nightcaps. It was Monday Night Date Night, so sadly I haven’t any pictures to share.
3. Get Your Irish Trad Music Fix
Stop into The Crane Bar for old-school Irish trad music. The Crane Bar, Galway poem by Tom French hangs on a plaque on a wall outside of the bar. It’s part of Galway’s Poetry Trail. If you want a classic, traditional Irish music fix, this is the place. We went on a Sunday afternoon, in between sessions. Musicians sat around, drinking their pints and breaking into song, one after the other. Tears rolled from my eyes. Even now, when I think of how wonderful our time there was, tears brim them. The voices, the souls, the connection. Now, it may be that there was something deeper going on that I wasn’t realizing on a surface level. Some of my ancestors are from Galway and though I don’t know it for certain, my guess is they left Galway during the famine. Why else would anyone leave such a gorgeous place on earth?
4. Enjoy Classy Meals at Reasonable Prices
Okay, everyone’s version of reasonable is different, but we’ve eaten average meals for the prices we paid at these remarkable restaurants.
Michelin-recommended, Il Vicolo is just a short walk from and an entire world away from The Crane Bar. We heard swanky jazz music as we walked down the steps to its basement-level restaurant, where a live band was playing and a bartender was slinging craft cocktails. As we waited for the table we reserved to be ready (We were early. They were on time.), we sat at the bar and ordered a couple of pistachio margaritas. The atmosphere and food (once it finally arrived) delighted us. I think the slow service we experienced was a case of an individual server being in way over her head, not the norm. Whenever we’re back in Galway, there’s an excellent chance that we’ll give the award-winning restaurant another try.
HYDE Bar has such a lush and fresh atmosphere with all of its elegant green touches. In 2022, the bar took Bronze in the Food Awards Ireland Gin Bar of the Year category. They do offer gin flights. Their service was superb and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I had the Chicken Supreme. Chris decided to have one of his favorites, chicken wings – fun fact: he ordered them from me when we first met at the bar I was part-timing at. Their espresso martinis are delish too!
5. Get Your Coffee and Pastry Fix in Galway's Latin Quarter
If you’re a coffee purist, go to Coffeewerks & Press. The coffee shop was named one of the best in the world. Chris drank a cappuccino there that might’ve been the best he’s ever had. However, if, like me, you take your coffee with plant-based milk and sugary flavor shots, a stop at Le Petit Delice for a flavored latte or mocha and perhaps an almond croissant will be delightful.
Fancy a donut? Stop at Stodge Face for an American-style doughnut. The shop is one of a few owned by a husband and wife team. He’s Irish. She’s American. Their business was born out of her love of doughnuts from back home. We tried them and our donut-loving hearts were very happy.
6. Follow A Trail or Two Or Three
You could stick to the Whiskey Trail. After all, there are a dozen bars on it. If you like gorgeous views though, the Salthill Promenade, skirting Galway Bay is a must. It’s a short walk from Galway’s town center and is about 3 km long. You can take part in a local tradition by kicking the wall at the trail’s end. Bring a euro or two along to donate at the kicking wall. Proceeds go to local charities.
While on the Salthill Promenade, if you keep an eye out, you might spy a plaque or two of poetry from the Galway Poetry Trail. As I write this, there are 27 poems on the trail. For the full listing, click here.
There are plenty of historic sites to see throughout Galway, though there isn’t a specific trail that I know of. Seeing them does involve quite a bit of walking, which helps balance out all of the eating and drinking. We checked out a number of them like Eyre Square, Lynch’s Memorial Window, Lynch Castle, and the Spanish Arch.
Literature, whiskey, history, views, great food, what more does one need? Perhaps a bit of shopping…
7. Shop in Galway's Latin Quarter
Find a Claddagh ring (or necklace – which I prefer) at Thomas Dillon’s. They’re the original makers of Claddagh rings and the oldest jewelers still running in Ireland. In case you’ve never heard of a Claddagh ring before, its meaning is to let love and friendship reign and it symbolizes love, loyalty, and friendship. They were originally used as wedding rings. Famous past clients of Dillon’s include Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and JFK.
There are several Claddagh shops all clustered nearby and they might all be wonderful. If you have time, you might want to browse through them. There was so much to explore in Galway and so little time, so we only stopped at Thomas Dillon’s. We found their selection and service to be top-notch there.
Peruse Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop for a good book to read. The shop was named Ireland’s best bookshop back in 2019. While it doesn’t seem all that large from the outside, more than 100,000 new and used books are located within it. The shop hosts book launches by local authors and weekly book clubs for adults and children. One thing I love about going to bookstores in different countries is that you get a sense of what matters in that part of the world.
8. Eat a Taco-Terrific Lunch! Yes, You can find Great Mexican Food in Ireland!
We only ate one lunch during our 48 hours in Galway and we made an excellent choice – Tuco’s Taqueria. This fast-casual restaurant has won the Best Mexican Establishment in the Ireland Food Awards two years in a row. Tuco’s also wins a big double thumbupabump from us. Chris is a taco-tasting expert and he was absolutely delighted by the tacos at Tuco’s. I opted for a Paleo Box and it was delicious.
Are you planning a trip to Ireland? Be sure to check out our 7 Tips for Planning Your Best Ever Trip to Ireland. For more Galway travel inspiration, watch our 48 Hours of Fantastic Food and Fun in Galway, Ireland video.
Fuel our creativity with coffee! It helps us create free content to inspire your future travels and more!