THE LONG WALK describes the colorful riverside footpath that provides views of the stony shore across the way.
Start the day off like a local with a cup of tea at Cupán Tae at 8 Quay Lane. It’s easy to miss this charming little tea house, decorated in the style of a quaint countryside living room. Recommended is the before-noon tea, an early morning spin on the traditional afternoon tea. Diners will be treated to a tiered cake stand loaded with granola and yoghurt, fresh fruit, baked scones smothered in homemade jam and a selection of classic breakfast teas. For something a little heartier try the full Irish breakfast.
Head across the road to one of the last remnants of the old city wall, The Spanish Arch. This gateway provided a way onto the new quays and as a protection for ships. Built in 1584, it remains a popular spot; expect to see the entire city descend upon the grassy banks the second the sun decides to peek out. Top Tip: Walk through the arch to get to the ‘Long Walk’, a stretch of riverside footpath providing panoramic views of the Claddagh (the stony shore).
Through the arch also lies the Galway City Museum. Ignore the modernist facade and step inside to see the museum’s history, art and film exhibitions which showcase Ireland’s culture. Noteworthy is the 10-meter long traditional sailing boat suspended above the entrance hall and the Padraic O’ Conaire man and statue, an almost life-size figurine of the renowned Irish language author. The admission to the museum, situated at Spanish Parade, is free.
After the museum, follow the River Corrib for a scenic stroll to the Salmon Weir Bridge. Cross over to Nun’s Island and the Galway Cathedral, with its octagonal dome visible from most parts of the city. Check out the building’s architecture including Gothic windows, rose mosaics and Romanesque arches as well as its superb acoustics which are best appreciated during one of the organ recitals.
Follow the students up to the NUIG campus and explore the Hogwarts-esque quad built in 1849, before stopping for lunch at healthy eatery, 37 West at 37 Lower Newcastle. Expect a mixed crowd of locals, students as well as the local rugby team. Grab a window seat and enjoy a cup of the west coast seafood chowder served with their homemade buttermilk brown bread.
Pictured: GALWAY is a splendid mix of students, travelers and locals.
Head back in to the heart of the city, the cobble-stoned Shop Street. Expect to be greeted by the sounds of the local street performers, from teenagers with ukuleles to full-blown orchestras. Every few steps you will be reminded of Galway’s history and culture, from the 16th-century castle turned bank, to the slices of the Galway wall randomly dotted around the town. Journey further south to Quay Street, the center of the ‘Latin Quarter’, which is filled to the brim with cozy bars and eclectic eateries. Slowly make your way through the crowds and explore one of the many traditional Irish gift stores where you can pick up a traditional Aran sweater, or to Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop at Cornstore Mall, Middle Street. It is a cozy little store full of crooks and nannies to immerse yourself in one of the ceiling high stacks. Afterward grab a patio seat and a pint of Guinness at local favorite Tigh Neachtains at 17 Cross Street, for a spot of people watching.
Housed in an old tea warehouse at the Druid Lane is the acclaimed Druid Theater Company. Known for its presentation of experimental shows, young Irish playwrights fill up the bill with their innovative shows or adaptations of the old classics. Theater aficionados might also want to check out the Town Hall Theatre at the Courthouse Square. Home to a more expansive set, it’s no surprise to see traveling Broadway and West End shows alongside local comedy acts in this courthouse-turned-town-hall-turned-theater.
Foodies will love Aniar, meaning from the west, at 53 Lower Dominick Street. This little gem, boasting Galway’s only Michelin star is no tourist trap and is discreetly tucked away in the city’s West End. The entire menu changes daily depending on seasons and local availability. Guests can expect some unusual combinations, specifically with Aniar’s specialty tasting plates such as duck hearts, hen egg and gorse followed by a sea buckthorn panna cotta.
Post dinner, nightowls should skip Eyre square’s entertainment offerings, which can easily fill up with the raucous bachelor and bachelorette parties over the weekend, and continue on down to Dominick Street. This part of town draws a young and international crowd. Start off at The Crane Bar at 2 Sea Road. This traditional Irish pub may seem out of place amongst the surrounding trendier watering holes but with its wood trimmings and low lighting, it remains one of the most popular spots in the city. Top Tip: Head straight to the second floor for a lively Irish trad session and the so-called best pint of Guinness in Galway.
Pictured: THE GALWAY CITY MUSEUM provides history, art and film exhibitions.
The hot spot for night revelers is Electric Garden at 36 Upper Abbeygate Street. This 1000+ capacity venue houses different rooms for different tastes, buzzworthy is Factory, the downstairs space complete with shopping carts as seating and a roster of international DJs. Go upstairs and grab a lychee and lemongrass whiskey cocktail from the rooftop garden and watch the crowds from the Glasshouse, a covered low-lit room, draped with tapestries, vintage furnishings and palm trees.
If you’re lucky enough for it to be a weekend, take one last stroll down the city’s cobbled streets to the weekend market at Church Lane. With the Gothic St. Nicholas church (built in 1320) sitting in the background, the busy market feels like a medieval bazaar with locals hawking their wares and haggling for a bargain. Noteworthy is Boychik donuts, where the infamous Dan the donut man will sell you one of his fluffy creations with a sly grin. If you still have room, gander into Sheridans Cheesemongers at 14-16 Churchyard Street, at the tail end of the market and pick up some fresh pasta and locally produced cheese for your pantry.