I was going to do one comprehensive guide to Ireland, but then I was going through my photos and decided there were too many to fit in one post! So I’ve split it up into sections and will be sharing them one by one.
This time: Galway!
A place near and dear to my heart, to me, Galway is quintessential Ireland. The west coast of Ireland is very traditional, and it shows. Stereotypically beautiful, Galway is definitely tourist-friendly, full of wonderful food, shopping and experiences.
We stayed at Barnacles. I would highly recommend it. It is right in the middle of the Latin Quarter, right in the heart of everything. Very clean place, great customer service, wonderful prices and very secure.
A day trip (or overnight) in and of themselves, the Aran Islands are a group of three small islands off the west coast. It takes an hour by bus to get from Galway to the ferry, and another 45-60 minutes on the ferry to get to the island (depending which one you go to). Totally worth it! Book your tour early, especially if you’re going during tourist season, to make sure you don’t miss out. We used the Galway Tour Company.
If you go for one day, make sure you get an early bus. My friend and I left got the 9am bus and, by taking the last ferry back, we were able to maximize our day without feeling like we missed out. There are a few places to stay on Inismor (the large island) but I’ve never felt it was necessary to do an overnight.
Once on the island, we rented bikes from one of the rental companies that are near the ferry entrance. For 10 euro, you get the bike for the entire day and it’s a perfect way to see the island.
There is one main road going through the middle of the island and one smaller road that travels along the east side. There are many small roads, gravel or just dirt and grass, that are easy enough to bike or walk down. Not many cars travel along any of the roads, which makes it easy to get around.
Rock walls abound on the Aran Islands (and all over the west coast in general). Centuries old, the rocks aren’t held together by any cement or concrete or anything; they’re an art form in and of themselves.
There are a number of places you can visit on each island. We checked out The Wormhole, which was this bizarre rectangular hole in the rock near the Atlantic Ocean.
To get to it, we had to leave our bikes behind and walk almost a mile on strange rock formations until we got to the “shore” of the ocean, which was just different rock formations.
We found it, however, and got to eat our lunch of bread and cheese (typical for us when we are on adventures) overlooking The Wormhole and the Atlantic Ocean.
There is a pub/restaurant near the ferry, so we had a pint while we waited (of course).
Pubs and grub
There are so many pubs in Galway! Here are a few of my favorites:
The Kings Head. Located right on High Street, The Kings Head is a tourist favorite. Live music, good drinks, great atmosphere.
Taaffes. Also right on High Street, Taffees has wonderful “trad,” or traditional, music.
Monroes. Every Tuesday they have trad night, with traditional Irish music (fiddle, accordion and bodhran) and people from the community come and dance! It reminds me a lot of square dancing, in that there are certain steps and a pattern that everyone knows and follows, though there is no caller.
Kashmir. Not a pub but a delicious Indian restaurant next to Monroes. Beautifully decorated interior and the serving dishes were stunning.
Brasserie on the Corner. We had a really great late lunch here one day, consisting of soup and brown bread and a bottle of wine. Perfection!
Cliffs of Moher
Another popular tour trip, the Cliffs of Moher are a must-see. They’ve been featured in many movies (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and the Princess Bride, for starters) and are an incredible sight to see. The trip along the way also features some breathtaking scenery.
I’ll let the photos do the talking.