Galway, located on Ireland’s West Coast, is a beautiful, authentic, charming, and cultural university city with a unique and special atmosphere. Quality live music, traditional live sessions, craft beer, whiskey, and amazing food are staples of Galway’s famous Latin Quarter. While Galway is the perfect location for day trips to areas such as the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, the Cong Abbey, and Connemara National Park, the city itself has much to offer. Galway’s beauty and thriving city center have contributed to its famous Quay Street being the most photographed street in Ireland. Galway has also been chosen as the 2020 European Capital of Culture. Read on to find out more about Galway and our favorite local spots.
Kilbrack House B&B: The charming Kilbrack House is perfectly located in a quiet neighborhood, just a five minute drive from Galway’s historic city center. Immediately upon entering the Kilbrack House’s doors, you are greeted with a warm welcome, immediately feeling like family. This B&B is run by a lovely family that is incredibly courteous and goes above and beyond in their customer service. Coco, the family dog, is an adorable and friendly little spaniel that is always happy to greet you when you walk in the doors. Breakfast is a full Irish breakfast – generous, hearty, and delicious. Even better? The price is very reasonable at around 75 euros per room per night.
Quay Street: Quay Street is located in the heart of Galway’s Latin Quarter and is a hub for all things night life. This lively street is jam packed with restaurants, bars, and shops, and it is popular with both tourists and locals alike. Almost every single pub has quality live music featured each and every night. Check out the Spanish Arch or the Quay Street Kitchen for dining. Looking for some great live music? I recommend checking out Tig Coili, King’s Head, or Tigh Neachtain to start – but you will be afforded never ending opportunities for nightlife here! Pub hop away. If you’re looking for something a little quieter in the nightlife arena, head over to Raven’s terrace, just a five minute walk away across the Wolfe Tone Bridge.
Spanish Arch: The Spanish Arch Hotel, Restaurant, and Pub is a great option for dinner. It’s located right on Quay Street, and the food is delicious and well-priced. Menu items are primarily traditional Irish pub food, but they also offer rotating specials. There is always great live music at the Spanish Arch, typically starting around 7 PM. I recommend the bangers and mash, the Guinness mussels, and the ribeye peppercorn steak. Wash down your meal with a pint of Guinness or the local IPA, Galway Hooker.
The Quay Street Kitchen: Located on Galway’s bustling pedestrian Quay Street, the Quay Street Kitchen is an adorable, small restaurant that pumps out beautiful food. The food is cooked with great care and the small menu offers an eclectic mix of traditional Irish dishes in addition to a variety of vegetarian and vegan plates. The Quay Street Kitchen offers an excellent wine list, rotating daily specials, and superb service. Although I didn’t get the chance to dine here myself, this place was recommended by our B&B owner, it looked phenomenal, and the TripAdvisor reviews suggested the same. I can’t wait to visit here next time!
Tig Coili: Tig Coili is a relatively tiny establishment at the end of Quay Street, and they are known for their nightly traditional Irish music sessions. Local and traveling musicians flock to Tig Coili seven nights per week to participate in live sessions. The quality of musicians here is fantastic and they start playing around 9 (give or take). It’s not uncommon to see tourists and locals overflowing from the front doors and into the streets during the summer months. Get here early if you plan to get a (standing) spot by the stage.
King’s Head: Undeniably, the King’s Head is geared towards tourists and the live music is usually some sort of 90s pop music. That being said, we also watched the best live Irish band on our entire trip to Ireland here at the King’s Head. The music may be hit or miss if you’re looking for traditional Irish music, but the establishment is large and has a great atmosphere, and checking out the King’s Head is recommended! Not your cup of tea? That’s OK! There’s no cover – and there are tons of other places you can check out on Quay Street.
Tigh Neachtain: Located at the corner of Cross Street and Quay Street, Tigh Neachtain claims to be Galway’s favorite establishment for over 120 years – and, they intend to keep it that way! This place is the perfect establishment for those who love whiskey and for those who love live music. With over 130 whiskeys available, Tigh Neachtain has something for everyone. Cozy up by the fireplace in the winter time, or take advantage of their large outdoor seating area to people watch on a mild, summer night – no doubt you’ll get some quality people-watching opportunities here.
Raven Terrace: Raven’s Terrace is located immediately across the Wolfe Tone Bridge from Quay Street. The atmosphere on this side of the bridge is much calmer than the somewhat-chaotic and drunken Quay Street. This side of the bridge gets my vote for nightlife – with an array of great dining and drinking establishments, Raven’s Terrace has much to offer. Check out John Keogh’s, the Salt House, the BierHaus, and The Crane for food and drinks – just to name a few!
John Keogh’s The Lock Keeper: Located in Raven’s Terrace, this pub and restaurant pumps out great pints and great food. Currently rated #1 on TripAdvisor, it’s clear to see why. The service is wonderful and the food is even better! I recommend getting the Country Style Ham Hock Terrine to start, followed by the Lock Keeper Burger (LOVE Irish beef). For dessert, try the Rich Chocolate and Caramel Pot – delicious!
Salt House: If you’re a craft beer lover, a visit to the Salt House is a must. The Salt House if one of Galway Bay Brewery’s local pubs. Try a flight of local Galway Bay beer (very good), or choose from one of the Salt House’s other 20 taps. Did I mention there are over 150 different types of craft beer bottles from around the world? It’s a beer lover’s paradise with limited edition bottles and an enormous selection of beers. The bartenders are all friendly and informative. In true hipster style, they love beer, have mustaches, and love to talk about beer – so ask away, and they’re sure to help you with your selections!
BierHaus: Perfect for a quick bite and a large selection of traditional and local craft beers. This place is filled with primarily locals! Try their jalapeno grilled cheese or their Vietnamese ban mi sandwich with a pint of one of their many craft beers. Not sure what you want to drink? Just speak with the bar tender and he’ll be happy to recommend something for you!
The Crane: If you’re looking for a quality live session to watch (or play in), no doubt The Crane is the place to be. Just a five minute walk from Quay Street, The Crane is located across the bridge near Raven’s Terrace. The Crane is quite a massive bar with various seating areas, and there is some sort of event going on every night of the week, most of them free. Get there early if you plan to snag a good seat for the session. As always, enjoy a pint of Guinness here!
If you have traveled to Galway and have some favorite local spots you’d like to share, please comment below! It is always great to discover new places in amazing places like Galway. While in Galway, also make sure to explore the surrounding area. Perfect day trips include (but are not limited to) the Aran Islands, Connemara National Park, the Cong Abbey, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Kylemore Abbey.
*I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to my friend, Allison Smith. We went on this trip with our spouses and a few of our closest friends. She took the vast majority of these beautiful photographs and let me use them for this blog post!*