By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
There are many reasons to visit County Galway, but here are the top 10.
The islands off the coast of Galway are incredibly unique in that they show centuries’ worth of history but are still alive with local activity. The most famous are the Aran Islands, but there are several others worth visiting, such as Inishbofin, Omey Island, and Lettermullen.
The wild side
In a time when so much of the world has been transformed into urban areas, Galway’s wild, untouched countryside is a magical sight to behold. The rugged mountains and wild fields, held back only by tiny hand-built stone walls, create a closeness to the natural wilderness of the world that can be hard to find anywhere else.
Irish people have an international reputation for friendliness, and whether you’re in the city centre or down a country road, the locals will be more than happy to give you directions or just have a chat about the area. Galway people are also well-known for being full of “craic”, the Irish word for fun.
County Galway is littered with ancient sites, from castles and monasteries to burial tombs that were erected thousands of years ago. Galway city has been standing for nearly a thousand years, and relics from across the centuries can be found in buildings and on the streets. Even a drive through the rural villages where thatched cottages are still lived in shows Galway’s strong connection between the past and present.
Theatre is a huge part of Galway, particularly in the city and across the county during festival season. All year round, traditional music is celebrated and enjoyed in pubs and fairs across the county, showcasing singing, dancing and Irish musical instruments. The presence of so many great performers in one pub often creates a very lively evening!
Galway is an amazing place if you love water sports. Not only is the Atlantic Ocean waiting for you to dive in, but river activities such as kayaking are incredibly popular across the county. Killary Harbour is a great place to squeeze in as many activities as possible, and enjoy stunning views while you’re at it.
For a relatively small area, Galway has an incredibly diverse landscape. In the east, there are lush farmlands that provide beautiful country walks, whereas in the west, particularly in Connemara, the rocky hills and mountains provide a unique terrain that’s great fun to climb. All this faces the wild Atlantic coast, with cliffs in some areas and beautiful bays in others. Within a single day, you can enjoy all these natural wonders that Galway offers.
Artists all over the world travel to Ireland, particularly the west, because of the unique landscape and the way the ever-changing weather brings out new colours every day. You’ll get particularly amazing views in the bays and atop the mountains, but Sky Road (which starts in Clifden) is undoubtedly the best place to see the full majesty of Galway’s landscape.
Many Galway-specific things are kept alive through the locals, such as Aran sweaters and Claddagh rings. There are also several Gaeltacht areas where Irish is the first language spoken. You’ll even hear Irish spoken in the streets of non-Gaeltacht areas, as Galway’s population are some of the keenest Irish speakers in the country.
If there’s one thing Galway’s full of, it’s craic. The closest translation to “craic” you’ll get in English is “fun”, but it’s so much more than that. In Galway, you’ll feel the spur-of-the-moment energy that brings people to have fun whenever they can, just because they can. That’s craic, and you should embrace it whenever possible.
Read more about County Galway