When considering visiting Ireland, most people’s first choice is Dublin, which is a great option, but if I had to say what my favourite city on the emerald island was, I would definitely go with Galway.
We’ve visited the nicknamed “City of the Tribes” a few good times in the past two years, and every trip there was better than the last one. It is a place filled with such joy and wonderful energy (also rain, but what else do you expect?) and, especially in the nighttime – thanks to its narrow streets and lovely little lights – it reminds me of Paris, which is always a compliment in my book.
In case you’re looking for some tips on what to see, where to stay and what to eat, look no further!
Galway is a small city on the West Coast of Ireland and most of the main attractions are concentrated in the city center. Also, I will only be talking about the city itself, and not the surroundings and I’m including only some of the places I enjoyed most.
- Quay Street – I was saying earlier that Galway reminds me of Paris. Well, I can only blame this street for that feeling. Quay Street is located in the city center and is lined with plenty of restaurants and bars, so the atmosphere is almost always very animated.
- Salthill Promenade – If you love the ocean as much as I do, then this is an activity for you. Stroll along the rocky Atlantic shore from the South Park until you reach Salthill, with its lovely restaurants and the fun fair. We really enjoyed the ferris wheel and the view from the top is gorgeous! Do try it.
- Spanish Arch – This is something special for the history lovers, but it might be a bit underwhelming for those looking to see an impressive piece of architecture. The two remaining arches were part of a city wall built in 1584 meant to protect the quays, an area once known as the Fish Market (now Spanish Parade). In 1755, the arches were badly damaged by a tsunami following the Lisbon earthquake. You don’t have to put in on you “to see” list necessarily, but go by it on your way to the ocean coming down Quay Street.
Accomodation – The Huntsman Inn
I’ll start by saying that I’m the biggest fan of Booking.com (book whenever you want, opt for free cancellation and no prepayment? Yes, puh-lease!) and of Tripadvisor (ok, I’ll admit it. I might like it a bit too much, but I just love being prepared and knowing where I’m going to stay, where I’m going to eat and all that jazz.)
The last time we were in Galway, after much consideration, I chose The Huntsman Inn. I’ll be very honest – I oftentimes prefer taking a gamble by staying at a smaller, more intimate hotel, than at a large one, such as Radisson or Hilton. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve stayed in some of them and really enjoyed it -, although I feel like – due to the fact that they have to respect very strict guidelines – they usually end up lacking in personality.
The Huntsman Inn is located about 1km away from the city center and it’s easily accessible by walking, bus or taxi. The room was very nicely furnished – very similar to the standards of a 4-star hotel -, clean, nicely lit and quiet. We stayed there for 4 nights and found it very comfortable.
The breakfast was included in the room rate and it was very good, although the breakfast menu wasn’t very extensive. However, it was table service and you could order as many items as you liked.
I must say, the restaurant was the cherry on top. We ate there 3 times – two lunches and a quick dinner –, and the food was exquisite each time. I had the main size of the fishcakes, which were made with very fresh seafood and deliciously crumbly batter and a well-seasoned side salad. The Chardonnay was the perfect temperature each time, crisp and well balanced, making it the perfect pairing for the lovely food.
Ionuţ had the roast turkey the first time we had lunch and a burger the second time. Both were very well cooked and beautifully plated.
All in all, I would happily stay here again and would whole-heartedly recommend it to someone looking for a place that’s comfortable and full of personality, without compromising on cleanliness or quality.
I was planning on writing about the restaurants we most enjoyed in Galway in this article, but it is already pretty long and I think the restaurants deserve a piece of their own. I will only say this – the restaurants are my favorite part of this city! 😀