Galway is a small harbour city nestled on the West Coast of Ireland. It is the European Capital of Culture for 2020 – and well-deserving of the accolade. Galway City (as well as the wider Galway County) is famous for its culture, warm-welcome, gastronomic offerings and beautiful natural surroundings. It’s a place we go back to time after time.
With flights from London to Knock or Shannon Airport lasting a little over an hour, and a short onward trip, it is the ideal Autumn/Winter weekend break. We take a look at what this charming city has to offer
Galway’s history dates back to 1232 when it was transformed from a small fishing village into a walled town after being captured by Anglo Normans. Galway City is steeped in its long and interesting past, and like all great cities it combines an eclectic mix of history, contemporary culture, and natural beauty.
Galway is Ireland’s sixth-largest city and is best, and easily, seen on foot. Many an hour can be enjoyed taking in the comings and goings of the day and the relaxed and fun attitude of the city’s dwellers and residents by exploring the lanes of Galway City.
Eyre Square is at the heart of Galway City and is the beating heart of the town. From Eyre Square pedestrianised streets lead out to paths of multi-coloured buildings which house the restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and pubs which Galway is revered for. The lanes from Eyre Square lead to Quay Street which offers eclectic shopping and ‘café’ culture by day and an effervescent social scene by night. Follow Quay Street South and you will eventually reach Galway Harbour, which is lined with bars and restaurants which offer the ideal place for a sit down and a round of people-watching.
In terms of eating and drinking, Galway is a gastronomic delight for any foodie and punches well above its weight. The town has two Michelin star restaurants in the form of Loam and Aniar; the former, Loam, specialises in producing dishes with ingredients native to the West of Ireland.
For those wanting an authentic taste of the West of Ireland, but in a more affordable fashion, look no further than The Quay Street Kitchen which produces specials and local dishes for every budget. Beware there are no reservations and this restaurant is in high demand; but be assured that any wait is worth it. The recently opened Tribeton, a little walk from the harbour, is a nod to the modern and vibrant being set in a restored industrial unit. It’s a great place for lunch, dinner and cocktails in a chic and modern setting.
After soaking up all that’s on offer in the day, you may be forgiven for wanting to put up your feet and watch the colourful and dramatic sunsets which are often gifted to this part of the world – take your pick of places along the harbour to enjoy this. Alternatively, the Spirit One Spa at the Galmont Hotel might be what is required for those that seek a little more indulgent relaxation time.
For those that aren’t quite done, rest assured that Galway City comes alive at night with something to offer for everyone.
O’Connell’s Bar just of Eyre Square is rumoured to serve the best pint of Guinness in the whole of Ireland. It boasts a quirky and popular ‘Guinness Garden’ (which also hosts a Gin Bar and other delights) for socialising, and a warm Irish welcome. For those whose prefer an espresso martini, look no further than Buddha Bar on Mary Street which serves up a collection of authentic and original cocktails in decadent surroundings. For the real night owls and revellers, no trip to Galway would be complete without a trip to Sonny Molloy’s, The Front Door. See out the night partying and carousing with Galway’s fun and fabulous.
After what might have been a long night, a perfect spot for breakfast or brunch is the local’s favourite – Gourmet Tart Company. Treat yourself to a traditional Irish breakfast along with freshly roasted coffee and baked goods, all at a reasonable price.
If you have the energy, and the inclination, your weekend might be perfectly finished off with a refreshing walk on the stunning Galway coastline. Luckily, to sample and enjoy the natural beauty of West Ireland you don’t have to venture far Galway City to see what makes this part of the world quite so enchanting. A 5 to 10-minute cab journey from the city centre can take you to Ballyloughane Beach, which in low tide offers a fantastic place to stroll, recharge, and plan your next visit back.
Try the Burt Lambswool Jumper, £120 to keep warm on your weekend break.