Galway is the 4th biggest city in the Republic of Ireland and is often the highlight of a visit to this country. After recently moving across the country from Dublin, I want to give potential visitors an idea of the best things to do at night in Galway. This is just an overview and we will go into detail later in the article.
- Go to a traditional pub,
- Have a great meal,
- Enjoy some comedy,
- Pub Crawl,
- Enjoy a traditional Irish music session,
- Go to a Play,
- Whiskey tasting,
- Go to a live gig,
- Enjoy some craft local beer,
- Listen to the buskers around town.
This city is know as a bohemian melting pot for artists and dreamers of all descriptions. As such the atmosphere around the city is buzzing and there is almost always something interesting going on. Here are some of my favourite things to do at night in Galway. I will try to link to anywhere that I mention in this guide, so if any of these suggestions look good to you, just click into their names.
If you want more advice on what to do in Galway you can check out some other resources on this website:
Go to a Traditional Pub
A traditional Irish pub can be a hard thing to find. If you travel all over the world, you will find establishments that like to market themselves as “Irish bars”, but aren’t actually particularly genuine. Even in Dublin, there has been a recent trend of creating bars with a veneer of “Irishness”, with decorations and certain songs playing, but without actually creating anything of substance.
Galway however has some of the finest traditional public houses you will find anywhere in the world. Though these places are often quite old, generally more than 100 years old, that is not their defining feature. The craic is a general good atmosphere, which good traditional pubs often have in spades. It doesn’t matter how old the place is, or what they have on the walls, its all about the company you keep and the conversation that you have. This is what you should look out for when you visit an Irish pub.
Some great traditional pubs in Galway:
- Tig Neachtains
- The Hole in the Wall
Have a Great Meal
One of the biggest complaints that visitors to Ireland have is the food. As a guide here the worst question I get asked is something to the effect of: “what’s traditional Irish food”. There is a reason why Irish bars became so popular all over the world and Irish restaurants didn’t, the food here just hasn’t been that good. That is until recently!
I have spoken to people who were last here as recently as 10 years ago and they have been shocked at the massive improvement in Irish dining. I have even seen this myself. When I was growing up, the options for dining out were very limited, but today that is no longer the case. As the Irish people become more wealthy, we are drinking less and going out to enjoy food more.
Today you will have countless options for dining all over Ireland and Galway offers some of the best choice around. You will be able to find cuisine from all over the world prepared with high-quality, fresh Irish ingredients. It really is a great combination and you will be able to find great dining experiences all over Galway.
Some of the best dining options in Galway:
- The Dough Bros, €
- Lime, €€
- Rouge, €€€
Enjoy come comedy
In Ireland we like to think that we have a great sense of humour. To be fair though, this is one of the things about Irish people that is most commented upon by visitors. There are some Irish comedians like Dylan Moran or Dara O’Brian that have become famous all over the world and many of them started to practice their trade by doing routines around Ireland. Galway is usually one of the favourite venues of budding Irish comedians.
There are some great venues for comedy in this city, if you are looking for some intimate gigs, or proper stage performances, there should be something to suit pretty much any comedic style or taste.
Comedy venues + upcoming performances:
- The Dew Drop Inn, € – Ireland’s Smallest comedy venue, only on Thursdays.
- The Rósín Dubh, €€ – one of the most popular places in the city. I will mention this place again.
- Leisureland, €€€ – some major Irish and international performers use this space from time to time.
Go on a Pub Crawl
Galway has a bewildering array of pubs on offer, it is not possible to see them all. While there are as many different ways to enjoy a night out in Galway as their are people, one of the best ways of meeting new people is by going on a pub crawl. This is great if you are travelling alone, as you will be able to meet fellow travellers. But if you are with a group, you have the chance to get away from them and meet new people!
Tribes Tours offer great tours of the city during the day and their nighttime pub tour comes highly recommended. This tour is particularly popular among young people and goes on until the bars in the city have to close. Included in your ticket price for the pub crawl is a shot on entry into each of the four bars included on the tour. That adds up to four free shots!!!
I would advise booking this tour in advance as these things can sometimes book out, especially on the weekends and busier nights during the year. If you want more information on locations, times and booking details, you can find them through the link below:
Pub Crawl of Galway, €
Enjoy a traditional music session
If crawling around the pubs of Galway doesn’t sound appealing, there are other ways to enjoy this city’s nightlife. One of my favourite things to do in Galway is to enjoy a traditional Irish music session. For those not in the know; a traditional music session involves musicians showing up somewhere public, usually a pub, with their instruments. One of them will lead the group in the song and those who know it will join in, while those who don’t politely listen.
You will be able to find these sessions all over Ireland, even in the heart of big cities like Dublin. But the ones that you find in Galway are some of the very best. The pub Tig Coilli in particular claims to be the home of Irish music and after watching some of the performers there, it is easy to believe.
These sessions are free to enjoy. Tips are usually accepted by the musicians after the performance is finished, but these are by no means compulsory. All you really have to do is to sit back, have a drink and enjoy some great live music and conversation in the bar. Just remember to be respectful to the performers, that is the only real rule of thumb!
Places to see a traditional music session in Galway:
- Tig Coili
- Taaffe’s Bar
Go to a play
If you want to get away from the drinking culture, but still want to experience a little of the art that this city is famous for, you have plenty of options. Galway is renowned as a place where artists from all over the world congregate. If you want to see some great performances of classical plays and modern hits, there are plenty of things to see in Galway.
Pretty much every other person that you meet will be an actor doing some sort of other job until they make it big as a performer, so it is easy to find some truly great performances staged in this city.
Some great locations for performances include:
- The Town Hall Theatre, €€ – They put on all types of stage shows here.
- Druid Theatre, €€ – A more intimate venue for more niche performances.
Go Whiskey Tasting
Ireland has a proud whiskey tradition, in fact this beverage was invented in Ireland over 1,000 years ago by Irish monks looking for a medicinal cure. I do not care what any Scottish whiskey brewer has to say on this! The Irish whiskey industry used to be the largest single employer in the country and one of the largest industries in the British Empire. Then Ireland had a decade of revolution and a civil war, immediately followed by prohibition in the largest export market, the U.S.
This meant that Irish whiskey underwent a decline for generations and was almost wiped out about 50 years ago. But, in the last couple of decades there has been a massive resurgence in Irish whiskey. Today Irish whiskey is the fastest growing whiskey product in the world. There are some truely great Irish whiskies that have been created in the last number of years and the craft industry has become very popular.
If you want to experience a little bit of this ancient, yet cutting-edge Irish industry, you can go on the whiskey trail in Galway. It will bring you to some of the best pubs in the city, where you will be able to discover more about this part of Irish culture that was almost lost to history!
Go to a live gig
Irish music is not just traditional sessions in pubs, this country has produced some of the most famous recording artists in the world. Many of them have performed in smaller venues right here in Galway. Most famously Ed Sheeran sang about a girl from this city, his song made it to the charts and the music video was filmed a bar here called O’Connells.
If you want to see some really great up-and-coming artists perform, there are great venues all over the city. Though some might be better for certain genres, the one that stands above all others is undoubtedly the Rósín Dubh. I have already mentioned this place before in this article for its comedy gigs, but it is just as well known for its music.
Venues for live music in Galway:
- The Rósín Dubh, €€ – one of the most beloved venues in Ireland
- Taaffe’s, € – Another previously mentioned place, great for traditional music.
- Monroe’s, €€ – This place has lots of cover bands perform here. I think its great!
Enjoy some local craft beer
Like the whiskey industry, the beer industry has been undergoing a massive change in recent years. More small breweries have been opening up and they have become very popular. This is particularly true in Galway and there are some really great companies that have started up in the last decade or so that cater to this growing market.
The Galway Bay Brewing Company is probably the most famous of these newer craft beer companies to open up. They obviously started up in Galway and they have expanded all around the country. They own nearly 20 bars all across Ireland and if you choose to visit any of them you will not find any of the usual Irish staples, there is no Guinness, Smithwicks or Heiniken served at any of their bars.
Instead you will only be able to purchase some of their own brews, many of which are excellent. Some of these places have dozens of different kinds of beer from all over the world on tap and they will often serve great food.
Some great craft beer bars to check out in Galway:
- Bierhaus, €€ – This is a cool, small craft beer bar located just across the river from the latin quarter.
- Oslo, €€ – This bar is owned by the Galway Bay Brewing Company and actually looks out over Galway Bay itself, well worth a visit!
Listen to some of the buskers around town
As mentioned previously Galway is home to artists of all descriptions from all over the world. This is also a university town and during the school semester, the city’s population goes up by about 20,000 young people. This has created the perfect environment for music and artistic creation of many different kinds to flourish.
Many of these performers will take to the streets of Galway and play to the public. It is common to see Irish dancers at the top of Shop Street, surrounded by crowds of people. There will also be some great musicians, with bands and solo artists all frequently seen. The aforementioned Ed Sheerhan was also known to busk along some of the streets of Galway, so you never know, one day one of the performers that you see tonight might make it big!
These performers will take to the streets all throughout the year and you will be able to see them no matter when you arrive. There will also probably be someone doing some sort of a performance no matter what the weather, only the biggest of storms will drive them off the streets!
Bonus Activity – Go to a festival!
Because you made it this far in the article, I wanted to give you a little extra.
Galway is a population hub on the west coast of Ireland, as such it really is one of the biggest meeting places for many miles around and some of the regular meetings of people through the year have become major annual festivals.
Probably the most well-known of these festivals is the Galway races. This is when people from all over the world flock to the city in August, they dress up to the nines and they gamble on horse-racing. This really has become one of the biggest events of the year in Ireland and if you have the opportunity to experience it, you would do well not to pass it up! There are other famous events throughout the year, with major Irish holidays like St. Patrick’s day and Halloween obviously being popular.
Each of these events will prong people from all over Ireland flocking to the city and the streets will be full of people well into the night.