Galway is one of the most beloved cities in Ireland and when you explore the medieval streets, you can easily see why. Whenever I find myself in Galway, I always try to walk around the city as much as I can. Walking is not only the best way to get around the center of Galway, but it is also a great experience.
Galway is a walkable city. While there are bus services that will go through the city center, they are normally used to commute to nearby communities. Cycling is also an effective way to get around Galway, but this is hampered by the rain and the excessive traffic that is common in the city.
I have given plenty of walking tours around Galway to people with varying degrees of mobility. In all of my tours, I have found that walking, with few exceptions, is probably the best way to get around the main parts of the city center. There is also plenty to see on a walk through Galway.
How Walkable is Galway City?
Walking is the best way to get around Galway City for most visitors. The city center is compact and many of the streets have been pedestrianized, particularly the main areas like Shop Street and Quay Street. Much of the city center will be within a 10 to 15 minute walk of the main train and bus stations.
Many of the main parts of Galway were founded in the 13th Century. On your visit to Galway, you will be able to explore these medieval streets. This means that most of the city was not built for cars or other motorized vehicles.
While cycling can be a good way to get around for many people, this is not for everyone. The weather is notoriously rainy in Galway and you might find it too wet to cycle safely. I have more information on how much it rains in Ireland, linked here.
One of the best things you will find about walking through Galway is that many of the main sights are so close together. On just a short walk through the town, you will be able to walk through hundreds of years of history.
Do You Need a Car to Get Around Galway?
You do not need a car to get around Galway city, but you will likely need a car to get around County Galway. The city itself is compact and walkable for most visitors, provided they are physically capable. The countryside surrounding Galway however is sparsely populated with cars needed for most journeys.
I would go so far as to say that a car would hinder most people’s experience of Galway city. The city itself is not really built for modern vehicles. As such it actually has some of the worst traffic in Ireland. If you are bringing a car to Galway, make sure you’re carful to avoid driving at peak times.
Conversely, you will probably need a car if you are looking to explore the areas around the city. County Galway is on the west coast of Ireland and has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Areas like Connemara and Spiddal are well worth considering as destinations for your trip.
While many people find the prospect of driving in Ireland quite daunting, don’t worry. With a little patience and even just a small amount of practice, you should be able to drive almost like a local in Ireland.
Public Transport in Galway
Galway has a number of options for public transport both within the city and to neighboring areas. There are rail links East to towns like Oranmore and Ballinasloe. Galway has multiple bus routes to closer neighborhoods, like Salthill. There is also a city bike service that operates in Galway.
If you are staying outside of Galway city center, public transport is usually a good option to use. If your accommodation is further inland, along the rail lines, there are regular rail services that operate daily.
Bus routes might also suit, especially if you are staying somewhere on the outskirts of town or if you want to visit one of the areas along the coast.
You should also consider using the city bike services that Galway has to offer. While the weather might be intimidating for some travelers, it shouldn’t necessarily put you off. If you want more information about Galway bikes, check their website linked here.
Getting to Galway
One important thing for you to consider when using public transport in Galway is how you got to the city. If you used public transport to get to Galway, then by all means, please consider using this method to move around while here.
Day Trips From Galway
There are plenty of places you should consider visiting near Galway. I want to go over a few of the most popular and give you an idea of how walkable these places are or if you will need some other sort of transport.
Cliffs of Moher
While one of the most famous landmarks in Ireland is close to Galway, it is not within walking distance. There are two main ways to get there, aside from driving. You can take public transport or go with a guided tour bus.
Clifden and Connemara
Clifden is the capital of Connemara and has a surprising amount of history for a 200-year-old town with a population of around 2,000 people. On a visit here, you can learn about the first ever transatlantic flight which took place in 1919 or the first transatlantic radio transmission.
Clifden is not walkable from Galway and you will either need a car or public transportation to get there from Galway.
Connemara is one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland and is home to Connemara National Park. As this area is so remote, you will likely need a car to explore this area or use a guided tour.
Salthill is walkable from the center of Galway city. You can reach the main promenade of Salthill in about 20 minutes by foot from Eyre Square.
Salthill is a gorgeous neighborhood with its own unique sense of self and culture. There are plenty of great restaurants and pubs to check out here. You will also be able to get great views of Galway Bay from the coast at any time of the year.
If the weather is a little wetter than you might like, there are also busses that will operate from Salthill to the center of Galway.