Why Galway is Such a Popular Destination

Situated on the west coast of Ireland, Galway is a small city that always leaves a lasting impression. When bringing people around Ireland myself or meeting travelers elsewhere, Galway is always near or at the top of their list of highlights in Ireland. There is so much to see and do in so relatively small a place.

Galway has become popular with tourists due to its cuisine, the beautiful nearby scenery and the active cultural scene. Many events and festivals take place here throughout the year and the city has a strong artistic and musical tradition. It also has friendly locals with a lively and bustling atmosphere.

Whenever I walk through Galway, there is always a buzz about the city. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with the locals and find out about some event or gig that you never would have heard of otherwise. There is so much to enjoy about Galway, but it might not be for everyone.

Why Galway is Such a Popular Destination

Galway has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland for several main reasons. It is within easy reach of some amazing natural scenery, the food is very highly regarded and the atmosphere is lively like nowhere else. There is always something to do in Galway.

Located on the fast-moving River Corrib, Galway has easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and some amazing places along the coast. If you want a base to explore sights like the Aran Islands, Connemara and the Cliffs of Moher from, then Galway is a great option.

Being the 4th biggest city in Ireland means that Galway has good transport links to the rest of the country. If you are staying somewhere like Dublin, you will have the option to go on a day trip to Galway and be back that evening.

One of the biggest criticisms visitors had of Ireland in the past was the food. This is no longer the case. The restaurants in Galway offer up some of the best food in Ireland with something to accommodate anyone’s taste. The seafood in Galway is particularly good.

If you want to learn more about the food in Galway, you can find my recommendations in this article linked hereOpens in a new tab..

If you are looking to meet locals and enjoy the great atmosphere that Ireland is famous for, then Galway is one of the best places to go. The nightlife and cultural scenes here are some of the best in the country and if you want more detailed information on where to go, you can find my recommendations for nightlife linked hereOpens in a new tab..

Positives to Visiting Galway

There are so many positives to visiting Galway that it can be hard to list them all in one place. For me though there are certain things that you will experience in Galway better than almost anywhere else in Ireland. I want to go into a little more detail on a few of the positives that I mentioned above.

The Natural Scenery

The Cliffs of Moher Near Galway

If you walk about five minutes away from the main streets of Galway, you will reach the mouth of the River Corrib. Walking along Nimmo’s Pier, you will be able to see all sorts of seabirds that make Galway Bay their home. The mouth of the river has also been home to Dolphins in the past.

If you walk along the coast to the Salthill area, you will get stunning views of the Bay and you might even be able to see some of the famous “Galway Hookers”. These are gorgeous traditional boats that have distinctive red sails.

The Cuisine

Galway is famous for its oysters

There should be something for everyone in Galway and it is well beyond the remit of this article to go into detail on the restaurants in the city. I just want to mention a few of my personal favorites:

  • McDonaghsOpens in a new tab. – For the best traditional fish and chips.
  • The Dough BrosOpens in a new tab. – One of the most popular restaurants in town. It serves wood fired pizza.
  • The King’s Head – Founded in 1649, this historical pub has great food and a cozy atmosphere.

The People

The people of Galway are rightly proud of their sporting traditions

However, the best thing about Galway is its people. The people of Galway are some of the friendliest in Ireland and some of the most interesting too. They are fiercely proud of their city and will talk about it at great length when given the chance – as well they should!

Being the only major city for a large area of Ireland, many people travel from rural communities across the west to settle in Galway. This means that Galway is as much a commercial and business hub as it is a cultural center for much of Ireland. It also has some of the best nightlife in the country.

This being the case, the city’s economy is built around accommodating large numbers of visitors and showing them a great time. There is always something going on in Galway and you can learn more about upcoming events, through this link hereOpens in a new tab..

Negatives to Visiting Galway

While there are plenty of great reasons why Galway is so popular, like everywhere, its not perfect. There are some negatives to Galway that are worth mentioning if you are thinking of visiting this city.


Like much of Ireland, it can be expensive to visit and stay in Galway. While you will not be spending the same amount that you would on things like accommodation as in Dublin, you will still notice it. This is also the case for things like food and drinks.

If you want to explore some of the nearby scenery, you might also find it difficult to get affordable transport. Which brings me to my next point.

Travel Within Galway

One of the most heated issues in local politics in Galway right now is the traffic in the cityOpens in a new tab.. While there are currently attempts being made to address the issue, nothing is likely to change any time soon. I have gotten stuck in terrible traffic in Galway on more than one occasion.

The only real option to deal with this is try not to travel during rush hour whenever possible!


While the west coast of Ireland is famous for its natural beauty, it is also famous for its bad weather. Galway has noticeably worse weather than places on the east coast, like Dublin. There have been plenty of days where I have left the house in Galway in sunshine and then gotten soaked in rain 20 minutes later.

The rain does help to give Galway some of its charm but it can mean that exploring the nearby natural scenery may be more difficult. Make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast when in Galway. I have more information on how to dress for the Irish weather in this article linked hereOpens in a new tab..

Having said all of this, there will be plenty to see and do if it rains while here. I have advice on what to do if it rains in Galway linked hereOpens in a new tab..


Jack Redmond has been a tour guide in Ireland for the past decade. Having received a national guiding qualification, he has brought thousands of travelers all over the island of Ireland.

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