So you’re studying abroad in Galway. First let me say congratulations!! You have made a life-changing decision that will not disappoint. As a CEA Galwegian alumna, I can assure you, you will not be left wanting. Except that you may want to stay forever.
If you’re like most future students studying abroad, you’re probably looking for the scoop on what to do in the town you’ll soon call home. If that’s the case this blog for you, future Galwegian alumni.
Although there is plenty to see and do all around Galway, downtown is the place to be. It’s where all the locals, students, and other travelers come together to share experiences. Here you will find a plethora of activities.
|Big Red Ball at the International Arts Festival Galway|
Arts & Music: There is always something to do in Galway, especially during the summer. The famous International Arts Festival is hosted downtown. During the festival there is constantly music to hear and things to see; keep your eye out for the big red ball which appears randomly all over Galway. Check out the infamous street performers on your stroll down Shop Street. They are always ready to share their unique talents with you, day or night.
Stores: There are a number of grand stores downtown. If you’re in the mood for a nice cup of tea, doilies, beautiful china, and tea snacks, visit Cupán Tae. There are also plenty of stores for shopping, restaurants and chippers, pubs, and florists to discover. Just put on your runners (sneakers) and be prepared to do some walking.
Architecture: If you fancy old buildings and gorgeous architecture, take stroll through Lynch’s Castle downtown, a great example of the traditional Irish castle. A stroll down by the bay will show you the famous Spanish Arch,and if you keep your eyes peeled you can see parts of the remaining wall around town built in 1232 C.E.
Museums: Don’t’ miss out on a visit to the Claddagh Museum downtown where they have the world’s smallest Claddagh ring. Learn about the history of the ring and why it is so prominent in Irish culture. If you want to take one home with you, make sure you get it in the "Claddagh" (where the River Corrib meets Galway Bay), the birthplace of the Claddagh ring. The Galway City Museum and the National Aquarium are good rest stops on the occasional rainy day.
Parks: Eyre Square is a lively place to mingle with the locals and visit with friends. Here you can see the flags of the 14 tribes of Galway and the statue of Hooker sails in the square. The Galway Hookers can be seen in the bay with their red sails and distinct hull shape. The Bay is also a great place to lay in the grass during your break between classes or on a lazy day. Feed the many birds with the locals and just enjoy yourself.
*Check out this webpage for events downtown: http://www.galwaytourism.ie
If you want to go out at night in Galway, some of the favorite places include Taaffes, The Kings Head, Roisin Dubh, Beirhaus, and Monroes, but there are plenty others to choose from. I suggest trying as many as you can to find your favorite and enjoy some of the local craic (fun).
|Crane Bar Latin Quarter|
Traditional: Taaffes is a more traditional pub where you can watch the game, listen to the live band play Irish musical favorites, dance (if there is room), and meet people from all walks of life. The Crane Bar in the Latin Quarter is another good place to hear traditional Irish music and meet the locals. Tigh Neachtain is always bustling and snug, it’s an experience you will not want to pass up. They have all kinds of music and people will make just enough room to dance.
Modern: The Kings Head offers more American music and caters more towards the fancies of the international students and tourists. Roisin Dubh is a unique experience, one I had never seen before. Listen to your own choice of music through headphones. Don’t be shy about dancing to what you are listening because watching people is half the fun. The Spanish Arch Hotel’s vintagesetting is a beautiful contrast to the modern sounds.
Dancing: If you like to get out there and shake your stuff or if you just like to watch other people doing it, make your way to Monroes on Tuesday for dance night. The locals are always up for a twirl no matter who you are. Although, it’s pretty much acceptable to break out in dance anywhere you go.
Ever heard the song “Galway Girl”? If yes, then you will have heard of the Salthill Prom. Don’t miss out on this beautiful stroll down the Galway shore. You’ll get a perfect view of the beach with all its life, both of land and sea. There are plenty of opportunities to get to the water and play. See Hurling and Gaelic Football played in the fields at the end of the prom by the bay. Stop by some of the shops if you are getting hungry. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the local tradition of kicking the stone at the end of the Prom. Everybody does it, locals and tourists, and you can become part of the tradition too.
|Salthill Promenade Beach and diving board|
No matter what you are in the mood for, you are bound to find it in Galway. From museums to social life there is never a wanting moment when living in Galway. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask a local or shop owner. They are extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and will point you in the right direction.
Looking for things to do out of town for day or weekend trips? Stay tuned for more blogs to guide you on your way; but remember, don’t be afraid to venture off because sometimes the best adventures are found in the least expected places.
Hannah Goguen is a CEA alumna (Galway Summer 2014), current Associate Alumni Ambassador, and graduate from Colorado State University.
Read more about our CEA Content Creators.