The Perfect 1, 2 or 3 Days in Galway Itinerary

Last Updated on

by Audrey Webster


Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.


Galway has long been considered one of the best cities in Ireland to visit if you want to truly immerse yourself in Irish culture. From the local music to the history to the natural spaces surrounding the city, planning a 2 to 3 days in Galway itinerary means time well spent getting acquainted with some of the best parts of Ireland. In short, there is no shortage of ways to spend your time in this western Irish city.

Galway is centrally located on the western shores of Ireland and very connected to the areas around it, making it a great jumping-off point for exploring that side of Ireland. This is why we recommend taking at least one day trip out of the city to explore the surrounding landscape.

How Many Days in Galway?

As you’re determining how many days to spend in Galway, make sure to take into consideration how you can use the city as a home base when exploring nearby areas.

If you only have 1 day in Galway, dedicate it to getting to know the city itself. Make sure to spend an evening out at local pubs where live music can be found nearly everywhere and almost every night. In one day, you can see some of the city’s major highlights and get a sense of what life in Galway is like.

With 2 days in Galway, you have ample time to see the city in its entirety. Two days is enough to see basically all of what Galway as a city has to offer its visitors and do so without feeling rushed.

You’ll have time to catch the highlights as well as wander off the beaten path, which is good if you’re keen to spend a weekend in Galway. 

Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have 3 days, take a day trip out of the city. Galway is a great jumping-off point for seeing the western part of the country.

This includes exploring the coastline or heading inland to see famous national parks. You could even head just a bit outside of the city to the Salthill area, popular for a beach escape and for its lovely promenade.

No matter where you venture to during your third day in Galway, you are guaranteed to be met with stunning, picturesque landscapes.

The Claddagh in Galway
The Claddagh in Galway

Getting To & Around Galway

You will most likely begin your Ireland adventure in Dublin as it has the largest airport and it is the easiest city to reach when traveling from international destinations.

Ireland has an intricate network of trains and buses that make it easy to get around the country. Whether you arrive in Galway by bus or train, you can easily reach the city center and your accommodation.

If you’re visiting Galway as part of an Ireland road trip or as a stop while driving the Wild Atlantic Way, you can also easily drive to the city. The Dublin to Galway drive is easy and it is also well-connected with major highways across the country.

Once you arrive in Galway, getting to know the city on foot is the best way to do it. All of the main landmarks are located within walking distance of each other. Walking is also the best way to explore all the nooks and crannies of this lovely city.

You can easily venture through authentic Irish neighborhoods on cobblestone streets lined with pubs, shops, and restaurants. Take your time marvelling at the unique architecture and designs that Galway has to offer its visitors. Local buses and taxis are readily available if you need to cross long distances quickly. 

If you’re opting for a day trip, you can do this by booking a tour, using public transportation, or renting a car.

A tour will likely include other stops along the way and a tour guide can provide helpful context when visiting these new places. You can find many day tour options available here on GetYourGuide or here on Viator.

On the other hand, renting a car or public transit grants you the freedom to see almost anything you want on your own schedule.

If you want to hire a car while in Ireland, then consider browsing Rentalcars.com in order to compare deals across a number of different companies.

Driving along the Sky Road in Connemara
Driving along the Sky Road in Connemara near Galway

2 to 3-Day in Galway Itinerary

Your first two days are spent getting to know the city. Our third day suggests options for day trips out of the city and includes some incredible places to visit on any trip to Ireland.

You could also spend 1 day in the city itself and two days venturing beyond it if you prefer to explore more of the countryside.

Day 1  – Central Galway Highlights

Wander the Latin Quarter

Perhaps one of the most famous neighborhoods in the city is the Latin Quarter and exploring here is one of the best things to do in Galway.

Here you can wander picturesque and historic streets to enjoy everything they have to offer. There are over 50 restaurants, 15 bars, plenty of places to stay, museums, theaters, and much more.

The Latin Quarter stretches from the Spanish Arch to O’Brien’s Bridge to St. Nicolas’ Church, encompassing many of the city’s most famous sites. You might hear locals refer to the area as the cultural heart of Galway, and it won’t be difficult to see why upon arrival.

It’s the perfect place to begin (and return to!) throughout your Galway itinerary. You can book a guided walking tour here, or a guided food tour here where you can sample some of the region’s incredible fresh seafood.

Galway's Old Town
Old Street in Galway

Watch street performers on Quay Street

Quay Street is considered by many one of the best parts of the city to linger, both to soak up Galway’s culture and watch the talented street performers. The Spanish Arch is the unofficial start of Quay Street, but you won’t find the street’s beating heart here.

Instead, head straight to the liveliest section, which also happens to be a narrow street with pubs and restaurants crowding in from both sides. Nearly every pub will offer live music in the evening–after all, the city is known for its live music scene and no trip to Galway is complete without taking it in.

Throughout the day, you can find talented buskers, or street performers, up and down Quay Street. 

Galway Cathedral

By cathedral standards, the Galway Cathedral is relatively young. Construction began in 1965 over the site of an old city prison and it quickly became one of the most impressive buildings in the city.

The dome and pillars capture a Renaissance style with intricate interior mosaics and rose windows to catch a visitor’s eye. Visiting the cathedral is free, but be mindful of the schedule and any events that might be taking place.

When you enter, look straight ahead at the pipe organ. This extensive and impressive organ was built in 1966, but expanded in 2007 to become the one seen today. 

Galway Cathedral
Galway Cathedral

Find Lynch’s Castle

You might have to keep your eyes peeled to find Lynch’s Castle–its plain grey brick exterior blends snuggly with the surrounding buildings.

The Lynches were one of the 14 most powerful families to rule Galway. It was originally constructed to protect the Lynch family from raids, with most of the material used to build it dating back to the 16th century.

As the story goes, James Lynch Fitzstephen, the mayor of Galway in 1493, hung his son from the castle for murdering a Spanish soldier. Over the last two centuries, expansions have been added onto the castle.

Today, a bank resides on the bottom floor. You can visit during the bank’s open hours to take a walk through history through panels and artefacts held here. 

End your day in one of Galway’s many pubs and enjoying a well-poured pint of Guinness.

Day 2 – Kirwan’s Lane, Galway City Museum & More

Eat, drink, and shop at Kirwan’s Lane

The fun and eccentric streets in Galway don’t stop with Quay Street. Tucked away within the Latin Quarter is Kirwan’s Lane–a tightly-packed and cobblestoned street lined with shops and restaurants that you’ll want to explore.

Kirwan’s Lane is named after one of Galway’s original 14 families that ruled the city for centuries. It’s famous for showcasing architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries, although Kirwan’s Lane has been restored over the years to help preserve its history.

You’ll have to look closely for the entrance as it truly is an alleyway stuck between two buildings. 

Galway City Museum

If you’re hoping for a closer look into the history of Galway, a great place to visit is the Galway City Museum. There is no admission fee, but donations are encouraged, and it’s open during regular business hours Tuesday through Saturday.

Here, you can explore a crash course in everything archeology, history, and culture in Galway, as well as the surrounding area. Make sure to check the website prior to visiting to see what exhibitions are currently being featured.

If you happen to be in Galway during a day the museum isn’t open, or just want to explore the museum from the comfort of your home, you can visit the museum virtually through their website. 

Inside the Galway City Museum
Inside the Galway City Museum

Walk under the Spanish Arch

While it may not look like much in photos, the Spanish Arch holds an important place in Galway’s history. It dates back to pre-medieval times and became the meeting place for trade with Spanish galleons.

The arch was the common place for ships carrying wine, spices, and other goods to unload. Christopher Columbus even visited in 1477.

It was partially destroyed by a tsunami in 1755 that originated from an earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal. Now, the arch gives way to a small green space called Claddagh Basin where the sunset views are unmatched.

The Spanish Arch and Galway City Museum are located next to each other. 

Take a boat ride on the River Corrib

Explore Galway from the water by taking a boat ride on the River Corrib and out onto Galway Harbor and Bay. The river cruises are usually only open during the spring, summer, and fall months, but are well worth your time.

You can reserve anything from a private cruise to an hour-long sightseeing river cruise. Enjoy a drink on the upper deck and learn from your tour guide about the area’s history and landscape.

It’s a relaxing way to take in the lush scenery surrounding Galway. 

Boat on River Corrib in Galway
Boat on the River Corrib in Galway

Day 3 – Cliffs of Moher, Connemara or the Aran Islands

Cliffs of Moher

As one of the most iconic landscapes in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher is a must-see for when visiting Galway. It’s an easy day trip if you’re seeing Galway in 2 days or 3 days as it’s only about 90 minutes from the city.

If you don’t have your own transport, you can book this full-day tour or this full-day tour that includes the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.

These dramatic and entirely vertical cliffs are an exceptional site, especially on a clear day. You can easily visit the cliffs from Galway by taking a local public transit or signing up for a day trip.

Make sure to stop into the visitor’s center to learn more about the natural history of the cliffs as well as the surrounding County Clare.

You can also opt to stay locally for a night to take in everything the cliffs have to offer. 

Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

The Aran Islands

The Aran Islands are located just off the coast of Galway and the town of Doolin (the latter of which is next to the Cliffs of Moher, as well). These islands are places where traditional Irish culture remains preserved in time.

They’re one of the few places where the locals speak Irish as well as English. Should you find yourself venturing out to the islands as a day trip from Galway, make sure to stop at Dun Aonghasa, an archeological site seated on the ocean cliffside and a World Heritage site. 

You can book this guided tour or this guided tour if you’d prefer not to visit the islands independently.

Connemara

The Connemara Peninsula covers around 2,000 hectares, so there is no way you’ll see the entire region in a single-day trip from Galway City.

However, a visit to this stunning landscape filled with scenic mountains, grasslands, and forests is well worth adding onto your visit to Galway.

The park itself opened to the public in 1980 and encompasses walking trails that take visitors through the unique natural sections of the park. Climb one of the nearby mountains for epic views of the national park.

There are countless things to do in Connemara including taking in some of the most spectacular beaches in Ireland (such as Dog’s Bay Beach), visiting the beautiful and tranquil Kylemore Abbey or driving the scenic Sky Road outside of the town of Clifden. Even going for a hike in Connemara National Park is the perfect end to spending 3 days in Galway.

If you’re a nature lover and looking for a day trip to Connemara out of Galway, this one’s for you. You can book a guided tour here or full-day tour here if you’d rather visit in an organised tour group.

Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey

Where to Stay in Galway

Park House Hotel – This 4-star hotel located in Eyre Square is a great luxe option in this Irish city. They have double, twin and triple rooms on offer, an on-site restaurant, free parking and room service available for guests.

The Stop B&B – Situated in the cool Claddagh neighborhood about 10 minutes from the Latin Quarter, this hip bed and breakfast has a handful of modern rooms and a fantastic breakfast available each morning.

The Western Citypoint Apartments – Offering one-, two- and three-bedroom options, these flats are an excellent choice in the centre of Galway. There is also a restaurant and bar on the property along with free parking and a fitness center.

Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel – Perfect for backpackers, this highly-rated hostel is located right on Eyre Square. There are several different dorms and privates available, a convivial bar and other great common areas.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Galway hotels!

Galway is the perfect combination of Irish culture and stunning natural spaces. As the gateway to exploring the western part of the country, it should come as no shock that there’s plenty to see and do in Galway.

Are you planning on visiting Galway? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

Like It? Pin It!
Avatar photo

Audrey Webster is a writer for The World Was Here First. She is an Oregon native who has visited countries across the globe and currently spends her weekends exploring the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states. Her approach to traveling combines exploring famous tourist sites and wandering off the beaten path to discover new destinations.

Leave a Comment