Galway was recently voted the World’s Friendliest City by Travel & Leisure readers. Having studied abroad at NUIGalway, I can attest to the warmth with which this city invites you. I love Galway; after my incredible month in the city, it easily became one of my favorite places in the world. So here just a few of the great things about Galway:
The River Corrib at the Spanish Arch
When the weather is warm and the sun is shining, it seems like the whole city flocks to the banks of the River Corrib to soak up the rays. Sitting by the river, you can watch the swans on the water, listen to music drifting down from the pubs on Quay Street, and people watch. From there, you can walk through the Spanish Arch, visit the free Galway City Museum, and visit the shops and restaurants on Quay Street.
Galway International Arts Festival
At the Galway International Arts Festival, anything is possible. Dragons roam the streets, building’s are covered in street art over night, and giant red balls find different tight places to squish between. The festival has been taking place yearly for almost 40 years. Each summer, this small Irish city gets turned on its head with the best of art in performance, music, visual art, theatre and spectacle.
The Promenade at Salthill
The 2km long promenade at Salthill, known lovingly as the Prom, runs along Galway Bay. To your left you can see Galway City, to your right is the Aran Islands, and out in front across the bay is the Burren. When you reach the diving boards at the end of the Prom, local traditions dictates you take a swipe at the “kicking wall” before turning back around or diving into the bay.
Music pours from every pub and from every soulful busker on the streets. You can even hear traditional Irish music into the night in the cathedrals. Stop in to The King’s Head for the weekly Trad at the Head or drop by St. Nicholas’s Church for the Tunes in the Church series.
Just One Stop of Many on the Wild Atlantic Way
The west of Ireland is different kind of wild west, with rocky coasts, rolling hills, narrow roads, sharp curves, and the most amazing scenery. All the best stops on the Wild Atlantic Way are accessible within a day from Galway: Dingle, the Burren, a trip out to the Aran Islands, Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher. You can go out site seeing and still make it back in time for a nightly pub crawl.
What’s your favorite city? Let me know in the comments!