Galway is a university city, so enjoying life here on a budget is something many students have turned into an art form. But you don’t have to be a student to enjoy the best of Galway without breaking the bank.
Sure, you can have old-world opulence or contemporary chic in your choice of Galway hotel, but you’ll also find cheap, quality hotels right in the heart of town. Just be sure to book well in advance, as a wealth of year-round festivals, from the Galway races and arts festival in summer to autumn’s oyster and theatre festivals mean there’s plenty of competition for rooms. Try the trendy Clayton
or basic Pillo
. You’ll also find excellent value at the Menlo Park
and Forster Court
Galway for Free
Take a fascinating (free) stroll around this refreshingly compact once-walled city. Start at the Hall of the Red Earl on Druid Lane
, the ruined remnants of Galway’s 13th-century seat of power. Nearby is the Spanish Arch, one of the final fragments of the ancient city walls that once encircled Galway, which now overlooks a grassy patch of waterfront where university students gather. Next door is the Galway City Museum
(also free), a light and airy space where you’ll find exhibitions on famous locals such as the writer Padraic O Conaire.
Galwegians take the air with a walk, run or cycle down “the prom,” the seaside promenade overlooking Galway Bay and the Burren’s lunar landscape that extends to Salthill, a former seaside resort now scattered with trendy bars among the dilapidated casinos. Reward yourself after the 3km walk with a pint of locally brewed porter at the microbrewery Oslo
in Upper Salthill.
Shop Street is not just the place where your wallet is most at risk from the range of stores that line this cobblestone pedestrian thoroughfare; it’s also where scores of buskers and street performers ply their trade. Some of the entertainment is of surprisingly high quality, and you are likely to be encouraged to join in on acts from fire-eating to unicycling.
Learn the Language
If your Irish is rusty or nonexistent, you might want to visit the quirky Club Aras na nGael
on Dominick Street, where, depending on the night, you’ll find Gaelic classes, step dancing, and international D.J. nights in full swing. Don’t worry: English speakers are welcome.
Eat for Less
on Quay Street, right in the heart of Galway, is a casual eatery crammed with people queuing for the best fish and chips in the city. The fish is incredibly fresh, and everything is prepared simply and quickly for a non-nonsense, tasty meal that will keep you going all day. For excellent value (particularly the early-bird option) in cosy, atmospheric surroundings, Restaurant Gemelles
is a delight. The Mediterranean menu is simple and well-prepared (try the pate or goat’s cheese parcels), and the staff are professional and friendly.